Thalias Hospitality

The Historical Journey of Dim Sum: A Staple of Chinese Cuisine

Dim sum, a culinary tradition that has stood the test of time, originated in southern China and has since spread across the globe. This timeless food has a rich history and has evolved into a beloved international cuisine. In this article, we will explore the fascinating history and culture surrounding dim sum, and how it has been embraced by popular restaurant brands such as Yi Sang, SevenSea, and World Dining.

The Birth of Dim Sum

Dim sum, which translates to ‘touch the heart’, originated in the Guangdong region of China, eventually finding its way to Hong Kong. The small portions were designed to merely touch the heart not sate the appetite, and as such were first enjoyed as snacks. Over time, however, dim sum (yum cha) has evolved, and the cuisine is now a vital part of Chinese culture.

Back in the 19th century, weary travelers on the Silk Road would stop at tea houses to rest, where they would be served various teas. Doctors of the time encouraged the consumption of tea for its health benefits, particularly aiding digestion. To further entice their patrons, tea houses began serving small portions of food, thus initiating the tradition of pairing dim sum with tea.

The Art of Ordering Dim Sum

Ordering dim sum is a unique experience in itself. The process begins by choosing a tea, which acts as the centerpiece of the meal. Traditional etiquette dictates that the person closest to the teapot should pour tea for the others first before serving themselves. If the pot is running dry, simply remove the lid and rest it on the side of the teapot – a signal to the waitstaff that a refill is required.

Most traditional dim sum restaurants employ the use of push carts, filled with a variety of dishes, that weave their way through the sea of tables. Patrons can flag down these carts and select their preferred dishes. Modern establishments, however, have adapted to using checklist-style menu cards for a more streamlined ordering process.

Popular Dim Sum Dishes

Dim sum dishes encompass an array of seafood, meat, and vegetable options, all prepared in a variety of ways – steamed, fried, or baked. Here’s a list of some popular dishes to kickstart your dim sum journey:

  1. Shumai – A thin, round wrapper shaped like a cup, filled with a mixture of pork, shrimp, and a small amount of vegetables.
  2. Shrimp dumpling – A popular dim sum dish featuring chunks of shrimp encased in a thin, translucent dumpling wrapper.
  3. Soup dumplings – These delicate items are filled with hot broth and pork, and are a dim sum staple.
  4. BBQ pork buns – Fluffy buns stuffed with sticky, sweet, barbecue-seasoned pork.
  5. Chicken feet – Deep-fried and then braised in a rich, slightly sweet fermented black bean sauce until tender.
  6. Rice noodle rolls – Thin, steamed rice noodles rolled around a tender shrimp or meat center.
  7. Egg tart – Sweet, rich, custard-filled flaky pastry tartlets that originate from Macau.

Dim Sum at Yi sang

Chef Tang Khai, Executive chef at Yi Sang was born to Chinese parents in Vietnam. He began cooking in a Chinese restaurant located in Saigon at an early age and immediately knew it was what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. He was taught by a Hong Kong dim sum master. Where he learned; just how great of an art form making Dim Sum was, and how refined your skills must be to create delicious Dim Sum. It is Chef Khai that has brought his own unique culinary touch to Cambodia in his form of Dim Sum, one that we are all grateful and honored to try.

Dim Sum in Phnom Penh

Today, dim sum has become a staple in many modern restaurants, including Yi Sang , SevenSea , and World Dining. These establishments have embraced the tradition of dim sum, offering an array of delectable dim sum dishes on their menus. Whether it’s the traditional steamed dumplings or the modern interpretations of classic dishes, these restaurants have managed to capture the essence of dim sum while adding their unique touch.


Dim sum has come a long way since its inception. This bite-sized delight has not only survived but thrived through the ages, adapting to changing times while staying true to its roots. Whether you’re enjoying dim sum at a traditional Chinese tea house or at a modern restaurant like Yi Sang, SevenSea, or World Dining, remember that you’re partaking in a tradition that has touched the hearts of many for centuries.

For more information on everything Dim Sum please follow the links below:

Yi Sang FB page:
SevenSea FB page:
World Dining FB page:

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