A few years ago, I tried dim sum for the first time.
If you’ve never heard of dim sum, or have just not had a chance to experience it, you are missing out on the Chinese version of weekend brunch. Served locally at just a few St. Louis Chinese restaurants on Saturdays, Sundays and major holidays (like Christmas and New Year’s) during lunch hours, you should plan to arrive a little before noon so you don’t have to wait for a table.
Basically, waiters and waitresses scurry about with trays of food or pushing carts. They stop by each table to see if you would like something that they are offering, then run back to the kitchen when their tray is empty. Each waitress has 2-4 items and will happily give you a very brief broken English explanation of what they are carrying.
If nothing looks appealing, don’t be afraid to say “no thanks”. There are many more choices waiting for you and you don’t want to fill up on food you don’t like just to be polite. When you have had enough, just avoid eye contact when they walk by and they’ll skip your table.
The menu is extensive, offering appetizers, protein (meat, duck, seafood & tofu), vegetables, fried rice and dessert.
All of the food comes in tapas sized portions (mini-appetizer sized plates). Given the small size and price tag of each item, you should try a bunch of different things. Go out on a limb….since the food comes in basically tasting sizes, try that item you would never order for dinner. Even better, go with at least 3 people so you can try twice as much.
One tip for newcomers – don’t expect to find a menu or a price list. Your hostess will leave a paper ticket on your table, and each time you accept something from a tray bearing waiter, he’ll make a tick mark on your tab. The tab has rows for S, M, L, XL…I have no idea how much each category costs, but I’ve found that it costs about $10-15 per person for a ton of food. (NOTE: I’ve only eaten dim sum at Lu Lu’s, so it’s possible that other restaurants have a different system and pricing).
Lu Lu’s Seafood Restaurant:
Today I had lunch at Lu Lu’s on Olive in University City. We got there about 11:30, and the upstairs dining room was about half full. By noon, there was a line of people streaming through the door and every table upstairs and in their lower level was filled. If you can, definitely try to get a seat upstairs. The food is the same in both places, but the atmosphere is more fun in the main dining room.
I took a quick video to show you in pictures what you’ll find during dim sum hours at Lu Lu’s.
Originally posted on UCityHomes.com…an old blog that I shut down a while ago.
Dim Sum Restaurants in University City:
Every Chinese restaurant doesn’t offer dim sum, and many of the University City Chinese restaurants are actually closed on Sundays.
Here are the local restaurants that I know about which serve dim sum with links to reviews and maps.
From what I can tell after a little online research, you have to drive to UCity if you want dim sum in St. Louis.
If you know of any other dim sum restaurants in the region, or would like to offer you thoughts on which is the best dim sum restaurant, just leave a comment below.
Photo Credit: Kevin.Fai (flickr)