(Travel + Leisure) Dim sum calls for dumplings, and about 55,000 are sold annually at State Bird Provisions in San Francisco. But not classics like shrimp-filled har gow. Chefs Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski prefer their dumplings with guinea hen. “Dim sum service offers a slew of freedoms with our cooking,” explains Brioza, whose menu includes steak tartare in lettuce cups.
The pleasure of a dim sum meal also comes from the showmanship and ordering experience. At Seattle’s New Hong Kong, for example, carts glide past diners and attendants raise the lids off steamer baskets, bellowing out what’s inside, whether sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves or garlicky spareribs. It’s all washed down with generous cups of fragrant tea.
Read on for more of America’s best dim sum destinations, and share your favorites in the comments below.
Under the bright lights of the waterfront Haedomari warehouse in Shimonoseki, Japan, tails twitch and bodies writhe in defiance of the onset of death.
The floor is awash with seawater as Yoshi Yanagawa moves down a line of 20 boxes, each containing about 15 puffer fish of varying values, lengths and states of coveted plumpness.
"Eeka! Eeka!" he chants, as 20 or so interested parties put their hands up to bid.
The puffer fish, or "fugu" in Japanese, gulp in more air, ballooning out their white belly sacs.
Editor's note: Coinciding with the annual Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament (March 28-30) CNN is profiling parts of Hong Kong in a special series.
Creative new takes on dim sum are a common trend in Hong Kong restaurants these days, particularly at the higher end, with chefs incorporating traditionally Western ingredients such as truffles, foie gras or Maine lobster.
At the same time, many classic dim sum dishes have fallen out of fashion, making them harder to find in the city.
The first thing offered to me at Suntory's Yamazaki whisky distillery - the birthplace of Japanese whisky - is a glass of water. It's so delicious it comes as a shock.
Even before the reason is explained to me, I'm asking: why does it taste so crisp, so different?
The distillery is surrounded by beautiful bamboo forests on a mountain - they must be getting to my brain.
When it comes to food movements, the word “local” is a rarity in Okinawa. That's because restaurants in Japan's southernmost prefecture have been doing the local thing long before it was trending - or even just trendy.
World-renowned for promoting health and longevity, traditional Okinawan cuisine uses primarily local ingredients. What's more, it's easy to find.
Despite being an object of culinary fascination around the world, balut is no beauty queen.
The 18-day-old fertilized duck egg - a snack widely eaten in the Philippines - has revolted even the most daring foodies with its carnal textures, earning it lofty rankings on many a "most disgusting/strange/terrifying food" list.
While food journalists commonly label balut as the Philippines' "much loved delicacy," in reality Filipinos are decidedly split over their nation's oft-sung snack.
Small eats, and a lot of them, are the big thing in Taiwan.
The culinary philosophy here is eat often and eat well.
Sure, there's the internationally accepted three-meals-a-day dining format, but why be so limited when you can make like the Taiwanese and indulge in gourmet snacking at any time of the day?
The Taiwanese capital, Taipei, has around 20 streets dedicated to snacking.
Every time you think you've found the best streetside bao, the most incredible stinky tofu or mind-blowing beef noodle soup, there's always another Taiwanese food shop that surpasses it.
The first time the South Korean factory owner watched his North Korean employees nibble on a Choco Pie, they appeared shocked - even overwhelmed.
He summed up their reaction to the South Korean snack in one word: "Ecstasy."
Much like what Twinkies are to Americans, South Korea's Choco Pies - two disc-shaped, chocolate-covered cakes, sandwiching a rubbery layer of marshmallow cream - are ubiquitous, cost less than 50 cents and are full of empty calories.
But on the other side of the Korean border, the snacks are viewed as exotic, highly prized treats, selling on North Korea's black markets for as much as $10, according to analysts. Their rising popularity in the north reveals an unexpected common ground between the two Koreas, despite their fractious relationship - a shared sweet tooth.
There aren't many people who can claim that their lives have been changed by an egg tart, but chef Raymond Wong - who heads Macau’s Institute for Tourism Studies Educational Restaurant - says when he tasted Macau’s famous local Portuguese tarts there was no looking back.
“I left Hong Kong when I was just nine years old,” says Wong, who grew up in San Francisco and studied at the culinary program at San Francisco City College.
“But when I came back here in 2004, I went to Macau with my fiancé and she took me to a famous shop for egg tarts.”