The Great Gardens restaurant off of Georgetown Rd in Indianapolis is by far and away the best Asian food I’ve ever had! We went for a late lunch on a Friday and were greeted with a warm, friendly entrance that exuded a lovely, welcoming ambiance.
Fortunately for us, the dim sum place that was recommended to us originally by friends was “Closed for Renovations” (read: health code violations?) and I happened to have the address of this restaurant as a backup. A quick reference to Google Maps on T’s cell phone, and we were on our way to the best, BEST dim sum experience I could have ever hoped for!
We walked in and were instantly greeted and seated in the large, open dining area. The tables and chairs were simple, clean, and well dressed with teacups, chopsticks, and napkins. We didn’t get in for lunch until about 1:30, but there were several tables of customers finishing their meals. The old adage “go where the line is the longest” or “where the locals eat” holds true here–even though there wasn’t a line, we were certainly the minority.
Our lovely hostess opened our chopsticks, broke them apart, and arranged the plates with great care. She instructed us to indicate what we wanted to order on the full-color paper menus, each featuring a picture of what you were about to enjoy. Reading the reviews from another blogger, I knew we had to try the seaweed roll, deep fried taro, and shrimp dumplings. As we were deciding, the hostess returned and said, “You must try this, it is very good,” and helped round out our order to seven dim sum total. As we were looking for more things to order, she stopped us and said, “Seven will be enough.” She knew we were noobs, and took good care of us.
Our first two dim sum arrived in record speed—the seaweed roll and stuffed green peppers. They were perfectly hot and crisp and the smell of fresh oil very quickly took over our senses. The seaweed roll was filled with what we suspected was fresh shrimp, and the stuffed green peppers had a combination of ground pork deliciousness and a breaded topping.
Our first bites of dim sum were unrivaled by any other Asian cuisine I’ve ever had. Ever. It was that good. The freshest ingredients, prepared with expertise and a diligence to quality, was apparent in these two (and the other 5) dishes. We ate these quickly (perhaps too quickly, as I burned my mouth on the seaweed roll, happily), and right as we finished, our next three plates arrived.
Our hostess advised us to start with the deep fried taro, as the shrimp dumplings and the chive pork dumplings were still steaming in their baskets. I have always wanted to try taro, and I’m glad I did it this way. The outside was delicate and crispy, and the inside was like the consistency of a mashed potato. There was what I could only describe as “Chinese gravy” inside of the soft taro, and I began to wonder why no one had thought of making deep fried mashed potatoes and gravy (coming to a carnival near you, summer 2009). The shrimp dumplings, and the chive pork dumplings, were simple and delicious; a few ingredients artfully prepared.
Another blogger insisted that anyone visiting Great Gardens should order the rice in lotus leaf. I’m always up for trying something new, so we asked for one order. As we were reveling in the dumplings, and wondering how anything could be better than what we were experiencing, the rice in lotus leaves came. Two globs of sticky rice, lightly covered in sauce, and wrapped in steamed lotus leaves arrived. As the hostess walked away, she quickly came back with a spoon, and said, “Don’t eat the leaves, just the rice,” and she opened the first one for us. What a livesaver she was!
This will sound weird, but the meat-based sauce smelled a bit like canned cat food…. but in a good way. It was really earthy, as the lotus leaves steamed an indescribable flavor into the rice, and the meat sauce added and extra earthy saltiness that I had never tasted before. Order it, try it, and see what you think.
The pot stickers came last, and our hostess clipped them in half with a pair of scissors to make them easier to eat. I know this is repetitive, but they were just as delicious as everything else. We had the option of dipping everything in a sweet pineapple-y sauce, hoisin, or a hot chili pepper oil. I stuck with the hoisin for the most part, but nothing needed extra sauce!
Each of the plates comes in a pre-determined size, and the size determines the price. These 7 plates filled us to the brim, all for $20. We left a hefty tip because she was so nice and helpful, and the service in the restaurant was exceptional, fast, fresh…. I would have paid more money for this, but I am glad the price was so affordable.
I don’t care where you live. Go there, now. I can’t wait to go back any time I drive anywhere near Indy. Five stars!