Dim sum (literally meaning "touch heart") is the name for a Chinese cuisine which involves a wide range of light dishes served alongside Chinese tea. It is usually served in the mornings until noon time at Chinese restaurants and at specialty dim sum eateries where typical dishes are available throughout the day. Dishes come in small portions and may include meat, seafood, and vegetables, as well as desserts and fruit. The items are usually served in a small steamer basket or on a small plate. Yum cha (literally "drinking tea") is the term used to describe the entire dining experience, especially in contemporary Cantonese. Some Chinese families like to gather for dim sum on special occasions such as Mother's Day or Chinese New Year. Also, Chinese parents like to bring their children there Sunday mornings to meet and talk with their grandparents. Some people bring newspapers with them and discuss news with their families. Some Chinese restaurants offer discounts on menu items purchased before 11:00 A.M. and tea time discounts after 2:00 P.M. to encourage patrons to avoid the lunch rush.
Growing up in a Cantonese household, I've been eating dim sum ever since I could remember. At least one weekend a month, my parents would pack up my siblings and I (and sometimes Grandma!), and we'd hit up our favorite dim sum place where there would usually be a very long wait. Most people have to work long hours on weekdays, so the weekend is usually the only time that families can gather together, and what better way to do that than over hot tea and yummy snacks? Since I grew … more