Saturday, December 12, 2009

On Time? About time!

Let it be known - I am a big fan of dim sum. I just love the entire process of ordering a variety of small, tasty Chinese finger foods, sitting around a table with friends, and sharing. Throw in a bottomless pot of hot, green tea and I'm in heaven. When my favorite Indy dim sum spot, Shen Yang, closed its doors earlier this year, I started going exclusively to Great Garden for my dim sum needs. (Shanghai Lil, at Keystone at the Crossing, also serves dim sum, but, well, the less said about that the better.) So, when I showed up at Great Garden with some friends for lunch a couple of months ago, I nearly broke down and cried when I saw the "closed for good" sign on the door.

Now, though, like a Fenghuang (that's a Chinese phoenix) rising from its own ashes, another Chinese restaurant has taken over Great Garden's former location (3623 Commercial Drive; 317.293.8888). The rather oddly named "On Time Seafood Restaurant" serves Americanized Chinese favorites, fresh seafood, and, at lunch, dim sum! That's right, dim sum. Oh, it's on! I tried all of my old dim sum standbys like har gau (shrimp dumpling), siu mai (pork dumpling), nor mai gai (rice in lotus leaf), baby squid in curry sauce, and jin deui (sesame balls filled with lotus paste) for dessert. Everything that I sampled was delicious, matching or surpassing dim sum that I've eaten in larger cities like Boston, Chicago, and Washington DC. Of course they also offer the typical dim sum items that I've never been able to bring myself to try such as fung zao (chicken feet) and beef tripe. Helpfully, their picture menu comes complete with a list of English translations to help guide the dim sum neophyte. "On Time" has only been open for around a month and I've already been there twice (and thinking about when I can for a third time), so that has to tell you something!

Aside from dim sum, the restaurant features fish tanks along its back wall with a variety of seafood on offer. I haven't yet tried any of the seafood dishes, but the lobsters were tempting me during my second visit. I think one even winked at me. I wasn't sure how to take that, actually.

As an added bonus, the restaurant has received a classy makeover since it was Great Garden. Its all hardwood floors, warm colors, and Chinese lanterns. The mocha tables and chairs are stylish and the dining room now features a great number of cushy, comfy booths hugging the restaurant's outer walls. Oh, and if you happen to be there for lunch you may even get to watch Chinese Idol (or whatever American Idol is called in China) on the wall-mounted, flatscreen TV, which is always entertaining!

Man, I'm getting hungry for dim sum already. Who's game?

On Time Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon


  1. I've been wanting to go since it opened.

    Do they have Dim Sum on the weekends too?

  2. Hey, Phil! They definitely have dim sum on Sundays, so I assume they have it on Saturday as well. I ate there on a Sunday for lunch recently and the place was packed! The staff was pushing around carts of dishes, wandering between tables to see who wanted what. It was a lot of fun!

  3. This is SUCH great news, I was so sad when I heard Great Garden had closed. Thanks for the update!

  4. We've gone for dim sum -- and a few other things off the menu -- about every three months now for a couple of years. We, too, used to frequent Shen Yang (which was also named "Yummi" {sp?} at one time), and were sad when it closed. We're native Bostonian and New Yorker, and lived for decades in San Francisco, which are all dim-sum-lover-friendly places, and can vouch that On Time Seafood, while not the absolute best available on the planet, does quite well to very well in its dim sum offerings. Getting right down to eating very soon after being seated is easiest on Saturdays and Sundays, when the steam carts come around quickly, but a caveat is that some of the items might have cooled down a bit by then, and dim sum is at its best when piping hot. Don't forget to create a pucddle of soy sauce on your plate, with a dash of vinegar (in tiny cruets on the table), for dipping, along with the hot red chili oil if you like your sauce to zing!