Where to Go for the Best Dim Sum in Boston

By Jacqueline Cain
Credit: Chris McIntosh

Experiential and shareable, dim sum is a style of dining from Hong Kong that delights food fans around the world. A tempting selection of Chinese-style small plates and dumplings populate a standard dim sum menu, traditionally served via roving cart. Boston has one of the country’s oldest Chinese communities where dim sum is still a weekend tradition, with some suburban standouts as well. From Chinatown to Malden and beyond, here’s where to go for authentic, fun and festive dim sum dining.

Empire Garden

Credit: Chris McIntosh

True dim sum is a bit theatrical, with itinerant service and dishes kept hot and fresh before the big reveal of the steam-basket cover. So it is gleefully appropriate that Empire Garden Restaurant is housed in a former vaudeville auditorium and movie house. Today, the grand restaurant on the mezzanine level is ornately decorated with Rococo-style murals, complete with a gilded proscenium arch. All the dim sum pleasures are available, but you’ll have to track down a cart. Keep an eye out for stars such as the paper-thin, perfectly pleated har gow (shrimp dumplings); open-topped pork siu mai; beef noodle rolls; custardy egg tarts; and pretty packages of lotus leaf-wrapped sticky rice filled with Chinese sausage.

Ming's Seafood Restaurant

Credit: Chris McIntosh

This Malden restaurant is often full of families sharing big, round tables and steamer baskets full of dumplings and buns. While some special items will roll by in traditional dim sum carts, most of the offerings are pictured on a colorful menu and ordered directly from a server. It’s hard to resist the adorable character buns filled with sweet egg custard; and we love the sweet-and-savory Steamed BBQ Pork Buns at Ming’s Seafood as well. Vegetable platters like Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce and fresh and crunchy. Speaking of freshness, make sure to say hi to the gigantic live crabs in tanks in the back of the restaurant—and call ahead if you’d like to order one. Ming’s also has a location in Quincy.

food and drinks from Myers + Chang one of the best catering in Boston
Credit: Chris McIntosh

A modern pan-Asian diner by James Beard award-winning chef Joanne Chang, Myers + Chang is nonetheless one of the best Chinese restaurants in Boston. The main menu offers a selection of “Dim Sum-y Things” and there’s Dim Sum Brunch every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Among the dim sum-y items are Tea -Smoked Pork Spare Ribs, Togarashi Fried Calamari, and Un-Traditional Scallion Pancake. Dumplings and buns get their own menu section and include must-orders Mama Chang’s Pork and Chive Dumplings and Braised Pork Belly Buns with brandied hoisin sauce and pickled daikon. Located on the Chinatown edge of the South End, M+C is a solid dim sum option when you’re dining with vegetarians and others with dietary restrictions.

Hei La Moon

Credit: Chris McIntosh

A staple of Boston Chinatown restaurants, Hei La Moon recently moved to a two-floor location in a food hall on Essex Street with high ceilings and bright windows. Open daily until 8 p.m., the spacious place is a brunch favorite serving dim sum every day. During the daytime, carts rolling by offer all the craveable staples—shrimp-and-chive dumplings and crispy turnip cakes are especially delicious here—while a full menu of Chinese cuisine is on for dinner, too.

Joyful Garden

Credit: Joyful Garden

Inside the Watertown Mall is this Cantonese restaurant serving homemade dim sum every day. (Despite its hidden location, it’s quite popular and often has a wait that’s worth it.) Joyful Garden offers classic cart-and-card ordering for dim sum until 3 p.m. and Chinese-American entrees nightly until 9 p.m. When you’re craving dim sum, don’t miss the Steamed Shrimp Dumplings with plump pieces of seafood and Pan-Fried Stuffed Eggplants. Braised Chicken Feet with black bean sauce is an expertly prepared version of the specialty. We also love the chef’s special version that brings to the table chicken feet with pork spareribs and steamed rice.

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