CT mentioned to me that she was jonesing for dim sum. Back in January, we had some mediocre dim sum at Grand Harmony, so this time around we would definitely be going somewhere else. CT’s Dad was in town and he loves dim sum too. I guess that is where she gets it? I invited Aunt B along since it had been years since she ate dim sum. Since we had previously been to Golden Unicorn and Jing Fong, we decided to try somewhere new. Oriental Garden was just a few doors down from Jing Fong and CT heard good things about it.
I was a little worried since we were just a group of four. Dim sum outings are perfect for large groups since the restaurants usually are setup banquet style with large tables. A larger group also allows for more dishes to try. After walking in, we were all surprised by how small Oriental Garden was. There were probably thirty tables, if that. Luckily, we got there at the right time, so it was just a few minutes wait for a table. We also noticed that due to the size there was only one or two of the dim sum carts. Other waiters were bringing around dishes on trays. This led to pretty much all of the dishes being served hot and fresh. I burned my mouth on the first few dishes. We were all quite happy with this aspect. It was definitely the freshest dim sum I ever had.
CT says: Though I was worried at first that this would limit our dim sum options, I was very excited by the steam rising from the hot dishes surrounding me! I was also excited that we were seated near the kitchen, so we got first looks at all the dishes coming out!
Tofu skin wrapped pork. This was the first time I got this dish at dim sum. It was tasty, but incredibly hot since it just came out of the kitchen. I enjoyed the soy sauce flavor in between the steam burns.
CT says: I have also never gotten this dish before. I’m not sure what made me grab it (maybe because it was the first dish to pass by and I was hungry) but I’m sure glad I did. It was really tasty with a salty pork mixture inside. In fact, I thought I tasted a bite of shrimp, too. Also, since it had “tofu” in the name, I felt healthy by eating it as opposed to some deep fried!
Deep fried mochi with ground pork. Not one of my favorites, so I only had half of one.
CT says: My favorite! Not the best I’ve ever had, but it was good and satisfied my craving.
Crystal shrimp dumplings. Unfortunately the dumpling wrapper was thick and gummy so it wasn’t a good dish. At least the shrimp inside were tasty.
CT says: I kept repeating throughout the meal how surprised I was by the freshness of the shrimp. Each shrimp was sweet and delicious as opposed to the usual chopped/minced shrimp at most other dim sum restaurants.
Seafood dumplings. These were much better than the crystal shrimp dumplings. I had no idea what seafood was inside, but it was all very tasty.
CT says: I don’t usually like mixed seafood dumplings, but as TT said, these were really good! I would have happily traded the shrimp dumpling for more of these and that’s saying a lot.
Shrimp shumai. These were fantastic. I never had shumai with whole shrimp on top. Although the chef didn’t produce the best dumpling wrappers throughout the meal, the seafood itself was fresh and tasty.
CT says: Agreed. Far superior to the average shumai.
Fried eggplant. I did not ask for these, but still had a taste. It was surprisingly good. Although eggplant was mushy, the flavor made up for it. I missed out on the seafood patty wedged between the pieces.
CT says: I liked the sauce on the eggplant and was surprised to find there was a fried seafood patty between two layers of eggplant. It was quite delicious, though very difficult to eat with chopsticks.
There was a menu on the table WITH PICTURES in case you wanted something that wasn’t being brought around. CT ordered two dishes.
CT says: My earlier concern about the menu-limitations was quickly diminished when I saw this menu. They had every dim sum dish, plus larger plates, that could be ordered if you didn’t see something you wanted come by. My dad is a big noodles fan so he requested a plate, while I quickly focused my sights on my favorite dish…
First was some fried shrimp. These were really good. I loved popping a whole shrimp in my mouth, shell and all. They were a bit greasy, but that came with the territory.
CT says: I loved these! They have become my newest dim sum staple. These had a spice scallion-spice mix rubbed into them. Mmmmm!
Second was duck lo mein. This was very good. The noodles were cooked perfectly, not mushy at all. There wasn’t that much duck, just some thin strips strewn throughout. It was a large portion, so there were leftovers that I brought home. WINNING!
CT says: I found this dish to be pretty good, but only had a few bites. The noodles had a good bite to them; not too soft or overcooked. The duck seemed lacking, but it could be because I didn’t actually try very much since I was getting full.
Shrimp wrapped in rice noodles. Unfortunately this had the same problem with the dumplings, the noodles were too thick and became gummy. The shrimp inside were quite large and I picked them out to eat on their own.
CT says: Usually one of my favorites, I was disappointed by the thickness of the wrap. However, I also happily picked out the shrimp.
You cannot go to dim sum without some pork buns. These were pretty standard buns. The pork innards were a little sweeter than I preferred, so I only had half.
CT says: I could eat these for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
CT’s Dad is a big fan of spring rolls, so we got some filled with shrimp. Super crunchy on the outside with tender shrimp on the inside.
CT says: Good – a nice crunchy end to the meal. Again, great shrimp. I still can’t get over the quality of the shrimp in all the dishes we had.
All in all, Oriental Garden is one of the better dim sum restaurants in Chinatown. Yes, I have only been to three, so take my recommendation for what it is worth. Some of the dishes were better than others, but that would be expected no matter which restaurant you go to. I was extremely happy to see the quick turnover of dishes, so almost everything was served hot out of the kitchen. The clientele was a healthy mix of Chinese and Non-Chinese, so there was no intimidation of walking in and not speaking the language. Thanks to CT’s Dad for treating us to a great meal.