Photo Credit | Lauren Townsend

Learn a little about Chinese culture with dim sum, a fun, family-friendly culinary experience. Also check out Lauren’s guide to eating on Buford Highway with kids for more great international eats. 

For those who are unfamiliar, dim sum is reminiscent of Asian tapas, offering countless small plates of dumplings, rolls, buns and soups. The variety in flavors, textures and portion size makes is easy for children to find a favorite.

It’s traditionally a weekend brunch, but some restaurants serve dim sum during the week. My family wanted to try it, so I reached out to chefs and foodies to collect their favorite restaurants and Oriental Pearl was at the top of the list.

Scott Lamphere, corporate chef at Gordon Food Service, gave it this endorsement: ‘The price point at the Oriental Pearl is perfect for a family budget and it’s a super clean restaurant. The menu has traditional and familiar items (General Tso, Sweet and Sour) as well as some exotic items for the adventurous (Shark fin, Jelly Fish Salad) … Parents can feel good about taking the entire family, feeding them well and not breaking the bank while having a nice ethnic experience and having a bite of something new!”

I was so pleasantly surprised how adventurous my kids were to all the offerings. First thing, hot tea is offered because that is part of the tradition. Oddly enough, Peyton, 8, and Cricket, 5, loved the hot tea and we drank the whole pot.

I will say that pacing yourself is important. Dim sum at Oriental Pearl is served on carts, and it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of all the carts stopping by and wanting to try everything. Remember the first time you went to a Brazilian steakhouse and you filled up on the salad bar and chicken and sausage, only to have the ribeye guy come by? Same. The carts will keep coming, so take a few at a time.

My favorites were the steamed shrimp dumplings, but I also loved the shu mai. My oldest daughter surprised me with her obsession of the congee, which is rice and water cooked into a thick porridge. She ate the whole bowl and she’s my picky eater. Peyton’s second favorite were the clams, which I get doesn’t make her sound like a picky eater, but she is, and she loved them. My youngest daughter was more difficult, but did a good job trying everything. She preferred the crunchy egg rolls and dumplings that come hot right off the skillet cart.

At restaurants that use dim sum carts, prices on individual items aren’t usually displayed, so you may not know the cost of the meal as you make your selections. Our check was roughly $40, but our table looked like a medieval banquet, so we could have easily gotten away with way less.

Before you go: Don’t be scared. You will not recognize some of the dishes that come to your table, but the person driving the cart will do their best to describe them to you.

Most Chinese restaurants serving dim sum fill up quickly and kids aren’t great at waiting, so check opening times and get there early.

– Lauren Townsend

Great Places for Dim Sum

Oriental Pearl, 5399 New Peachtree Rd., Chamblee. Kids will love the congee, a thick rice porridge.

Canton House, 4825 Buford Hwy., Chamblee. A local favorite with authentic flavors.

Dim Sum Heaven, 5203 Buford Hwy. NE, Atlanta. Good dim sum, popular soup dumplings, no carts.

Royal China, 3295 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd. Chamblee. A mainstay in dim sum, this place has the widest selection.

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