- 1145 N. Alvernon Way, Tucson, AZ, 85712
- Overall User Rating:
- (1 rating)
- Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
With such diverse dinner appetites, it’s strange how bland Americans are when it comes to breakfast. Eating the same foods twice in a row feels like overkill, unless of course it’s pancakes, bagels or bacon. When you’re used to American mornings, even a breakfast burrito is pushing it…
Chinese cuisine offers perfect contrast: If you’ve never been to dim sum, the idea of Chinese breakfast is especially revolting. (Admittedly, many who have been to dim sum feel the same way.) But if you’re adventurous and love trying new foods, the brunch at Gee’s Garden is one of the best and more rewarding places to do it. Their dim sum is offered weekends 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and weekdays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
What we ordered: one pork shiu mai ($2.40), one steamed barbecue pork bun ($2.40), one steamed lotus seed paste bun ($2.40), one sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf ($4.25), one sugar cane-fried shrimp ball ($4.25) and one sweet tofu soup ($2.40), for a total of $18.10.
Concept: There’s no need to be worried about ordering the wrong thing here—just try something else. With dim sum, the servers push around large carts filled with small portions of buns, dumplings, tarts and more. (Carts roll only on the weekends at Gee's. During the week, you order dim sum off the menu.) They’ll come around and show you what they have, and once you choose, they’ll mark it off on a piece of paper. Everyone shares, and if you don’t like something, you’ve only wasted two to four dollars.
Food: There isn’t much competition, but Gee’s Garden is probably the best place in town for dim sum because it has the biggest selection. Not to mention, the place fills up on the weekends, so you can be sure the food is fresh. Just make sure you visit relatively early in the day, because after the people start clearing out, the quality goes downhill. The best time to go is usually between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
On our last visit, the food was exceptional. We actually tried some of the best dumplings I’ve ever consumed. The shiu mai—pork and shrimp balls wrapped in sticky soft wonton skin and then steamed—were extremely moist and plump.
The cha shiu bao, a steamed white bun filled with barbecue pork, was also among the best I’ve had. The bao, or bun, was smaller than usual, giving a nice dough-to-meat ratio.
These two dishes are relatively tame, but if you’re a first-time eater, you might want to try one of the assorted fried shrimp balls (which are almost bland, but are great for newbies). The one we had came skewered on a sugar cane, which didn’t alter the taste, but looked really cool. If they have it, you might also want to try the sticky rice wrapped in a large green lotus leaf. Once you peel it open, a gamey treasure chest of chicken, pork, sausage and mushroom emerges.
The only thing I’d suggest you stay away from are the sweets. The Chinese have a very different palate when it comes to sugar, and it’s reflected in the sweet tofu soup. (No need to explain why it’s gross—the name says it all.)
Bar: They have a full bar.
Bottom line: The food at Gee’s Garden is surprisingly good for Tucson—a town not known for its Asian specialties. And while dim sum can be enjoyed solo, it’s best to go in a group. That way, you’ll save room for the fortune cookie!