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Chuan Lu Garden in Orlando offers dim sum worth paying for

We live in strange times. Chinese eateries are seeing a decline in business due to Coronavirus fears spreading throughout the United States and arguably the planet. Some Chinese restaurants in Orlando are reporting a 20-30% drop in business despite that fact that there isn’t a single case of coronavirus in Florida.

While there is nothing wrong with being prepared and conscious of what’s happening around the globe, there’s a simple fact that this virus is not in Florida at this time. I decided to eat at my one of my favorite Chinese spots in Orlando during my last visit in Mills 50 District called Chuan Lu Garden.

I have checked out a few dim sum spots nearby such as Peter’s Kitchen and Ming’s Bistro, but neither were as good as Chuan Lu Garden despite being more popular and busier establishments. Most people visit because Chuan Lu is open until 2AM and is a reliable late-night option, but for me it’s all about dim sum for breakfast.

It’s hard to find a good dim sum spot in Florida, nothing really compares to all the great spots in San Francisco. Lord knows that Yummy House in Tampa doesn’t even come close to any of the places in Orlando. I have long hoped for more dim sum options in Tampa, but that doesn’t seem to be materializing and it remains to see what kind of effect this drop in business will have on Chinese businesses.

One of my favorite dim sum choices is the egg tart. It seems simple enough, but the crust is really the key and so many places get it wrong. Some places also have terrible egg inside. It’s delicate, but delicious. Chuan Lu does it right. My only regret was not saving it for the end so I could savor the flavor in mouth for a little longer.

Salt and Pepper Squid. This is one of my favorite dishes. It was one of the only reasons I frequented Yummy House before they were closed numerous times for health code violations and slid in quality. This one was crispy and I especially enjoyed the peppers and onions. It reminded me of a breakfast hash without the potato. Not bad for a breakfast at all.

Sesame balls with red bean inside. I love red bean. It has to have just the right mix though because the flavor can be a little overwhelming for those not accustomed to regularly eating. These balls were just right for me. It was a satisfying dish that I would order again and again.

A look inside the sesame ball with red bean.

This is a must any time I grab dim sum. Shrimp and Pork Shumai. The dumplings with a mix of the two inside is savory and satisfied my craving for some meat without being just pork or beef. I personally can’t eat too much meat early on in the day.

These shrimp dumplings were probably the only disappointing part of my meal. I’ve had it before at Chuan Lu and it was much better in the past, but this time it had an aftertaste to it, probably something to do with the batter they were mixing since the other shrimp dishes were fine. It’s still one of my favorite dim sum choices so I would probably order it again in the future.

Steamed egg custard bun. This dish was tasty and a good end to our meal. It hit all the right flavors and was a nice sweeter ending to the meal. I don’t order as many buns normally because I get extremely full when I eat them.

So there you have it. Everything was mostly great and we enjoyed all this food and tea for around $30 total which is quite affordable. Dim sum in Orlando is great at many places and I hope everyone will consider supporting Chinese restaurants during this time.

Chuan Lu Garden. 1101 E. Colonial Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (407) 868-8709.

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Reviews

Lee House Chinese Restaurant

Lee House Chinese Restaurant has re-opened on Brandon Boulevard after closing off Bloomingdale Avenue in March. I first read about Lee House online and was intrigued at the positive reception. The first thing we noticed upon pulling up to the restaurant was that it smelled great outside the restaurant (a good sign). Once we entered we were seated immediately and given menus and water. The waitress was an older woman who knew the menu well. After much deliberation (the menu is a few pages), we decided to order the Lee House Special (similar to Yummy House’s 3 for 20 deal). We selected Salt & Pepper Calamari, Beef with Broccoli, and Young Chow Fried Rice which came to $21.95 total. Quite a deal when you dine with some friends.

Plenty of warm food came out quickly. The Salt & Pepper Calamari was delicious. My favorite calamari dish now belongs to Roy’s, but this calamari was still quite delectable and was a good stand-in for the calamari at Yummy House (my favorite until recently). The calamari was a little chewy instead of crunchy, but had lots of flavor. I was a little concerned that it had jalapenos on it (I can’t take spicy food), but the jalapenos brought the calamari a great taste. We finished this plate down to the last bite.

The Beef with Broccoli was also fantastic. The sauce was made just right and the beef was tender. I am not much of a vegetable consumer, but my friend loved the veggies on the plate. The Young Chow Fried Rice was a nice complement and wasn’t dry. I am not much of a rice eater, therefore anytime I actually enjoy eating rice, I know I am having a good meal.

The food was enough to fill three guys and I was impressed with Lee House. There are very few good Chinese restaurants in Brandon and dining at Lee House was enjoyable. I really want to try their Dim Sum in the future. From the Dim Sum menu the Deep Fried Taro, Custard Cream Buns, and Juicy Pork Bun caught my eye. Glad this place was able to find a new home in Brandon. I will be back!

Lee House Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Lee House Chinese Restaurant

Cuisine: Chinese

Neighborhood: Brandon

Address: 909 W. Brandon Blvd., Brandon, FL 33511

Phone Number: (813) 661-6888

Website: http://leehousedimsum.com/

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Restaurant News

Update: New Restaurants Opening in Tampa Bay in 2011

This photo from Cappy’s Facebook page makes my stomach growl with hunger!

Cappys Pizzeria: Cappy’s Pizzeria is opening it’s 4th location in the Winthrop Plaza where Cuenelli’s used to stand by Green Iguana. The new location is set to open in January 2011. Cappy’s Pizzeria has been around since 1995 when it first opened in Hyde Park. A partner was quoted in the St. Petersburg Times stating “Cappy’s is known for a simple menu of quality pizza, calzones and salads. The new location won’t stray from that successful formula”. Source: http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/retail/cappys-pizzeria-to-open-fourth-location-this-one-in-riverview/1140165

http://www.cappyspizzaonline.com/ http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cappys-Pizza/175562309134957

Ryuu Japanese Steakhouse: This new Japanese restaurant in the Westfield Brandon Mall will feature Teppanyaki grills and a sushi bar. Owner Robert Smith has been quoted in the St. Petersburg Times stating “You can watch the show if you want, but there’s also booth sitting if you want a more intimate experience.” The restaurant opens on New Years Day: January 1, 2011 at 11am. Quite a way to ring in the new year! Source: http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/retail/article1129234.ece

459 Brandon Town Center Brandon, FL 33511 http://www.tsunamijapanesesteakhouse.com/

The original Yummy House located on Waters Ave.

Yummy House: One of Tampa’s best choices (and many say the best choice) for Chinese food is opening a new location in Mid-April 2011 in Seminole Heights near I-275. The new location will be able to accommodate up to 200 diners in 5,500 square feet of space and serve seafood and traditional Cantonese dim sum. Hopefully this will make eating at Yummy House a little easier and allow the restaurant to deal with its wildly popular demand (an estimated 400 diners a day visit Yummy House!). Source: http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/retail/owner-of-sherrys-yesterdaze-opening-new-shop-in-seminole-heights/1137591

2620 E Hillsborough Ave. Tampa, FL 33610

It looks like 2011 will be a great year for dining out!