Fav Dim Sum?
Whenever I get to try dim sum, and I tell them that I can't eat pork or shellfish, I get shuttled to the Sesame Ball. I have gotten to try them at a few places now, and I love them! What do you crave?
I love dim sum and have many favorites. One standout is rice noodles with XO sauce (and sometimes bean sprouts are in the mix).
But each dim sum restaurant seems to have its own unique flavors and special dishes, so my favorite dim sum will usually depend on the restaurant we select.
har gow, chicken feet, turnip cake, the sticky triangle of sweet rice (don't know what to call it in English and can't spell it in Chinese) and almost any that has garlic chives. Thanks for making me hungry.
I like the vegetarian versions of the following:
rice noodle rolls (rare)
tofu skin rolls
These are always veg (and oh-so-tasty): scallion pancakes, tea eggs and fried bread.
To the OP, many of the mentions above do contain pork and/or shellfish. An example is XO sauce, which includes ham and dried shrimp and scallops. The turnip cake usually has bits of Chinese pork sausage.
But there are some options. Malaysian steamed cake, ma lai goh, is sweet from brown or palm sugar. Rice noodle rolls, cheung fun, can be filled with beef or a vegetarian mix. That beef filling, scented with anise and tangerine peel, appears alone as meatballs, ngau yuan. Sticky glutinous rice wrapped in a lotus leaf with a filling of minced chicken, loh mai gai, is rich and filling.
However, one concern for you is hidden pork in non-pork dishes. Lard is sometimes used in dumpling wrappers and pastry dough, though I think that this is a practice now done only in higher-end restaurants with a clientele who notices and appreciates the difference. Forcemeats may contain pork meat and fat so even so-called steamed chicken buns may contain pork.
Another dish to consider is non-wonton soup noodles. Thin egg noodles in a chicken broth with greens and stewed beef brisket or roast duck. Not dim sum but perfectly acceptable in that setting.
If there's an actual vegetarian menu, then I doubt that there would be any lard in the wrapper.
But I've had what was simply called spinach dumpling on the menu and it had bits of pork in it. At some places, a vegetable bun (and that's the literal translation) means that there's cabbage in the filling along with pork!
you might also try an asian market for their frozen dumplings and buns, if you wanted to know for sure what the ingredients are. there are lots of vegetable and chicken dumpling combinations.
if you're not concerned about periphery treyf, there's the chicken bun, chicken feet which really are amazing (you need to eat the skin and gristle which are cooked to a jellyconsistency -then spit out the bones, the taste is worth the experience), the rice in bamboo leaves usually has pork in it. there's also usually chinese vegetables like bamboo shoots or "broccoli" available that is sauteed with garlic and possibly oyster sauce (which can even have no oysters, but you can go with it or ask for it with just garlic and oil). outside of that, i can't think of another savory dish that doesn't have pork or seafood. dim sum is all about pork and seafood! i once ate at the vegetarian dim sum place in manht's chinatown. it was terrible. you can ask for just vegetarian, or just chicken from a regular place, but be advised that pork fat is everywhere.
there are also the egg custards which are great. and any of the deserts.
my must haves whenever i get some dim sum:
siu mai (w/ roe)
xlb (if they have it)
chinese broccoli w/ oyster sauce
sticky rice in banana leaf
shrimp & chive dumplings
unfortunately, this usually brings my bill to exorbitant amounts, but the heart wants what the heart wants. :o)
I am a huge dimsum fan and I also do not consume pork (but shellfish is okay for me, so that opens a lot of other opportunities). I always inform the waiter and I have had a lot of experiences with people actually telling the chef and the chef makes my party some special dim sums to suit my dietary requirements. That said, some of my favorites that would also be okay for you are:
pan fried chicken dumplings
curry beef pie
veggie cheung fun
stir fried greens (although this may be in oyster sauce)
Most US chinese places would be using veg shortening, not lard, but one should ask. But watch out for hidden pork as mentioned before. I discovered that some seafood dumplings have pork mixed in, so others might as well.