Vegetarian Dim Sum at Fine Garden in San Gabriel
Fine Garden Vegetarian Cuisine is a Chinese restaurant in San Gabriel that's located in the same mini-mall as SGV's not-quite-world-famous Golden Deli restaurant. They've offered vegetarian dim sum for a few years, and I finally had a chance to try it.
We got there just before 12 on a weekend. It started getting a bit more crowded later on, but it was not filled to capacity. There were more non-Asian patrons there than Asian ones.
It's a clean place with a decent English translations on their menu. We decided not to order the vegetarian items you can find at non-vegetarian places (e.g. pan fried turnip cake, steamed red bean bun) because they don't differ that much. You order from a menu that has pictures--very convenient.
Here are the dishes we ordered:
1. Pork Siu Mai: Nothing special. It was filled with pressed tofu, water chestnuts, and some other fillings.
2. Chiu-Chow Style Fun Guor: Very tasty. In fact, it was almost as good as ones I've found in decent non-vegetarian restaurants.
3. Shrimp Har Gow: Nothing special. The skin wasn't wasn't that great. The filling was similar to the Pork Siu Mai.
4. Steamed Shark's Fin Gow: Very good. I think they use mung bean noodle for the shark fin. The flavor and texture were great.
5. Sticky Rice Wrapped w/ Lotus Leaves: Decent. Not that different from a non-vegetarian place.
6. Steamed BBQ Pork Bun: Ok, but it had too strong of an anise flavor for me. A meat-substitute was used for the filling to impersonate BBQ Pork.
7. Steamed Shrimp Fun Guor: Good, but the Chiu-Chow Style Fun Guor was better.
8. Pan Fried Rice Noodle with Satay Sauce: This is like small cheung fun rolls that are stir fried. There's nothing special about this dish--definitely filler material.
9. Chow Mein with Soy Sauce: More filler material. Nothing worth noting.
I don't think it's fair to compare vegetarian and non-vegetarian dim sum. The flavors and textures are too different to judge by the same scale. On its own merits, I would say the meal was ok. I prefer vegetarian lunch and dinner entrees from this and other restaurants over the dim sum we ate. I wouldn't go back unless my vegetarian relatives are back in town.
Small dim sum dishes were $2.35, Medium dishes were $3.35, and Large dishes were $4.35. The pan fried rice noodles and chow mein were $7.95.