Shirani and her family are on a mission to find the best family-friendly restaurants in Shanghai. See what she has to say about Dim Sum Garden.
The Place and the Vibe
On a summer’s day, walking into the cobblestoned grounds of Dim Sum Garden at the corner of Fuxing Lu and Baoqing Lu lent a sense of anticipation. Though small, the terrace had a few tables set amidst stone garden features that hinted at the neoclassical décor and theme inside. Upon entering, one is struck by the instant welcome and a bustling Chinese restaurant atmosphere. The contrast between Zen-like bamboo plants along the glass wall on the left and the plush décor of ornate lamps and comfortable leather booths on the right add further anticipation as to what is about to come.
Fans of dim sum, we were surprised that the menu featured traditional Hong Kong-style dim sum options and some unusual Cantonese cuisine specials as well. We decided to order based on recommendations instead of going for our fare, and were pleased to experience dishes we’d never tried before! We were brought ‘Hawthorne Roselle Tea’ (RMB87) as a drink, which tasted just like a berry smoothie, so the kids lapped it up. Then came the cold dishes ‘Spiced Beef Tendon’ (RMB68), a common dish served in many local restaurants but the version here wasn’t fatty but pleasantly lean. The wheatgrass in the ‘Shanghai Style Salad’ (RMB38) blew us away with its delicate taste and texture. A perfect summer salad, almost melted in your mouth, and the dressing with hints of Japanese miso and sesame created a great combination. The ‘Marinated Chicken with Ginger’ (RMB58), however, was rather bony.
As warm dishes, we loved the ‘Lotus-shaped Pan-fish with Homemade Sauce’ (RMB198) with a barbeque flavor and seasoned with chives, and the fish itself was soft and tender. (If you have very young children, remember to diligently remove the bones). The ‘Beef with Black Bean Sauce and Pepper’ (RMB58) was a familiar dish to us, and our kids lapped up the ‘steak.’ My personal favorite was the ‘Fried Asparagus and Lotus Root with Foie Gras’ (RMB68). It appears like ‘sandwiches’ made with lotus roots stuffed with minced pork, and the delicious foie gras sauce made it a home-run, and the creaminess of the sauce had a nice contrast with the crunchiness of the lotus root; the asparagus on the side was a nice touch too.
Another interesting dish was the ‘Vermicelli Rolls stuffed with Dough Stick’ (RMB22). While we’ve had vermicelli stuffed with prawn or other seafood before, the dough stick was an unusual twist that made the dish more filling. Stuffed thoroughly with a heavier dim sum experience than expected, we were then given the ‘Mango Pancake’ (RMB26) as dessert. Served chilled, it was the perfect refreshing summer’s dessert, the cream around the mango layers exploded onto the children’s faces as they bit into it.
Top Table and Tips
A table at their outdoor terrace is perfect in summer months. Shaded by umbrellas, remember to reserve these much-coveted seats ahead of time as there are only a few. Little kids might be better off indoors so they can’t won’t run out onto the streets. The booths inside the restaurant provide ample and comfortable seating for the whole family. While some dishes maybe a little bit hard to eat for toddlers, you can request a pair of scissors or a knife to cut up the food into smaller bites. This allowed our two-year-old to better feed herself, but bring lots of wet wipes!
Foodie families would enjoy this foray into a new or different cuisine, but the variety of menu options would also please the more conservative palate. Though there are kids cutlery and highchairs, the restaurant wouldn’t suit weaning or very picky children. There are no playroom or play area, but kids can potter around the small terrace outside. Little children must be supervised so they don’t run off onto the road. Toilets are small and are not equipped with changing facilities so diaper changes would be challenging (babies could be changed in their prams and these can easily fit in the spacious restaurant).
Prices: RMB130/adult, RMB80/child
Recommended Ages: Children aged 5 and above
Ideal for: Lunch and dinner
see listing for Dim Sum Garden