Dim sum originated from the southern states of China, mainly Hong Kong and Guangdong. The Chinese cuisine has traveled to many places in the world today where Chinese immigrants have settled since the Chinese diaspora circa the 1960s. At the time, Chinese immigrants who came to America had to assimilate to the American culture by situating themselves in areas that had already existed, creating ethnic enclaves in Chinatown, Los Angeles. The heavy population of Chinese immigrants poured into the San Gabriel Valley, which created a bigger community for the Chinese and preserved the Chinese identity. It was easier for them to adjust to that lifestyle in Chinatown or cities in the San Gabriel Valley because most businesses and stores were Chinese-owned and served as community forums, especially restaurants where people could yum cha (direct translation: drink tea) and eat dim sum. Throughout my ethnography, I visited a handful of Chinese tea houses/restaurants in San Gabriel Valley to focus on the food and culture that exists when going to yum cha. The study consisted of maps of each establishment, photos, a collection of life histories of individuals, use of ethnosemantic research methods, and interviews with informants in both English and Cantonese. I found that these restaurants provided a sense of community where Chinese culture and identity thrived. These restaurants serve as gateways for the Chinese community to come together and as a new perspective for the upcoming Chinese-American generations to carry on the tradition to go yum cha.
Lee, Ashley, "Dim Sum and the Chinese Diaspora" (2020). Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters. 404.