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Dim Sum: A Pocket Guide Paperback – April, 2004

4.1 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Dim sum is one of the great pleasures of Chinese cuisine, but it can be bewildering for Westerners unfamiliar with Chinese cooking. This little red book, which would easily fit in a back pocket or purse, serves as an illustrated explanation of the items one can expect to find at a dim sum restaurant—with it, one can figure out what’s inside that steamed dumpling, what that tiny dish of meat is and how to tell the difference between a White Turnip Cake and a Taro Cake. For each of the 48 dishes included here, the author provides a color photo and gives a description in English, along with a phonetic pronunciation of the dish’s Cantonese name. Introductory paragraphs give useful tips, such as how to tell the host or hostess the number in your party in Chinese, how to indicate to the waiter or waitress that you’re ready for a refill of your teapot and how to use chopsticks. Cute, clever and handy, this book makes a great gift item for foodies.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Ordering dim sum is usually a pick and point operation, transcending any language barrier, as carts of foods roll by. "Dim Sum, A Pocket Guide" by Kit Shan Li explains about 50 items, giving Chinese transliterations of the names and clear, appetizing photographs. Steamed pork dumplings, shrimp dumplings, barbecued pork buns and spring rolls share the pages with duck feet and tripe. But where are the popular pot sticker dumplings? Tea etiquette (taking the lid off the pot when you want a refill) is explained, but not the protocol of different size plates for tallying the bill. There is a diagram for using chopsticks. -The New York Times

Want to sound like less of a tourist from Iowa when the dim sum trolley rolls around? "Dim Sum, a Pocket Guide," by Kit Shan Li features photos and descriptions of the most common dim sum items, from dumplings to desserts. The little dishes are identified by their Chinese and English names, with main ingredients listed.
The author cautions that individual restaurants may do some variations, but the sturdy little red book, which will fit into a coat pocket or purse, can take a lot of guess work out of your ordering. Don't cotton to the idea of marinated beef stomach? Just say "nor my guy," which is not a reference to your main squeeze, but indicates that you prefer glutinous rice and chicken accented with mushrooms, dried shrimp and pork, wrapped in a lotus leaf. But you always knew that. -San Francisco Chronicle

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books; Poc edition (April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811841782
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811841788
  • Product Dimensions: 3.5 x 0.4 x 5.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #348,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kyle A. Messner on October 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
I bought this book at the check out counter as I was leaving the bookstore. I took it with me to China when I went to adopt my son two weeks later. I loved it and had so much fun with it. I was able to order all sorts of things. I was able to attempt Cantonese pronunciations and if all else failed I could point to the picture and characters. I loved the little book and it was so easy to tuck in my purse.
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Format: Paperback
This little book packs so much information to help non-Chinese speaking dim sum lovers-- descriptions and photos of common ingredients and dishes along w/ both the Chinese names & pronunciations. It even covers the customs/etiquette of dim sum dining. I've seen it help even the most experienced dim sum enthusiasts. This probably goes without saying, but dim sum is a totally different experience when you can actually ask for things by name. And the book is small enough that you can hide it in your lap or under your leg, if you don't want to be completely obvious. Or, you can hold it out in full view and point to what you want.
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Very helpful when dining locally (in Hong Kong). I have food allergies so it's nice to spot the no-no's and wave the cart away rather than butcher a conversation trying to figure out what fillings the dim sum is made of when out to Yam Cha....
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Format: Paperback
If you've never eaten China's famed tea lunch, dim sum, this is a great guide; if you're a fan of dim sum (touch the heart) this is a great guide! Pocket size with excellent brief descriptions and good pictures, this little book covers virtually all aspects of eating and enjoying dim sum and identifies the major types of food. This is a guide to understanding, eating and enjoying dim sum and is not a cook book.
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I read about this book on a forum post discussing dim sum beginners, and I thought the guide was useful. So much so that I bought this copy for my dim sum newbie friend for his birthday. The book arrived in great condition and showed up earlier than I was expecting it.
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Though it isn't an all-inclusive encycolpedia of all things dim sum, It's a great portable primer, with many common favorites featured. It doesn't have my favorite custard bun in it (someday I'll find out what they're called...), but it pictures many of the items you usually find on the carts. It's great to have both a photo, a description, the characters and a shot at a pronunciation when you want to try something. A great help when broadening your cuisine horizons!
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I have loved going for dim sum for years but the collection of tasty edibles has always been a varied crowd. Now I have a lot more sense of it and can both know what I will like better and even direct the waitstaff towards what I want. I was at first disappointed with the Cantonese pronunciations, but they actually seem to be more useful than the Mandarin I would prefer.
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Format: Paperback
This is a great little pocket guide to Dim Sum. It offers beautiful photos of each delicious dumpling as well as the name of the item, a pronunciation guide and Chinese characters in case you don't feel comfortable attempting the language (but you should, it's a lot of fun and educational). This little book also offers a legend of how tea was discovered and the way to subtly ask for more when you dine. It also shows the newbie to eating with chopsticks how to hold them.

It's not comprehensive for everything, but it's a great start.
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