15 Types of Dim Sum You Must Try in Hong Kong and Where to Find Them

15 Types of Dim Sum You Must Try in Hong Kong and Where to Find Them

Eat your way through dim sum heaven!

Having dim sum is easily one of the most popular things to do in Hong Kong. In fact, you could even say that Hong Kong dim sum deserves a spot of its own on any traveller’s bucket list. After all, it is one of the most legendary culinary experiences in the metropolitan city, and one that has captivated many a foodie. 

For the uninitiated, dim sum is a traditional Cantonese meal often eaten during breakfast or lunch (although you can now find 24 hour dim sum restaurants too). It consists of many small-to-medium dishes served in bamboo baskets. And of all the places in the world where you savour dim sum, Hong Kong has always held the title as the true “dim sum paradise” of the world. 

Having lived in Hong Kong for a year, I can confirm that Hong Kong dim sum does indeed live up to the hype. But if it’s your first time there and the large variety of dim sum dishes have you confused, don’t worry. Here’s a list of the 15 most must-try dim sum dishes in Hong Kong and my personal favourite dim sum restaurants where you can find them! 

Also read: Singapore to Launch Air Travel Bubble with Hong Kong

Types of dim sum to try in Hong Kong

1. Siu mai (Steamed dumplings)

Image credit: Blenpeams

Even though xiaolongbao (we’ll get to that) is arguably the most famous dim sum dish around the world, locals and dim sum experts know that the true staple of dim sum is siu mai

Simply put, siu mai are steamed dumplings that often contain either pork or shrimp. Sometimes, it’s a mixture of both. The meat mixture is wrapped halfway with dumpling skin that has a signature yellow hue. Siu mai often come in sets of three and four. 

When served fresh out of the steamer, siu mai is extremely juicy and fragrant. Some fancy dim sum eateries even top their siu mai with crab roe, which adds another dimension of flavour and texture to these delicious gems. 

2. Har gow (Shrimp dumplings)

Image credit: Matt@PEK

Next on the list of must-eat dim sum dishes in Hong Kong is har gow, which is basically shrimp dumplings. What makes har gow different from shrimp siu mai is the dumpling skin. While siu mai skin has a slightly chewy texture, har gow skin is generally thinner and is translucent when cooked. 

This allows the shrimp that’s wrapped inside to remain succulent and retain its texture. In Malaysia, har gow is sometimes eaten with sweet chili sauce but in Hong Kong, the best way to accentuate the flavour is by dipping it in some spicy chili oil. 

3. Bean curd sheet rolls 

Image credit: Kake

This one is actually one of my favourite dim sum dishes! Basically, it’s meat paste (usually pork, shrimp, or both) rolled up tightly in bean curd sheets. There are actually two different varieties too: pan-fried or steamed, and topped with a modest layer of flavourful broth. 

Personally, I prefer the steamed version because it’s much more flavourful. Plus, the added bonus of the broth just adds a different dimension to the taste. That being said, the fried version is also a blessing on the palette. In times like these, I call upon the great wisdom of the dim sum elders and simply say, “just get one of each”! 

4. Fried spring rolls

Of course, there are also fried dim sum dishes that I practically simp for. One of those is fried spring rolls. There are multiple versions where there are different types of fillings but my favourite is actually the vegan/vegetarian version. It’s much lighter on the palette and super crunchy! 

These are usually served with a savoury dipping sauce (I want to say it’s Worchester sauce but I’m not too sure). Just the sound of the crunchy spring rolls breaking up as you bite down on it is enough to make my mouth water! 

5. Steamed sponge cake

Image credit: Alpha

If you’re craving something sweet for your dim sum, this is the one “dessert” that I highly recommend. This sweet sponge cake is usually made with brown sugar, flour, milk, and eggs. It’s extremely fluffy and light on the palette and makes for the perfect way to end your dim sum feast. 

Fun fact: This steamed sponge cake is known as “ma lai gou” in Cantonese, which translates to Malay cake. Not many people know this but this dim sum dish actually made its way to Hong Kong from Malaysia! That’s because the original recipe was made in Malaysia by Cantonese chefs after being influenced by the British, who then brought it to Hong Kong which was, at that time, another one of their colonies. 

6. Custard buns

Image credit: W&T記事簿

Another one of my favourites! Even though custard buns have been around for awhile, it’s only recently when they’ve started gaining popularity. It’s because many dim sum shops now sell these custard buns in various shapes and sizes, including in buns that resemble little piglets. These led to a lot of social media hype and thus the dish blew up in popularity. 

This sweet bun contains liquidy custard that sometimes also contains salted egg yolks. Each bite is sweet and savoury and contains mouthfuls of oozing custard. Be warned: these custard buns look small but they pack plenty of calories (for obvious reasons), so do watch how many of them you eat! 

7. Steamed pork ribs

Image credit: Wally Gobetz

Steamed pork ribs is another traditional dim sum dish that’s beloved by many. While I do like the taste, I don’t often order it simply because eating it can be a hassle sometimes. The ribs are cut into bite-sized pieces and served on the bone. They’re marinated and steamed in a savoury gravy that also contains black beans, chili, and scallions. 

You can choose to try and pick the meat off the bone with your chopsticks or simply gnaw on it whole. Either way, each succulent bite is full of flavour and pork lovers will absolutely love this! 

8. Lo bak gou (Pan-fried turnip cake)

Image credit: Kinttwooarp

Lo bak gou in Cantonese actually translates to “carrot cake” but don’t be fooled by the name, this isn’t a sweet dessert topped with icing. Rather, lo bak gou is made with turnips and flour. The mixture is first steamed to cook it fully and then pan fried to give it a crispy exterior. 

In terms of taste, it’s both sweet and savoury even when eaten on its own. Again, in Malaysia, lo bak gou can be eaten with sweet chili sauce, but in Hong Kong, it is usually eaten as it is or dipped in a variety of sweet dipping sauces. 

9. Cheong fun (Steamed rice rolls)

Image credit: projectNADA

Cheong fun is widely available in many Asian countries but the Hong Kong dim sum version certainly has its own charm. For one, the rice rolls are often slightly thinner and bathed in a light, soy-based sauce. 

As for the filling, there are multiple options: shrimp (by far the most popular), BBQ pork, a mixture of both or just plain steamed rice rolls. All of them are delicious in their own right but one unique spin-off is zha leung which is fried Chinese dough wrapped in steamed rice rolls. It’s a unique combination but the contrasting textures really work for me. I recommend that you try it too! 

10. Xiaolongbao

As mentioned earlier, xiaolongbao is arguably the most easily-recognisable dim sum dish in the world. You can find it almost anywhere dim sum is served but Hong Kong xiaolongbao remains the most popular. 

For those who’ve never tried it, xiaolongbao are basically mini dumplings filled with pork mince and flavourful soup broth. They’re like little pockets of flavour that burst (literally) into life in your mouth. The proper way to eat them is to first rest the dumpling on your spoon and then poke a small hole with your chopsticks to allow some of the piping hot broth to flow out. 

Next, simply stuff yourself with the spoon and enjoy the flavourful experience! You can also add shredded ginger and vinegar for an added kick. 

11. Steamed chicken feet

Image credit: Kake

Not gonna lie, this is one of my least favourite dim sum dishes. I know, I know, I’m a disgrace to my own race and Uncle Roger is disappointed in me. Regardless, I do feel that, if you already have your heart set on trying dim sum in Hong Kong, you should probably also take the chance to sample steamed chicken feet. 

The traditional version involves lightly frying the chicken feet and then finishing them off in the steamer with black bean paste. While you may not like the texture, the flavour on its own is extremely tasty and can convert almost anyone! Willing to give it a try? 

12. Century egg congee

Image credit: Alpha

Yes, getting back to the things I like, century egg congee is a mainstay for most dim sum breakfasts. Often served in tiny bowls, the congee contains minced pork (some versions contain shrimp or seafood), ginger, scallions, crispy tofu skin toppings, and the infamous century egg! 

Century egg on its own is as polarising as chicken feet. Boasting a jelly-like texture, century eggs are basically chicken eggs that are fermented and preserved in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls for several weeks. While the yolk is extremely pungent, the egg whites often have no flavour. However, when eaten with fragrant congee, it’s the perfect combination! 

13. Char siu bao (BBQ pork buns)

Image credit: su-lin

Ah, the classic char siu bao. Growing up, this was arguably the dim sum dish that I ate the most, even when I’m not eating dim sum! Good char siu bao contains the perfect balance of rice flour and gooey BBQ pork in every bite. 

There actually isn’t much more to say about the humble char siu bao, other than the fact that it is a timeless classic that’s still loved by all today! 

Also read: 23 Best Things to Do & Places to Go in Hong Kong

14. Lo mai gai (sticky rice with chicken chunks)

Image credit: Terence Ong

Personally, I quite like lo mai gai, but I must say that having one too many can sometimes give you an upset stomach. While you can find this dim sum dish in most Asian countries, the original version in Hong Kong is usually served in a lotus leaf. The rice contains bits of chicken, chinese sausage, and sometimes, half or a quarter of a boiled egg. 

It is an incredibly delicious and filling dish that’s best shared among a few friends. That’s just to ensure you have more space for the other dishes on this list! 

15. Egg tarts

Image credit: See-ming Lee

And finally, let’s end with another classic dim sum dessert! Egg tarts are arguably one of the most famous Chinese desserts in Hong Kong (and Macau!). For the uninitiated, Hong Kong egg tarts feature a sweet custardy-filling in the middle of flaky puff pastry skin. 

They are often served in sets of twos or threes and are another perfect way to end your dim sum meal. But, if you ask me, I’d rather just pack these up to go and savour them later as an after meal snack. Either way works fine! 

Our favourite dim sum restaurants in Hong Kong

1. Tim Ho Wan

Image credit: Choo Yut Shing

Of course, our list of best dim sum places in Hong Kong has to start with Tim Ho Wan. After all, it’s so famous that it has branches in many countries throughout the world. However, the OG outlet in Hong Kong is where it all began. 

Ever since being awarded a Michelin star in 2010, Tim Ho Wan has seen its fame (and business) expand tremendously. However, despite this, their prices are still within a reasonable range. That’s why the lines in front of Tim Ho Wan outlets are still long even to this day! Trust us, if you want to start your dim sum journey right, this is the best place to start! 

Address: Shop 72, G/F, Olympian City 2, 18 Hoi Ting Road, Tai Kok Tsui (the OG) 

Price range: $

2. Fook Lam Moon

For a more authentic, classical Cantonese dining experience, the best place to visit is Fook Lam Moon. Boasting some of the best dim sum that’s enjoyed even by the rich and famous, Fook Lam Moon is known as the “canteen of the wealthy” and brings a different meaning to dim sum fine dining. 

Their best dishes are their har gow and succulent honey-glazed BBQ pork. The only downside is that dining at Fook Lam Moon often comes with a heftier price tag. However, if you have enough to splurge, you certainly can’t go wrong with a dim sum feast here!

Address: Newman House Johnston Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong

Price range: $$$

3. LockCha Tea House

If you’re looking for a dim sum place that’s equal parts culinary indulgence and cultural ambience, look no further than LockCha Tea House. After all, it is one of Hong Kong’s most famous traditional teahouses!

Apart from sampling delicious dim sum, you can also learn more about Chinese tea culture and sample some pristine Chinese tea. What’s more, LockCha Tea House is also one of the few dim sum restaurants in Hong Kong that serve genuinely good vegetarian dim sum. So if you’re not a fan of meat, this is where you should go to satisfy your dim sum cravings. 

Address: Shop 01-G07, Block 1, Taikwun, 10, Hollywood Rd, Central, Hong Kong

Price range: $$

4. Lin Heung Tea House

While Fook Lam Moon offers visitors an authentic Cantonese fine-dining experience, Lin Heung Tea House offers a more rustic, traditional one. Often packed and noisy, Lin Heung Tea House ticks all the boxes for those who crave a traditional dim sum experience.

Their best dishes are their siu mai and chicken feet. As it is almost always crowded, be warned that you may need to wait a while before a seat is available. And even then you may need to sit at the same table with others who you might not know. 

Address: 162, Wellington Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong

Price range: $

5. City Hall Maxim’s Palace

Image credit: Will

Now this one is my all-time favourite dim sum place in Hong Kong. It embodies everything that constitutes the perfect dim sum meal: a large hall decked in oriental decorations, noisy diners chatting away, dim sum carts being wheeled out every few minutes, and a spectacular view of the Hong Kong harbour. 

In truth, City Hall Maxim’s Palace is the most popular eatery among locals and widely regarded as the best dim sum place in Hong Kong. As such, expect it to be crowded 90% of the time. So if you really want to experience their delicious siu mai, you definitely need to arrive early! 

Address: Hong Kong City Hall Central, Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong

Price range: $

Bon appetit

And there you have it! The 15 must-try dim sum dishes in Hong Kong and the best places to try them all! If you ever find yourself in Hong Kong and feel conflicted about what to order for your dim sum meal, just whip out this list and prepare your palette for a foodgasm of unprecedented proportions! Heck, I can hear my tummy rumbling already! 

About Author

Darren Yeoh
Darren Yeoh

Darren enjoys the finer things in life and loves exploring unfamiliar places on foot, guided with nothing but instinct and a good-old fashioned map. He enjoys cultural experiences and exciting adventures and is not a stranger to travelling alone. When he's not putting his travel experiences into words, he's probably sitting behind his laptop, planning his upcoming adventure.


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