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Best Dim Sum in HK, Shanghai & Beijing?

I am a huge fan of dim sum. I am finally making a trip to China. I love eating any and all types... so, I am looking for a couple of suggestions in each of these cities. If you can, let me know what are the specialities in each place.

Thanks.

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  1. Dim sum is a Cantonese regional speciality, so you'd normally find the best ones in Hong Kong or Guangzhou, China. My personal fave HK dim sum place is the historic Luk Yu Teahouse, but you can find some very good dim sum suggestions in HK at this earlier thread:
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/318331

    Shanghai's most famous dumplings are the "xiao long bao", or soup dumplings. I liked to go to Din Tai Fung in Xintiandi. Have a look at this thread for other Shanghai options:
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/446189

    Beijing's dumplings are usually the potstickers. I like those in Made in China, Grand Hyatt Beijing - which is a fantastic restaurant if you want to try other Beijing specialties, e.g. Peking duck (the real thing), hand-pulled noodles, Beijing-style pancakes, etc. There's also the very famous Gou Bu Li dumplings - these originated from the nearby port city of Tianjin, but they've an outlet in the Wangfujing shopping district, downtown Beijing.

    2 Replies
    1. re: klyeoh

      I'd second the Din Tai Feng vote, although the punters will no doubt be out soon to sing the praises of Jia Jia Tang Bao. If you're in Shanghai long enough you can try both. Also must go to Yang's Fry Dumplings for shengjian mantou, a sort of thick skinned Xiao Long Bao/pot sticker. (See likealocal.cn for a review and info : http://www.likealocal.cn/archives/151 ... ok look, a comment by Gary Soup ;)

      )

      Don't bother trying to find Cantonese dim sum (which is dim sum as you probably know it) in Shanghai though unless you are really really desperately into dim sum, you'll be disappointed, especially after HK. If you must I'd probably go to Crystal Jade, they do ok dim sum. I'd imagine the same to be true for Beijing (?). In HK I'm a big fan of Metropole which is HK side next to Admirality metro if I'm not mistaken, they still have carts and screeching dim sum grannies which is very important. The food is good too and not too expensive.

      1. re: mbe

        Jia Jia Tang Bao and DTF's xiaolong bao are a standoff ifn terms of quality. Bao for Bao, DTF's are about 7X the price, but you get a more shiny environment and you get your butt kissed by a servile staff. Ya pays yer money and ya makes yer choice. It all depends on your priorities.

        Here's where the locals bring their money:

        http://shanghaiist.com/2007/09/23/dia...

        If you can get through the Chinese, here's a "Top 40" list of small eats in Shanghai:

        http://food.846.cn/2006/1-7/192755.html

    2. Yan Toi Heen inside Intercontinental gets my vote ! One of the best in HK - great food, great view and great service. I had a superb "Shark fin & seafood dumpling in clear broth" in there.

      1. My top three Hong Kong choices are:
        - Lung King Heen, Four Seasons Hotel, Hong Kong
        - T'ang Court, Langham Hotel, TST, Kowloon
        - Fu Sing Sharkfin seafood Restaurant, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
        All three serve traditional as well as innovative nouveau' Cantonese/Northern dim sum.

        1. 2 best place to "Yum Cha", on east side of Beijing - try "Sampan", it's by far the best place in town has been serving dim sum for many many many years (86.10) 6515-8855 ext. 2155.

          On the west side of the town, ZEN @ InterContinental is also a perfect choice, the secret is Hong Kong flown in chefs would really pay a great deal of attention to Dim Sum making, ingredients and freshness. (86.10) 5852 5888

          1 Reply
          1. re: adidasxk

            Is that the same Zen chain that has branches in Shanghai? There's another chain, Bi Feng Tang, that I thought was as good and better priced.

            But as another poster mentioned, Cantonese dim sum is best left to HK.

          2. i wasn't a big fan of luk yu. for a good "traditional" experience with carts, noise, and clatter, go to maxim's city hall. it's a bit of a wait though, food is b+, experience a-. for excellent dim sum in a stuffier environment, i prefer the square in exchange square. recommend reservations if you go. lei gardens for dim sum in ifc is also a good bet.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ckbear

              i was very underwhelmed by Maxim's...not worth the insane wait...and the random dimsum i had at HK airport was better quality...

            2. I'm also a huge fan of dim sum and because I'm homesick for Cantonese food, I've eaten in quite a few dim sum restaurants in Beijing of late. One thing that you have to watch out for is the time, a lot of these dim sum places have specific hours. Try to go at least an hour before the ending time, when they say that the dim sum ends at a certain time, that's exactly when it ends!

              I will also second the recommendation for Sampan, their dim sum is good and they also have an extensive menu for non-dim sum items. It's a little pricey, especially the tea, but well worth it.

              My fiance and I recently tried the Horizon restaurant's dim sum a few weekends ago. It was supposed to be a buffet, but we went at an odd weekend right before New Year, so we ended up only ordering from the dim sum menu. Horizon is located in the Kerry Centre on Guanghua Lu. The dim sum is excellent and beautifully presented, and very authentic. I also have a much more extensive review with pictures here on my blog: http://www.quirkybeijing.com/?p=5

              There is one restaurant that very few people seem to know about due to its proximity to a rather notorious bar, and that is Valley Kitchen. It's located next to The World of Suzie Wong bar in Chaoyang Park West Gate, but it couldn't be more different. The dim sum there is cheaper than the other restaurants that I have mentioned, but the menu is more limited. They do have one dim sum that I just love that I haven't found elsewhere, not even in Hong Kong or Los Angeles, and that is pineapple buns with barbecued pork (cha siu).

              One place I don't recommend is Jin Ding Xuan. There are two locations in Beijing, and the one that I've been to twice is the one by Lama Temple (Yonghegong). It's basically a dim sum clearinghouse and while it's open 24 hours if you really need your fix, the dim sum is of mediocre quality and the service is terrible.

              Okay, I could go on about this forever, but I hope this is helpful to you!

              1 Reply
              1. re: quirkybeijing

                Every time when I go to Hong Kong I try to go back at least once to my favorite dim sum place. It is in downtown Aberdeen (opposite the HSBC Premier office) on a corner with a large dragon on the wall. The place is huge, 3 floors, with hords of ladies passing your table with trolleys of goodies. Unfortunately I cant remember the name (maybe someone can help me there) but it is easy to find. My other favorite would be the groundfloor in Pacific Place under the JW Marriott.
                At the moment I live in Shanghai and tried many dim sum places, including those of which you would expect something good (like Crystal Jade, Portmann, etc.) and it is a continuous disappointment with one exception, the Whampoa Club on the Bund no. 3. Look forward to the Peninsula opening up, with their HK chefs they should be ok.

              2. My pick for HK would be Luk Yu Teahouse. The experience of dining there is as "traditional" as it gets. Not only is it one of the oldest restaurants in Hong Kong, but its filled every morning with old timers and regulars. A big tip - order what the locals eat. LY changes some of its menu items every few weeks. Forget ordering har gau and siu mau etc here. Go for some of their other unique dim sum offerings!

                LY doesn't score quite high with chowhounders so I'll give you some recs I enjoy - fun guen (this is like cheong fun but the skin is thicker and the fillings change weekly, it'll either be chicken/pork/fish), ngow yuk (beef balls, theirs are big and flavourful, don't forget to ask for the dipping sauce - geet zap), a shrimp ball dish (sometimes its with mushroom, sometimes its with corn), roast pork bun (rectangular shape), glutinous rice with meat and mushrooms wrapped in leaves (you can only get this at a certain time of the year) and lai wong bao (egg custard bun) for dessert. There are many other special items that are delicious and the flavors are unique to Luk Yu. That is why SO many locals still insist on going everyday. Go early and you can watch the old ladies carry out the metal dim sum trays. Also, the first floor is way too touristy. For better service eat upstairs.

                Another good pick for dim sum is China Club. Beautiful space and good food. Its members only but you can get your hotel's concierge to call and make a reservation for you.

                1. This is not your question, but definitely head to butterfly garden (near but not in xintiandi) in shanghai for some of the best shanghainese you can find. Order the shanghai hongqiao rou, the huang jiu (chinese wine), and su ya (veg duck). All excellent.

                  Also, try dishuidong on maoming lu/xinle lu (I think this is the cross street, if not it is a block further north on maoming). Their lamb ribs were my first venture into meat after 13 years of vegetarianism and well worth it.

                  And, if you must eat the dimsum, I second the person who recommended crystal jade. But, there are so many mainland specialties there is no reason to go.

                  1. I agree with quirkybeijing on staying away from Jin Ding Xuan. My favorite place for dim sum so far is Lei Garden on Jinbao Jie. This is also a somewhat upscale place, but the dim sum is very refined and delicious--worth every kuai. You get quality ingredients, delicately wrapped buns and dumplings (little doughiness or greasiness) and the best little cubes of crispy roasted pork (shao rou) I've had yet in Beijing. You can find the restaurant's details and a more complete recommendation on my website: http://www.savourasia.com/content/vie...

                    1. Shanghai:

                      -- i went to DTF and while the crab over asparagus was good (though quite expensive and fairly buttery), as was the jellyfish, i was very unimpressed by the one dimsum dish i ordered: the rice&pork dumplings, which were mealy and tasted like frozen food...

                      -- i had good Cantonese-style dimsum at the very popular Bi Feng Tang, which is on Nanjing Lu, near Tongren Lu...huge woodsy popular place (still packed w/ locals and serving dimsum at 6pm on a Sunday)...the house specialty hargow were some of the best i've ever had, and the fried tofu skin w/ dried shrimp was delicate and great...excellent congee w/ sliced fish too...

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Simon

                        I'll second Bi Feng Tang, based on my experience at the Xujiahui branch (it's a chain or sorts, see the link below for locations). More than decent dim sum and it's inexpensive, which makes for one of the best values in Shanghai.

                        What were the "rice and pork dumplings" you had at DTF? Were they the Shanghai-style shao mai (siu mei), which typically use sweet rice as a filler?

                        http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/shangha...?

                        1. re: Xiao Yang

                          hi...yeah Bi Feng Tang was good stuff...i might even go there today!

                          the rice&pork ones were those ones w/ flour dumpling wrappers, like little pouches open at the top filled w/ brown-colored rice mixed w/ a little ground pork...i'd seen them on the street and figured DTF would be as good a place as any to try them: a bad call...don't think they used sweet-rice, but maybe very slightly sweet?

                          1. re: Simon

                            Those definitely sound like the Shanghai version of shao mai. By "sweet rice" I mean glutinous rice, a.k.a. "sticky rice" which is slightly sweet, compared to regular table rice. They look like this:

                            http://img.poco.cn/mypoco/myphoto/200...

                            1. re: Xiao Yang

                              yup, that's what i ate!...except that the ones at DTF didn't look at good as the one in that pic...

                              didn't make it to Bi Feng Tang today...instead hit my standby: Bao Luo on Fumin Lu, for sweet eggplant&minced pork w/ pancakes ("aubergine sandwich" on the menu) and some braised shrimp w/ cashews...