Saturday in Xili: Dim Sum, Bubble Tea and More



When in Guangdong, do as the Guangdong people do–and dim sum tops your to-do list here in Shenzhen. So on March 3rd, the Campus Advisor Program organized a dim sum trip and led a group of international students, both new exchange and full-time students, to experience the authentic Chinese culture of dim sum.

A quick ride on bus M369 took us to Nanrong Hotel in the neighboring area Xili. The restaurant is located on the second floor, and is a traditional Chinese jiudian style restaurant where people sit around round tables on an open floor.

Ordering dim sum could be quite a feat, especially since many don’t have an English menu. The CAs spread out amongst the international students and demonstrated how to order. In more traditional dim sum places, one would take the table card and place orders in front of food carts directly. At the Nanrong Hotel, orders were taken like one would in a regular restaurant.

Dim sum originated in southern China with Cantonese people, and it is usually linked with the tradition of yum cha (literally meaning “drink tea”). The elderly would get up early to eat dim sum after morning exercises, and sit at the table with a cup of tea for a few hours to read newspaper or chat with others. For many, yum cha and dim sum are reserved for weekend with families. It is therefore not surprising to find many families happily eating away when we arrived.

The CAs introduced some of the must-haves when ordering dim sum: xia jiao (shrimp dumpling), liu sha bao (egg custard bun), cha shao bao (braised pork bun), chang fen and many more. Some people also ordered less conventional but equally delicious dishes, such as roasted Peking duck and fried beef noodles.

While waiting for the food to be served, the international students learned that when served tea, tapping two fingers on the table beside your cup means thank you. However, this gesture is only recognized in Guangdong and surrounding areas, people in other parts of China may not understand it!

The dim sum ended with everyone paying “AA” style, which is a Chinese way of saying to go dutch. After a very fulfilling meal, the crowd decided to walk to Xili 366 Pedestrian Street, a food street nearby, and order some bubble tea. Students experienced how to customize a drink, such as changing the amount of ice and sugar level, and adding extra pearls or jelly. 366 during the weekend is alive and bustling with life, and you can get a glimpse of how a regular weekend is like here.

Hanna Friedman-Luzkova, a first year full-time PHBS student, said that she really enjoyed the trip and it was also a great way to meet the new exchange students. She would like to visit other places like this to experience the Chinese culture more.

This trip was a short break away from schoolwork and the campus, and everyone should step out of the campus more often and explore the city! The place you go doesn’t have to be a well-known attraction. Ask around for where the locals eat and what they would do, and that is the best way to maximize your stay here.

Reported by Wandong Yang