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dim sum

Pronunciation: [DIHM SUHM]

Cantonese for "heart's delight," dim sum includes a variety of small, mouth-watering dishes such as steamed or fried dumplings, shrimp balls, steamed buns, pot stickers and Chinese pastries. Dim sum—standard fare in tea houses—can be enjoyed any time of the day. Unlike most dining establishments, servers in a dim sum eatery do not take orders, per se. Instead, they walk among the tables with carts or trays of kitchen-fresh food. Diners simply point to the item they want, which is served on small plates or in baskets. Each item usually has a set price. At the end of the meal, the check is tallied by counting the dishes on the table. Some dim sum restaurants add the price of each dish to a check that remains on the table, clearing dishes as they are emptied.