Where to eat dim sum in Atlanta

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Royal China Restaurant, Chamblee Mandarin Oriental, Buckhead Gunshow, Glenwood Park East Pearl Seafood Restaurant, Duluth Food Terminal, Chamblee Dim Sum Heaven, Atlanta

Picture it: Atlanta at 10 a.m. Sunday morning. Brunch village is forming around your favorite eatery with wait times rivaling that of canceling your Comcast service. Solution? Dim sum. You've heard about dim sum but aren't quite sure what it is other than it's Chinese food. Never fear; we're taking the guesswork out of one of Atlanta's favorite brunch time indulgences. So break that no group text rule, and gather your friends for the best hangover haven, post-run refuel, so-hungry-I-could-eat-everthing dining adventures.

Dim sum or yum cha (Cantonese for "drink tea") consists of an assortment of shared, small steamers and plates full of buns, dumplings, rice and fried bites which travel on pushcarts table-to-table as you sit happily sipping on bottomless pots of tea. In other words, it's an all-you-can-eat, rolling Chinese buffet best shared with a large group.

Beating the crowds

Like many Atlanta restaurants on Sunday morning, dim sum joints around the metro tend to have lines out the door, especially those along Buford Highway. Brunchers in the know arrive between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Dim sum is traditionally served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Very few restaurants offer reservations.

No menu, and that white ticket

Unless you ask for one, there is usually no menu for dim sum. Once seated, a white ticket will be placed on your table. This ticket is used by the cart servers to check off the items you choose. Be sure to order a pot of tea for the table. When you run out, simply ask for more.

Ready, set, dim sum

As soon as your hind end hits the chair, the pushcarts start rolling. Don't be afraid to ask questions if you're unsure of an item. The servers will give (very) brief descriptions of their carts when they arrive to deliver the goods. Each steamer or plate contains between three and four bites.

» RELATED: 3 food tours every Atlantan should do

Dim sum around Atlanta

Canton House - Chamblee (traditional dim sum, cart service, lots of variety)

Royal China - 3295 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd, Chamblee, 770-216-9933 (traditional dim sum, cart service, lots of variety)

Dim Sum Heaven - 5203 Buford Hwy NE, Doraville, 770-451-4290 (traditional dim sum, limited menu)

Happy Valley - Norcross (traditional dim sum, cart service only on Sunday, lots of variety, reservations)

Golden House Chinese - Duluth (traditional dim sum, cart service, lots of variety, reservations)

Oriental Pearl - Chamblee (traditional dim sum, cart service  on Sat.-Sun., lots of variety)

Once you've reached food coma status, walk to the cashier, hand them the white ticket containing the tick marks from the servers and pay your bill. Most dim sum restaurants are used to large groups, so be sure to tell them how many ways to split your table's check. Each person will pay (and tip) based on that amount. Dim sum averages between $12 and $15 per person. Don't be afraid to eat all the things.

» RELATED: The Chinese food lover's guide to Buford Highway.