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May 8, 2010 02:48 PM

Dinner Time Dum Sum at Lunasia? [moved from Los Angeles board]

First CBS Seafood and now Lunasia. According to Lunasia's Facebook page they serve dim sum until 9 pm. What's the world coming to? Dim sum at night is unAmerican, and downright evil.

CBS Seafood
700 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

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  1. Restaurants must think it makes sense because many are busy only when they're serving dim sum. If you got it why not sell it.

    34 Replies
    1. re: monku

      That's not necessarily true.

      What you are witnessing is the "Chinese weekend effect".

      Chinese restaurants are just generally busier during the weekend than during the week.

      Ever go to dim sum during the weekday? Many times the restaurant will be at 20% capacity, if you're lucky.

      Dim sum during the weekend is a high traffic time no doubt, but so is dinner service during the weekend. Lesson from this? Chinese people hate to cook during the weekend, and eating out is a perfect excuse to burn up some disposable income.

      1. re: ipsedixit

        Two "crowded" dim sum places are Empress and Elite. Go on a weekend and both places are packed with people waiting in line for dim sum after 10:30am. Go on a weekend night and Empress is a ghost town unless there's a wedding, Elite is busy, but the parking lot isn't jam packed and people aren't waiting a half hour for a table. I've been to both places on a weekday and both are full at the lunch hour for dim sum.

        You haven't adressed the reason they might have for serving dim sum at dinner.
        The only explanation is some places think they can increase traffic at dinner and maybe they can move dim sum so they can serve "fresh" the next day. Dim sum can't be a high profit item because it's labor intensive to produce.

        1. re: monku

          "Dim sum can't be a high profit item because it's labor intensive to produce."

          You are dead on. It isn't, and I've heard a ridiculous number like almost half a million dollars is the average startup investment required just to add on top of a Cantonese restaurant to have the capacity to make dim sum (those are NorCal numbers by the way), and I'm not sure how much of that includes the chef, training or scouting talent, equipment (steamers, fryers etc). The operating costs must be astronomical too for those high end VIP type joints.

          The only way I see dim sum being offered at night being a semi cost effective thing for the restaurant, is that they reheat stuff that is unsold during lunch, or make whatever is remaining from unused ingredients (or hmmm heat up stuff from frozen?). Or if they want to get rid of that stuff, perhaps do a combo special, like 3 to 4 for $10, from a limited list.

          Live fresh seafood from the tanks (as well as alcohol) provide some of the highest profit margin items to the lineup. Of course fried rice or noodles during dinner (or lunch),at $12 to $16 is. By upselling low profit margin items (assuming if they are offering a full lineup of dim sum into the night) is just financial foolhardiness.

          Another interesting historical perspective is that over 60+ years ago, at one point, there were tea houses, and there were "alcohol houses" in Hong Kong and Canton. You'd go to the tea houses for dim sum, and "alcohol houses" would be where you go to get a good feast, booze, and they also doubled up as brothels.
          So at some point (I want to say 1940s or 50s), brothels were of course outlawed, then tea houses merged with brothel-less alcohol houses (which made sense at the time), and thus now seafood restaurants in HK, USA, etc are now the de facto places you go for dim sum (with a few exceptions). So then it became dim sum during brunch time, and feast and booze at dinner.

          1. re: K K

            Could the PM dim sum be a potential draw used by the restaurants? I could easily see myself as a person who enjoys dim sum at any hour of the day being drawn to a particular restaurant for this, but then also ordering those other items like live seafood, noodles, drinks, to round out my dinner; or using reverse logic, being drawn to a particular restaurant because not only could I get live seafood dishes, noodles and drinks, but dim sum items to enjoy as apps or side dishes to an already nice meal. I can understand why those brought up in the tradition of AM dim sum just not feeling right for dinner, but for those who don't have that association, it's a plus.

            1. re: bulavinaka

              It's definitely an easy way to draw in the non Chinese crowd, in addition to anyone who wants dim sum in the mid to late PM. Either way I would be skeptical about the quality of the PM dim sum. Think about some local bakeries that sell this stuff that they keep in incubator steamers, made early to middle in the day. By PM time I bet it's not going to be that good (or sitting in a mall food court style steam table).

              Now offering dim sum dessert during dinner, like mango pudding or traditional stuff like black sesame rolls, thousand layer cake, egg tarts, dzeen dui (deep fried sesame balls with lotus paste inside), pineapple bun with flowing savory custard etc makes sense just to round off a feast (for those who don't care for red bean soup, or taro w/sago etc). If the restaurant is business savvy enough they'll charge a dollar more for the same dessert during dinner.

              By the way the half a million quote I learned from a family member who's tight with a chef owner of a restaurant in NorCal. The number, now that I remember it, is the base initial investment to allow for the restaurant to have the facility and capacity to make dim sum. So that doesn't include the labor and skill obviously. This amount I'm sure is a lot higher for bigger places.

              1. re: K K

                Don't doubt your figures.
                Dim sum is a draw....if it weren't cheap places like Yum Cha Cafe the McDonalds of dim sum wouldn't be successful. They make a majority of it at a central location and truck it to other locations.

                Like an idiot I anticipated a horrible crowd at Elite for Mothers Day and was the first one there when they opened at 8:00am. Only us and another party for a half hour. I could tell I was the shu mai was from yesterday and not fresh.

          2. re: monku

            monku, you miss my point.

            Dim sum on the weekend isn't busy because it is dim sum; it is busy because it is during the weekend.

            Elite, Empress, Sea Harbour, etc., are not busy at all during the weekday, either during lunch (dim sum) or at dinner.

            My point was simply that focusing on dim sum as the reason for a restaurant's traffic volume is focusing on the wrong factor.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Not true...go to a non-dim sum place like Sam Woo BBQ in Alhambra for lunch at noon on a weekend and there is no waiting for tables. I purposely go Sunday for lunch because I know it won't be busy. Go after 5pm and you can't get a table. You can see the people waiting outside the dim sum places on the weekends.

              Dim sum is a draw no matter how good or bad it is.

              1. re: monku

                Ever go to dim sum at Ocean Star or Sea Harbour during the weekday, say around 10 or 11? Nearly empty. Waiter to customer ratio is close to 1:1.

                No doubt there are Chinese restaurants during the weekend that are not busy, but that's not the point, nor the barometer to judge why dim sum is MORE crowded during the weekend than the week.

                Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
                3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Haha, it's really not that difficult folks.

                  Well in Hong Kong culture, weekends are when families get together out of everyone's scheduling convenience (and free time). It is not like Uncle A, Auntie B, and Cousin C (all grown up with full time gigs) and relatives D through Z, can take time off altogether just to do a weekday gathering. What to eat? Dim sum is the logical choice. Many make it a regular occurence, and some of these weekend meals last 2 to 3 hours (with socialization and chit chat, making it more painful for some). Add MSG induced coma and the rest of the day is practically gone. So yes, the families may be there for the dim sum, but the underlying reason is the family gathering.

                  On top of that a place like Sam Woo is just for no nonsense eating. Order, eat, and go. Also great bachelor food. There's no glamor in simple comfort food like a typical rice plate or dried fried beef chow fun, cha siu over rice, or a plate of cheaper downscale Cantonese stir fry that's probably less than a tenner (vs easily in the teens at the seafood dim sum joints) . Dim Sum is about taking time and enjoying (and socializing with friends, coworkers, or family).

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Weren't for dim sum Ocean Star and Sea Harbor would have no business for lunch during the week.

                    Believe what you want, dim sum is the draw for the places offering it.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      We've gone to 888 and Full House on weekdays, and while there wasn't a wait as on weekends both places were pretty busy. In fact, our table at Full House was the one bad one, out in the main aisle near the register. Of course this was at around 1 pm, not 10 am...

                      It puzzles me, though, what the business reasons might be behind a decision to serve dim sum in the evening. My understanding is that the cooking staff is not the same as the dinner staff, and I'd think the kitchen would be used in a very different manner. If they're doing cart service it gets even stranger. I cannot believe any astute business person, maybe especially an Asian business person, would do such a thing unless he or she thought it would make more money, and I can't think how that would be so.

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        >>It puzzles me, though, what the business reasons might be behind a decision to serve dim sum in the evening. My understanding is that the cooking staff is not the same as the dinner staff, and I'd think the kitchen would be used in a very different manner.<<

                        I think it was mentioned upthread somewhere by KK and others that the dim sum items that will be offered in the PM are probably overrun from the early dim sum period. It would make sense since this proposition works, a restaurant might as well produce more units since the overhead for a daily dim sum setup has to be paid whether they produce 500 siu mai or 800 siu mai - they probably only incur the cost of additional materials, which would be marginal, and maybe a little bit extra in man-hours. Some dim sum items hold up pretty well for at least a few hours, so why not give it a try is my guess.

                        1. re: bulavinaka

                          That makes sense... and as we have been known to be perfectly happy with siu mai and har gow etcetera steamed from frozen, I'm sure that we would not find leftovers from lunch to be offensive. I would assume, then, that the dim sum makers would simply be directed to make X number of trays extra to be shelved in the walk-in for evening service, and that the evening dim sum menu would not include things that really need to be fresh.

                          Now all we need is a guinea pig...

                          1. re: Will Owen

                            >>Now all we need is a guinea pig...<<

                            (><) - LOLing! You always make my day, Will! And I think you're serious!

                            >>...and as we have been known to be perfectly happy with siu mai and har gow etcetera steamed from frozen, I'm sure that we would not find leftovers from lunch to be offensive.<<

                            I know that the Chinese culture is steeped in tradition. Dim sum is obviously one of those, as some of my most respected authorities on Chinese cuisine have already mentioned. But I think the cultural dynamics are changing (as some of us have already mentioned) relative to food and lifestyle itself. And maybe the AM dim sum/PM Cantonese seafood houses know this as well. Maybe they've been asked enough times by customers if there were any siu mai, bao or any other dim sum items available for dinner.

                            I never thought I'd see nice selections of wines being offered at these restaurants but here they are, and even some for Bourdeaux! So wouldn't a restaurant known for serving good to great dim sum during the day, be associated as sorts of Chinese "tapas" places where folks could gather, chat, sip some nice wines, have nice conversation, and have some nice small dishes that they could order as the evening progresses? And if some of these parties really get comfortable, why not order a few pounds of live Santa Barbara spot prawns or some lobster as well?! Laughing about today's ups & downs while noshing on dim sum, some freshly poached prawns and sipping a nice champagne or reisling would make for a nice way to call it a day in the SGV.

                            1. re: bulavinaka

                              Cantonese diners, particularly the spendy VIP golfer types are wine savvy, hence the no brainer for Cantonese seafood places (the really good ones) to carry a good selection of fine wine. I've heard stories about management trying to upsell $1500 bottles of French sour grape at an Elite-like establishment in NorCal. So yes, there is demand for that stuff to an extent. Not every vulgar big spender will have XO with every meal (and not referring to XO sauce either).

                              1. re: K K

                                It's either overpriced French (and, yes, it has to be French) wine, or it's Johnnie Walker Blue Label.

                                This is, of course, after they've had their fill of Remy Martin ...

                                1. re: K K

                                  I like a good cognac, but I would guess that the majority of sales must go to the Chinese population. I still remember our wedding reception in Malaysia and how many dozens of bottles we went through. Multiply this by millions each year plus the somewhat more subdued but substantial sipping elsewhere and that's some hefty sales in Asia. What Chinese dishes would pair well with cognac? I typically think something sweet, but maybe even savory like pork/shrimp in siu mai, or more rich like lobster?

                                  The more we discuss the various aspects of dim sum from open to close along with the cultural dynamics within the Chinese community as well as those looking in, who knows where dim sum will be headed.

                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                    Yes has to be French and 3 digit minimum. California wine is only acceptable if it was purchased in Hong Kong at 3x to 5x Cali prices. Any $10 - 20 bottle wine lover must not admit to his friends of his lowly local preferences, else he would be condescended upon for having cheap lowly taste, and perhaps outcasted from the country club clique.

                                    I wonder if there are Chinese websites that describe the short history or origins of when the spendy VIP diamond ladened Gold Rolex sporting golfers coming to lunch in their BenzMWLexmobiles decided to have XO with Canto banquet feastfests, let alone dim sum... I would imagine XO started being paired with the seafood kings like sharks fin, abalone, sea cucumber, fish maw (dinner of course), until it became a status symbol for the nouveau riche and corrupt politicians, replacing breakfast coffee and OJ.

                                    From a cultural standpoint, Hong Kongers used to throw around a phrase for the nouveau riche, that they would eat shark's fin over rice anyday.

                                    1. re: K K

                                      Did you know that there was a big brewhaha between Remy Martin and various purveyors of XO sauce over trademark and tradedress infringement? Apparently, companies like Lee Kum Kee were copying (allegedly) the style and color of the Remy Martin liquor bottle and box.

                                      I think Rolex may crumble if it weren't for all the Chinese, Hong Kongnese, Taiwanese, etc. buying up those diamond larded Rolex President watches.

                                      Funniest thing I've ever heard in a Chinese jewelry store from a spoiled Taiwanese teenager (couldn't have been more than 2 years into high school): "The Rolex you sold me stopped; it needs a new battery ... and make sure it is a Rolex battery!"

                                    2. re: bulavinaka

                                      I think cognac is popular at Chinese weddings b/c it looks so much like tea. The bride and groom can toast everyone all night long without getting piss-ass drunk.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        You make a good point, but then I was told of the legend of some Taiwanese rich college yuppie type kid who experimented with mixing whiskey + bottled green tea during one of his numerous karaoke gatherings (in the Toronto/Richmond Hill area) and that year, sales of green tea at the karaoke clubs went through the roof just to have it amateurly mixed in the private rooms. This went far back as the 90s I was told.

                                        1. re: K K

                                          And there was definitely no tea in our cognac. Everyone made sure of that.

                              2. re: bulavinaka

                                "I think it was mentioned upthread somewhere by KK and others that the dim sum items that will be offered in the PM are probably overrun from the early dim sum period."


                                This rationale makes sense only for cart places -- as those types of restaurants will often make batches of stuff at one time to send out with the cart ladies.

                                With off the menu places -- which Lunasia is one (and the original restaurant of this topic) -- it doesn't really apply. Kitchen makes the dim sum item as they are ordered. No overruns.

                                Now, with CBS I can understand b/c it is a cart style dim sum restaurant.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  >>With off the menu places -- which Lunasia is one (and the original restaurant of this topic) -- it doesn't really apply. Kitchen makes the dim sum item as they are ordered. No overruns.<<

                                  I'm not so sure about that. We went to Elite on Mother's Day - early, about 0815 - and we ordered some of the dim sum standards. They were good - very good - but not the excellence that we've been so spoiled by in past visits. We also tried to order some items that must be cooked to order, like gai lan and a noodle dish. We were refused by the waiter. We were told that the chefs weren't in yet to cook those items. Poster Monku also mentioned that he felt his items were possibly not fresh as well (we probably saw each other and didn't even notice). I'm suspecting that some of the items we were served might have been pre-made. We did start to see some items roll out around 9AM that had to be freshly prepared (e.g., deep-fried riceballs stuffed with pork, shrimp, turnip and cilantro), but by that time, we were almost done.

                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                    Ha....You were the second party that came in after us sitting near the window. We were the party of 6 sitting by the glass wall. We were the only two parties in the restaurant until what 8:30?

                                    We were told the items on the right side of the menu weren't available because the chefs hadn't come in yet.

                                    I have no doubt that leftovers from the previous day are served first. That's the risk of going early at any dim sum place.

                                    I'd say that even though it's off a menu (not on a cart) it would take at least 30 minutes to steam something like shu mai from it's uncooked state. Despite what people think, most steamed items are probably on a steam table waiting to be picked up and not cooked to order.

                                    1. re: monku

                                      It wouldn't take 30 minutes to steam something. Keep the steamer going, and just drop in the raw shu mai and it'll be done in 5-10 minutes. If you started off by boiling the water from a cold start, then yes it would be closer to 30 minutes, but no restaurant does that.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        OK...Everytime I've been to Elite we order shu mai and har gow and they're always the first two dishes brought out in within 5 minutes of ordering. Tells me they're definitely pre-cooked and not cooked to order.

                                      2. re: monku

                                        That was us. I think you were waiting at the doors when we pulled up. Just as my wife started to mention that it looked like they weren't open, the lady unlocked the doors. I said to myself, "monku was right on. Maybe he'll be here this morning as well." Little did I know I was staring right at you and your group.

                                        We were a little perplexed at first about the chef issue, but we just blew it off and ordered more of the other stuff. At least for us, there were plenty of items to order still. Hope you had a nice meal. We did - albeit short on some items we had wanted. But this just calls for another visit soon. Thanks again for your post about their early open.

                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                          Yup, I was the first one in the door headed to the rest room.

                                          Your earlier post reminded me I had a couple egg custard tarts we took home so I polished them off.

                                          Was OK the right side of the menu wasn't sister-in-law ordered about a half dozen items from that side and it probably saved me $25. Everything was good and I was glad to get the MD festivities out of the way early without the crowds.

                                          Maybe next year we'll meet same time same place.

                                          1. re: monku

                                            LOL. We ordered the tarts and I was odd-man out. They were gone before I could put down my sticks while slurping down some shrimp cheong fun.

                                            I think the real crowd started to roll in just as we finished - around 0915-0930. Lucky for you and I that we're early risers. Hope to see you sooner than next year. :)

                                            1. re: bulavinaka

                                              If I go to Elite my MO is to be there on a Sunday just before 10am when they open the doors.

                                              Most likely be there Father's Day, June 20th when they open so I can get home to watch the US Open(golf).

                            2. re: monku

                              People go to places like Sam Woo BBQ for the food, but they go to dim sum places for the food and the company. It is difficult to compare them.

                              Sam Woo Cafe
                              727 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                              1. re: raytamsgv

                                It's not difficult to compare.
                                On a Sunday drive by Lunasia at 11:00am and look at the crowd waiting outside then drive 5 minutes down to Sam Woo BBQ (Alhambra) and you'll see empty tables inside.

                    2. New Won Kok was first serving and selling dim sum day and night for as long as I can remember.
                      Like Denny's serving breakfast at lunch and dinner.

                      Won Kok Restaurant
                      210 Alpine St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                      13 Replies
                      1. re: monku

                        LA, SF and NY boards all get requests from time to time for night time dim sum from non-Chinese diners who wish to try dim sum. I guess I'm a purist, because as much as I like dim sum, I can't imagine eating it at night.

                        1. re: Chandavkl

                          I'm with you on this one, Chandavkl.

                          But when you really think about it this is really a non-event, and more of a marketing tool for 老外 than anything else.

                          Because if you think about it seriously dim sum is really about a style of eating, and not necessarily what you eat. For example, things like gai-lan, spare ribs, roast duck, etc. are just regular menu items commonly found on the dinner side of things and not exclusively for dim sum.

                          After all dim sum, in its original iteration "yum cha" just means to drink or enjoy tea, and the things usu. now found on a dim sum menu were meant as hors d'oerves to accompany the tea, like a Cantonese version of English tea sandwiches.

                          So to say you are serving dim sum at dinner time is almost disingenuous. More precisely, what the restaurant is doing is serving items commonly found during dim sum (brunch time generally) at dinner time.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Uh, most all restaurants are busier on (Fri/Sat) weekends, not just Chinese ones. Depends on the type of restaurant, location, clientele, etc.

                            "Chinese people hate to cook during the weekend"
                            Uh, we love to cook on weekends, weekdays too if we have the time... we have more time and can cook fancier and bigger dinners for family gatherings! But of course, some Chinese hate to cook period. You sound like you are Chinese, but your stereotyping seems bizarre... I'm a product of a large Chinese family with lots of relatives. One and only one of my many aunts never cooked for us... I think she never learned as she was one of the few US born aunts I have and they would dine with my folks (my dad and his brother and the two wives) every Thursday or else my mom would cook for the four of them.

                            I think dim sum in the evening would be a gold mine... it could easily be compared to Japanese izakaya food but at 1/4 the cost. Every time I'm at an izakaya joint, I keep telling myself, why am I paying $8 for this tiny plate of food that is similar to a dim sum dish that I'd be paying only $2 for?

                            All my Chinese aunties (they have nearly all passed away now, bless them) loved to cook for us week day, weekend... that was how they showed us their love...

                            1. re: darrelll

                              >>One and only one of my many aunts never cooked for us... I think she never learned as she was one of the few US born aunts I have and they would dine with my folks (my dad and his brother and the two wives) every Thursday or else my mom would cook for the four of them.<<

                              Go to Asia to the present day, and you will find that your one aunt is now the rule and not the exception. The phenomenon that has spread throughout the US since the inception of the pill has also spread throughout East Asia with the inception of the house maids from Indonesia and the Philippines. None of my sisters in-law from Malaysia or Singapore can perform in the kitchen like my dear mother-in-law - zero and no clue. One of the cornerstones of East Asian culture is for each successive generation to be more successful than the previous one. The avenue to success in the US has been through educations - another cornerstone in East Asian culture. Universities are replete with students of Asian heritage - many of which are female (UCLA = University of Caucasians Lost among Asians :)). My mother-in-law, had she chosen to, could easily hold her own in SGV. Her daughters and daughters -in-law have chosen a more Western type of career path, thereby passing on the knowledge and skills that were previously passed down from generation to generation - in preparation of being a good housewife. Like in Japan, where artisans of the shrinking generation are anointed the title of Living Treasures by the government, other Asian countries may suffer the same continual loss of Living Treasures whose culinary skills are so valuable. It's hard work. Granted, in the family kitchen, there is a warmth of family togetherness and filial respect, but the fact is that regardless of how you feel about Ipsedixit's posts, it is becoming more reality with the passing of each successive generation.

                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                Especially with the prevalence of DINKs, women and men hardly ever cook anymore, or even know how to cook even if they wanted to or had the time to do so.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  Taking price, quality and the effort involved in making palatable dishes combined with the number of choices out there, I'm sure so many see little reason to cook. Both members of a couple working relatively lucrative professional lives and having little else in terms of responsibility leads to a kitchen serving as a place to keep energy bars and a pretty decent selection of wine. :)

                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                    ... or a kitchen stocked with top of the line Viking appliances and avant garde coffemakers and spice racks that are more for show than actual use.


                              2. re: darrelll

                                That was another generation. Today's generation does not like to cook. This is similar to what has happened in almost every country as they have industrialized. There have been times where I (as an ABC) had to explain to friends from Hong Kong, Taiwan and China how to cook certain Chinese dishes.

                                1. re: raytamsgv

                                  There's a growing movement in Hong Kong (as well as other Asian cities) where women prefer to hang on to their careers vs staying at home. Despite marriage and having kids, all house duties (including cooking) are easily relegated to hired help from Philippines, Indonesia, or Thailand. It's the norm over there, and typical hired help already has experience with Cantonese cooking. That combined with the convenience of eating outside, and thus not as many folks know how to cook. There are exceptions though as people grow more health conscious and thus a demand for procuring your own ingredients, knowing how to pick, bring it home, and cook yourself (there are cooking programs on TV, some very popular ones).

                            2. re: Chandavkl

                              I eat leftover dim sum for dinner, doesn't make a difference to me.

                            3. re: monku

                              There used to be another take out joint on Hill that's closed now, I think. Family Pastry sells dim sum all day, but nowadays, I only buy their baked char siu baos, steamed chicken baos and wrapped sticky rice among others. I now avoid most of the steamed dim sum as sometimes it's been sitting in the steam racks too long.

                              My favorite Char siu bao place used to be Hong Kong Low but alas, they've been gone for years.

                              1. re: darrelll

                                Phoenix Bakery took over Hong Kong Low and sells some of their dim sum items like the pork buns at their bakery.

                            4. HAHA Dum Sum. Or Sim Dum?

                              Is the afternoon and dinner dim sum a reduced subset during lunch, or the entire lineup? Same prices?

                              For reference, 80 year old Lin Heung Tea House, visited by gazillions of visitors including Anthony Bourdain for No Reservations: Hong Kong, opens from 6 am to 11:30 pm. And yes they only serve old school dim sum.

                              But if you want to go back 100+ years or so in Hong Kong or Canton province, tea houses normally did dim sum in the form of a combo, namely a serving of tea, and no more than two dim sum items. One serving of tea would be identical to how they serve tea at Lin Heung Tea House (and not in tea pots). In Chinese it was 一盅兩件. The items were normally steamed buns or something humongous, that two orders were more than enough to get a customer full. It got evolved from that to varieties of tasty little morsels.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: K K

                                Sounds like a parallel to Spanish tapas or visa versa. Interesting - thank you!

                              2. The last time I was in Guangzhou back in 2004 or 2005, there was a mini-trend of restaurants serving dim sum and other small plate items late into the night. The procedure was to take your table ticket up to one of the many stalls at the edge of the dining room, order, get a stamp, and then take your item or if it took some time to prepare, bring a numbered stand back to your table.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: PorkButt

                                  Good data point. Anything goes in Guangzhou!

                                  The only way I see a dim sum themed dinner working is that if the restaurant customizing it to a series of high end mini courses, like Xi An style Dumpling Banquet 西安餃子宴


                                  The story behind this is something like it originated 1000 years ago during the Tong Dynasty.

                                  But there's only so much you can do with ha gow, siu mai.

                                2. There was at least one high-end Canto place serving dim sum in the evenings in Taipei when we lived there (the early '80's). It attracted a lot of business clientele, I suppose for a snack before the main event. So everything old is new again, it would seem.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: buttertart

                                    I don't know anything about the economics of night-time dim sum, but I'm Chinese and grew up eating dim sum every Saturday with my family. Having the option of eating dim sum at night appeals to me and I'd do it if it was available where I lived.

                                    Guess it's part of the whole "anytime anywhere" culture similar to the one that fuels the desire for fruits and vegetables that are out of season.

                                    1. re: buttertart

                                      I'm told there are a few so called yum cha joints in Taipei that are 24 hours...but a few folks I know there locally swear off of them.

                                      1. re: K K

                                        This goes back to the olden days - I can see the restaurant in my mind's eye but can't remember the name. It was in one of the hotels I think, and it was a classy joint. If I find my restaurant notes from then I'll check. (Thanks for reminding me it's called yin/yum cha in dear Taipei.)

                                        1. re: buttertart

                                          After a night of drinking... wouldn't a nice big fresh baked char siu bao be a great after drinking, need to sober up before driving snack?

                                          1. re: darrelll

                                            Or one of those pork belly buns with chopped peanuts. It sure as heck would.

                                            1. re: darrelll

                                              Probably not freshly baked but Won Kok in Chinatown is open till like 1am and they sell dim sum all day and night. Maybe open later on the weekends.