Dim Sum Terminology

Here is a list of Dim Sum terms that I have collected from various sources (books, friends & restaurant menus). Dim Sum are Chinese breakfast or lunch items that are a cross between pastries and appetizers (except they are the whole meal). Often Chinese restaurants will serve Dim Sum on weekends, starting early in the morning, and finishing in the early afternoon.
Most of these words can be spelled in an unending variety of surprising ways. The most useful terms to know are (described below): Har, Char Siu, Guy (Gai), Ngau (Guk), Wu, Bao (Bow), Cheung Fun, Gok and Gow.

Popular items include: Har Gow, Har Cheung Fun, Fun Gok, Wor Tip, Guy Bow, Char Siu Bow, Siu Mai, Jar Har Fat and, of course, Spring Rolls.
Dim Sum are generally served 3 or 4 to a plate. I find I can eat about 6 to 10 Dim Sum, depending on how hungry I am, so count on 2 to 3 items per person. It’s nice to be initiated by someone in the know, but if you don’t have anyone available, be brave. There are often English translation menus available, but they may not be as descriptive as you’d like. Often Dim Sum are not ordered from a menu at all, but are brought around on little carts. You pick whatever looks interesting and the cart moves on. (Ask what it’s called so you’ll remember next time.)

Dim Sum Terms

Bang — pancakes, cookies &c
Bow (Bao) — thick, fluffy wheat bun (usually steamed)
Char Siu — BBQ pork
Cheung Fun — steamed rice-pastry roll doused in soy sauce & sesame oil
Dow Sa — sweet bean paste
Ga Lei — curried beef
Guy (Gai) — chicken (usually)
Gee (Jee) — pork
Go — cake or pudding, steamed, baked or fried
Gok — turnover or dumpling, usually deep-fried
Gow — light dumpling, usually steamed rice pastry
Har — shrimp
Jaw — claw
Lat Cheung — Chinese sausage
Lin Yung — sweet lotus bean starch & egg yolk
Lo Bak — Chinese radish
Ma Tai — water chestnut
Mui Jeung — plum sauce
Ngau (Yuk) — beef
Siu — BBQ (often)
Tong — soup (usually)
Wu — taro (or yam)
Yuk (Guk) — meat

Bow (Bao) — thick, fluffy wheat bun (usually steamed)
Chan Bow — bun filled with BBQ pork, onion & oyster sauce
Char Siu Bow — BBQ pork bun
Dow Sa Bow — sweet bean paste bun
Fo Tui Bow — ham bun (baked)
Ga Lei Bow — curried beef bun (baked)
Gai Bow — chicken bun
Lat Cheung Bow — Chinese sausage bun
Lin Yung Bow — sweet lotus bean starch & egg yolk bun
Mui Jeung Gai Bow — plum sauce chicken bun

Cheung Fun — steamed rice-pastry roll doused in soy sauce & sesame oil
Char Siu CF — BBQ pork roll
Har Cheung Fun — shrimp roll
Ngau (Yuk) CF — beef roll

Gok — turnover or dumpling, usually deep-fried
Fun Gok — shrimp, pork &c in moon-shaped rice-pastry
Gee Yuk Gok — pork & water chestnuts in egg pastry
Ham Sui Gok — pork & vegetables in sweet rice pastry
Jow Har Gok — shrimp turnovers in glutinous rice pastry
Wu Gok — chopped pork, shrimp & vegetables in taro pastry

Gow — light dumpling, usually steamed rice pastry
Gone Tong Gow — thick broth with pork & shrimp inside a large gow
Har Gow — diced shrimp & bamboo shoots
Yu Chee Gow — shark fin, diced pork, shrimp, chicken, bamboo shoots

Go — cake or pudding, steamed, baked or fried
Bak Tong Go — steamed sweet rice pudding cake
Chin Jung Go — delicate pastry, fruit and egg cake
Gai Dun Go — light sponge cake
Gow Chung Go — nine-layer sweet tapioca pudding
Lo Bak Go — fried pudding with Chinese radish, rice, flour & pork
Ma Lai Go — dark sponge cake
Ma Tai Go — fried sweet cake with waterchestnut
Wu Tao Go — steamed taro pudding cake

Other Items

Chun Yao Bang — fried onion pancakes
Chun Guen — spring rolls
Dun Tat — sweet egg-custard tart
Fun Gwor — chicken, pork, shrimp in transparent rice pastry
Fung Jaw — steamed chicken claws in black bean sauce
Jar Har Fat — minced shrimp & pork powdered with vermicelli, fried
Jean Dui — sesame seed dumplings filled with bean paste
Joak — thick rice porridge soup
Han Yun Dow Foo — sweet almond pudding with fruit topping
Ngau Bak Yip — steamed beef tripe in black bean & garlic sauce
Ngau Jap — steamed beef stomach in black bean sauce
Ngau Yuk Siu Mai — steamed beef ball with green pea sauce
Nor Mai Fuan — fried sticky rice with Chinese sausage, vegetables & BBQ pork
Nor Mai Gai — sticky rice ball stuffed with chicken, pork & sausage wrapped in lotus leaves and steamed
Pai Guck — steamed spare ribs
Su Jai Bang — fried potato dumplings filled with BBQ pork & water chestnuts
Sin Chet Kuen — minced meat & vegetables wrapped in bean curd skin
Siu Mai — minced pork, bamboo shoots & water chestnuts in steamed egg pastry
Siu Pai Guck — BBQ spare ribs
Up Cheung — braised duck web seasoned with oyster sauce
Wor Tip — fried dumpling filled with meat sauce & lined with pork
Yuan Dun Foo — bean curd with pork & shrimp or other meat

Back to Some Recipes Last update: 2002-10-19