Caveat: I’m going from the spelling my part-Cantonese grandmother gave me so please allow me some room for error here.
If you’ve visited Chinatown in any big city then you know what the weekend holds in store for the hungry faithful. I’m talking about Dim Sum – a brunch-style affair where morsels of delicious dumplings fried and steamed, along with salty or sweet bits of meat and veggies are served in quick succession and meant to be shared (though I have been known to go alone and make a scene).
Chances are you’ve already run into a dumpling in your lifetime (pot stickers at TGI Friday’s anyone?). So let’s talk about the Dim Sum experience right here in Gainesville.
South Garden Chinese Restaurant is another one of Gainesville’s good eating treasures. Their modest storefront in Haile Village is swarmed with crowds of Dim Sum patrons every weekend after the farmer’s market. The Wong family has run the restaurant close to 5 years in this location. After leaving China, they relocated to Colombia for some time and lived in Miami before settling in Gainesville. While the dishes are the traditional favorites; if you have visited these regions you will pick up the familiar flavors.
Get there early-ish. The place gets packed and there is limited seating, you can enjoy your experience in the great courtyard outside but that’s pending rainy or hot weather. Plus all the good stuff goes first. It’s not Dim Sum from a cart like those giant palaces in NYC or SFO (the location is too small) and you have to place orders. Here’s what Team CMC recommends:
A Beginner’s Guide to Dim Sum
Har Gow | Shrimp Dumplings – these are steamed shrimps in a semi-thick skin – delicious with chili paste and soy sauce
Steamed Pak Choi | Chinese Broccoli – sweeter than hoon choi and smaller than bok choy. It’s garlicky, yummy and very nutritious – eat the whole leaf
Sui Mai – wanton wrappers stuffed with pork, shrimp, sometimes mushrooms and water chestnuts then steamed
HALF of The Dim Sum Lunch that Team CMC enjoyed
Char Sui Bao | BBQ Pork Buns – Also known as Pows in the Caribbean, these are delicious! Dense but fluffy puffs of dough steamed and stuffed with char sui pork – which is the red-rubbed Chinese grilled pork you see everywhere
Curry Beef Turnovers – AMAZING pastry dough baked golden and filled with bits of curried beef and onions – save this for last because it will fill you up!
Steamed Pork Ribs – I want to say they make it either in black bean sauce, black pepper sauce…or both. Either way, get it. It’s very yummy and you can ask for some rice for the less adventurous eater.
Another dish of mention is the Singapore Noodles – this dish is HUGE and features lightly curried rice noodles with char sui pork, chicken and shirmp with green onions and mung beans (or bean sprouts). It’s another safety dish if your party is not up for trying dumplings.
Have any other good recommendations? Let us know – leave a tip here, see our favorite dishes from the Dim Sum adventure.
South Garden Chinese serves dim sum on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30a.m. – 3p.m. Reservations are not accepted.