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4 mins

How do I switch languages?

You can switch among Cantonese with Yale romanization, Mandarin with Pinyin romanization, and Mandarin with simplified characters on the dish practice screens (go to a dish page, tap the microphone icon). There you can adjust the speech rate, too.

The speech is stuck in Mandarin or Cantonese even after I switch languages in the Practice screen

This might happen if a non-Siri voice is chosen in Accessibility->Spoken Content settings. Go to your Settings app, tap on Accessibility, then Spoken Content, then Voices, and if the voice set for Chinese is not a Siri voice, select one of the Siri voices under Mainland China, Hong Kong or Taiwan.

When I hit play, I see the characters highlight but don’t hear any sound.

Things to check: make sure the iPhone mute switch is not on (this should not be an issue after the recent fixes for iPhone 14), check the volume setting, see if Internet access is available (usually text-to-speech does not require Internet access, but it might need to when it’s first used).

The Cantonese (or Mandarin) doesn’t sound like native Cantonese (or Mandarin).

This app doesn’t include recordings of each word and phrase but instead uses the built-in iOS text-to-speech (and speech-to-text), the same technology used with Apple’s VoiceOver.

Besides reducing work and cost and maintenance, it has the benefit of keeping the app size down and doesn’t require Internet access (usually), and also ensures there’s no mismatch between the words and speech (I’ve seen discrepancies in some language apps between spoken and displayed words). The tradeoff is that sometimes, especially to a native listener, it might sound not quite natural, like when Siri pronounces names weirdly.

I don’t have an iPhone

Builds for other platforms (including macOS) are available for download from the Talk Dim Sum site. They use a different codebase (but the same data) and not quite as full-featured and actively developed as this app.

Dim sum restaurants in my area are not listed

Just ask, or better yet suggest some restaurants, or better yet send me a plane ticket (round trip). I don’t have a world-wide travel budget, so I typically find new restaurants via web searches and add them if I can tell they are still operating and have Cantonees-style dim sum (I check for ha gow and siu mai, so for example PF Chang’s fails because their dim sum menu just has egg rolls and potstickers).

Restaurant entries are missing some websites

I avoid listing Facebook sites due to privacy issues, and I try to avoid online ordering sites masquerading as restaurant sites, or anything else problematic. But if I missed a valid and releveant site, just let me know!

This app is not available in my country

I exclude some countries on the App Store for practices such as genocide or outlawing homosexuality.


There are not as many Cantonese learning resources as Mandarin, but some websites include CC-Canto, Hong Kong Cantonese Learning, the Hong Kong Lexical List, Learn Cantonese, Omniglot, the Ottawa Chinese Language School, Trip Savvy, and WikiTravel.

There are a few apps (besides this one) that teach both Cantonese and Mandarin: Drops, LingQ, and Mango Languages.


The Dim Sum Field Guide is an extensive illustrated collection of dim sum, and A Little Tea Book discusses varieties of tea (not just Chinese) and tips on tea preparation. Fuchsia Dunlop has written on various regional Chinese cuisines.

My favorites are cookbook-memoirs written with an Asian-American perspective, including SoCal-based The Boba Book, San Franciscans Mr. Jiu’s in Chinatown and The Mission Chinese Cookbook, Midwestern Chinese Soul Food, and New Yorkers Grace Young, Chinese Soul Food, The Nom Wah Cookbook, and Xi’an Famous Foods.


The Talk Dim Sum app icon is licensed from IconFinder. Other icons displayed within the app are Apple’s SF Symbols. The Technicat logo is designed by Dakota Snow.

Map images of Chinese regions are from the Wikimedia Commons via the TUBS, CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

Photos used in the dish screens and AI were taken by me on many many dim sum excursions.

Open Source

This app is built with the following open source Swift packages:

AlertToast supports momentary popup messages, e.g. the restaurant info when you tap on a dish photo.

ImagePickerView is the camera or photo selector used in the AI feature (top right camera icon).

QGrid lays out the collection of thumbnail images in the top level screens.

SQLite.swift is used to save favorite dishes.

SwiftLog is used under the hood, records diagnostic messages.

SwiftUIPage provides the swipe left/right navigation of dish screens.

SwiftSys are portions of this app that I’ve made available as open source.

SwiftyJSON reads the Talk Dim Sum database.