Boston: Dim Sum at Empire Garden

Empire Garden

I woke up Sunday morning on my last day of my Boston trip craving dim sum. So off we went to Chinatown and we found ourselves at Empire Garden. I was going to try to find the most crowded dim sum place (if you believe the theory that’d be the best place) but it was already late in the day and I was sure most people had gotten their dim sum on already.


within 10 minutes of sitting down


Within a few minutes of being seated, I rapidly ordered a table full of small dishes. But then I had to send the ladies away because I didn’t want the food to get too cold as we tackled one basket of goodies after another. We were seated in the side room as Empire Garden was putting up decorations in the main room. It looked like they were throwing a Chinese-American party with the flags.

What I found fascinating about the place was the bar. Apparently they have a full bar and the cocktail list read like a tiki or Polynesian bar from the 50s. Bonus, all the drinks was easily under $10 and they have those kitschy scorpion punch bowls.

siu mai

First order of dim sum is to order the standards like siu mai (also known as shu mai) and har gow. The pork and shrimp dumpling was okay. I was more amused by the red food coloring dots than angry it wasn’t real roe. At least they tried a facsimile?

har gow


However, I was not into the har gow. They were small, doughy and lacking in fresh shrimp.

pork ribs


The pork ribs (pai gwok) were tasty enough until I discovered the whole thing was a sham. The tiny pieces of ribs were lying on top of a bed of taro. For shame! Where’s the rest of my pork?

shrimp cheung fun


And it didn’t get better with the shrimp cheung fun. The sad noodle rolls barely had any shrimp in it. I missed LA.

chiu chow fun gor


Things got better with the Chiu Chow fun gor even though these pork, peanut and celery dumplings were lacking in celery. TreasureMA declared these to be his favorite.

egg rolls

My favorite turned out to be the egg rolls. Sure, they were a little greasy and weren’t as crispy as I would have liked but they were tasty. However, they didn’t have Worcestershire sauce. Oh dear! I like my egg rolls with Worcestershire sauce.


taro dumplings


Empire Garden also had some great steamed taro dumplings. I had never tried these before in steamed form. Stuffed with mashed taro and pork, these were savory and perhaps a bit healthier than the fried ones I’ve had at other dim sum houses.

sticky rice


To round out our meal, we also got sticky rice. I was hoping it’d be wrapped in lotus leaves but apparently that was on another cart. Nick from TreasureMA said this dish was better the next day when he added a fried egg to it. Of course, everything is better with a fried egg.

A friend who grew up in Boston assured me later Empire Garden was the best dim sum. I’m still a bit baffled. It wasn’t terrible but if this was the best, I’d hate to try the others.

Empire Garden

690 Washington St., Boston, MA 02111 — (617) 482-8898

© The Minty  2012