September 4, 2012 Article
Several weeks ago the Count and I along with a few friends went on the Free Tours by Foot Chinatown Food Tour. We walked through Philadelphia’s small yet historic Chinatown stopping by at the best spots for quick eats. The tour ended with a sit down lunch at Dim Sum Garden.
I have walked by this spot without bothering to look twice only because it is under the convention center overpass and I wrongfully must have assumed that it could not be good given it’s dark location. Wrong!
Best handmade dumplings I have had…and I am from Vancouver which is known for its mainland Chinese and Hong Kong delicacies. In fact, given that my best friend is Chinese doing Sunday ‘Dim Sum’ brunch was kind of our thing. This spot is not your typical sit down full service dim sum restaurant where they come around with their carts and you can pick and choose what you’d like to eat next. Here you order your dim sum at the counter and pay at the counter.
Now onto the actual dumplings: our tour guide knew a thing or two about dumplings and ordered a few rounds for the table. I have never had a soup dumpling (xiao long bao) and found it to be such a treat. There is an entire process to having a soup dumpling. You must gently place one in your spoon. Place a hole at the top to allow the hot steam to cool off and place the whole thing in your mouth without spilling the contents on the inside. Essentially it’s soup wrapped up in dough served with their own special dumpling sauce. Okay. That was great. Whats next?
Next was the Shanghai siu mai- sticky rice and minced pork dumplings. These were also a first for me and were a real treat. Sticky rice with small bits of pork all mixed with a delicious sauce and beautifully bundled up into a dumpling.
We also had the prawn dumplings, pork and chive dumplings and many other varieties of dumplings. One was better than the next. Best part is you know its fresh and handmade as you can see through the back counter where all the action is happening. It’s cheap dumpling at its best. Don’t be put off by the neon lights and interior facade. This is a place where you can satisfy your dumpling cravings not to go people watching (unless you enjoy watching suffering panhandlers and other characters on 11th street).