The origins of dim sum go back over a thousand years, to when the Silk Road was first built to connect ancient China and Europe. Weary traders would stop at roadside eateries for refreshments. Filling, delicious and easy to eat, these bite-sized delights were often served up with tea, giving rise to the 'yum cha' tradition that remains popular, even today.
Steamed and deep-fried are the two traditional ways of preparing dim sum, and restaurants in Singapore have exhaustive menus that include steamed buns, tarts and dumplings stuffed with chicken, pork, shrimps or veggies, bringing a wide variety of flavours and textures to the table. Char siu baos, shu mais, steamed soup dumplings and pork ribs are some of the hot favourites at Singapore's dim sum restaurants, while egg tarts, salted egg custard buns and steamed sesame balls rank highly among its most beloved dessert options.
Many dim sum restaurants in Singapore follow the age-old cart system where servers come around to your table with a trolley filled with bamboo baskets, each with a different type of dumpling or bao within. In more modern establishments, however, you can simply order your preferences off a menu. Start the meal with the lighter steamed buns and dumplings, before moving on to more flavourful options like chicken feet or clams. The deep-fried varieties are reserved for the end of the meal, right before the dessert course.
Each mouthful of dim sum imparts a different flavour without filling you up too much, making this a light, yet varied meal. Whether you prefer to have it as an appetiser or a full meal, dim sum can be savoured at all hours of the day. The rise of dim sum brunches in Singaporean restaurants of late have seen weekend brunch buffets coming up with delicious dumpling-and-cocktail combo meals. You can, of course, enjoy your dim sum the traditional way, with black tea or chrysanthemum tea. Be it exquisitely handcrafted options at an upscale eatery or delightfully familiar flavours at a hawker centre, dim sum restaurants in Singapore continue to spoil you for choice all across the island.