Chinese food was the most exotic food that my family and I would eat when I was younger. It wasn’t a weekly staple in my house, more of a special dinner, for special occasions. Christmas Eve always called for Chinese.
As I became more independent, Chinese dinners became a more common meal for me, especially in college. Cheap, quick, and always good.
However, the more I ate, the more my body started to second guess my new culinary past time. Almost immediately after every meal, large or small, there was the routine indigestion and pang of remorse. I realized a body can only handle so much peanut oil, and so I was forced to cut back.
In recent years though, I’ve discovered some great, authentic Chinese restaurants and takeouts, where the food doesn’t induce severe pain within a few bites. This new standard for really good Chinese brought me to the Dim Sum Garden, and after thoroughly indulging in much of their menu, I’m happy to say there were no regrets.
Located just shy of what is officially known as Chinatown in Philadelphia, Dim Sum Garden is almost hidden on the back side of the famous Reading Market Terminal and underneath the Convention Center. Its unassuming storefront doesn’t beckon to people on the street, especially those who are looking to experience the real Chinatown.
Once you step inside though, it is evident very quickly that you’ve made a good choice. When my group and I went, it was crowded for a Wednesday afternoon, but we didn’t have to wait. The other people there all had smiles on their faces as they shared their selections with each other, expressing a ubiquitous “You have to try this”, which seemed to be a very good sign.
After being immediately seated, our waitress gave us a few minutes to look over the impressive menu. Even though there were so many choices, I was here for one item only, their Shanghai Steamed Pork Juicy Buns. Well, I also ordered their Scallion pancake and a Wanton soup, but those were merely apps.
My soup came first. It was enormous, enough to share with three others and still more than enough for me. The broth, mixed with seaweed and some green onions, was outstanding, and the wantons themselves were just as good. Then came the Scallion pancake, which was also fantastic, serving as a wonderful dipping bread for my soup. Finally, my Juicy Buns arrived.
According to many reviewers on Yelp!, the Juicy Buns were great but potentially hazardous. Filled with a lot of pork and hot soup, all tightly wrapped in the steamed dumpling, the Juicy Buns have been know to explode (I know how this sounds) and burn people’s mouths. I played it safe, letting them cool for a minute and then breaking the dumplings open ever so slightly to release some of the heat before digging in. They were outstanding! I’ve had Juicy Buns before, but never with this much soup on the inside. I realized that the soup is the key ingredient, basting the pork in all its juicy goodness. The order had eight, so I was able to share some, which caused everyone else to regret not getting them as well.
While my Chinese food eating has changed over the years, I’ve never lost my love for it. There are few foods that seem to actually get better or continue to expose me to something new in terms of flavors and options every time I eat, but Chinese is certainly one of them. While hardly exotic to me anymore, Chinese food is still special. So if you’re looking to celebrate a special occasion or support a weekly desire that won’t cause you any regret, then the Dim Sum Garden is the way to go!
3 1/2 out of 4 Lunchboxes!
Patrick Edmonds is a co-founder, editor, and writer for/of The Lunch Break. His passions include Food, Arts & Entertainment, and Education. You can follow Patrick Edmonds on facebook and on Twitter @patrickedmonds1.