5 Places to Learn to Make Traditional Chinese Dim Sum
We've rounded up a few places to pick up the tricks of the trade from the people in town who do it best.
In Hong Kong, it's no question that we take dim sum for granted. With har gau, siu mai and pork pastries available on every street corner, usually for less than the cost of an MTR trip, it's easy to splurge on these steam basket beauties without taking the time to appreciate the effort and art behind the age-old style of Chinese cuisine.
That is... until you're at home with your store-bought dumpling wrappers and wondering why your har gow resembles a ball of sticky glue rather than a plump, perfectly pleated shrimp dumpling. Before you throw in the towel to becoming your own dim sum master, we've rounded up a few places to pick up the tricks of the trade from the people in town who do it best.
1. Cooking With the Culinary Stars at InterContinental
With revered dining institutions such as SPOON by Alain Ducasse and the Hong Kong branch of Nobu, the InterContinental Hong Kong has a star-powered lineup of top chefs leading the fine dining world in Hong Kong. Their "Cooking With the Culinary Stars" program is an epic master class for foodies and gastronauts, whether its buttering up French pastries with SPOON pastry chef Olivier Lannear or sharpening sushi knives with chef Kazunari Araki from Nobu. Of the InterCon's all-star culinary team, executive chef Lau Yiu Fai from two-Michelin-starred Yan Toh Heen is one of the brightest, crafting some of the most pristine dim sum we've had the pleasure of eating in Hong Kong. During the special dim sum classes, you'll get to take on the role of chef Lau Yiu Fai's protege in the kitchen as you learn how to fold beautiful shrimp and pork dumplings, make the fillings for crispy spring rolls and most importantly, pick up the Chinese cook's intuition. Chef Lau will encourage you to throw out the recipe and feel the ingredients instead... just don't pop it into your hungry, gaping mouths before the steamer basket's set.
Call ahead for the next Dim Sum Making & Chinese Tea Pairing Class on Aug 6. InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, 2313-2323.
2. Towngas Cooking Centre
Established in 1977, Towngas is one of the best places in Hong Kong to learn the fundamentals of Chinese cooking and get hands-on in the kitchen without having to spend a fortune. They run seasonal cooking classes such as Mid-Autumn moon cake making and Valentine's Day baking classes, as well as regular cooking courses which include both Western and Chinese cuisine and of course, dim sum making. With classes for both kids and adults, everyone is encouraged to put on an apron and dust off the rolling pin as you learn how to steam sweet potato sponge cakes, fry bite-sized pastries, and fill and fold dumplings. There are locations in Kowloon, New Territories and Hong Kong Island, and each center boasts spacious and clean facilities where each student gets their individual worktop, cookware and stove. The Mia Cucina kitchen also comes with bright colors and adjustable heights for the little chefs in the house—a bonus for moms and dads who want to keep kids entertained as they brush up on home cooking skills.
Prices vary; visit www.towngascooking.com for more information. Multiple locations including Shop 9A, Lee Theatre Plaza, 99 Percival Street, Causeway Bay, 2576-1535.
3. Peninsula Academy at Spring Moon
For more than a decade, the Peninsula Hong Kong has been providing traditional dim sum making classes at their Peninsula Academy, led by the esteemed dim sum chefs from celebrated Cantonese restaurant Spring Moon. Designed to evoke the elegance and romance of 1920s Shanghai, this fine dining restaurant is a Hong Kong institution—making the opportunity to step behind the scenes into the traditional Chinese kitchens and cook with the chefs one you simply can't miss. A temple to the art of dim sum making, Spring Moon has built its name and reputation on a careful preservation of classic techniques, which you'll pick up (or try to, at least) during an hour-and-a-half guided class that includes a lesson on the history of dim sum, a hands-on session, and the best part—eating the dim sum you've made alongside a special selection of delicately crafted Spring Moon desserts.
$2,000 per person plus 10% surcharge. Class runs from 10-11:30am; reserve at least five days in advance by calling 2696-6691 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Peninsula Hong Kong, 19-21 Salisbury Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui.
4. Martha Sherpa's Cooking Classes
If you're looking to dive right in and get down and dirty in the kitchen without all the frills and fuss, Martha Sherpa's home cooking class in the privacy of her own private workshop is just the place for you. This professional Chinese cooking instructor has been turning aspiring cooks from hopeless mishaps in the kitchen to confident cooks with her straightforward, no-hands-holding philosophy to cooking and the motto that "practice makes perfect." She teaches everything from Thai cooking to Chinese barbecue to vegetarian cooking, encouraging students to sample, season and spice it up along the way. The full-day dim sum course teaches professional techniques including preparing the dough and making the filling, with five different lesson options available each including four types of dim sum. Pick the one that includes your favorite dim sum treats—whether it's steamed sticky rice with preserved sausage, turnip cake, or glutinous rice dumplings—and get ready to work for your lunch.
$1,680 per person. From 10:30am-5pm. Flat F, 14th Floor, Wah Lai Mansion, 62-76 Marble Road, North Point, 2381-0132. www.marthasherpa.com
5. Klook Dim Sum Class
More of an ad hoc cook instead of a hardcore dim sum devotee? If you just want a fun and tasty afternoon in the kitchen where you can perhaps meet a few friends while you're at it, activities app Klook has the perfect experience for you: a two-hour dim sum making class (only one hour of that is actual cooking) where you'll prepare spring rolls and har gau, and get to enjoy the fruits of your labor without (too) much elbow grease put into it. Led by an expert Chinese dim sum instructor, this easy-breezy course is great for couples, or families with kids who love to help out in the kitchen (kids join for free, one kid per adult). And while the techniques are the basics, you won't be churning out fine dining restaurant-worthy dim sum but instead adorable squid-shaped spring rolls and "penguin" dumplings that should make for some pretty food fodder for your #foodstagram account. Snap away!
$430 from www.klook.com. Shop 221, Level 2, K11 Art Mall, 18 Hanoi Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon.