Dim sum is a style of Chinese food characterized by small (individual or bite-sized) portions of savory and sweet dishes, typically served in pieces of 3 or 4. Popular dim sum dishes include steamed buns, dumplings and rice noodle rolls, though there is a wide variety of other traditional options. One somewhat unique characteristic of dim sum is how it is traditionally served, with fully prepared dishes being carted around a restaurant and selected by patrons (rather than dishes being ordered, prepared and then served.) This practice is still in place at some restaurants, but many have transitioned to the practice of patrons placing orders with pencil and paper (dish/quantity).
Dim sum originated in Cantonese teahouses, with the small portions intended as snacks to accompany tea drinking. Originally intended as a restful and relaxing custom, dim sum has transformed over time into a more social and often noisy dining experience.