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Do you order a non dim sum dish during your dim sum meal to fill up stomach space? If so what is it?

In Hong Kong, it used to be that when certain dim sum items were sold out or you feel that you don't want anymore from the carts or are not feeling the variety, the quick fix solution was a stir fried plate of starch (noodles, rice etc) and it would help fill stomach space quickly and in some cases save $ over eating more and more little bites.

Do any of you do this still?

Here are some common favorite plates ordered by many

干炒牛河 - dried fried beef chow fun (scallions, onions, beef, soy sauce, bean sprouts)
菜遠牛河 - "wet" beef chow fun (with sauce) and greens
豉椒牛河 - bell peppers, black bean sauce, beef, chow fun
肉絲炒麵 - julienne pork, mushrooms, bean sprouts over crispy noodles
滑蛋蝦仁炒河 - runny scrambled egg and shrimp chow fun (you can substitute shrimp for beef or chicken)
鹹魚雞粒炒飯 - salted fish, chicken fried rice (with other ingredients)
楊州炒飯 - Yang Chou style fried rice
星州炒米 - HK style "Singaporean" rice noodle
乾燒伊麵 - stir fried e-fu noodle
福建炒飯 - Fujian (Fukien) fried rice...also the butt of many F word jokes

Basically there are tons and tons and tons of variations, and I only named the stir fried plates. Some people might order like a big bowl of some noodle soup like dish (even wor wonton).

Once in a while, we'll do a chow fun dish of some sort, the crispy noodle dish, or a bowl of fresh fish filet congee.

How about you?

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  1. Don't tend to order any kind of noodles or starch, but I do like to order a plate of some kind of green vegetable; dau miu or choy sum being favourites. Dim sum is usually pretty starchy and the greens are what I otherwise miss.

    1. I always order some type of soup, either some sort of seafood chowder or shark's fin

      Lots of places here in SoCal offer congee as part of their dim sum offerings.

      3 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        I've always wondered about the congee. When you get a bowl from the cart is it for one or for the group to share?

        1. re: viperlush

          That's up to you and the size of the serving given. I've been to a dim sum restaurant where their pushcart congee offering was literally a small bowl and each person got maybe a few spoonfuls.

          Typically the push cart congee places (at least the ones in NorCal), it's one flavor. For those that want whatever meat or fish or condiments that the pushcart doesn't offer, will have to be ordered from the kitchen.

          If you're with family and friends it's usually shared unless you have the appetite for the whole giant bowl :-)

          1. re: viperlush

            It's usually individual portions.

            Unless you regularly exchange bodily fluids with your dining companion (not necessarily out of the question), I tend to prefer to keep my congee to myself.

        2. I usually order a plate of gai lan.

          8 Replies
          1. re: phoenikia

            Hmm, I am usually easily filled up on dim sum so I don't order other dishes to fill up my tummy. I do, however, order a plate of broccoli every time, mainly because I love broccoli but also because I need some veggies to go with all the oil I end up eating. If for some reason I'm still hungry, I just get more taro or a dessert.

            1. re: phoenikia

              Here in SoCal, gai lan (or Chinese broccoli) is typically a dim sum dish.

              This brings me to another sort of related question:


              K K you have a thought on this? Or anyone else?

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Define "traditional"? You mean what is/was served in Hong Kong/Macau/Canton vs abroad/USA?

                1. re: K K

                  "Define "traditional"? You mean what is/was served in Hong Kong/Macau/Canton vs abroad/USA?"

                  Chicken or egg?

                  I guess that's part of the question. However you decide to define "traditional" will ultimately determine what dim sum items you consider traditional.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    There is also another way to define traditional beside locations -- time. Har Gow, Siu Mai, Char Siu Bao has a longer history and therefore traditional. Whereas any new invention regardless of location (Hong Kong or Canton) is considered as non-traditional.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Hmmm will have to think about that one. Might even warrant a thread in itself...

                      1. re: K K

                        Said thread is here on the partial history of dim sum / yum cha


                  2. re: ipsedixit

                    I would consider ha gow and siu mai to be two of the traditional dim sum dishes.

                    However, ha gow's history only goes as far back as 1920 to 1930 (more on that in some other thread), which is much younger than some traditional tea houses found in Guangzhou that go as far back as 1845 (what they served then I do not know).

                    Phoenix claws/chicken feet.....that's an interesting one, because it wasn't part of the main run lineup until the mid 60s or so.

                2. We like to order a steamed bass with peanut oil, scallions, sesame and ginger.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mamachef

                    This is dish is one of my top five Chinese Foods .......I would only add fresh cilantro too.

                  2. In my case, no because I tend to have more problem the other way around. I could tried that I want to try before filling up.

                    1. We often order any number of the chow fun dishes or chow mein dishes.

                      1. The short answer is "no," but the most popular dim sum place here offers stir fried noodles, congee, and gai lan with oyster sauce as dim sum dishes. Since there are only two of us usually, we don't have any trouble filling up on dim sum without breaking the bank.

                        1. Nope. My point with dim sum is try to eat the most non-filling items so I can try more stuff. I also generally avoid items with glutinous rice (pearl balls, sticky rice in lotus leaf) and roast or steamed pork buns because they're too filling.

                          But when I've gone out with my in-laws, there's usually an order of chow mein and gai lan.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Miss Needle

                            :) I am smiling with tears. This is pretty much how I feel.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              I have been known to order a dish of noodles (usually Ha Moon/Xiamen mai fun sometimes ginger and scallion lo mein) to supplement my dim sum experiance if it seems skimpy, though I usually have to do this expecting that I will either have to leave over or have packed up to go 75% of the dish (I cant eat all that many noodels at one sitting) also I once ordered a dish of west lake chow mai fun, just because I was curious as to waht it was (I tunrs out to be a pan fried disc of mai fun noodles with West Lake soup poured over them. Not bad But I'd have been happier ordering the soup directly)

                            2. re: Miss Needle

                              ditto (to miss needles' post). Except I find that gai lan (& tea) help break up everything so I can try more. Not a lot of it, but some... I love gai lan.

                            3. When I lived in Hong Kong the add-ons were typically a bowl of rice and some char siu (if I had my way) or crispy wok-fried egg noodles with a clear sauce containing bean sprouts and pork -- don't know the Cantonese OR English name but I still crave it powerfully after nearly a decade. The char siu always came with jellyfish around it as a garnish, for some reason. Ah, good memories! :)

                              Nowadays, baby bok choi (which, at my local dim sum joint, is staggeringly delicious despite its simplicity, therefore irresistible) and a bowl of rice are my only non-dim sum dishes. The portions are so cheap that even if we throw caution to the wind and try to out-eat the rest of the room, we can't spend ten bucks a head. For that price, why bother with fillers?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: LauraGrace

                                Yeah, I forgot we order baby bok choy sometimes, and usually ask for extra garlic. I've even seen it offered on tray service, as a "special dish" which costs more than the other dim sum plates.

                              2. All of the dishes you listed have been ordered at one time or another. I love salted fish fried rice. Talk about umami.

                                1. Usually beef chow foon, dry fried, or a nice crunchy green -- Chinese broccoli, baby bok choy, or green beans. Occasionally a seafood dish, like baby clams in black bean sauce.

                                  Now craving dim sum!

                                    1. We generally order a whole steamed fish of some type - if there are enough people to eat it. The last best one we had was steamed bass with green onion, sesame, cilantro......delicious.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: mamachef

                                        Whoops......I see cilantro here. :0)

                                        1. re: fourunder

                                          Plus, I really must learn to read all the way downthread before I open my yap twice - (it's just that I think what I have to say is so vitally important to the greater good.....: ) j/k.

                                      2. My two year old loves Singapore curry noodles ( as does my wife) so we usually get at least that for the table. I'd gladly sit around all day and nibble but I usually get overruled.

                                        1. I've never felt a need to order "fill-up" dishes.
                                          Maybe it's because I don't get to enjoy dim sum that often, but my usual problem is that I don't have enough room in my stomach to get everything that I want to get.
                                          Besides, the tea alone is usually enough to make my stomach feel full, especially if I get some sweets in the mix of dim sum dishes.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: racer x

                                            I am like you. I almost always take some left-over home.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              Left-over... What's that? I usually take extra home.

                                              The only time our table orders something from the men will be if the selections are week at any given time. then like others it will be Chow Fun or Cantonese Style Chow Mein. Chinese Broccoli is always ordered. If Roast Suckling Pig, Soy Sauce Chicken or Roast Duck comes by.....it will also be taken from the carts, or ordered, if available.

                                              1. re: fourunder

                                                "Left-over... What's that? I usually take extra home."

                                                That is what I wrote: " I almost always take some left-over home."

                                                You should read what you wrote because it is funny (unintentional).

                                                  1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                    Very nice pleats on the Har Gow. The other shrimp item, shrimp mousse stuffed Tofu?

                                            2. For me, I always order a chow fun because I just don't feel like I have had a meal without ordering something other than the dim sum. Same goes for when I get tapas. I have to get some paella because, no matter how full I am from the tapas, I am not "satisfied". WHy is that?

                                              26 Replies
                                              1. re: lilmomma

                                                There's an expression for that in Cantonese.

                                                Fan Tong(literally, rice barrel). People that cannot be full without eating rice.

                                                I think you are a western version of that:)

                                                1. re: vanierstudent

                                                  Errr....I thought that expression was to ridicule or describe someone as having no positive attributes...useless, so to speak....or only good for eating rice, not in a good way (rice bucket)

                                                  1. re: fourunder

                                                    seriously? That's not how my family used it when i was younger:(.

                                                    damn, my dad insulted me all my childhood, and I didn't even know it!:(

                                                    >> sorry for missleading OP, my cantonese is really rusty.

                                                    1. re: vanierstudent

                                                      Actually both are correct. It can refer to a person who love eating rice above everything, but in modern usage, it often means what fourunder has said: a person who is as uselss as a rice container.

                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                        I don't know what you define as "modern" but I learned that expression (the negative variant) from my grandparents. The Taiwanese extension to emphasize the useless aspect involves running over the rice barrel.

                                                        As for your original question, I order gai lan from time to time, and used to order roast pork at one place that has since closed.

                                                        1. re: wattacetti


                                                          I cannot be sure about a hundred years ago, but in modern usage like the last decades, the term "Fan Tong" is pretty much used as an degrading comment, just like you said. If people don't believe it, they can go to a Chinese community or Chinatown and start calling people "Fan Tong" and time how long before they get punched in the face.

                                                          Good to hear about your favor dim sum. :)

                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                            In my family we only ever use it to reference someone who likes a lot of rice. But now that I know the other connotation, I might use it. LOL. That's kind of mean.

                                                            1. re: TT2

                                                              it's a very concise way of saying "useless lump of protoplasm"

                                                              1. re: TT2

                                                                Well, within the family, it can be used as an endearment. This is a very Chinese thing. Negative phrases can be used as an endearment. For example, many Cantonese mothers call their newborns: silly piggy (傻豬豬).

                                                                As for "Fan Tong", it usually means a person who is good at eating rice but does nothing productive, but it can be used as an endearment among family members and close friends. Like teasing.

                                                                However, do not use it on a stranger unless you want to initate a duel. It is not considered as an endearment.

                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                  Oh, we use negative phrases as terms of endearment all the time. A favorite one between me and my siblings is "dead stupid".

                                                                  1. re: TT2

                                                                    :) We don't use that term in our family, but I am very aware that "dead stupid" term is used as teasing term within a family.

                                                                    I see you frequent Philadephia board often. Go to Philly Chinatown often for dim sum?

                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                      My aunt in HK is a master at coming up with terms of "endearment". Mouth of a sailor, that one.
                                                                      I don't go as much as we used to, but we go every now and then. Free parking is hard to come by and there is no way my mom is letting me pay for it. To be honest, the food is not as good as it was when I was a kid, but it's serviceable for when the family wants to get together.

                                                            2. re: wattacetti

                                                              It also depends on the context in which it is used. If someone eats a lot of rice at a meal, calling him "Fan Tong" is understood to refer to the bottomless stomach interpretation.

                                                              1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                Still, you will only use it on a person you know well.

                                                                Maybe the other guy sitting at the next table ate a lot of foods, but you cannot give the stranger a thumb up and say 'You are a "Fan Tong"'. There is still a negative meaning to it -- even with the thumb up gesture. Try it next time on a stranger and see his facial expression.

                                                                1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                  Re: what raytamsgv posted: This is the only meaning of the phrase I was aware of and which was used as such within my family and close circles. No recollection of hearing its usage outside of the family.

                                                                  1. re: huiray

                                                                    "No recollection of hearing its usage outside of the family."

                                                                    That is a very good reason you didn't.


                                                            3. re: vanierstudent

                                                              I worked in my best friend and family's Chinese restaurant in my teens in High School and through college breaks. I picked up a little lingo through the kitchen and that was the context it was used......without malice, just in fun teasing kids with Chinese swears.

                                                              If you did something wrong, the implication was you were useless or stupid.

                                                              1. re: fourunder

                                                                (insert unfunny joke about getting a B+ in math)

                                                                1. re: vanierstudent

                                                                  tough Dad to please....I'm sure he meant well to inspire you to do better.

                                                                  1. re: fourunder

                                                                    Yes he did, and it worked.

                                                                    Currently attending Fauteux law school(albeit in French), one of the top Canadian law school.

                                                                    Back to the topic:

                                                                    With my French-Canadian girlfriend: singapore noodle
                                                                    Dried hor with beef.

                                                                    With my chinese friend: salted fish and chicken fried rice
                                                                    beef brisket with fried noodle.
                                                                    With my parents: pungent crab sauce and beef fried rice pungent deliciousness:)

                                                                2. re: fourunder

                                                                  It was also used to refer to the sometimes exaggerated appetites of legendary ancient time heroes or warriors (particularly in old classical novels, or parodies thereof like in Old Master Q comic book from the 60s/70s where the main characters travel back in time to somewhere in ancient China in the midst of a classical novel, and their first meal at an inn is literally a banquet/feast for lunch), who needed to consume bucketloads of food (hence "rice barrels") in order to have the energy for battle.

                                                                3. re: vanierstudent

                                                                  I thought fan tong was mandarin? Only because I speak Mandarin, not Cantonese.

                                                                  1. re: funniduck

                                                                    Yes, it is an universal Chinese insult :P

                                                                    They don't pronoun exactly the same with difference "emphasis", but they are spelled the same.

                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                      Oh and I use "speak Mandarin" very loosely. We're talking US raised, don't read, can't write my own name, US born, speaking Mandarin.

                                                          2. Invariably it is lightly cooked vegetables, which are usually lacking in dim sum.

                                                            1. I usually get a wet beef chow fun or a beef pan fried noodles and a chinese broccoli because someone inevitably will crave it. Or someone will realize that they don't like dim sum.

                                                              7 Replies
                                                              1. re: funniduck

                                                                Or someone will realize that they don't like dim sum.



                                                                1. re: fourunder

                                                                  Oh, you'd be suprised, fourunder. About 10 holiday seasons ago, I dragged my BF at the time to "San Fransisco's Oldest Dim Sum House" and he sat there, turning greener and greener and greener. It wasn't the BEST dim sum I ever had (and I've had lots) but it was by NO means the worst. He just thought it was nasty.
                                                                  We stopped dating very shortly thereafter, but he was kind of a jerk anyhoo.

                                                                  1. re: mamachef

                                                                    A litmus test.....for future mates.....who knew! I'd let you pick off the cart for me anytime.

                                                                    1. re: mamachef

                                                                      Did you went to somewhere deep in Chinatown -- a hole in the wall? By the way, what does 10 holiday seasons ago? Do we only count Christmas, in which it is the same as 10 years ago or do we count every holidays, which would be 10 seasons ago (2-1/4 years ago)?

                                                                    2. re: fourunder

                                                                      A pregnant friend was not happy until we got her beef pan fried noodles and a roast pork fried rice. The smell of: seafood (in the siu mai, the clams in black bean sauce, the shrimp noodle rolls, etc), the turnip cakes, the meatballs was not doing it for her. She wasn't used to it and no way am I arguing with a pregnant lady.

                                                                      Anytime I bring a first time dim-sum partaker, it's always a little more tricky, so I get safety foods.

                                                                      1. re: funniduck

                                                                        Pregnant women are very dangerous, so said Charles Darwan.

                                                                    3. re: funniduck

                                                                      Great idea. I have had a few unfortunate experiences in which guests decided they didn't like the standard dim sum options. All of these suggestions in this thread will be helpful in the future.