If you thought small plates to share was a distinctly modern phenomenon then we'd ask you to think again. In fact, the Chinese have been doing it for centuries in the form of dim sum. These tasty little dumplings, traditionally served in a bamboo steamer basket, are a Cantonese speciality, but look hard enough and you'll also be able to find some super tasty Szechuan varieties too.
In fact most Chinese takeaways in London feature at least a few varieties on their menus and, for a truly authentic experience, they're best enjoyed with a cup or two of Chinese tea. They also come with all kinds of fillings but, like many healthy staples of oriental cuisine, the very best tend to include seafood of some kind. We've tried them all, and here are the ones that we've chosen as the very best.
1. Soft shell crab at Shikumen
The soft shell crab is a true delicacy that features in all kinds of cuisine and this version of it from Shikumen is well worth seeking out. Prepared with garlic and herbs with Sichuan red chilli to add a little heat to balance the sweetness of the crab, it adds up to a perfect combination that's sure to bring even the most reticent of seafood eaters out of their shells.
2. Prawn and Chicken Shao Mai at New Culture Revolution
Before they even opened Chelsea's New Culture Revolution, they sent their chef to Beijing to be fully educated in the ways of noodle and dim sum so you can be sure of the dish's authenticity. It's a really satisfying combination of chicken and prawn in a perfectly steamed dumpling in the Shao Mai style which originated in Mongolia but which has now spread throughout China – and the world.
3. Seafood Clay Pot from Jin Jin
From the Szechuan section of their extensive menu, Jin Jin bring you their seafood clay pot that comes overflowing with the fruits of the sea including prawns, mussels and squid in a special sauce. If you fancy a change from seafood they also give the clay pot treatment to other ingredients including chicken and beef too.
4. Prawn & Chive Dumplings from Miso Noodle Bar
You can look forward to a taste explosion when you bite into these little beauties from Miso Noodle Bar. Chives lift up the fresh flavours of the prawns while the addition of bamboo shoots gives a little extra texture and crunch to the whole experience. It's no wonder that they're one of the most popular of the dim sum dishes on the menu.
5. White Fish and Spinach Dumplings from Culture Grub
With dumplings this good, you can excuse the '80s pun in the restaurant's name. There are six per serving so they're perfect for sharing and the combination of fresh, white fish and shredded spinach is a winner in every way – as well as being a very healthy option too. Just ask Popeye!
Have we set off your yearning for dim sum? The let Deliveroo satisfy it for you.