Friday, November 13, 2009

Garden Cafe- Arcadia: A Dinner Visit

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To finally end up the round up of Hong Kong style cafes/Cantonese restaurants, we have Garden Cafe. I saved it for last mainly since I already reviewed it twice (three if you include Tripadvisor), and also I have a video to show you which already one of my friends called it "epic". Bwawawawa.....

Soup

To recap if you did not know already, Garden Cafe serves soups during dinnertime for every guest that orders something. If your server is nice, he or she will give everyone soup regardless if they did not order something. Above you see the two choices- a spicy and heavily tomato flavored minestrone soup (with beef pieces) and the creamy corn and ham soup (no heavy cream taste in this soup- think more of clam chowder like creamy), which is quite similar to Red Ant Cafe's version without the pepper and dried herb. Both are served with saltine crackers which are quite nice to snack on while you wait for your meal.

Wonton and Beef Brisket Noodle Soup

So we ordered three things this visit, and the only item that was a noodle soup was Garden Cafe's beef brisket and wonton noodle soup (5.95 USD) which was quite nice. The bowl was quite large and filled with plenty of thin egg noodles which were bouncy and chewy with a pull to them, bulbous pieces of wonton filled with entire pieces of shrimp and seasoned ground pork, and slowly cooked tender pieces of beef brisket floating in a pool of a light beefy broth.

Teriyaki Salmon and Steak Plate

We also ordered a salmon and steak plate which had a thin seared filet of salmon with teriyaki sauce and a piece of ribeye steak with mushroom sauce for 14 dollars. Nothing special with this plate other than the fact the salmon had a nice crisp to it and the meat was tender and smooth (probably due to the fat content). The ribeye was simple but juicy with a nice bite to it. Definitely not comparable to steakhouses that specialize in meat entrees (example Wood Ranch BBQ and Grill for their steaks), but quite nice for the price. Came with mashed potatoes, rice, and a variety of vegetables (carrot, zucchini) too.

Fat Beef Fried Rice

Really though, I meant to write a post on Garden Cafe only due to the fact we ordered this dish- a Angus Beef Fried Rice (10 USD). Automatically we thought it was a copycat of Green Island, which it was. So of course, I had to get a video of our waiter stirring the fried rice, like I did at Green Island.



So why no audio in the video? Well, we had a conversation with the waiter instead of being completely silent like we did at Tokyo Table. (Conversation in Cantonese but I changed it to English of course...):

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Us: So is this fried rice similar to Green Island's fried rice?
Waiter: Yes, actually! I guarantee you that it will taste WAY better than Green Island's fried rice too. I love it.
Waiter (to me): So you're taking pictures with your camera I see!
Me: Yes... (table laughs at the question)
Waiter: Be sure to take a photo of me! :)
Waiter: You're going to post those photos onto your Facebook for your buddies to see right? (an act of guessing due to my age which would not make me seem as any person who would write a review on ANYTHING other than in-trend stuff)
Me: No, I don't have Facebook... (Thinking in my head...I don't even have any Facebook, Myspace, or Twitter). (again, laughs)
Waiter: Really?
Me: Actually I'm going to post these photos on my blog as a review.
Me: I wrote about you guys already twice you know :).
Waiter: Nods and concentrates carefully on the fried rice, leaves without a comment.
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So I guess I caught the waiter in surprise? However, all the other places where I have taken photos and the waiters actually noticed they assumed I was interested in food and they even asked me beforehand to take a photo if they were going to do anything with it. How nice. And they talked about how people my age usually just chow down on the food and not take any photos at all. Here I was the opposite but was happy to be noticed anyway...

Maybe it was because of my camera? After all, at Gourmet Vegeterian, when I brought the Nikon, they were attentive to our table. They even in fact cared for us first instead of a group of seniors who arrived before us sitting across from us. Weird of course! Those seniors left after trying to flag the waiters multiple times without anyone responding. I apologize if my camera was distracting as I was taking multiple shots of the teapot which looked quite interesting to me!

Anyway, moving back towards the fried rice. My first impression? BLAND. Even worse than Yoshinoya's beef bowl (not that it is bland). The differences between Yoshinoya and Garden would be that:

1. Garden's fried rice was peppery
2. Garden's fried rice had small pieces of onion which had no beefy flavors to them unlike Yoshinoya
3. There was no flavor in the rice (unlike Yoshinoya where the beef liquid gives a pleasant beefy flavor)
4. The beef was clumpy and tasted like what you would find at Green Island- fatty and exceedingly beefy. But clumpiness and weird shapes didn't really help with the fried rice at all.

So overall, this was not a dish to order. I'd rather go to Yoshinoya instead although their serving sizes have decreased significantly this year with their new packaging (I'd say at least 33 percent less for the same price).

In short, our dinner visit was made interesting by the fried rice. But in the end, the fried rice was not worth ordering, and we should have stuck with the rest of their menu items instead which are decent and yummy to the palate.

Garden Cafe-Arcadia
850 S Baldwin Ave
Arcadia, CA 91007
(626) 446-0688

Arcadia Garden Cafe on Urbanspoon


Garden Cafe in Los Angeles

See the Garden Cafe index for previous visits!

2 comments:

Mochachocolata Rita said...

wow! don't u think the cream soup in hk style eateries are like...corn starch soup? heheheh

EatTravelEat said...

Mochachocolata Rita,
Maybe? But the HK news reports back then said restaurants use cream of chicken soup for their cream soups...I'd assume the same?