7 Types Of Chinese Dim Sum You Should Know

Have you ever sat down at a Chinese restaurant and felt completely baffled by the endless list of options before you? In India, we tend to equate all dim sum with momos, which is truly doing a disservice to both these wonderful dishes. Momos originated in the North East of India, but dim sum usually refers to the traditional Chinese plates which can be eaten as starters or even make up the whole meal. 

Dim sum originated in the teahouses of Southern China, where travellers would stop for a quick meal and a cup of tea. Over time, the small plates evolved into the dim sum we know and love today, with a wide variety of dishes to choose from.  When it comes to dim sum etiquette, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it's customary to share dishes with the table, so don't order too much for yourself. Also, it's polite to offer dishes to others before taking them for yourself. And finally, when using chopsticks, be sure to use the communal serving chopsticks, rather than your own personal pair.

Here are 7 broad categories of dim sum you should know about to help you understand the world better:


These Chinese dumplings are typically filled with pork, vegetables, or a combination of the two. They are usually boiled or steamed and can be served with a dipping sauce. They have great cultural significance and are the type of dumpling you’re most likely to encounter. 


These are small, open-faced dumplings that are usually filled with a mixture of pork and shrimp or other fillings. They are typically steamed and are often served with a soy sauce-based dipping sauce.


Wontons are small dumplings that are usually filled with ground pork or shrimp. They are typically boiled or deep-fried, and can be served in soup or with a dipping sauce.


Better known as soup dumplings, these are small dumplings that are filled with soup and a mixture of pork and spices. The best way to eat these is with a soup spoon and chopsticks. Place the dumpling in the spoon, pierce it so the soup pours out and then sip the soup from the spoon using the chopsticks to eat the rest.

Har Gow (or Har Gau)

Har Gow are usually shrimp dumplings that are typically wrapped in a translucent wrapper made of wheat starch and tapioca starch. They are usually small and closed dumplings with a relatively thin wrapper. They’re steamed and served with a dipping sauce.

Char Siu Bao 

Also known as BBQ pork buns, they are fluffy, rice-flour, steamed buns that are usually filled with sweet, savoury barbecued pork. Though pork is the traditional filling they can be filled with any sort of meat or vegetable mixture. They are also sometimes served as Open Baos which means they’re shaped more like tacos rather than being closed.

Egg Tarts

Egg tarts are small, sweet pastries that are filled with creamy egg custard. They are typically baked and can be served as a dessert or as part of a dim sum meal.

Cheung fun 

This is a rice noodle roll that can be filled with a variety of ingredients, such as shrimp, beef, char siu (barbecued pork), or vegetables. The rice noodle rolls are typically steamed, and then served with a soy sauce-based dipping sauce.