Under Review

Under Review: Little Bird Dim Sum + Craft Beer (Restaurant)

Shayna Bursey

The mantra is simple: “TALK SUM. EAT SUM. SIP SUM.” A simple and direct message that summarises what to expect at Little Bird Dim Sum.

If an opportunity arises to introduce someone to dumpling paradise, I seize the chance. Little Bird nests on a quiet block of Kitsilano, in a building that’s housed many other restaurants over the years. On one occasion, I had a friend visiting and they were dead-set on dim sum for dinner. Immediately I suggested Little Bird and the response wasn’t what I expected: 

“No, not this time. I want to go for authentic dim sum.”

As I gave her the side-eye, it occurred to me what she actually meant by the comment. She wanted the hustle-and-bustle, a quick turnaround, and to be upsold house specials — the ambience most dim sum restaurants provide. The chaos and the entertainment. Little Bird might just be a single skinny dining room with one row of tables down the left side, and a patio for a handful of guests, but when it comes to the food, it is the epitome of authenticity. Three generations of Cantonese dining runs through the veins of this restaurant. A family venture that took flight many years ago, Little Bird has held many different forms, but has finally landed as what you see today. You still mark your selections on the menu, you still get dumplings served in threes, and you still receive lightning quick service. But the bustle is removed and replaced with food that does the talking. I swear on an order of egg tarts, this will be the most relaxing dim sum experience you’ll ever have.  

Including desserts, Little Bird offers just over thirty small bites to choose from — dumplings filled with corn, shrimp and cilantro; squid tossed with garlic, sizzled to perfection; the sweet buns packed with salty pork that North Americans can’t get enough of. My newest discovery is their vegetarian take on fun guo — green dumpling skins stuffed with water chestnuts, mushrooms, corn and tofu. The menu isn’t divided up by food type, but rather by where it comes from — land, garden, or sea. Organising the food this way proves helpful when you’re building your own assortment of culinary delights. To top it off, a small offering of Vancouver’s best craft beers and a few select wines — most from BC wineries. Little Bird is a reminder that 101 menu options isn’t always the way to a memorable dining experience.

Recognized on the Michelin Bib Gourmand list and quickly becoming a number one choice for dim sum, the word is out on Little Bird. As a local to the area, I’m a little sad, as I know my favourite spot will most likely be overrun by a full waitlist soon. But it’s well earned, and the success is truly deserved, so I guess I can be kind and share SUM.