Hot Tea, Water
Steamed Chive Dumplings, Shiu Mai, Sharkfin Dumplings
Fried Shrimp with Shell, Roast Duck
Pork Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf
Sugarcane Shrimp, Bell Pepper with Shrimp
Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce, Calamari, Chow Mein
Fried Smelt, Pan Fried Chive Dumplings
Crab Claw, Eggplant with Shrimp
Shrimp Ball, X.O. Pan Fried Rice Noodle
Steamed BBQ Pork Bun, Pork Sparerib
Red Bean Sesame Ball, Lotus Seed Sesame Ball
Roast Pork with Hoisin, String Beans with Garlic
Chinese Sausage Bun, Steamed Sweet Custard Bun
Mango Mochi, Mango Pudding
Though many will contest that there is “no good Dim Sum in Las Vegas” that notion seems largely rooted in folks from Southern California who grew up less than an hour from the San Gabriel Valley, the vast majority of natives and those born east of the Mississippi generally easier to please as Dim Sum did not even exist in their home town, nor did any Chinese Restaurant differentiating Szechuan from Cantonese.
Usually restricting the search for such Food to Spring Mountain Road, the rich diversity of Asian eateries in a three-mile stretch of pavement rivaling many American Chinatowns in terms of number but with more diversity, it was instead for a friend’s birthday that the car was navigated to the corner of Sahara and Lindell, Orchids Garden gleaming in neon just as it has for over fifteen years.
Known as one of the few locations in town for all-day Dim Sum plus traditional Cantonese Cuisine, the same ownership and servers in place for several years ensuring a better service experience than most, it was just prior to 6:30pm that six guests entered the space prior to several others, a total of three tables with 10+ persons each sitting in celebration as silver carts navigated the premises.
Clean in terms of décor and populated by a largely Asian clientele, both good signs as are the well-maintained Fish tank and restrooms, it was less than five minutes after taking a seat that Water arrived and Tea was offered, the former only filled on request and often running empty though the staff did a good job of making certain that Tea Pots were filled regularly.
Sticking to Dim Sum for the evening, a truncated version of the daytime collection offered but unfortunately already sold out of a few selections, it was as friends were still trickling in that Dinner began with steamed selections, the Shark Fin Dumplings named after their shape rather than contents an early highlight as were whole Fried Shrimp to follow while the Bone-in Duck was unfortunately not only limp on the surface, but more pricey than the portion should be for eight dollars.
Difficult to say whether Orchids Garden uses previously frozen Dim Sum or makes the items fresh on-site, likely a mixture of both given the homogeneity of certain items and odd consistency of their Shrimp Paste, it was after watching everyone at the table pass on Sticky Rice in a Lotus Leaf that a bundle was taken, the random bits of Pork ranging from ground to slices of Sausage actually quite good while both the Bell Pepper and Eggplant were not as a result of the gelatinous Paste.
Finding the Sugarcane Shrimp and Crab Claws virtually indistinguishable despite a $3.54 price difference, ten grams of Snow Crab completely lost at the center of the fried ball, those looking for something better would be well advised to order a few plates of Shrimp Balls covered with crispy Phyllo at three for the price of two, the Pan Fried Chive Dumpling also packed with Shrimp and better than its steamed counterpart, as well.
Never really understanding the point of Vegetables at Dim Sum, though every person of Asian ancestry seems to prioritize String Beans or Broccoli as part of the experience, both options at Orchids Garden were good despite the former being a little flaccid, an issue also noted in the skin of roast Pork that the waitress warned would not be crispy but someone opted to order anyway.
Falling short again with Pork Spareribs, the majority of each piece Bone and the rest of it stringy, those looking for Noodles on Orchids Garden’s menu would do well to pass on flavorless Chow Mein and instead request pan-fried Rice Noodles in X.O. Sauce that is funky but not too hot and thus well suited for those with limited spice tolerance.
Rounding out the savories with fried Calamari and Smelt plus steamed Buns containing BBQ Pork plus Sausage, both of the latter plus Custard Buns rousing suspicion that frozen Dim Sum is being used based on their consistency, it was in sweet selections that the experience concluded, both styles of Sesame Balls sticky and good with a lot of filling while Mochi and Mango Pudding were fine, the later served complimentary with a candle.
TWO AND A HALF STARS: While it may indeed be true that Las Vegas lacks world-class Dim Sum outside of holiday events at Jasmine and Wing Lei those looking for their fix can still fare well by ordering selectively at a place like Orchids Garden, though dollar-for-dollar better experiences can be found at Chang’s or KJ.
RECOMMENDED: Sharkfin Dumplings, Fried Shrimp with Shell, Pork Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf, Shrimp Ball, X.O. Pan Fried Rice Noodle, Red Bean Sesame Ball.
AVOID: Roast Duck, Bell Pepper with Shrimp, Eggplant with Shrimp, Crab Claw, Pork Spare Ribs, Chow Mein.
TIP: 10:30a-10:30p daily, though visiting at night runs the risk of menu items being sold out.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.