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Discover Guangzhou Self Guided Book is written by Janvi Tours, formerly Guangzhou Private Tour Guide Janvi or Guangzhou Tour Guide Janvi


Written by Janvi Chow
Published August 2018

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Home Travel Guide Local Food Yum Cha

Yum Cha

Guangzhou Yum Cha

Yum cha is a great way to sample a variety of dishes without becoming overly full. For those of us who are used to more western fare for Sunday brunch, the level of culinary art in yum cha makes for a tasty, fresh and usually inexpensive alternative. Most importantly, yum cha is traditionally a social occasion, especially for families, as they catch up on news and discuss the week’s events and happenings.

A friend from Hong Kong once told me, “When Chinese people go to yum cha, they mostly order the shrimp dumpling—Haa gaau, because it’s like eating pizza without any cheese.” Some of the other standard dishes are “bao”—which are buns, baked or steamed, filled with meat and vegetables.

And then there are Shanghai steamed buns, which are favored for their juicy and savory center. Other dishes are Phoenix Talons(marinated and steamed chicken feet), turnip cakes and sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf. For those with a sweet tooth, mango pudding, coconut jelly, custard tarts and Chen-Chang-Go (“thousand layer cake”) finish the meal nicely.

Yum cha is Cantonese for “drinking tea” and tea has been a part of Chinese culture for 5000 years. In yum cha etiquette , it is proper to fill another’s cup before filling one’s own, and the custom is to thank the pourer by taping the bent [bent] index and middle fingers together on the table which resembles the ritual of bowing in gratitude. When your teapot needs refilling simply lift the teapot lid and the waiter will refill it. For food, the waitresses offer dishes from trays or rolling trolleys stacked with metal or bamboo steamers filled with classic Cantonese dim sum dishes: juicy fried dumplings, steamed buns and dozens of other Cantonese dishes that have been enjoyed for hundreds of years.

At a popular dim sum restaurant you might see the line-up of patrons waiting for a vacant table, who are then seated around dinning tables where waiters quickly deliver pots of hot tea.