Light and fluffy dumplings + pan fried pot stickers + delicately steamed buns = yum, yum and dim sum. Celebrate Chinese New Year (this Friday) and Year of the Dog by treating the fam to petite delicacies your little ones can eat with their hands or while honing their chopsticks skills. From watching live lion dance performances while you dine to seeing your dumplings rolled from scratch before your eyes, read on for 6 of our favorite dim sum spots in the city.

Jasmine Seafood Restaurant

Let the good times roll at this grand seafood restaurant that's bustling with families. This dim sum hot spot still rolls out the goods in those shiny carts (which littles love). Even more, the classic har gow (shrimp dumplings) have a slight crunch and savory flavor. Another favorite, the BBQ pork buns go over well with young diners. Further, there's a stage in the restaurant that hosts the lucky lion dancers several times around Chinese New Year (and it's free)! Remember to bring your red envelopes to feed to the dancing lion.

Dim Sum Hours: Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Lucky Lion Dancers: Fri., Sat. & Sun., 2/16-2/25 (click here to check website for exact times)

4609 Convoy St., Ste. A
San Diego, Ca
858-268-0888
Online: jasmineseafood.com

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photo: Harumama

Harumama

Kids will get a real kick out of the playful takes on Asian fare found at Harumama. How could anyone resist these adorable, cartoon-like character steamed buns? We think the panda bun (filled with a not too sweet purple potato) tastes yummy. Also, the cute chicken bun showers your taste buds with the creamy egg custard inside. You'll also find traditional ramen with a contemporary twist, specialty sushi rolls, bites and greens, small plates, noodles, bao bao buns and bowls on the menu. Wash your dim sum down with Japanese beer including Asahi and Kirin, along with local craft beer, special imported beers, wine, sake and non-alcoholic drinks. Harumama opened Feb. 1st in Little Italy, so be among the first to pull up a chair in this new hot spot.

Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-2 p.m. & 5-10 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 11 a.m.-2 p.m. & 5-10:30 p.m.

Little Italy Neighborhood
1901 Columbia St.
San Diego, Ca
619-269-7122
Online: www.harumamasd.com

photo: Marissa Mullen

China Max

You'll get the picture at this light, airy eatery, where photo menus replace the rolling carts. For one thing, share the barbeque pork buns with a sweet honey-glazed shredded pork and the steamed sticky rice wrapped in Lotus leaf. For an extra fun treat, try the fried crab balls. They come on a stick, making it easy for half-pints to munch on. Be sure to soak up our gorgeous San Diego weather and eat outside on the covered patio.

Dim Sum Hours: Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 9:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

4698 Convoy St., Ste. C101
San Diego, Ca
858-650-3333
Online: chinamaxsd.com

Dumpling Inn & Shanghai Saloon

Eat dumplings at this cool Shanghai-themed eatery. With little eaters entranced by the rickshaw in the room, it's easy to get your order in. Even more, as far as dumplings go everything is good. We eat up the soup dumplings and pan-fried pot stickers, always good to order with the crew in tow. Grown-ups will enjoy the shrimp and chive dumpling. Still more, the chow mein is a good option too. We recommend arriving early to find a parking spot.

Dumpling Inn Hours: Tues.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-3 p.m. & 4-8:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-3 p.m. & 4-9:30 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m.

4625 Convoy St.
San Diego, Ca
858-268-9638
Online: dumplinginn.com

Steamy Piggy

These decadent dumplings are made fresh-to-order. Truly, little eaters can watch them rolled from scratch right before their eyes! We love this restaurant's homey vibe and stylish decor with macrame hanging plants and a fire pit for outdoor dining. The dumplings are delish and you can choose between many different fillings. Kids will love the cute panda bear or pig dessert bao with custard inside too.

Hours: Daily, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

4681 Convoy St.
San Diego, Ca
858-492-0401
Online: steamypiggy.com

photo: West Pac Noodle Bar

West Pac Noodle Bar

The bao buns at West Pac Noodle Bar are slightly sweet and full of Char siu pork, hoisin, Namasu and cilantro. Be sure to try the crispy lumpia stuffed with minced pork, veggies and sweet chili sauce–– they're fried to perfection. Here they serve food from Japan to Singapore and Thailand to Hawaii too.

Good to know: this dim sum spot just opened so some menu items may change.

Hours: lunch, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; happy hour, 3-6 p.m.; dinner, 4 p.m.-close 

1166 Orange Ave.
Coronado, Ca
619-313-6003
Online: westpac.com

Where do you take the crew for dim sum? Let us know in the comments below.

— Nikki Walsh

featured photo: Dumpling Time via Facebook

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