When it comes to restaurants, I love a good hole-in-the-wall. Especially one that serves food at unusual hours, such as dim sum at any time of day. Typically, dim sum is served during brunch-time or noon.. usually never past 3pm. But when you get a hankering for su mi and har gow after 3pm, then what do you do? I make the drive to Capital Tea Garden in Downtown Sacramento.
I wish I could say that once you walk inside the dazzling interior will blow you away, but don’t get your hopes up, the inside is just as drab and dingy.. don’t worry though, the food is authentic and as unpretentious as the ambiance.
It’s been over 15 years that I’ve been coming back to the Capital Tea Garden, and it’s always been the same Chinese lady who greets me at the door and takes my order. She definitely won’t win any waitress congeniality awards but she’s fast and efficient and I’ve seen her manage a smile or two. They do serve regular Chinese food here, which is also really good.. but I almost always just ask for the dim sum menu. Which looks like this: (I couldn’t fit the whole sheet in just one picture)
The order process is simple and they even have pictures of popular items on the table. Just write the number of orders you want next to the menu item and hand her the sheet. In case you didn’t notice from the menu, the dim sum here fits everyone’s budget – with each order at a whopping $1.95, and the more expensive items still only $2.65 each.
For those who are unfamiliar with dim sum: it’s traditionally a meal meant to be enjoyed with family or a group of friends, at a place where the servers push around rolling carts and you have to wave them down and point to the little dishes and tins that you want to order. While I very much enjoy having traditional dim sum that way, I also appreciate that here, I can just walk in any time, ask for a table for one, order the favorite dim sum dishes that I’m craving.. and not feel like a total weirdo.
Dim sum dishes are the Chinese equivalent to Spanish tapas.. tiny servings of Chinese delicacies, ranging from steamed barbeque pork bao (bun) to chicken feet. I ordered hot tea and my favorites.. clockwise from the top: Fon Gor (steamed shrimp and pork dumpling), Crispy Taro Turnover, Beef Tripe and Su Mi (steamed pork ball with noodle casing)
This is my low-carb Asian dining option since you usually don’t order rice with dim sum. I have to watch my sodium intake though, because I like to dip the su mi and dumplings in the chili oil and soy sauce mixture on my plate. The food is always consistently delicious. I suspect they’ve kept the same cook all these years. That night I was also stopping by Sutter Hospital afterwards to visit some family, so I placed my takeout order at the same time. The takeout arrived ready to go right before I finished my meal. For dessert I ordered some Flaky Custard Tarts to go.
Needless to say, at about 5pm on a Saturday I got my dim sum cravings satisfied. And I leave you all with these yummy, custardy, flaky thoughts: