We all loved the original Dim Sum Garden. The xiaolongbao, the flaky scallion pancake, and the unassuming location in a fluorescent-lit spot under 11th Street's Hilton Garden Inn tunnel. And yeah, it got a little weird when a second Dim Sum Garden opened over on Race Street. Was it just a naming error? New entrepreneurs unaware that Philly had an already-flourishing garden of dim sum? Was it a second location?
The Race Street Dim Sum Garden was opened by the staff of the original Dim Sum Garden on Eleventh, but now the original owner is back in town. He's opened a new spot in the much renovated original location and he is throwing down some serious competition for his progeny.
Tom's Dim Sum boasts a menu similar to that of the original, a dim sum menu as well as plenty of larger dishes, but the room itself is a very different space. It's clear that it has been completely gutted and renovated, fresh new tables and even a counter along the window with dioramas set into it.
Of course, there are soup dumplings and an array of other dumplings as well. Shanghai shumai are filled with pork-studded sticky rice. The crystal shrimp dumplings are tender, translucent, and sweet. Don't miss the fish dumplings, which look like blonde, open-faced shumai filled with a mix of minced flounder and radish, or off menu additions like the scallion pancake stuffed with pickled greens, cilantro stems, shredded pork, and a sweet sauce that they use on their pork chop entree. The steamed buns — filled with pork, peppery greens, or pork and seafood — are also good, but the absolute must-get are the Shanghai pan fried buns. Tender dumplings that are fried on the bottom for the ideal contrast of fluffy and crisp, a juicy filling of pork bursting from inside when you bite into them.
Is Tom's Dim Sum better than Dim Sum Garden? Hard to say, but it's close. Do a back-to-back taste test and let us know what you think in the comment section below.