There are many restaurants across London serving dim sum, and most are building on traditions that started many years ago in Canton. This type of food was originally offered as a snack in roadside diners to accompany a cup of tea, but gradually these snacks became more sophisticated, resulting in the food we know today. Look outside the best of London's dim sum restaurants on weekend mornings and you might see queues forming. That is because it is traditional to enjoy this type of Chinese food in the morning. Don't worry, though, you can enjoy these tasty delicacies in the capital at any time of day.
The first thing to do is choose your tea. Most of London's dim sum restaurants will take your order as soon as you sit down. Serve others before yourself and, if you finish the pot, turn the lid upside down or leave the pot open to let the waiting staff know that you are ready for a refill. It is also traditional to tap the table to thank someone who fills your glass. Now it's on to the food.
You can enjoy dim sum in London restaurants without worrying too much about the etiquette. Often the food will come on carts and it is normal to just point at the dishes you like the look of and order a few. Different carts will have different dishes, so don't be too disappointed if you don't see your favourite – it's bound to come around in a moment. In fact, it's not unknown for diners to chase a cart that has a dish they like. If the restaurant uses menus instead, just order a couple of dishes each to start with. You can also order steamed rice to accompany your food.
London's dim sum restaurants offer a huge variety of dishes. You can try dumplings, steamed buns and Chinese pastries, usually a combination of all three. Some are sweet and some are savoury but all are hugely tasty. It is normal to use chopsticks, but don't be concerned if you feel unsure about this – it's perfectly acceptable to request a knife and fork. Enjoy!