Bamboo Garden, Brooklyn’s premier dim sum parlor and one of the best in the city, looked as if it had closed for good back in March, but in fact, it has reopened after an extensive renovation.
One of four unrelated Bamboo Gardens that share the name, the Sunset Park destination has a new electric zipper sign that decorates the front of the building, topped with a golden Art Deco frieze that blazes in the sunlight. Inside, the furniture and fixtures are new, with a bright blue-and-gold color scheme that includes a flowered carpet and brocade chair coverings. Tiny lights coat the ceiling and drip from the chandeliers; the effect is very Vegas. Happily, the dim sum is as good as ever, and perhaps even better.
It was just past noon on a Friday when we visited and the entire hall was mobbed. The classic har gow, rice noodle rolls (chee cheong fun), and green chiles stuffed with fish paste were pristine in their steamed preparation, delivered to the table by carts wheeled by at frequent intervals.
But the forte of Bamboo Garden has always been innovative dim sum — in part to compete with the five other large dim sum parlors in the neighborhood. We started with a trio of fish cakes scented with lemon rind that arrived on fried-tofu platforms, surmounted by a slice of conch, a shrimp, and an egg yolk. Another plate contained two large shrimp balls decorated with asparagus and surimi (crab stick), the whole plate draped with rice noodles. These new dim sum varieties can only be described as baroque, and they pleasantly broaden the dim sum selection.
Big lacquered chicken wings came around next as well as fist-sized crystalline dumplings with taro and unctuous cubed pork. As we ate, more rice noodle rolls circled the room, not filled with shrimp or beef, but with anise pork in a miniature dice decorated with chopped cilantro and scallions.
Perhaps most interesting of all was a series of cut rice noodle rolls turned ends upward. The stuffing was what make them unique in that it tasted like a mushroom omelet with a bit of sausage in it: a wonderful combination. It made our dim sum lunch feel like weekend brunch.