An Evening of Sustainable Dim Sum




I love dim sum. Whenever friends suggest going out for Saturday or Sunday brunch, I nudge the conversation in the direction of the nearest dim sum joint.  The beauty of dim sum is the immediate service; no matter how busy it is, as soon as you sit down you are served tea, and in a matter of moments, polite and cheerful (but no-nonsense) ladies are rolling carts to your table containing all manner of delectable edibles, often preceded by or trailing enticing aromatic wafts of steam. There is no interminable wait for harried servers- murder in their eyes- your order never gets lost or forgotten, no rubbery bacon or burnt toast or cold, runny eggs. What you see is what you get.

The Cantonese phrase dim sum means literally “touch the heart” or “order to your heart’s content”. It may be derived from yat dim sum yi, meaning “a little token”. (“A Touch of Heart” is perhaps the more poetic translation.)

 You had me at order to your heart’s content. “That looks good, grab it. Oh, look at that, let’s get a few for the whole table.” Restraint goes out the window and before you know it your table is covered with bamboo steamers holding two to four pieces: dainty shrimp and pork dumplings, plates piled high with brilliant green steamed pea-shoots with garlic and black bean, spring rolls, barbecue pork spare ribs, meatballs, lotus leaf rice, water chestnut cakes, coconut and mango puddings and egg tarts….and the beat goes on. Despite the amiable cacophony that defines the atmosphere everything edible is dainty and lovely to look at, and oh so easy to pop in your mouth.


"I'll have the one on the bottom, please!"

“I’ll have the one on the bottom, please!”


“There are common tea-drinking and eating practices or etiquette that Chinese people commonly recognize and use. These are practiced not only during dim sum meals but during other types of Chinese meals as well.

It is customary to pour tea for others before filling one’s own cup during a meal. When pouring tea for people on one’s left side, the right hand should be used to hold the teapot and vice versa. A common custom among the Cantonese is to thank the person pouring the tea by tapping the bent index finger (if you are single), or by tapping both the index and middle finger (if you are married), which symbolizes the gesture of bowing

This custom is said to be analogous to the ritual of bowing to someone in appreciation. The origin of this gesture is described anecdotally: The Qianlong Emperor went to yum cha with his friends, outside the palace; not wanting to attract attention to himself, the Emperor was disguised. While at yum cha, the Emperor poured his companion some tea, which was a great honor. The companion, not wanting to give away the Emperor’s identity in public by bowing, instead tapped his index and middle finger on the table as a sign of appreciation.

Given the number of times tea is poured in a meal, the tapping is a timesaver in loud restaurants or lively company, as an individual being served might be speaking to someone else or have food in their mouth. If a diner does not wish a refill being offered at that time, the fingers are used to “wave off” or politely decline more tea. This does not preclude taking more fresh hot tea at a later time during the meal. Leaving the lid balanced on the side of the tea pot is a common way of attracting a server’s attention, and indicates a silent request that the tea pot be refilled.”- The Chinese Guide to Dim Sum etiquette


Pea shoots

Pea shoots

Now wouldn’t it be great if all those marvellous victuals were prepared using local, sustainable and ethically sourced produce? I’m glad you asked, because on March 8, from 6:30 to 9:30 in the Rotunda in City Hall, that’s exactly what’s happening. In partnership with Live Green Toronto, Drink inc. is presenting an evening of “Sustainable Dim Sum- a tasty evening with a conscience. ” Food purveyors include Rowe Farms and Yorkshire Valley Farms  and all seafood is Ocean Wise recommended. Also participating is C-fu foods. If you do not know who they are, I highly recommend that you check them out, you will be amazed!

Participating chefs hail from Cafe Belong, DaiLo, Daniel et Daniel, Kanpai Snack Bar, Lake Inez, Pearl Court, Hawthorne Food + Drink, Saturday Dinette, Pork Ninjas, C-fu Foods, Centennial College and more.Tickets for the whole shebang are only 55.00 per person, and this includes unlimited beverages and good decoration as linen chair covers which are perfect for this. Funds raised from the event will go towards Ocean Wise, Live Green Toronto and Environmental Defence Canada.





comments powered by Disqus