Inside: Join in as my little family explores the art of dim sum at Sunflower Chinese Restaurant in Columbus, OH.
Are you familiar with the fabulous Cantonese tradition of “yum cha?” This phrase loosely translates to “drink tea” and it’s usually characterized as a full tea brunch. Along with the endless tea, diners are served “dim sum” – small bite sized pieces of food that are often steamed, fried, or portioned onto small plates. Kind of like Asian tapas.
My little family loves dim sum. I mean, dumplings, tiny dishes of noodles, savory stuffed buns and rolls, delicious pastries – what’s NOT to love? In fact, we love dim sum SO MUCH that when we went through our quarter life crisis and sold everything we owned, quit our jobs, and bought one way tickets to Asia – our first and only planned stop was in Hong Kong.
Because, dumplings, obviously.
But now we’re back home. And craving dim sum something awful. Luckily for us, we have Sunflower Chinese Restaurant in Dublin, OH. And they host a dim sum brunch every Sunday!
Follow along as we walk you through the fun.
Dim Sum Etiquette
You always start with a cup of hot tea. The entire meal centers around tea, so make sure to ask for a fresh pot as soon as you sit down. Usually, dried tea leaves are added to a pot of hot water before it is placed on your table, so make sure you allow a few minutes for the tea to steep before pouring the first cup.
In Cantonese culture, it’s customary to serve tea to everyone else at the table before filling your own cup. When you are serving a guest to your right, hold the teapot in your left hand. When you are serving a guest on your left, hold the pot in your right hand.
To thank the person who has served you tea, slightly bend your index finger and tap the table once (if you are single) or with a bent index and middle finger (if you are married.)
The story goes that a great Emperor decided to dress up as a villager and traveled to a small village in Canton for dim sum. When the Emperor poured his friend a cup of tea (an immense honor) the friend, not wanting to give away the Emperor’s identity, tapped the table with his finger to show his appreciation instead of bowing.
When the tea pot is empty, simply open the lid and balance it on the top of the pot to signify that you’d like a fresh pot.
Dim Sum at Sunflower Chinese Restaurant
It’s best to enjoy dim sum with a group as you can try more dishes. It’s also a surprisingly affordable meal – I always leave Sunflower Chinese totally stuffed and very happy with the bill!
The restaurant is located in a totally unassuming strip mall off of Sawmill Road, in Dublin.
I’ve heard that they offer a small, limited menu of dim sum options every day, but we really love to go on Sundays for their full dim sum service!
Tip: Make sure you get there early because they fill up quick!
They open at 11am on Sundays and we’re usually in the parking lot about 5 minutes before.
Partially because I have a husband who runs on German standard time (for him, 5 minutes early is on time, and and on time is late) but also because I really hate waiting for a table as I jealously oogle all the people eating delicious dumplings.
Dim sum Sundays are popular, so please do yourself a favor and try to get there as close to opening time as possible.
Once you arrive, you’ll be given a card like this. This is how the restaurant tracks what you’ve ordered and how much your final bill will be.
Just leave this on the table and as you select your dishes from the carts that get pushed around, the server will place a stamp next to the corresponding price/size.
In my humble opinion, the best tables are the ones RIGHT next to the kitchen. This way you get your pick of whatever delicious fresh thing comes out of the kitchen first.
Not to worry if you’re seated far away though – in our experience, if our favorite dish is not on the cart when it gets pushed by, we’ve always had great luck with just letting our server know we’d love to try a specific dish and they will usually grab one for us when the next batch is ready.
Sunflower tries really hard to make all their guests happy.
Tip: If you have a food restrictions or a food allergy, it’s always best to check in and speak with the manager/owner at the reception desk. In our experience, not all the servers have this information and it’s best if you can get the manager involved to answer any in depth questions.
Dim Sum at Sunflower Chinese Restaurant in Photos
Once you’ve let your tea leaves steep, pour that first cup.
Now, just sit back, relax and wait for carts stacked with various dumplings to roll up to you.
Each cart will have a different “theme” – some have steamed dumplings, others will have fried dishes, noodles, vegetables, or rice bundles. Try not to get too excited at the first cart that comes up so you can save room to sample from the other carts, too!
It’s totally fine to nab some amazing things off the dessert cart when it rolls by and just leave the dishes on your table until you’re ready for them. One time, I was being good and passed up my favorite dessert – egg custard cups – because I was still working on my meal and not quite ready for dessert and then they SOLD OUT. I was so sad. Never again.
Feel free to ask lots of questions to your servers if you like to know what you’re biting into, and if not – just play it by ear. Are these buns stuffed with a savory pork bbq filling or a creamy sweet custard? If the answer matters to you, ask away. If not, take a bite and go on a foodie adventure!
So many different dumplings. Filled with prawns, pork, beef, veggies…anything you might want.
These are called “soup dumplings” and filled with hot soup! Just pop the whole thing in your mouth and taste the soup pouring out. Note: Try to wait a few minutes because hot soup can totally burn your mouth.
These are my daughter’s and my husbands FAVE. Soft buns filled with bbq pork.
Close up. Mmm bbq pork.
You get three pork buns in an order. There are three of us. This is the five year old eyeing her daddy in a silent challenge to see who can eat their pork bun the quickest and steal the third one because who cares about what mommy wants?! (jk – you can just order another portion!)
These are my favorite! Shrimp filled rice crepes with a sweet soy sauce. SO GOOD. Somehow I still have to share with my family….#notfair
So much deliciousness.
At this point I still didn’t know what I was biting into. It was bbq pork. Fantastic.
Don’t forget to take breaks and sip tea.
While Cantonese food in general and especially dim sum is not spicy, if you’re a fan of the heat like I am, you’re in luck as they put some spicy soy sauce on every table, and you can always ask for chili oil as well.
Don’t forget to save room for dessert! They have an entire cart dedicated to sweet treats.
You can also order bubble tea from the server who mans the dessert cart.
They have tons of flavors to choose from, but we always get one watermelon bubble tea to share among the three of us. It’s the perfect way to end the meal.
Sunflower Chinese Restaurant
7370 Sawmill Road, Columbus, OH 43235