Served from rolling carts and steaming bamboo baskets, dim sum (which translates to “touch the heart”) is small and wildly popular Cantonese dishes that delicately unites family and tradition. While dim sum is deep-rooted in Chinese culture, its diversity is evolving as modern chefs challenge themselves by creating exciting spins on the traditional Cantonese dishes. This involves blending traditional and contemporary techniques, without compromising the authentic flavours and craft. Today, although the trolleys and carts have nearly disappeared, dim sum remains on the menus during lunch, brunch and sometimes even dinner, allowing people to enjoy the tradition of choosing dumplings while dining out with family and friends. But dim sum is still evolving, and to master the art and craftsmanship of dumplings, chefs require many years of practice. Bringing a contemporary twist to dim sum is Nove Chinese Kitchen, a Cantonese dining hotspot known for its Chiu Chow flavours. It is tucked away in the bustling, narrow lane of Li Yuen Street East in Central. Nove’s executive chef, Wong Yiu-por, who is Dongguan-born, started making dim sum at the age of 15. Today, he boasts 50 years of experience in the kitchens of renowned Chinese restaurants, such as the one Michelin-star Island Tang, Heichinrou, Pak Loh Chiu Chow Restaurant, and Dor Cheuk Restaurant. Dim sum swap series: which dumplings are healthier and better? Chef Wong’s philosophy is to “pay attention to every single step and detail of making dim sum, from choosing ingredients to styling”. With his culinary mastery and imagination, he seeks to create traditional dim sum with stylish and contemporary twists to present constant surprises to diners, and likes to be a step ahead of the competition. For our visit, Wong prepared two kinds of dim sum – watercress pork dumplings and mini Chinese sponge cakes. “Kurobuta pork from Japan is used for the dumplings as it is seasonal and known for its freshness, softness, and tenderness. On the other hand, watercress is refreshingly sweet, making it a suitable ingredient for dumplings,” explains Wong. As for the mini Chinese cakes, they are easy to make at home since they don’t need fermented dough and are smaller than traditional ones. However, “the taste is similar: a mouthful of luscious and sugary goodness”, Wong adds. When reimagining traditional dishes, Wong keeps track of the trends and market, and occasionally updates recipes, exhibiting his creativity and flexibility, reflected in his motto: “Traditional but not conservative; innovative but staying true to one’s roots”. Innovative touches to his traditional recipes include the addition of “cheese and chopped abalone to ordinary tarts to make it a creative dish”. Other savoury bites are pineapple-shaped baked barbecue pork buns, which Wong calls “the mini dim sum version of ordinary pineapple buns”. He also adds shredded taro to spring rolls for a new take on the traditional pastry. Dim sum swap series, part 2: barbecue pork or chicken bun – which is healthier? Customers, both local and tourists, usually like to order dumplings with minced pork and bak choi fillings, Wong says, because of the high-quality kurobuta pork. Chinese sponge cake is another favourite. The chef’s recommendation, though, is the classic har gow (shrimp dumplings) and siu mai (pork dumplings) – these are a must-try for foodies, especially if you are visiting the city. And Wong’s personal favourite? The chef says he is partial to steamed dumplings: “I always cook it for my family; they are easy to make and very delicious.” Traditional dim sum and top-notch à la carte at the palatial Guo Fu Lou Fusing modern creativity and top ingredients, Wong is keen to pass on his masterful techniques and vision to the next generation of dim sum chefs and apprentices. Dim sum – do it yourself Chef Wong shares tips on cooking dim sum at home. First, choose the right recipes according to your needs, and make sure the ingredients are fresh and seasonal. Next, strictly adhere to the recipes. Remember to add more natural seasoning. The final tip: choose the easiest cooking method, such as boiling or frying. As for the easiest recipes to prepare at home, Wong suggests watercress pork dumplings and mini Chinese sponge cakes. Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter . Help us understand what you are interested in so that we can improve SCMP and provide a better experience for you. We would like to invite you to take this five-minute survey on how you engage with SCMP and the news.