Dim sum, literally “touch heart”, is Hong Kong’s local cuisine with a variety of flavours and textures, both savoury and sweet. Most often had by locals for breakfast, dim sum is a staple that you can find throughout the city. The two most popular dishes that you’re likely to come across are char siu bao (bbq pork buns) and siu mai (steamed shrimp dumplings). There are other lesser known dishes (at least to those not from Hong Kong) that deserve just as much hype, like lo mai gai (steamed sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf) and cheong fan (rice noodle rolls with meat or shrimp).
Dim sum is all about sharing, so going with a big group is a great way to try a range of dishes. Tea is served the moment you sit down (some restaurants have a minimal tea charge) and ordering varies between restaurants; the traditional restaurants serve their dim sum in trolleys that are carted around past tables, while others will give you a menu and pencil for you to check off which dishes you’d like. Without further ado, read on to find out the best places for dim sum in Hong Kong!
Known as the world’s cheapest Michelin-star restaurant, Tim Ho Wan is a Hong Kong favourite for both locals and expats alike. Aside from the prestigious title awarded to this restaurant, people flock here for the Baked BBQ Pork Buns, which are unlike the pork buns found at other dim sum restaurants. The pork buns at Tim Ho Wan are baked in a crispy, almost sweet pastry, as opposed to being steamed. Service is prompt, albeit a bit rough around the edges (especially for those who do not speak Cantonese), and you should expect a queue when you arrive if you’re there on the weekends.
Locations: Sham Shui Po, Central, North Point, Olympic, West Kowloon Station, Tseung Kwan O
If you’re looking to get more of a true Hong Kong dim sum experience, Maxim’s Palace is the place to go. Though there are a handful of branches in Hong Kong, the most well-known branch is located at City Hall in Central. Varying drastically from the previous two dim sum shops, Maxim’s Palace City Hall is a banquet-style restaurant that seats over 600 diners surrounded by ornate decor. Expect to see little trolleys being carted around – have a peek as it passes your table and grab whatever dish suits your fancy. Just remember to be quick and have a bit of patience, as the staff aren’t exactly friendly. Thankfully, for all us non-Cantonese speaking diners, the trolley has English writing on it (though there are no prices listed), so you know what’s coming.
Location: 2/F, City Hall, 5-7 Edinburgh Place, Central
Contact: 2521 1303
For contemporary dim sum done right, check out Social Place. The restaurant boasts a spacious dining area with modern chic decor. Try the popular vegetarian truffle shiitake buns that look identical to a steamed mushroom, making it an Instagram-worthy picture. For something a little more westernised, opt for the sweet and sour pork with fresh pineapple, which will not disappoint. Social Place also offers dim sum workshops, which is perfect for those who enjoy cooking food just as much as eating it.
Location: 2/F, The L. Place, 139 Queen’s Road Central, Central
Contact: 3568 9666
Two words can often sum up people’s weekend plans in Hong Kong: champagne brunch. If you’re looking for a boozy brunch that’s a step above your standard buffet affair, try their weekend salon brunch. The salon is very hip and chic, and many of the dim sum dishes also reflect this in their presentation. Aside from the salon, you can also eat outside in their beautiful outdoor terrace, making it a perfect spot to dine on a warm, sunny day. If a boozy dim sum brunch isn’t your thing, Duddell’s also has an a la carte dim sum menu available in their restaurant and a separate dim sum & snacks menu at their salon.
Location: Level 3, 1 Duddell Street, Central
Contact: 2525 9191
Incredibly popular with locals and expats alike, this is one dim sum experience not to be missed. While this place boasts some of the best dim sum in Hong Kong, be prepared to either arrive early/at an off time or spend a solid chunk of time waiting in the long queue (especially if you plan on going during the weekend). Wondering how One Dim Sum became so popular? The little dim sum shop actually earned one Michelin Star back in 2011 and 2012. Ever since then, it’s remained very popular – and for good reason. The dim sum here is both incredibly delicious and very affordable.
Location: G/F, 209A – 209B, Tung Choi Street, Prince Edward
Contact: 2789 2280
Yum Cha is one of our favourite restaurants to take guests to when they’re visiting Hong Kong thanks to their innovative and very Instagrammable dim sum. If you’ve ever scrolled through social media and saw a photo of dim sum and thought, “ah, that’s so cute!”, it’s likely from Yum Cha. Some of their signature dishes include BBQ Piggy Buns, Hot Custard Buns (you’ve likely seen videos of people poking a hole for a mouth and then squeezing the custard out of them), and the Doggy Sausage Rolls. Yum Cha also comes up with fun new seasonal dishes throughout the year to spice things up. Aside from dim sum, Yum Cha also serves up a solid selection of must-try Chinese dishes, like sweet and sour pork.
Locations: Central, Tsim Sha Tsui, Causeway Bay
Contact: 3708 8081
Sun Hing Restaurant
This hidden gem in Kennedy Town draws in a large university student crowd thanks to its cheap, delicious dim sum and opening hours. Sun Hing starts serving up fresh dim sum at 3:00 am and stays open until 4:00 pm. Don’t expect top notch service or much English here. This old school joint serves their dim sum from a cart, so be prepared to push your way to those fresh siu mai and bbq pork buns. Head to Sun Hing if you’re looking for a no-frills, real-deal local dim sum experience in Hong Kong.
Location: Shop C, G/F, 8 Smithfield Road, Kennedy Town
Contact: 2816 0616
Had your share of traditional dim sum and looking to try a more modern take on the classics? Head to Dim Sum Library (perhaps after a few hours of shopping around the mall) for a range of innovative Instagram-worthy dim sum dishes like black garlic siu mai, dan dan xiaolong bao, wild mushroom and beetroot dumplings, and more.
Location: Shop 124, Level 1, One Pacific Place, Admiralty
Contact: 3643 0088
This upscale, two Michelin-starred modern Cantonese restaurant situated inside Regent Hong Kong boasts fantastic cuisine paired with incredible views of Victoria Harbour. Although the dim sum selection on Yan Toh Heen’s menu isn’t as robust as some of the other restaurants, the quality more than makes up for that. We recommend trying the Yan Toh Heen Superior Dumplings and Yan Toh Heen Trio, which gives guests a selection of dumplings and other dim sum dishes.
Location: G/F, The Regent Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Contact: 2313 2243
Luk Yu Tea House
Dating back to 1933, this traditional tea house and dim sum restaurant’s three-story dining area fill up fast. The colonial-esque decor and old school charm is mainly found on the first floor where, rumour has it, the area is ‘reserved’ for the restaurant’s local clientele while others are sent to the less charming upper floors. As with most of the other traditional dim sum houses, expect less than friendly service and enjoy your meal quickly. One bit of history that tends to draw some people to Luk Yu Tea House is the 2002 shooting of a businessman eating his breakfast at point-blank range.
Location: 24-26 Stanley Street, Central
Contact: 2523 5464
If you’re looking for a more refined authentic dim sum experience, head over to Fook Lam Moon. The restaurant has been coined a ‘canteen for the rich’ and serves a solid range of the most popular dim sum dishes (think steamed bbq pork buns, pan-fried turnip cake, steamed traditional brown sugar sponge cake, and more). Since this is a higher-end dim sum restaurant, expect prices to be quite a bit more than the other local restaurants, with standard dim sum dishes averaging around HK$60-$80.
Location: Wan Chai and Tsim Sha Tsui
Contact: 2866 0663
Another popular local dim sum shop is the DimDimSum Dim Sum Specialty (try saying that five times fast) restaurants. What makes this shop unique and more appealing for some is their range of traditional dim sum dishes alongside modern fusion dishes that are both very affordable and well-executed. Service at DimDimSum is efficient and you’ll likely see a good mix of both locals and expats inside.
Locations: Jordan, Mong Kok, Wan Chai, Shatin
Contact: 3568 7455
Dim sum is typically not the most veggie-friendly meal out there (most dishes typically have bits of dried meat or fish in them), but thankfully there’s a great vegetarian option in Hong Kong: LockCha Tea House. All dishes on the dim sum menu are vegetarian and they offer up some creative versions of these typically traditional items such as Steamed Emerald Vegetable Dumpling, Pan-fried Beancurd Skin with ginger, Steamed Barbecue Sauce Bun, and more along with other traditional dishes like steamed turnip cake.
Location: Admiralty and Central
Contact: 2276 5777
If you’re looking to take your dim sum experience up a notch, head to Mott 32 for one of the fanciest dim sum experiences you can have in Hong Kong. Many people flock to Mott 32 for their Peking Duck, which is also available on their dim sum menu so be sure to order it one day ahead of time. As for the dim sum dishes, the menu is divided into BBQ, steamed dim sum, baked dim sum, fried dim sum, and dessert with a great selection of classics with a modern twist.
Location: Standard Chartered Bank Building, 4-4A Des Voeux Road Central, Central
Contact: 2885 8688
This three Michelin-starred restaurant inside the Four Seasons hotel offers an extensive dim sum menu with both a la carte options, set lunch menus, and yum cha gourmet set lunches with tea pairings. At Lung King Heen you’ll find classic dim sum dishes alongside more modern versions to suit just about any palette, as well as beautiful views of Victoria Harbour. The dim sum experience at Lung King Heen is perfect if you have family visiting or you’re celebrating a special occasion.
Location: Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central
Contact: 3196 8888
Header image credits: Social Place