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Does anyone know about Tien Ju in Fig Garden Village? Is it open yet? I'm looking for good Chinese with some sort of atmosphere. I love Imperial Garden's food, but...

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  1. I was over in FGV a few days ago and it wasn't open yet, but you never know, it could be open by now.

    Have you tried Joy Luck Chinese on Blackstone and Nees? It might be what you are looking for, upscale atmosphere, etc. It seems to get favorable reviews here and several friends have said they enjoyed it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: glazebrookgirl

      Hi GBG, did you peek in to get a feel the type of atmosphere? Went to JLC when they first opened. It is the best for atmosphere in town that I know of AND the food was good too.

      1. re: Gail

        I have walked by it several times (live very close to it) and it always looks upscale and relaxing. The smells coming from it are pretty good as well!

    2. Today's Villager newspaper says that Tien Ju in now open.

      1 Reply
      1. re: PolarBear

        Thanks,saw that too PB. Would like to "talk" to someone who has been there. Am real picky about Chinese food. Loved seeing that a new Thai place is opening in the Palms Place area.

      2. The web site for Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis says that a Tien Ju will be opening there, too.

        1 Reply
        1. re: alanstotle

          Stopped by Wine Styles on my way home from work today at FGV and noticed that Tien Ju was finally opened. Tonight was apparently their first night and they seemed to be verrrry verrrry slow. Didn't have time to check out the menu but I have friends visiting from out of town this weekend so we may have a chance to check out the place, as they are always up for something new.

        2. I stopped in to Tien Ju at lunch last week and ate at the counter. The "counter dining" concept is something I really appreciate since I often eat lunch alone. The woks are right in front of you and it makes a great show. The lunch specials are about $9 and include soup, a drink, and one of several main dishes--I chose the Kung Pao Chicken. Out the door, with tip and tax, it was $12 and a fairly good value--there was too much food for me to finish. I'd say the quality of the food is 7/10. The menu listed the dish as "hot", but to my taste it was quite mild. I noticed the dinner menu didn't have two of my favorites--BBQ Pork or Eggplant. Returned a few days later for dinner with the entire "Traveler" crew and, for the most part, we were disappointed in the food. The Walnut Shrimp seemed to have too much mayo and the green beans were bland. Overall, we miss East-West!

          11 Replies
          1. re: FAT Traveler

            We had a chance to check out Tien Ju on Saturday. And all the spice girls agreed--we were all disappointed. I suppose the first disappointment was that the Villager article mentioned that this was "upscale" Chinese Food. It also mentions bringing a feel of LA to Fresno and having brought in speciality dim sum chefs. So we were very surprised to find a restaurant that didn't feel upscale nor a menu that reflected any type of interesting/dim sum food. What we found was a basic Chinese Restaurant with the usual familiar food, i.e. Kung Pao, Chow Mein, Fried Rice, etc. To begin, we had the chicken potstickers. The waiter suggested these because they "are not frozen and shipped in" but made in house. They were "doughy" at best but tasty inside. Next we ordered the crab rangoon.. Of the three of us eating, two of us liked it but for the life of us could not find the crab ???? All we tasted was cream cheese and the fried won tons. It's served with a generic sweet and sour sauce...not awful just nothing original. We also had the hot and sour soup. After reading the above post, I didn't expect anything too hot or spicy. This soup was quite the opposite. In fact, it was way TOO MUCH spice for one of our spice girls and she had to send it back and exchange it for the egg drop soup. :) We also tried the sauteed shrimp with spinach. The shrimp was good but the spinach was oversalted which left the dish very unbalanced. Here was the bright spot of the meal--we had good service and two really great cocktails. They only serve wine and beer, however, since sake is a rice wine, they do offer cocktails such as the Appletini. Instead of vodka, they use sake. Surprisingly, they were delicious and we would have it again. As for the food and the ambiance, I am afraid we left feeling like it was just a step or two above Panda Express and very much prefer the food at Imperial Garden. For Chinese food, using the freshest ingredients, Imperial Garden is the best place to go!

            1. re: spicegirls

              Spicegirls, thanks for the detailed write-up. Just as I thought, Imperial Garden is the best Chinese in town.

              1. re: spicegirls

                I agree with Gail: very good report. Thanks.

                I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's something about opening two versions of the same restaurant at the same time (the one in Fig Garden Village & the other at Sierra Vista Mall) that somehow communicates impending mediocrity.

                1. re: alanstotle

                  Oh, I didn't know about the SV Mall one. Good point, the attention gets stretched too thinly.

                  1. re: Gail

                    And it suggests (perhaps) a corporate mentality.

                2. re: spicegirls

                  Thanks for the report!! I am very picky when it comes to Chinese food (my grandfather is from China and has cooked spectacular food since I was a wee one) so maybe this isn't the place for me. You can't go wrong with Imperial Garden, wonderful cuisine!!

                  1. re: cocktailqueen77

                    OK, I'd forgotten about IG--I'm currently in Germany, but when I get back to FAT, I'm going to Imperial Garden--I really miss good Chinese in Fresno and East-West was our favorite. Thanks for the reminder about IG.

                    1. re: cocktailqueen77

                      CQ: If you are picky when it comes to Chinese, we say you must stick with Imperial. You are right, you can't go wrong. Never had a bad meal there! We especially love any of their chow fun dishes, the salt baked fried squid, the roast duck, the dim sum pumpkin dessert (Served early on Saturday and Sundays only) , the eggplant dish, etc, etc, etc. The list just goes on and on..

                      1. re: spicegirls

                        Yup, that is why I hardly ever stray away from IG. I haven't been for dim sum in awhile, thanks for the reminder (and the heads up on the pumpkin dessert, that is one item I have never tried!!)

                        1. re: cocktailqueen77

                          I also love Imperial Garden. Really can't go wrong there. They make a broiled fish dish that is to die for. You have to phone in a day in advance to get it and you end up with a whole fish. I haven't ordered it in a while but I think it was about $30 or so. It depends on the size of the fish. I HIGHLY recommend it if you are having meeting a group of people there. Absolutely delicious. BTW, so is their Chinese Chicken Salad but ask for shrimp on it instead of the chicken.

                        2. re: spicegirls

                          SG - We've been to IG's dim sum on both weekend days many many times and have never come across a "pumpkin dessert".. could you describe it? We love their dim sum and chicken salad, but not that impressed with the rest of the menu.. we've yet to find the "perfect" chinese place in Fresno that has it all.... especially great fried rice. Han's on Gettysburg and Fresno used to have the best fried rice and eggrolls in town, but they changed hands and changed recipes.. the place smells of rancid oil now. Ming's on First and Bullard has better rice and used to do perfect wings, but again, they changed the wing recipe.. why can't things just stay the same?

                  2. Don't waste your time, Gail. We just returned from the most blah Chinese food ever at Tien Ju. We had looked forward to patronizing a new business, but we were sadly disappointed. Lettuce wraps were not made with minced chicken as described in the menu and were pretty tasteless. Don't ask them to pan fry any noodles for you; you'll get a nest of deep fat fried, tasteless, brittle noodles. The vegetables were quite mediocre; mostly frozen peas and carrots garnished the wraps. We love black bean sauce, but even that added no taste to our food. We spoke to the manager to inform him of the poor quality of the meal. He comped us the $30 we spent for 3 dishes. We won't be back.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: gibcott

                      I'm glad to hear that you did what I find so difficult. The owner needs to know these things, but if it is that bad, I figure he knows, but perhaps not.

                      Thanks for the review as I haven't been there yet, and now, won't. Well, it's back to Imperial Garden with poor ambiance and great food.

                      1. re: Gail

                        I grew up in Fresno and visit it frequently and agree that Imperial Garden has been serving consistently the best food for sometime now.

                    2. I agree with the crowd, Imperial Garden satisfies, it tries to offer some old country tastes and have you ever seen a more dedicated and efficient staff? I grew up in Asia, and dining at the Garden is like going back home.

                      I dined at Tien Ju FGV three weeks ago, and the food was just average. The staff was attentive and the restaurant may hit its stride yet. The decor was interesting and there are some expensive items inside if you look closely. I should mention the noise level was nerve wracking, what is it with the new places?

                      1. Thought I'd weigh in on Tien Ju finally after being sidetracked by a variety of circumstances. We've been three times in the past month but even so, I usually wait to post on new ventures until they have a chance to work out some of the kinks.

                        First visit six of us waltzed in on Thurs Oct 11, iirc, which according to a couple of other posters was their opening night. We ordered the Chicken Pot Stickers (8) and the Crispy Fried Calamari (10) for apps. The pot stickers were tasty and got thumbs up from Lady PB and a couple others in our party, but the wrapper was too thick and heavy for my taste. The calamari, topped with a mix of jalapeno, onion, and garlic, however received rave reviews, extremely light batter, perfectly crisp, nice tang, and accompanied by a tasty dipping sauce. All agreed this was in the top tier of versions we've had around the state and country.

                        Our fine wine pal had brought a few bottles of nice Pinot for dinner, but I wanted to order a glass of white for myself and another to go with the apps. By this time the owner, Jason, his wine guy, a wait-person, and bus boy were all hovering around. When I asked about whether the Italian Pinot Grigio (8.50) or the Chilean Sauv. Blanc (6.50) would go better, I was pleasantly surprised with the down -sell reco for the latter, which was great, btw.

                        Entrees were the Chow Fun Trio (11), Hawaiian Explosion (14), a stir fry of scallops, prawns, chicken, egg, and peas, Scallops in Black Bean Sauce (20), and Kung Pao Shrimp (14) with the latter being the only one marked spicy on the menu. A couple in our group wanted to order the Orange Chicken (11) but Jason offered to make a special dish for us, which turned out to be a large mounded fried rice thing with a single jumbo prawn on top. This was the only let down, not bad, just wasn't what we were looking for. All the others were hits, I especially liked the scallops, extra large in a great flavored sauce. Likewise, the prawns in each of the dishes were cooked properly.

                        We took my cousin the next week for her birthday. Again started with the pot stickers and calamari. The calamari came later than the pot stickers and was luke warm at best with the batter gummy and soggy (obvioiusly cooked in oil that wasn't up to temperature and had sat around for a while). I sent them back and said not to bother making another batch since we had plenty of food coming. They ended up removing them from the bill but also delivered another batch that were prepared properly.

                        For entrees, we again went with the Scallops in black bean, Kung Pao shrimp, and one of the Lo Mein dishes that my cousin requested, which was just OK, the others were well done and tasty as on our previous visit.

                        Jason also comped us each a taste of the house sake, sorry didn't catch the name but it was quite good with slight fruity and floral notes to it.

                        Our last visit, two weeks ago today, nine of us went in for dinner. Again started with the pot stickers and calamari and a couple orders of soft shell crabs that Jason had just gotten in. They were prepared in the same style as the calamari and were quite good, didn't catch the price.

                        Entrees included the dishes we'd enjoyed before, kung pao shrimp, scallops in black bean, and the chow fun combo. In addition we ordered a vegetable stir fry and the orange chicken. One in our group inquired if they had egg foo yung. Noticing the look of horror on the faces of about half of us, Jason said he would have them make his special egg foo yung, assuring us that it would be like nothing we've encountered before. Our skepticism vanished at first bite, the stacked crispy cakes with scallions covered with a delicious brown sauce were the hit of the evening. Lady PB and I were fortunate to get the left overs and remaining side of sauce to enjoy the next day. Another pleasant surprise was the orange chicken, well prepared with the sauce having a nice tang and not overly sweet like so many versions tend to be. Jason insisted on substituting the giant prawns for the regular ones in the kung pao and chow fun. These were terrific in the kung pao but for some reason I think the smaller work better in the noodle dish.

                        We brought in nine bottles of a variety of nice wines, sharing a couple of glasses with Jason, the chef and the wine steward, and purchased a few glasses of the Root 1 Sauv. Blanc. As in our first visit, there was no corkage fee. Didn't see the total bill but we all put in $50 per couple that covered the tax and left a generous tip.

                        We've spoken with Jason quite a bit on our visits and he's shared some of his plans for expanding the menu as things progress, adding sushi and some Japanese dishes, more regional Chinese and pan-Asian. I asked if he'd considered doing some izakaya style plates but apparently the current kitchen layout won't allow for it. He emphasizes he wants to implement the changes slowly to maintain the quality at each step.

                        Bottom line, I think Tien Ju has the potential to at least match some of the creativity and flavorful dishes that East-West was formerly noted for. I don't see them replacing our beloved Imperial Garden, even by adding dim sum to their repertoire,
                        but so far Jason's willingness to listen to his customers appears to have them on the right path.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: PolarBear

                          Chinn's Garden on the NE corner of cedar/nees is the best Fresno has to offer, cheap, hot and fast, can't beat it, I've tried them all!!!!!

                          1. re: PolarBear

                            Polar Bear... It is with much regret that I say, I went to try Tien Ju today for lunch and found the doors to be closed. The people next door said they officially closed their doors on Sunday evening. Too bad they were not able to stay open.

                            1. re: aboutfood

                              Could it be a misunderstanding and they are just not open on Mondays?

                              1. re: Gail

                                Tien Ju Restaurant will only be closed temporarily due to ownership and legal issues. The sad thing about this is that the owner did not want to consider any suggestions that his employees had to offer. He is very stubborn which made it very difficult to satisfy customers. However, Tien Ju will be open as soon as the legal issues have been solved and I believe that it will be better place to dine after the new management takes over.

                                My complaints with the food goes to the vegetarian egg rolls, they are so bland. All that's in it are carrots, cabbage, and pepper. They should add tofu, and chinese noodles and mushrooms. Another complaint is their hot & sour soup. I went there several times for lunch, the first time the soup was too sour, the second time there was very little ingredients in it and them the third time the consistency was so thick it was like eatting gravy.

                                Overall, Tien Ju's food isn't bad, it just need some improvements. My favorite so far would have to be the Hawaiin Explosion.

                                I would like to them add more authentic chinese dishes to the menu when they re-open. Such as, dishes with duck, char siu (bbq pork), steamed buns, shark fin soup, dim sum, steamed fish, etc. Until then, I will stick with Imperial garden which has the best taro cake!

                                1. re: Gail

                                  I passed by Tien Ju on Sunday evening and the sign on the door indicated that the restaurant was closed by order of Fresno County Public Health, so there may be more going on than just "legal issues".

                              2. re: PolarBear

                                A quick note regarding Tien Ju, hubby and I drove past the other day and there is a new sign up. It now says Tau. No other info as of now...

                              3. For those who have been following the drama at this FGV restaurant, here is a link to Joan Obra's article with some more information on the closing. I can only wish the best of luck to the Chau family in getting this resolved. The restaurant business is difficult enough, and Fresno needs to support new ventures. I'll say it again - there is no going back to the backwater digs about our town.


                                1. Hello: I am new to Fresno and looking for high quality reasonably priced Chinese to continue the kid's lunch tradition here. Buffets not necessary, in fact, sometimes to be avoided. Any suggestions? Already read about Imperial Garden. Thanks-am picking up a lot about the eating opportunities here.

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: stillh20gal

                                    Imperial Garden is your best bet, at least in my book (my grandfather is from China and when he lived with us that would be the only restaurant he would go to, so I know fron his perspective it was the best). Sometimes my SO does take out from Ding Ho - off of Marks and Bullard - it's okay. There is another take out on Palm and Bullard (name?? Rainbow something, I think) that has good teriyaki bowls, and the orange chicken is pretty good as well. I know orange chicken is completely an Americanized dish (and my grandfather would disown me), but they do a good job overall.

                                    1. re: cocktailqueen77

                                      Imperial Garden is definitely LA/SF quality Chinese food, probably the only one in Fresno.

                                    2. re: stillh20gal

                                      I like Helen's Gourmet on Fresno/Alluvial across from Kaiser. The food is good and the staff is very nice.


                                      1. re: RabbiDoom

                                        My wife is quite fond of Helen's and her healthier style of Chinese Chicken Salad. I can put up with the chicken shredded and not fried, and actually like their dressing, but the meat, to my taste, has an excess of something I don't care for, 5 spice mix??? We've always been pleased with the other items we've ordered either in house or for take out.

                                        1. re: PolarBear

                                          The above mention about the restaurant on Bullard/Palm is Flower City. They do have a decent orange chicken...but the place is strictly take out. They have a few tables available for dining but the ambiance is a lot to be desired.

                                          1. re: aboutfood

                                            Agreed, takeout only. There is no reason to dine there. Thanks for he name, temporary loss of memory!! I enjoy the orange chicken because it has a nice balance of sweet, tangy, and crunchy. But, alas, I think that (and the teriyaki bowls) are the only things I have ordered. Call me a creature of habit, but once I find something I like I tend to stick with it (hence my loyalty to Imperial Garden).

                                          2. re: PolarBear

                                            A little over a year later and look who climbed up the list. Here is a link to Obra's article about Helen's Gourmet (second part of the story). I'm going to have to re-check 'em out. I ate there last February and was not impressed, so I've got to see what has changed.


                                        2. re: stillh20gal

                                          Thanks to all-we have the time and interest, having lived in Mpls/St. Paul, North Carolina and Atlanta, the mantra is to ask the interested locals, all the easier on the 'net these days. Will be looking over yall's virtual shoulders, how's that for a metaphor?

                                        3. A very interesting set of opinions here....and I can't help but notice PFC's isn't on any list.

                                          Does anyone know if IG is Northern or Southern cuisine? I'm looking for a good, Northern (read: not bland) restaurant in Fresno/Clovis.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Nuclear Tiger

                                            Hunan at Herndon and Cedar in the Save Mart shopping center.

                                            1. re: Nuclear Tiger

                                              You won't find many (if any) recos for chains such as PFC on this board, they run completely contrary to the nature and purpose of our efforts. Can't say if IG is N or S, just that the dim sum is just about on par with SF or Vancouver BC.

                                              Tien Ju is long gone, funny how much changes in just a year's span. If you're interested in world class Sichuan, go to Hunan and ask for the Chef's menu.

                                              1. re: PolarBear

                                                I appreciate the perspective. My mother was born in northern China, so I grew up eating the real thing. Most of what I find is southern, and not especially good, when not in Seattle, Vancouver or Hong Kong. I'll give Hunan a shot, and IG as well, for comparison.

                                            2. The Sturdy Wench and I visited "Great Wall," a new Chinese resto in Clovis, corner of Herndon and Fowler, next to Pizza Fusion.

                                              The best things I can say about Great Wall are: It's clean, the prices are reasonable, service is friendly and efficient, and it's a great place to take people who don't like Chinese food.

                                              Why that last? Because the food there (at least the six dishes we had on two separate occcasions in the last 30 days) doesn't taste like Chinese food. It tastes like veg or meat that's been oil-fried and dunked in bottled Sysco sauces.

                                              The impression I got was the cooks have no idea what they're doing. The thin pan noodles came out mostly pale and limp except for the parts overcooked to brown crispiness. I wanted to march back into the kitchen, wave the noodles at the cooks and say, "Pick a lane! Either they're crispy like chow mein noodles or they're not!"

                                              I graded only one dish as a C. The other grades were D with one or two Fs.

                                              There's nothing we had that IG or Hunan doesn't do ten times better, and that disappoints me--I wanted to like the place. Great Wall is close to where I live and I always root for a new resto to succeed because the odds are so high against that.

                                              Save your money for Hunan or Imperial Garden. Unless you have someone in your party who doesn't like Chinese food--they'll love Great Wall.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: KenWritez

                                                Thanks for the heads-up, Ken. We love Chinese food and are quite particular about it. However, in full disclosure, I have turned up the collar on my trenchcoat, put on sunglasses and sneaked into Panda Express when I was too lazy to cook.

                                                1. re: Gail

                                                  I sympathize, I have the occasional weak spot for Panda as well (orange chicken, chow mein, firecracker shrimp).