On a Lazy Sunday afternoon at about 1PM, we decided to go to China Garden in Irvine for Dim Sum. There were only 2 of us and when we arrived the restaurant was full, but clearing out. There were several people waiting outside. However we only had to wait about 15 minutes.
We were sat in the infamous "side room" and I recalled all the posts about how the side room was one of the worst places to be sat due to the fact that people feel that the carts don't go into this room as often as the other room. We did not find this to be true. As a matter of fact, the second we sat down, there was a cart there and the Dim Sum girl was already barking out what she had to offer. Carts continually came and so did the people with trays. So I didnt experience the lack of carts that many others have talked about.
I am convinced that these girls are on some sort of commission system or if they don't sell enough they get tortured in the back. They always slam things around and yell out the selections like they are mad at you. They get pretty pushy at times. I am not Chinese and they seem to get annoyed that I can not understand what they are saying and have to point or ask them to show me what they are referring to. And if you don't take what they are offering, you always get "the look". This is not unique to this place. I think its most Dim Sum establishments.
The Taro Cake was pretty good. I think it could have been fried longer to develop a crispier, more carmalized skin. I liked the gooey texture of the inside with the chunks of taro. My mom makes this and I hate to say it, but its not as good as mom makes. But its still very good here. Somewhat bland, but in a good way. Drizzle with a little soy sauce and you are good to go.
The Har Gow tasted good enough. I have never been to a Dim Sum restaurant where I did not like these. I suppose they could have been a little more delicate with a thinner skin, but they had a very mild, yet tasty flavor and when you bit into them, it seemed like they were full of filling.
The Shu Mai were very meaty and dense and had a great peppery flavor to them. Nice size to them as well
I enjoyed the tripe. Thin ribbons of tripe in a gingery sauce. The tripe was delicate, firm, and chewy. You need to eat this one rather quick because as it cools the sauce starts to thicken and gets kind of gloppy. But I really loved the flavor of this one. Very Clean and crisp.
The pork riblets were tasty. Perfect saltiness to them and they had a nice anise flavor to them. Lots of meat on these and the meat was very tender and came off the bones easily.
They had a dish here that I really haven't seen before. The angry dim sum girl called it "Skweh". I would say "Squid?" and she would say "Skweh" again. So I assumed it was squid and luckily it was. However these pieces must be cut from a BIG squid. Big pieces of the top of the squid that comprised most of the dish. Then there were pieces of the tentacles, but very large pieces. So much so, you really couldn't tell they were tentacles. It was in a curry flavored sauce and I really enjoyed this. It wasn't tender, but it wasn't tough either. I would say it was "firm tender".
My favorite Dim Sum dish is chicken feet and China Garden has the best out there in my opinion. I love this dish so much, it deserves its own picture. Deep fried first and then steamed. Completely tender and falling off the bone with so many complex flavors going on. Anise, sweetness, spiciness, saltiness. Nice and chewy tendons. I could eat 3 orders of this stuff. Its like candy to me.
They didn't have the yellow egg custard cups that I love. I guess its because we came so late. But everything you see pictured was $23.00 including tip and that served 2 people.
In my opinion China Garden does Dim Sum better than anyone, including the places in Little Saigon. And that's from sitting in the "side room" as well.
14825 Jeffrey Rd
Irvine, CA 92618
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