A dim sum restaurant packed with home-style favourites that is sure to have something even if you don’t like dim sum or Chinese food
Despite being tucked in the corner of the fourth floor Street Food Court, Tea Garden at Sunway Velocity Mall appears to thrive nonetheless. The gauntlet of rival restaurants on the way here failed to seduce hungry shoppers, and this place had more punters than its immediate neighbours when we visited.
Ambience & Amenities
If you’ve spent a significant chunk of your life inside yum cha restaurants, the first impression of Tea Garden is a strong dim sum vibe: close-set tables, blinds over the windows so you can’t tell how long you’ve been there, and even the telltale white high chairs stacked at the front. Missing are the crotchety aunties announcing the food on their metal carts, instead replaced by young men in freshly pressed chef outfits delivering your dish with a gentle smile.
The choicest seating is either next to the balustrade which offers some good people-watching, or by the windows which peer out in a southeast direction. There are wooden blinds over the windows which are by default, drawn, but you are free to adjust them if you’re sitting directly next to them.
Click any menu picture to enlarge
Dim sum classics like siu mai and egg tarts will be the first thing you see on the menu and will be hard to pass up. Near the back, there’s also a page of much-loved desserts doufuhua and red bean soup with glutinous balls, so save room! Dim sum food stands out because people love it, but this eatery’s vast menu ensures that there’s something for everyone. Any comfort food that you ate while growing up in a Chinese household (or if you’re just a lover of Chinese food) will be here: congee, crispy noodles, stir-fried rice cakes… Mmm! Just typing it makes me feel like I’m a chubby teenager again.
This place is most vocal about its traditional food from the Nan Yang region in China, but there are many other pan-Asian options if you want something else, such as Malaysian rendangs and Thai tom yams. Even Mat Sallehs would be able to pick out something here, from familiar sweet and sour chicken to a club sandwich for the truly unadventurous. I feel like even if you dislike Chinese food except for one particular dish, whatever that dish is, it will be on this menu.
There is a vegetarian menu: one double-sided sheet of meatless options. The restaurant does make it very clear how apathetic they are about vegetarianism. There is a disclaimer that they are a non-veg restaurant and they will not use different crockery to prepare the vegetarian dishes. In this era of fussy eaters and fake food intolerances, Tea Garden refuses to baby its customers, which I can get behind. Unless you practise some kind of dirty vegetarianism where potentially swallowing some rogue chicken doesn’t bother you, you should head to a proper vegetarian place.
There was also a “special menu” consisting of chicken chops and cheese baked rice. These are probably seasonal or temporary items which may not be available anymore when you visit. Whilst a lot of items on the entire menu looked great, we both ordered off this special menu. For me, it was because I was really in the mood for cheese and rice. Mark deduced that a chicken chop with two sides was a good deal for that price.
At the table, all the menus will already be laid out as well as a pencil and order slip. The ordering process is similar to other dim sums, where you write the number code of the dish you want and how many. Special variations on a dish (different meat or noodle types) will all have a specific number. Same with drinks – hot and iced versions will have their own separate codes. The only time you need to use the “remarks” column on the order sheet is to tell the chef things like “no ice” or “less spicy” (not from Malaysia, are you?). When you’re finished, a handy button is present on all the tables that you use to call a waiter over to take your slip.
We both got the iced Homemade Soya Milk with Gula Melaka (RM5.50) because it sounded amazing. It comes separated like this – make sure to stir it first before sipping! This was super good. The soya milk must have had little or no sugar, so you can really taste the gula melaka. If you order any spicy food, this is an ideal accompaniment.
As I expected with it being a “special,” the Spicy Chicken Chop (RM17.90) was a bit of a simple, smallish plate. It came with a little ramekin of chilli sauce and our choice of two sides. We got ours with a double helping of potatoes: wedges and spicy fries, which are regular fries tossed in spicy crimson salt. The regular price for these is around RM8, so to get a serving with a chicken chop for a little more than double the price is pretty decent value. Granted, you only get a handful of twenty fries or ten wedges in the special, but its good if you just need a nibble. The bonus shredded lettuce salad has lashings of roasted sesame dressing, which may or may not have come from a Kewpie bottle. The chicken chop was moist but very average. The skin was not overly crispy, and the breading kept sliding off the meat when cutting it up.
My Cheese Baked Rice with Mutton Rendang (RM17.90) was the highlight of the meal. I don’t know why I had never considered of the union of cheese and rice as possible nosh before. The Koreans do it all the time, but up until this exact moment, I always thought it a strange combo. This was, first off, bigger than expected with what would be a huge serving of rice. After doing my obligatory girlfriend duty of eating half of Mark’s fries, I had to share most of this dish… which worked out for Mark since he admitted it was much better than his own meal. A copious helping of cheese on top ensured that there were no bland, uncheesy bites. In the middle of this rice field was the mutton rendang, incredibly tender pieces of mutton smothered in a deliciously flavourful rendang sauce. Mutton is usually quite stringy, but you could effortlessly cut a chunk in two of this meat with your spoon. The quality of the rendang, in both the meat and the sauce, was very surprising for a mid-range Chinese restaurant.
I really enjoyed our visit to Tea Garden. I had almost written it off as the ambience is not the greatest. Compared to its immediate neighbour, Myun, which has bright seating with a panoramic view, this place can look dark and depressing with its small number of windows covered up. The big factor that swayed us was the number of people eating here. So many people choosing to eat here despite the competition had to mean the food was something of note. At one point, I noticed how silent the restaurant was – everyone was too focused on their food to talk!
Price for 2 Pax: RM46.80
Cheese baked rice with mutton rendang: RM16.89
Spicy chicken chop: RM16.89
Soya milk with gula melaka (iced) x 2: RM10.38
6% SST: RM2.65
Lot 4-01H, 4th Floor, Sunway Velocity Mall (in the Street Food Court, across from Myun Korean Noodle), Lingkaran SV, 55100 Kuala Lumpur
Alcohol Served: No