Monday, July 4, 2011

Szechwan Garden

Located at 3649 Lafayette Road, Szechwan Garden is part of Indianapolis’s “International Corridor”—the cluster of restaurants featuring food from all over the world near the 38th Street and Lafayette Road intersection. Given that you could choose to eat Indian, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, and other exotic cuisines in that area, you might wonder why you would decide on the relatively common Chinese. I can tell you why in two words—“dim” and “sum.” Szechwan Garden is one of the few places in Indy that serves dim sum, and, for my money, they serve the best.

If you’ve never eaten dim sum, all you need you need to know is that you order a variety of small dishes and then share them with your friends. Szechwan Garden serves all of my favorite dim sum dishes including ha gaau (shrimp dumplings), siu maai (pork dumplings), and lo mai gai (savory glutinous rice wrapped in a lotus leaf). In fact, I’d say their siu maai was the best I've ever eaten! (The lady who makes their dough and dumplings was a pastry chef in China, so she certainly knows what she’s doing.) They also offer a few items that I had not had before like Tianjin pancake (mung bean pancake), pan-fried taro cake, and scallion pancakes. Unfortunately, Szechwan Garden only serves dim sum from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays because they make everything from scratch and never freeze the dishes.

Szechwan Garden also features a full Chinese menu, which they offer at all times. I’ve only tried a couple of items off of it, though—namely the spicy calamari and the sautéed kong xing tsai. Both were excellent, but the kong xing tsai (a green, semi-aquatic leaf vegetable sometimes called “water spinach” in the U.S.) was a revelation. The greens were delicious, sautéed with garlic and oil. Interestingly, kong xing tsai’s high growth rate has caused it to become an environmental problem in Florida and Texas, which has led the USDA to designate it as a “noxious weed.” Best noxious weed I’ve ever eaten!

Szechwan Garden on Urbanspoon


  1. Thanks for this write-up! I had heard there was a place near 38th & Lafayette that was doing dim sum, but now I've got a name and location! I will definitely have to try it out!

  2. I love dim sum - glad to hear the siu maai is delicious as I haven't found one that I adore yet. But bummer about the times (despite the applause for always fresh!) Great write-up!

  3. I'd certainly advise a visit, beffuh! I was happy with my dim sum.

    And it does suck that they don't serve dim sum every day, citynomnoms—but sometimes good things come to those who wait for Fridays. Saturdays, and Sundays! :)

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  5. The girlfriend and I discovered this hidden gem of Chinese cuisine. Very authentic, flavorful, and NOT a typical Chinese Take Out in some strip-mall; but rather, a true sit-down experience.

    Our favorite order is the Pork Dumplings (siu maai), which are steamed and served in a small bowl of spicy broth-like sesame sauce, an order or of Pan Fried Green-beans, and for the entrée, Chicken with Szechwan sauce. The chicken dish is bite size pieces of chicken, fried in a spicy Szechwan breading mixed with garlic slices, Thai chilies, and other seasonings. At times, it can be little saltier than I personally like it, but none the less, it’s still all so good.

    Recently, we tried the Mongolian Beef, which is grilled slices of beef in a gravy-like sauce which had our taste buds jumping for more. Serve it over the free portions of white rice, and it makes for a wonderful meal. Additionally on that same trip, we ordered an entrée of Chicken Lo-mien, which we found a little disappointing. Un-flavorful, and the noodles were overcooked. Still edible, but not that great considering the other dishes we had.

    Admittedly so, the wait staff may ‘forget’ about you from time to time, even with a full or empty house. We do find ourselves on occasion needing to flag down our waitress for a refill on drinks. For some foodies, this makes or breaks a eatery, but for us, I can deal with it so long as the food is good. However, once you flag down your server once, they always remember you. Best times to visit for a more ‘intimate’ atmosphere are after 8PM on Fridays and 8:30PM Saturday nights. During Prime-time, a lot of native families visit and can be noisy. The Chinese karaoke on Saturday nights in the basement is always a hoot!

    Cost: You will pay a premium for good food, and this is no different. if you are looking for your typical $6.50 order of General Tso’s chicken, you won’t find it here. Appetizers start at $7 and up, sides are $8 and up and entries range from $10-14. More exotic dishes will result in a higher cost.

    Over all, I love this place and I tell everyone I can about it. It’s a favorite and any other take out Chinese no longer compares. Give it a try when you can and I assure you, the food will not disappoint.

    Hope this helps!