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8 Oct 2013

Mary's Garden at Straits Quay, Penang

Penang [檳城] • 8 OCTOBER 2013
“Mary’s Garden” is now run by enterprising housewife turned restaurateur Mary Teoh. Everything is made in-house by their specially-trained local chef, and is priced from RM6.80 – RM9.90 per portion. A la carte dim sum is available from 10am to 5pm daily, but by April 13, they will be serving it from trolleys at weekends. 

Dim Sum service will start from as early at 8.30am on Saturdays and Sundays. Cheong fun, the steamed batter springy and not too doughy, and comes filled with duck or prawn - mine come with prawns

Dim Sum is not something to do on your own. Tables are big and you’ll feel lonely trying to eat all that food by yourself. Not only that, if you get something you don’t like, there’s nowhere to hide it. So if you can, go with a group. If it’s just the two of you, still go – by all means – just be very hungry before you sit down. Drinking tea is a compulsory part of eating Dim Sum. It’s usually complimentary and they’ll fill and re-fill the pot with hot water until you’re ready to float away. If you want something else to drink you’ll have to ask for a drink menu.If you’re at a more modern Dim Sum restaurant then there may not be carts and food stations. You’ll be given a card listing the choices and you’re meant to tick off what you want. Hopefully there will be an English version. If not, get up, grab a waitress, check out what’s on other people’s tables and utilize her help to order what you think you’ll like.

The Yam Beehive (woo kok) was good, the mashed yam exterior fried to a light and crispy finish, with a fragrant minced pork filling. 

If you’re at the type of place that has the carts and food stations, then your order card is ever-important. When the cart comes around, you choose what you want and then hand the lady the card. She stamps it or ticks the order off. At stations, you take your card with you and hand it to the server after she gives you your basket of dumplings or plate of congealed pig blood. She’ll tick it and hand it back. At the end of your meal, the waiter will tally up what you’ve eaten for the bill.In other words, eat, drink and be merry.

I have never had such good a steam custard bun. (must order)

Back to the battlefield, Dim Sum restaurants are loud, friendly, family places. Get in the mood and enjoy the chaos. If you haven’t spilled your soy sauce from over-exuberant dumpling-dunking, then you will soon. Worry not, those white tablecloths are easily bleached out.

Char Siew Bao was tasty, light and fluffy although you can even have this deep-fried! 

When do restaurants usually stop serving dim sum? I'd say most dim sum service ends at around 2:00-3:00. Definitely don't go just before closing because there won't be much of a selection. Unfortunately most dim sum places are crowded and there will be a wait as early as 10:00am until it ends. Again, don't try and go 30 minutes before they stop will get almost nothing and it will definitely be a bad experience no matter where you go. Combine that with the pleasant surroundings, no corkage and plentiful parking in one of Penang’s most in-places to dine, and you have the makings of a really special place.

For inexpensive dim sum take out try Mary's Garden.

3A-G-7, Ground floor, Straits Quay, Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang, Tanjung Tokong, Penang.
Tel: +604 860 6028
Opening times: Mon-Fri, 10am-10.30pm; Sat & Sun, 8.30am-10.30pm


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