(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.
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.
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.”
Presenting mooncakes to relatives and business associates may be an integral part of China's Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations, but a new law aims to dampen the spirit of mooncake giving - at least among government officials.
As announced by the Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, and reported by the state-run Xinhua news agency, the Chinese government has announced that officials will no longer be able to use public money to send mooncakes as gifts during the festival.
While many of us were cramming our gullets on January 1 with Hoppin' John and collard greens for wealth in the New Year, many folks of Chinese descent like Chris Yeo, the chef/owner from XINO|SINO and The Straits, will be waiting to get lucky until February 10, or the first day of the Chinese New Year celebration.
Editor's note: London-based cook, food writer and consultant Fuchsia Dunlop sits down with CNN to discuss her love affair with Sichuanese cuisine. Her responses have been edited for concision and flow.
CNN: What sparked your interest in Sichuanese cuisine?
I got very interested in China through a job subediting news reports about the east Asian region, particularly China. So I started Mandarin evening classes and went on holiday to China and was fascinated.
I'd been in Sichuan in 1993 when coming back from a holiday to Tibet and had an amazing lunch with some dishes I never forgot. I had looked up a Sichuanese musician whom I'd met in my hometown of Oxford, and he and his wife took me out. It was at a very modest little restaurant, but we had a delicious meal and ended up on the riverbank drinking jasmine tea at a teahouse. At that moment, I thought, I want to come back and live here.
Hieu Huynh is a writer producer at CNN On-Air Promotions. She is based in Atlanta, Georgia.
As the steam carts roll by, I caution my dining companions, "Never pick from the first one that comes along."
Eating dim sum is like a game of strategy and patience. The goal is to fill up on the good stuff, which usually means waiting as the cold and lifeless items pass by.
"Never pick the first?" my best friend asks. "Isn’t that almost like dating? If you're too quick, and just pick the first thing you see, you might miss out on something even better."
Gung hay fat choy! In case you're looking for last minute advice on how to welcome the Year of the Dragon, we've rounded up our Chinese New Year-related coverage for all your celebrating needs.
But first, a quick explainer from Chef Chris Yeo on the ancient food traditions associated with the Lunar New Year.
"Chinese New Year is a special time of year for many. 'Chi fan le mei you?' or 'Have you eaten yet?' is the most common greeting heard during the celebration of the Spring Festival, also known as the Chinese New Year throughout the West. Many of the traditions of Chinese New Year center around food either being cooked or eaten. To people who trace their roots back to China, the most important date in the lunar calendar is Chinese New Year – it’s a traditional time for feasting with family and friends that dates back thousands of years.
Although it's the people from Guangdong province who have the reputation for eating just about anything, Shanghai foodies are no slouches.
You can find plenty of weird eats around the city that you might actually enjoy if you know where to look.
For this list we stayed away from the shock value - no sheep penis here - and sought out what locals are actually eating.