All Done and Ready to Go

Grant YSeptember 7th, 2007
By: Grant Y

(Page 5 of 5)

Eating Etiquette

Soy and chili sauce

Soy and red chili sauce.

Chopsticks are often the only utensils you’ll see at dim sum restaurants, but forks can be had upon request. Other than that, the use of soy sauce and chili spice to add some flavor to your food is the only other thing that might concern you. This is the perfect time to practice the foodie motto: Treat a new experience as a surprise instead of with fear or apprehension, so dig in and enjoy yourself!

Most dim sum dishes come in two or three pieces each, so if you go with a group, remember that you can always order multiples of any dish. Also, carts come back eventually, so if you discover a highly enjoyable dish, you can always order it again later.

Paying for your meal

Example dim sum bill
Example dim sum bill

Your bill will initially look like a strange, skinny and long piece of paper with markings all over it. If you’re lucky enough to have a bill that uses English, you’ll see rows and columns, with a few rows that say “Small, Medium, Large, Special,” across the top. These categories correspond to the type of dish that you ordered, and the price. Small dishes generally range from $2 to $3, medium dishes range from $2.50 to $3.50, and large dishes range anywhere from $3 to $5. Special dishes tend to be around $5 per dish.

How do you know which dish falls into each category? Honestly, unless you’ve been to dim sum dozens of times, it’s really hard to tell. A very basic technique is to look at the size of the serving dish. Otherwise, you’re probably better off just making sure that you get a single checkmark per dish ordered to see what size it is, and leave it at that. To give you an idea of how much it costs, a dim sum bill is usually about $12 to $18 per person, depending on your appetite.

To get the total damage, simply call a waiter over to your table and ask them to tally up your bill. They will take it to the cashier and then return with the total. Sometimes, but not often, the staff will simply ask you to bring the bill up to the cashier up front yourself, where they will do the final tally for you.

Last Words Before Graduating Dim Sum 101

Hopefully you’ve found this dim sum guide useful and you’ll take it upon yourself to go treat yourself to a style of Chinese cooking that many don’t know about. If you manage to find a great restaurant on your first try, then pat yourself on the back and introduce your other friends to the wonderful world of dim sum! If you weren’t too thrilled, then keep trying, because somewhere around the corner there might be a hidden gem lying right under your nose.


Grant has been eating dim sum for over twenty years. He has walked, stumbled and been dragged into more Chinese restaurants than he can count. Having honed his taste buds across four continents including Asia, Grant has experienced the skyscraper highs and third-world bathroom lows of good and bad dim sum.

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