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Locating Hong Kong Dim Sum in Bangkok’s Chinatown

Dim Sum in Chinatown

Dim Sum in Chinatown…

Just popping out for a meal in Thailand can turn into a mini adventure (it’s one of the many reasons I enjoy living here). There I was on Saturday, heading to Chinatown with friends. One of us sort of knew where we were going and it wasn’t me. I mean, my sense of direction is more than laughable. Also laughable? I once made my living as a cartographer.

With the taxi driver waiting for instructions, a crumpled map in Chinese and Thai was shoved my way. “Here, you read Thai. Figure out where we need to go”.

Dim Sum in Chinatown

Following the arrows, I could see we wanted ฮ่องกงติ่มซำ (Hong Kong Dimsum) located between ถนนเยาวราช (tanon Yaowarat) and ถนนเจริญกรุง (tanon Charoen Krung) in ตลาดเล่งบ๊วยเอี๊ยะ (Layngbuayiaya market). Seemed simple enough.

After explaining to the taxi driver where we wanted to go, I passed him the map. The driver turned the map this way and that. Upside down and back again. And for good reason. It was not because he couldn’t read a map. It was due to a common problem with maps made in Thailand. Too often, no attention is paid to North.


View Larger Map

Our map had ถนนเยาวราช (tanon Yaowarat) on the top and ถนนเจริญกรุง (tanon Charoen Krung) below. In reality, it’s the other way around and diagonal.

Expats joke that taxi drivers in Thailand can’t read maps. But, when you think about what they have to work with, the problems they face come clear. All I can say that it’s a good thing (most) Thai taxi drivers have a better sense of direction that I do!

For whatever reason (I’m guessing the insane traffic), the driver dropped us off at the wrong end of the block. Now, it might seem a negative but it wasn’t. Not really. With all the selling excitement going on (swinging duck bodies, hanging pigs heads, slimy pink grunge, and more) having to fight our way from the soi 6 side to the soi 16 side was a bit of a treat.

But I’ve yet to figure out how you go in on soi 6 and come out on soi 16. Anyone?

Dim Sum in Chinatown

Hong Kong Dimsum…

The food at Hong Kong Dimsum is fresh fresh fresh! I’m drooling (all over again) just writing this part of the post. For lunch we ordered enough dimsum (fried, steamed, and desert) and drinks for three people. Price? A grand total of 442 baht (US$14).
Dim Sum in Chinatown

fried taro: เผือกทอด /pèuak tôt/
red pork: หมูแดง /mŏo daeng/
crab wrapped snack: ขนมจีบปู /kà-nŏm jèep bpoo/
prawns (Chinese name): ฮะเก๋า /há găo/
spinach (?): ผักโขม /pàk kŏhm/
eye of the dragon: ตามังกร /dtaa mang-gon/
pork wrapped snack: ขนมจีบหมู /kà-nŏm jèep mŏo/
prawn wrapped snack: ขนมจีบกุ้ง /kà-nŏm jèep mŏo gûng/
pork and prawn wrapped snack: ขนมจีบหมูกุ้ง /kà-nŏm jèep mŏo gûng/
Portugal pie (egg custard): พายไข่โปรตุเกส /paai kài bproh-dtù-gàyt/

Dim Sum in Chinatown

My dictionary tells me that ขนม /kà-nŏm/ is ‘dessert, sweets, cake’ and it works for snack-type foods (such as dim sum) as well. And from what I could gather จีบ /jèep/ is a type of Chinese wrap. Does anyone know for sure?

In preparation for a coming series (Thai 111) I’m collecting loan words so it was great to add dim sum (ติ่มซำ), a Chinese loan word in both English and Thai.

dim sum |ˈdim ˈsəm|
a Chinese dish of small steamed or fried savory dumplings containing various fillings, served as a snack or main course.

ORIGIN from Chinese (Cantonese dialect) tim sam, from tim ‘dot’ and sam ‘heart.’

Dim Sum in Chinatown

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My passion is promoting the Thai language. Fullstop. Oh, and traveling. I'm passionate about that as well. And photography too.

19 Comments

  1. Will surely visit this restaurant on my next visit to Bangkok. If I can find it :)

  2. :-D Suan, if you do make it to Chinatown finding a decent dim sum place is supposed to be dead easy because there are so many to chose from. But this restaurant came highly regarded and I can see why. For years, every Sunday we’d go out for dim sum. I now know that there’s dim sum and there’s dim sum – Hong Kong Dim Sum is the freshest I’ve ever experienced. It was sooooo good (and now I’m sooooo hungry!)

  3. My wife says that จีบ /jèep/ refers to the pinching motion made during the traditional Thai dances, or in the case of dim sum the pinching of the top of the wrapper to close the dim sum.

  4. Thanks Steve. My quick dictionary says “a kind of Chinese food” and “pleat, fold, pucker, gather a fabric in folds”. So it’s a combo of both (odd but believable).

  5. “Tim” in Cantonese literally means “to touch”.

  6. Food adventures are always fun in Bangkok, and I too sometimes get frustrated with the lack of north on Thai maps. Glad you were able to find this place to enjoy some Hong Kong style dim sum – looks and sounds delicious!

  7. Keith McDaniel

    July 19, 2012 at 6:22 am

    A Thai restaurant near me serves ขนมจีบ appetizers made with crap and pork filling that are pretty good. :-)

    I was also told that จีบ meant “pleated” and the name of the appetizer reflected the way the dough in the snack was pinched together like a skirt, and a google image search for กระโปรงจีบ turned up pictures of pleated skirts. Sometimes I find it better to look for images. :-)

    And finally, it seems that จีบ also means to flirt or to woo. I was given to understand (by a พระอาจารย์ — teacher monk — no less!) that this meaning derives from the act of scooching over sideways to sit a little closer to one’s date. A image search for จีบสาว turns up a fair number of pictures of couples together.

    All in all, a versatile little word!

  8. Khun Keith was thinking of “b” when he accidentally typed “p”;)

  9. Keith McDaniel

    July 19, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Oh my! I indeed meant to type “crab”! Thanks David :-)

  10. As David Inly says it’s more “touch” than “dot”
    點心
    so dim sum is “as you like, as your heart desire, ตามใจ”

  11. “dim sum is “as you like, as your heart desire, ตามใจ”

    Love it :-)

  12. But it’s just literally translated : don’t answer your Cantonese friend “dim sum” if he asks you “what shall we do” and you want to say “as you want” !! or you will end up cooking dumplings !

  13. Good thing I loooove dumplings :-)

    Ah. A dear friend of mine is moving to China next week so I just might visit and make the request!

  14. Eating tim sum (usually for breakfast) is more a family or social experience than a meal. So in this sense, I think that tim sum means “food which touches or warms your heart”.

  15. Catherine – What great looking snacks dim sum are although mine would have to be on the sweet side. The swinging ducks you passed would in truth appeal more to me.

    I looked under Sticky Wiki’s skirt and sure enough there was plenty about dim sum. Apparently (surely Wiki wouldn’t lie), in Cantonese eating dim sum is known as yum cha (drink tea) because in ancient China on the old ‘Silk Road’ teahouses starting selling dim sum to eat whilst drinking tea. Traditionally they were a morning snack which stretched to the afternoon and nowadays they are consumed no matter what time of day.

    I’m guessing the drinks you had with your dim sum were slightly stronger than tea.

  16. Rick Bradford

    July 20, 2012 at 9:36 am

    No doubt there is a place down there selling ปอเปี้ยะทอด with น้ำจิ้มบ๊วย also?

  17. David, “food which touches or warms your heart”… that fits. I never eat dim sum alone. It’s always with family and/or friends.

    In Brunei it was a weekly Sunday tradition to crowd into the best (not the fanciest) dim sum restaurant in Bandar and eat until we couldn’t face another bite. The different selections were rolled around the huge room on three tray carts. You called the person pushing the carts, pointed to what you fancied, the items were put in your table, and your bill added to. It was a great system. The place was always heaving on Sunday but rarely did we have to wait long to get fed.

    Martyn, we ordered three dishes on the sweet side. And funny enough, they came first. No, our drinks weren’t strong. We had 2 diet cokes and a bottled water. I rarely hanker for alcohol in China Town (not sure why that is… the constant heat turns me off?)

    Rick, I do recall น้ำจิ้มบ๊วย.

  18. Hong Kong Dim Sum is a small branch of Hua Seng Hong Restuarant which sell Dim Sum only. You can find HSH Restaurant for Cantonese food and Dim Sum at Yaowarat Rd. not far from HK Dim Sum (showed as black block on your first map). HSH also has many branches in popular malls around Bangkok.

    Kanom Jeep (ขนมจีบ) = Shumai

    The shop beside HK Dim Sum has delicous Kanom Jeep too. You will see Look Chin Pla ลูกชิ้นปลา (Fish ball), Look Chin Kung ลูกชิ้นกุ้ง (Shrimp Ball), Look Chin Tao Hoo ลูกชิ้นเต้าหู้ (Tofu meat ball) etc. freshly stream in front of the shop. Many of Raan Kuay Tiew ร้านก๋วยเตี๋ยว (Noodle shop) buy Look Chin ลูกชิ้น from this shop.

  19. Thank you so much Nu. I love their Dim Sum (so fresh!) so knowing that I can find it closer will come in handy.

    I noticed the shop next door and if I hadn’t been heading for HSH specifically I would have stopped in. Next time…

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