Reseda: Chinese Noodles and Dumplings at Tampa Garden
A few months ago, I was reminded about Tampa Garden, a Chinese restaurant I heard was “not just good for The Valley, but as good as the ones in San Gabriel Valley” which of course intrigued me.
Tampa Garden seems to have two kinds of Chinese food menus. On one side is the more familiar “Cantonese” dishes but there’s a slew of homey dishes on the back and that’s what I was going for. They also had specials listed on the walls, just like restaurants in the SGV and Chinatown have.
It was one of those stifling hot days in the Valley and when I got to my best friend’s house, she asked if we were doing our usual hot noodles soup and dumplings meal. I said, “sorta.” And led the way to Tampa Garden. We ordered the xiao long bao; juicy soup dumplings right away. She being a lamb fiend went for the lamb and zucchini pan fried dumplings.
Although the dumplings had oddly blistered skin, the meat and soup inside were flavorful. I did wish for a smidge more soup.
I told her we were going to get dry noodles instead of soup noodles since it was such a hot day. We decided on the noodles with Peking meat sauce which I hoped would be like dan dan noodles but I suspect those are actually the noodles with peanut sauce as listed on the menu. But with the right amount of chili oil, these noodles came pretty close to what I wanted. I loved the chunks of cucumber which helped cool us down.
Sadly the zucchini in the dumplings was too bitter but Tampa Garden quickly got us other dumplings. They shop daily and it’s hard to know sometimes if the produce is at its peak taste. I wasn’t over concerned. Sometimes that just happens. The skin of zucchini can be bitter and I suspect the bitterness level has to do with when they’re harvested in the season.
When I saw they had eggplant on the menu, I asked if they could make it spicy. I was thinking about the great eggplant I had at Yun Chuan Garden a few months ago. The eggplant was even better though it didn’t come quite to the spice level I was hoping for. Probably for the best since I actually can’t eat that much spicy food.
Once we saw that eggplant, I had to get some rice. This was the best way to soak up that wonderful sauce.
Our server recommended the 3-flavors dumplings which were pretty heavy on the cilantro. I’d probably get any of the three pork dumplings next time; pork and chives, pork and napa cabbage or pork and Chinese water spinach.
Overall the meal was very good and I would drag my bestie back here. I’d even let her order the other lamb dishes- just not the lamb and zucchini dumplings. I’d love to try the beef noodles soup when it’s not quite such a hot day. Or what the heck, I’d try it anyway even if it was over 85 degrees. I know we would absolutely try the specials on the board. I heard the table behind us order some great Chinese home-style dishes I’d love to try like Lion’s meatballs.
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