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All You Can Eat

Trend-setting restaurants, Northwest cookbooks, local food news and the people who make them happen.

April 24, 2008 at 11:30 AM

Dim Sum: Tipping is not a city in China

Christine Atkins asks: “My family loves to go to dim sum about 3 times a month. I’m never sure if we’re supposed to leave a tip, and if so, how much?”

As someone who always leaves a generous tip to my dim sum servers, I thought I’d pose this question to a professional. So I called Janet Lau, owner of Top Gun in Bellevue, and O’Asian in Seattle — where dim sum is a specialty. Here’s what she told me:

“Just like at any other sitdown restaurant, it is customary to pay gratuity to the dim sum servers,” Janet says. She notes that the gratuity should range from 12% to 18% and that tips are usually pooled and divided among the servers based on time worked and their various responsibilites. “Looking at our records, Top Gun generates a 14% average. At O’Asian, as our customer-base is comprised of mostly business professionals, the average percentage is a little higher, usually between 15% and 20%.”

And while we’re on the subject: Attention trolley-pushers and tray-carriers at dim sum parlors everywhere! Non-Chinese dim sum lovers like me promise to pony-up a little “extra” if you promise to stop assuming we we have no interest in chicken feet, congee and tripe, OK?

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