When my father was a young boy, on the weekend or holidays, he would gather with his whole family consisting of his parents, grandparents, along with his four younger siblings for dim sum. All three generations would eat at the same table and share stories as well as catch up on any news. When my cousins and I were born, we were also brought into this tradition and this tradition of enjoying dim sum is similarily shared by many other Chinese families across Toronto
Toronto has been duped as one of the best dim sum hotspots for families and foodies to practice the traditional Chinese dim sum ritual. Dim sum is a Cantonese cuisine that is literally translated to touch and heart, or simply a hearts delight. Prepared as small bite-sized proportions, presented in small steamed bamboo baskets, and served around restaurants in carts along with tea, this pretty much sums up of what having endless cups of tea and dim sum means.
Today, if a Torontonian were to go to Hong Kong, China looking for an authentic dim sum experience, they may walk away a little disappointed. Contrarily, if a Hong Kongian from Hong Kong were to visit Toronto, they would be hugely impressed by our variety. Large amounts of traditional serving carts are disappearing; however, Toronto has been able to maintain its authenticity in its restaurants. Unlike in the original home of the cuisine, theyve been downgraded and replacing the traditional cart with a la carte menus.
Although Toronto isnt the home country of the cuisine, our city guarantees the finest quality traditional dishes especially the chewy chicken feet that can test the courage of timid meat-eaters (like me). As a 3rd generation Chinese-Canadian, who frequently enjoys dimsum in Toronto, I have learned a few tips that can help you navigate through the citys Dimsum restaurant list.
At the top of my rules, for choosing a dim sum restaurant, is the quality and freshness of the food, portion size and variety. Almost all restaurants offer similar staple dishes (such as har gow, siu mei, char siu bao, and cheung fun). If these musters a pass, dim sum for me is then judged on the signature dishes that are distinguishable. Also the bigger the group you dim sum with, the more variety you can order which can be shared b/w your entourage. Another good tip to follow would be to not show up at a Chinese restaurant during prime time. Crowds are the least busiest for dim sum between the 9:30-10:30 a.m. window, and are offered at a discount rate before 11a.m..
Visiting Toronto for its dim sum religion can be one of the greatest decisions you can ever decide upon. With these awesome dim sum spots in the city, youll surely have a mouth-watering taste experience! So grab a pair of chopsticks and tuck your napkin around your neck!