Dim Sums at Sportful Garden Restaurant, Hong Kong

My Hong Kong/China vacation took place on April 29 – May 10, 2009. I know I’m way overdue on these posts but at least I’m writing it – in a sloth-like pace. This post is an overall review of the multiple times (four, if you need to know) I’ve eaten dim sum at Sportful Garden Restaurant, with my aunt and uncle or with a larger crowd of relatives. It’s mostly food porn rather than a useful review, perhaps. I’ll let you be the judge.

Part of the interior
Part of the Interior

When my aunt took me to Sportful Garden Restaurant for the first time, I am a bit astounded how the decor isn’t garish unlike NYC’s Chinese restaurants. It’s understated in neutral color palate with a touch of gold and the expected fish tanks near the kitchen. (Note: The English name doesn’t come close to the translation of the restaurant’s Chinese name.)

Tea with some apps
Tea with some snacks

The typical pot of tea (we like chrysanthemum) with roasted peanuts on the side for snacking. What is sort of unusual is the pot of hot water is served with the pot of tea – to reduce the amount of times you need the server to refill your pot. Good idea.

Wilted romaine lettuce
Wilted Romaine Lettuce

My aunt is a health nut and always order a plate (or plates, depending how large is the party) of wilted romaine lettuce with light soy sauce on the side. It’s healthy, fresh and it tastes good.

Pork congee
Pork congee

During the weekend before I left Hong Kong, one of the specials that day was pork congee for $9 HK (equivalent to $1.20 US). A bowl that is large enough to share with three people. It’s filled with lots of marinated salted pork meat and little bits of what I think is watercress. Delicious and cheap.

Joong
Joong

The joong, a sticky rice concoction that’s wrapped in lotus leaf and filled with peanuts, salted egg yolk and meat (usually pork) is pretty damn good here. The rice is cooked properly, a good amount of filling and it’s fresh, as you’ll see the photo below.

Innards
Innards

Fried crueller nubs
Fried crueller

The typical fried cruellers that’s served with plain congee is a favorite for the traditionalists.

Plain congee
Plain congee

As good as both were, I wanted something not so…plain. I do like clean, simple things sometimes but I wasn’t feeling it for the time being.

Turnip cakes
Pan fried turnip cakes

I like me some pan fried turnip cakes. Their version was crisp on the outside and the cake itself was firm yet soft enough to chew. It also had a good amount of pork flavor. Though, I still do prefer my mom’s homemade turnip cakes.

Steamed ribs
Steamed ribs

The steamed pork ribs were good nubs of pork. The serving is on the small side but then again, it’s not meant to be a large plate.

Fried dough strips of some sort
Fried dough strips

I haven’t seen this particular dish of fried dough strips (not an official name but that’s what I can think of). It’s pretty much what I dubbed it. It’s nothing particularly special except for the sesame speckled caramel sauce, as you see below.

Dipped in caramel
Dipped in caramel

No ladies with carts of food here
No ladies with food carts here

I should mention, they don’t have ladies pushing food carts here. I think it’s a better way to serve dim sum. Food is fresher, as it comes straight out from the kitchen. From the restaurant business perspective, you cut down on labor costs as you just need a few waiters and waitresses to bring out the food and take orders (from a check-off menu or verbally).

Roasted pork cheong fun
Roast pork cheong fun

The roast pork cheong fun tasted fine. I personally don’t like this combination, as it tasted different to me. The noodle is fresh and pillow-like as I bit into it and the ratio of filling to noodle is just right.

Beef cheong fun
Beef cheong fun

The beef cheong fun is my personal favorite of the possible combination of fillings for this noodle. As stated before, the noodle is fresh, warm, and pillow-like when bitten and the ratio of meat to noodle is good. I just like beef more because of the texture.

Har gaw
Har gaw

Finally, I found har gaw that I truly liked a lot. Too many dim sum restaurants in NYC can’t do it right in terms of this dish. The skin is not too thin or thick and the shrimp is cooked perfectly.

Chicken and veg dumplings
Chicken and veg dumplings

This particular chicken and vegetable dumplings were unusual for me. The skin is made of sticky rice flour that it’s gooey and sticky in texture and the filling is ground chicken and vegetables (like carrot); I don’t really like it because of the skin but it tasted fine for what it was.

Shu mai with abalone
Shu mai with abalone

This shu mai with abalone is a pricey plate since abalone is expensive. Though my foodie uncle snubbed it that it was canned abalone, not the fresh stuff but I can’t tell the difference (I don’t eat it often because of the price tag) and think it tasted very good. The shu mai itself is great. There’s a lot of filling in that dumpling and the skin isn’t too thick nor is this dish overcooked.

Spinach dumpling
Spinach dumplings

The spinach dumplings looked too precious to eat. However, I can’t resist having one. The skin is thin enough to have some chew and the filling is densely packed with spinach with a touch of what I think is, chicken.

Beef balls
Steamed beef balls

The steamed beef balls were fresh. And a favorite around my table.

Steamed pork buns
Steamed pork buns

The steamed pork buns were great. Freshly steamed. A good amount of filling (actual meat) with the cake-y exterior is just thick enough to hold its contents.

Chicken feet
Chicken feet with barbecue sauce

As much as I liked the sauce on the chicken feet with barbecue sauce dish, I still don’t like chicken feet. Not because of the idea that it is a foot (I like pig’s trotters) but it’s the texture of the skin and there isn’t much to chew on except for the bones.

Dessert options

Mini egg custard tarts
Mini egg custard tarts

These little egg custard tarts were dainty and cute for its size. They were pretty damn delicious, as its warm, flaky and the custard is not too sweet and the custard just set.

Chomped
Chomped

Steamed egg custard layer cake
Steamed egg custard layer cake

My aunt loves this steamed egg custard layer cake because it’s light, fluffy, barely sweet, and it has some almonds floating around. I do like this dessert as well. It tastes like I’m eating an egg-y cloud.

Cute swirly buns
Cute swirly buns!

My personal favorite were these swirled buns. I don’t know the English name to it but I call it a cute swirly bun because they’re small and swirled that I would think it’s cute. Anyway, this bun is amazing. The very thin, cake-like bun holds a large amount of coconut-flavored egg yolk custard that it just oozes custard while it’s hot from the kitchen.

Innards
Goooey…

Longevity buns
Longevity buns

The longevity buns were at the request of my aunt. These large buns (about 5 inches in diameter) were filled with lotus seed paste. These knew the keys to my dessert lovin’ heart because I’m obsessed with any Chinese pastry that’s filled with lotus seed paste (and it’s delicious paste, mind you).

Coconut jelly with corn kernels
Coconut jelly with corn kernels

Some of the unusual jellies I came across while I’m in Hong Kong were this dish of coconut jelly with corn kernels. I think there’s a more flowery name to this dish but this is how I remembered it. The smooth, coconut milk jelly contains corn kernel bits floating around. It kind of plays on the sweet factor but at the same time I think they’re trying to make this dessert a bit healthier.

Coconut layered jelly
Coconut layered jelly

This green jelly is actually coconut flavored. If I have to make this, I won’t have the patience to layer this and wait for it to set. It’s good and coconut-y.

Coconut jellies
Birds’ Nest Cake

I ordered this birds’ nest cake. As ignorant as I was, I ordered this dish assuming that I should see something that look like a bird’s nest. But it’s actually the bird’s nest that one would find in a soup form. And for those of you who buys this stuff know it it isn’t cheap. Oops. This cake, if you will, is actually a coconut flavored jelly (the bottom, white base) and the bird’s nest portion is on top with a gelatin base. Tasty but I wouldn’t have ordered it if I knew because I don’t get the actual texture of the nest.

So that’s the end of this food porn journey of Sportful Garden’s dim sum. If you were to visit this place, I suggest you get the traditional dishes (har gaw, shu mai, cheong fun, etc.) and the swirled buns and the egg custard layer cake. If you like jellies, order them.

Address:
Sportful Garden Restaurant

Tai Tung Bldg, 1/F
8 Fleming Rd, Wan Chai
Wan Chai, Hong Kong



  • kim

    oh my gosh, everything looked scrumptious! They’re so meticulously structured. It’s amazing!

  • thewanderingeater

    kim: Yes! They’re all so delicious. I miss Hong Kong dim sum. [sobs]

  • anonymous

    omg, this looks amazing. can you recommend any good dim sum places in ny?

  • Sherry

    I went to this dim sum place once in my life and it was the best experience. My favorites were the Hainan Chicken Rice dish and of course, the swirly buns. I can’t find another dim sum place that has it!!!

  • http://simplemornings.blogspot.com amy

    omg. i thnk i just died in your post. dim sum is like one of my favouritest favouritest food in the world!:):):)

  • thewanderingeater

    anonymous: Urm…I heard of a few good places in Chinatown that are good (but I never been): Golden Unicorn, Jing Fong, Ping, etc. As for the HK-like style (and pricier) dim sum suggestion is Chinatown Brasserie in NoHo (again, I haven’t been yet).

    Sherry: It is indeed awesome. I have yet to write/post my dinner experiences here. I don’t think I have their Hainan chicken rice dish though.

    amy: Haha…! :) Dim sum is awesome (if done well, of course)!

  • http://www.lovefeasttable.com Kristin and Chris Ann

    Thank you for sharing! I have yet to find good congee like when I was in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

  • Eugene Liu

    Wow..how much food did you eat?! I went to the Sportful Gardens in Wanchai for Chinese New Year…http://thehomefoodcook.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/four-days-of-hong-kong-food-part-1.html. It was my first dim sum while I was back in Hong Kong and I have to say it was goood. Can’t beat dim sum in HK!

    • http://thewanderingeater.com/ Tina “The Wandering Eater”

      This was a mash-up of multiple visits in one post. Sportful Gardens was a great experience. And I do agree with you that Hong Kong’s dim sum experience is unparalleled to other country in the world.

      • thehomefoodcook

        It sure is! I’m in Sydney and there are a few nice dim sum places around here but it just doesn’t hit the spot quite like it does in HK. The good thing about here though is that they still use the trolleys to go around the tables and I like that atmosphere, whereas the trolleys are getting quite rare in HK nowdays.