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Back to the Motherland Part 3: Yum Cha!

I Ate Oklahoma is brought to you in part by:

First date experience in China: we went to a museum then he took me to dim sum and got me milk tea afterwards. The perfect first date in Michelleland and I am already fantasizing about the second. Food = guaranteed happy date.

Okay let’s break it down into two segments: dim sum and milk tea. Each deserves its own damn article so we will focus on dim sum first.

You can’t say you have experienced Cantonese food if you haven’t been to dim sum. You haven’t experience Cantonese cuisine without drinking chrysanthemum tea in a noisy setting with servers pushing carts filled with steamed dishes around and stamping your ticket. You just can’t.

Steamed half of dim sum appetizer at Kwan's Kitchen

In Cantonese, dim sum means to order as one wishes aka to order à la carte. It is also known as “yum cha” which means “drink tea.” Dim sum is eaten typically around brunch time and honestly, no real Cantonese restaurant should have dim sum offered for dinner. Dishes that are a MUST at traditional Cantonese teahouses:

  • Shumai - a steamed lye dough dumpling filled with minced pork, chinese black mushrooms, and shrimp
  • Har gow - a transparent looking steamed dumpling containing shrimp, cooked pork fat, bamboo shoots and scallions
  • Cha siu bao - a steamed bun filled with Chinese BBQ pork: pork tenderloin marinated in sugar, red or rice vinegar, sesame oil and the holy trinity Cantonese sauce mixture  (oyster sauce, soy sauce, hoisin sauce)
  • Chicken feet - don’t be scared guys. It’s just braised (holy trinity Cantonese sauce mixture) chicken feet and it’s really tasty. I promise the flavor wins over the idea that you’re eating feet.
  • Cheung fan - rice noodle crepe filled with either beef, BBQ pork or shrimp and covered with a sweet soy sauce.

Okay, I can go on and on, but we are limited here guys. If you want me to set out a menu, let me know! And if you want the best dim sum in OKC, head over the Fung’s Kitchen in the Asian District. Dim sum is only served on weekends from 10:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. and is typically packed by 11! Get there early to grab a table, but don’t think you can leisurely sit afterwards — the boss lady will ask you to leave so others can dine.

Fried half of dim sum appetizer at Kwan's Kitchen

There is another restaurant in the Asian District called Grand House that was the first restaurant in OKC to offer dim sum. The first and the oldest, but that doesn’t mean it is the best. The quality of their dim sum has declined greatly over the past decade. It holds a special spot in my heart though since so many childhood memories were made there. My grandma and her friends would drink tea while us kids would hide under the large round tables and eat the rock sugar that came with the chrysanthemum tea.

A little birdy (my grandma) told me that there’s a new place serving dim sum. The team behind the newly opened Kwan’s Kitchen is related to the folks who run Fung’s Kitchen. Kwan’s does a dim sum appetizer on the dinner menu, but the rest of the time it’s a French-Cantonese fusion with a little bit of Vietnamese influence. Check it out!

About the Author

Michelle Nhin is a native Oklahomie, currently living in China. At 26 years old, she is still waiting for her Hogwarts letter. Michelle is the only girl and middle child of three. She is Chinese/Vietnamese/American and a restaurant kid. When she isn't stuffing her face with food, you can find her napping. Michelle sometimes likes cooking, running, reading, traveling and practicing languages and spells. She hates raw onions and is allergic to alcohol. Michelle hopes to make the world a better place by spreading kindness, understanding and her great puns.