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tipping for dim sum

Recently, some of us had a dim sum (with carts) chow outing. The bill came, and discussion turned to tipping.

So, just wondering, how much do you tip when you've had dim sum, and the server hasn't had to do much more than point to food, put it on your table (or not), and check off your card, and, of course, refilled your water and tea?

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  1. If she was prompt, courteous, made your meal pleasurable (got the cart around to you often enough, cleared, got you everything you needed etc. 15%.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sal Vanilla

      If she was all of the above, 20%. She still has to, presumably, split the tip, be on her feet, put up with customers, pay the bills, and survive.

    2. Think of dim sum as a buffet on wheels, so it would make sense to tip at least as much as you would for a buffet in a decent restaurant. In my book, that's at least 15%.

      3 Replies
      1. re: tubman

        Yes, good correlation.

        However, most buffets I have been to are ones where the waitstaff were ever present, ever filling the mimosas, ever filling the coffee, and were rewarded with 20%.

        I don't think my opinion is the norm. I start at 20% and work backwards depending on my hot buttons.

        1. re: dolores

          Mmmmm....I thought tipping at buffets was closer to 10-15 percent. I guess I have old and incorrect info!

          Thanks for these answers!

      2. It's customary where we are to leave 10%

        1. Remember that the 'server' is likely going to have to tip out the cart pushers (who are REALLY doing the serving), too, so don't shortchange the lot of them. In fact, I'd bet that most dim sum places pool the tips, so it's really not a 'tipping out' thing, but the idea is to tip on the whole of the serving staff, not just the guy in the black vest.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ricepad

            Most dim sum places will pool the tips. It's a group effort.

          2. Regular amount as in any sit down restaurant. At dim sum you are served (usually anyway) by multiple servers, including the cart persons, the captain/waiter who respond to you and clear your empty plates, and the person who refill your tea.

            1. 20% unless the service was lacking. Those cart pushers work hard!

              1. I can see the points of people who would argue that dim sum on carts is like a buffet, but I reject the argument nonetheless. I treat dim sum as I do any sit down, table service restaurant. That means for efficient, polite service I'll tip about 20% on the pre-tax total.

                4 Replies
                1. re: ccbweb

                  And on behalf of all the buffet servers I have encountered, who have been more than solicitous, available, and courteous, I view it as (usually) a meal for $24.95 and this includes drinks. As far as I can see, the person who slogs those trays of food while ravenous people are waiting should share in a 20% tip that this efficient server deserves.

                  1. re: dolores

                    Good point...the very few buffets I've eaten at in the last several years have really been such a bargain that the percentage thing doesn't apply in my tipping world. I just tip several dollars per person eating.

                    1. re: dolores

                      By that same logic then maybe I should tip the Sysco truck drivers too because they slog those food items to the restaurants. Putting trays of food on steam tables do not count as service, in my book.

                      1. re: PeterL

                        Salsiccia his own.

                        I appreciate the work done by servers everywhere and will continue to tip 20% on average.

                        If service is degraded according to my criteria, I will lower the tip accordingly.

                  2. 10% is what I insensitively call "Chinese Tipping Rule" (in the Toronto area). That's the approximate amount (plus or minus 5%) I've seen from my family and their friends when going out to Chinese places (including dim sum). Also, you will notice that service charge for places that have a lot of Chinese clientele to be 10%, not 15%, 17%, or 20%.

                    Of course, it doesn't hurt to tip more.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Blueicus

                      I call it that, too. Insensitive, maybe, but it's often true. I grew up with it and my mother, bless her, is one of the worst tippers ever. But, in the sprawling Chinese-American community in Los Angeles, excellent tips aren't typically expected. The service reflects that expectation (i.e. it's often not great if not downright rude).

                      Personally, I set the bar at 15%, regardless. There's a dim sum resto in San Gabriel where my mother has built up contacts and they treat us really well. I definitely up the tip past 15%, in that case.

                      1. re: Blueicus

                        I think it's more Canadian than Chinese. My Chinese friends here in the Bay Area and down in L.A. tip the usual 15 - 20%, US standards.

                      2. Dim sum is NOT like a buffet, the food gets brought to you while you're sitting at your table. It's more like getting the desserts/cheeses brought out on a cart or tray at a full service restaurant and you choose what you want. I tip for dim sum the same as for regular table service. I think it's OK to generally tip less for buffet service since you did part of the "service" yourself.