“Touch the heart” is not just the English translation of the term “dim sum,” but it embodies the intention of those delicious small dishes served up in Chinese restaurants. The savory snacks traditionally were not meant to sate the appetite but to lightly appease it before the main event.
These days, restaurants with dim sum menus have devoted followings of diners who think nothing of making an entire meal out of myriad dumplings, rolls, buns, cakes and meats. Brunch is the most popular time for this coveted treat, though happy hours and dinner time are increasingly common at many restaurants.
Here is a sampling of South Carolina eateries where you can tease your palate or get your fill of dim sum delights.
Sum Bar, Greenville
This little restaurant is bright, vibrant and hip—just right for a couple’s night out or cozy dinner with a few friends. Sum Bar’s dim sum menu is small but impressive, with Chef Khailing Neoh’s pop-up concept smoothly transitioning to the dynamics of a cool brick-and-mortar experience. An expert bar staff cranks things up a notch with inventive cocktails. Reservations are typically a must, even for bar seating.
Highlight: Shrimp toast, shrimp and pork dumplings with roe (siu mai), egg tarts
Jackrabbit Filly, North Charleston
Treat yourself to one of the most inventive dim sum brunches in South Carolina at Jackrabbit Filly. Chefs Shui and Corrie Wang, named rising chefs by the James Beard Foundation, serve up creative dim sum on Sundays that will linger in your mind long after you clean your little plates.
Highlights: Breakfast okonomiyaki (cabbage pancake with bacon, fried egg, ponzu, scallion, spicy mayo drizzle and tempura crunch), potato and leek dumplings, egg drop congee (rice porridge)
Dragon Palace, Daniel Island
Dragon Palace is a stunner on the inside, having been constructed of gorgeous hardwoods in Taiwan, and then dismantled and shipped to the U.S. The warm, rich, intricate design sets the stage for authentic Chinese dishes and a small, but delicious array of dim sum.
Dim sum draws the coastal crowd at E Noodles & Company, a bustling enterprise with a tantalizing array of Asian-inspired appetizers. It is no surprise that it has been repeatedly voted a dining favorite by TripAdvisor, Google and Yelp.
Highlights: Crab Rangoon, shitake mushrooms stuffed with chicken, vegetable tempura
Boku Kitchen & Saloon, Columbia
What’s better than a Sunday dim sum brunch? A whole weekend of dim sum brunch—that’s what. Each Saturday and Sunday, folks head to the Vista for this special treat offered at Boku Kitchen. The made-to-order offerings include all your favorites and a few surprises, too. If a boozy brunch is your thing, try the Asian pear mimosa or a sake shandy to wash down your dumplings and other tasty small plates.
Highlights: Shrimp and scallop wontons, bao buns, spinach egg dumplings