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Wednesday, 18 April 2007



I have notice regarding every dim sum place I have been to the cart ladies do get testie on you....especially this old lady at phoenix dragon in OC, my wife was about dim sum her ;-)
The best dim sum I had was in San Jose - very unexpectedly delicious. Sad I don't recall the name of that place.

Andy 美國土子

Kirk, the Cantonese tradition of dimsum is actually called 飲茶 "yum cha" in Cantonese, which means "drink tea". We don't really refer to it as dimsum. the food we eat is course called dimsum, but typically refer to the activity of drinking tea.

Now this goes back to the days of traditinal tea houses, were one would go in sit, read a paper, chat, play chess, drink tea and order a couple of dimsum to pass the time.

Dimsum has evolved to include dim sum style restaurants these days and the activity of drinking tea still holds, but rarely do you we see in this country ppl actually going there, drinking the tea, and ordering a scant one or two items, and sitting for 2 or 3 hours. In asia, it's still done, but it's still in a dim sum style restaurant.... but these days with less frequency.. usually by the senior crowd. and you can ask for one two, or three pots of teas, all of different types and they are happy to oblige. You won't get high quality tea as one would at a traditional tea house, but you get tea.

From this long standing tradition, you get charged for tea whether or not you actually drink the tea or not during dimsum. by going "yum cha" it is defacto one is also drinking the tea.

Andy 美國土子

What I do despise is that they often give crappy tea service and crappy tea yet they charge you. In asia, the tea service is much better.


related note, ever notice you get charged for rice during dinner service? However, you eat during lunch and the rice is free?

These days, it's a bit different, but back in the days, if you went to a restaurant to eat dinner, one would get charged for rice no matter what. By default, eating dinner, meant eating your dishes with rice and thus the charge. Just like the tea charge during dimsum.

However, todays customs slightly r different and ppl often order dishes, but don't order rice. Thus, you are only charged if you order rice. but then go into the same restaurant during lunch, and the rice is included, free, gratis. These days, the dinner customs tend to follow Hong Kong customs, and rice is ordered by the bowl. Since that has been happening, rice quality also seems to be rising too =)

what I hate is having to pay for rice and getting very poor quality rice. That just burns... $1.50 for rice and it's stuff you wouldn't even touch at home!


Hi Billy - You don't remember? Bummer....

Hi Andy - I know the history of Dim Sum, believe me I do. What I'm saying is, in this day and age, every dim sum restaurant in San Diego, even the restaurant in question has always asked us if we wanted tea. Silver Ark asked us if we'd be having this was rather strange. For lunch, this is what I noticed, if you order lunch specials you will get rice no charge, but in some restaurants if you order "off the menu" you will get charged for rice, regardless of time or day. Like you said, today customs are different, and just as not everyone gets rice, not everyone gets tea...which happens quite often at these places, especially in San Diego. It seems that perhaps these "customs" may be applied randomly? Or maybe this is the first time I notice not being asked in San Diego?


Kirk, in regards to the charge for tea - at least it's only $1 per person for the tea. When I went to Hong Kong and ate at the fancier dim sum places, instead of the normal hot mustard/chili oil ramekins that they put out, they put out something called XO sauce and hot mustard. You get just a tiny amount, the same as the chili oil would have been.

But you get charged $8 per person for it, and they don't tell you until the end. Now that's just not right.


We just tried out the Dim Sum at China Max this past weekend. No carts and a smaller selection, but I think the items were all a notch above Jasmine. The fried squid was good, but it isn't available until 11 (we generally eat early).

No we need to go back for that Peekaboo Duck you had us drooling over. ;)


Hey, Kirk...never noticed about the tea, but The Mister and I always want it. I will pay attention and make notes from now on. Oh, and those " Jumbo size 13" chicken feet - specially bred in Chernobyl, I think. :)


Regarding tea, I have to agree. If you're paying for a slightly higher-priced dim-sum restaurant, it seems resonable to expect some selection of decent tea and to be offered a choice. Usually, I have to catch them as I'm going to the table and ask if they have specific teas. Otherwise, I get the auto-default Jasmine. Then again, I am a honky and probably not expected to know better.


Dim sum and taco trucks... your blog has made for excellent reading lately.

Andy 食神


At dimsum you can ask for different types of tea. There are probably about 5-7 types you can choose from.

English (Cantonese / Mandarin)

Pu-er (bo-lay/ pu-er)

Jasmine 香片(heung peen / xiang pian)

Tekkan 鐵管 (Teet goon / tie guan)

Saomei (sao mei / don't know)

Chrysanthenum 菊花 (guk fa / ju hua)

Jasmine-Chrysanthenum 菊保 (guk bo/菊保)

Green 綠茶 (luk / lv cha)

they arne't on the menu.... it's just one of those things that's just a tradition and not explained unfortunately.

One thing I should note is that I haven't seen green tea offered in the States.

Andy 食神

it is unfortunate they don't always ask everybody and just give default jasmine...

Kirk.. sorry, thought you didn't know from the post =)

I just never conceived going "yum cha" and not having tea with the food. Interesting. So it seems that tea is an option in SD.

That is also interesting that they ask you whether you want tea or not. Usually when I go dimsum the question they ask is, "What type of tea you want?"


Hey Kirk!
I see you like bean curd rolls also! Those rolls and a good order of dan tat are my favorite items at yum cha! :)


I don't like it when they don't ask you what tea and just plop down boring old Jasmine. I usually opt for Pu'er or chrysanthemum, but usually, by the time I remember to tell them, it's too late.


Hi KK5 - Well XO sauce is pretty expensive to start with, but an $8 surprise can really be aggravating.

Hi Jan - The Dim Sum at China Max can be a bit inconsistent, but it is a nice, and calmer change of pace when it comes to Dim Sum.

Hi Cathy - Chernobyl? Haven't heard that in a while.

Hi Trent - Here in San Diego, it's mostly pedestrian Jasmine, though every Dim Sum restaurant has a selection.

Hi FM - Thanks...variety is the spice of life!

Hi Andy - You forget, we lived in the SGV for almost 5 years, and I grew up eating Dim Sum in Hawaii(where they will ask you if you want tea). In LA they will usually ask the Missus what kind of tea we want. In San Diego, most times we'll always indicate that we want tea, because sometimes you won't get any. If we're in the mood, we'll start with some Jasmine, and follow that up with some Pu'er......

Hi Kathy - We like the nice varying textures of the bean curd it makes us think we're eating a little healthier. ;o)

Hi Elmo - I agree......


Hi Everyone - I just found your page through google and I love it. The honesty and the details win me over. The best dim sum I've ever had was in Richmond, Canada ... no carts ... no testy ladies. You choose what you want and then they steam it up ... arrives hot and fresh. Now that's dim sum.


I've gotten most of the varieties Andy listed at various places around town, although you do have to catch them on the way to the table and typically need to use Mandarin pronunciation. I haven't asked for Sao mei, since I'm not crazy about it. But it is pretty popular and should be available. Jasmine (the restaurant) has a decent selection of loose teas. I was just trying to give a tip to other non-hongkies who might want a choice.


Hi Susan - Welcome, and thanks for the kind words. The Dim Sum in the Vancouver area is awesome.....I hope to get back up there soon.

Hi Trent - I'm no expert on tea, and think of them as just "classes"..... Pearl is the one place in the San Diego area that will occasionally ask you what type of tea you want.


Charging for crappy tea at Jasmine without telling the customers ahead is not a good business practice, in my humble opinion. Jasmine had good dim sum, but do not go there for dinner. Many other better Chinese restaurants for dinner.


It's been a long time since I've done a sit-down dim sum at Jasmine. These days, I prefer to do take-out and pick up half a roast duck. Only problem with the take out is that if you don't get there just as they open or when a new batch comes out, food tends to get a little cold.

Spending my later childhood in the Bay Area has made me a dim sum snob. I think Jasmine's comes as close to what I'm used to and probably is still my first go-to place.

Heehee, curt servers...brings back memories of my mom barking orders at them in Mandarin. Certainly got results!


Hi Carol - The problem with most dim sum places in San Diego is lack of consistentcy.

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