Dim sum calls for dumplings, and about 55,000 are sold annually at State Bird Provisions in San Francisco. But not classics like shrimp-filled har gow. Chefs Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski prefer their dumplings with guinea hen. “Dim sum service offers a slew of freedoms with our cooking,” explains Brioza, whose menu includes steak tartare in lettuce cups.
In Atlanta, Top Chef alum Kevin Gillespie and his team also take liberties with dim sum, creating kung pao Brussels sprouts and other new dishes each week at Gunshow, influenced by both dim sum and Brazilian churrascaria traditions.
These restaurants, along with The Church Key in L.A., are invigorating the dim sum scene—which has no shortage of authentic restaurants, particularly in immigrant enclaves like New York City’s Flushing neighborhood and California’s San Gabriel Valley. Sea Harbour, east of L.A., employs an all-Cantonese staff that turns out steamed radish cake garnished with dried shrimp and baked barbecue pork buns.
The pleasure of a dim sum meal also comes from the showmanship and ordering experience. At Seattle’s New Hong Kong, for example, carts glide past diners and attendants raise the lids off steamer baskets, bellowing out what’s inside, whether sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves or garlicky spareribs. It’s all washed down with generous cups of fragrant tea.
Read on for more of America’s best dim sum destinations, and share your favorites in the comments below.