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May Garden (Santa Ana)

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I went to May Garden for the first time this weekend, to sample the Taiwanese banquet offering. The chef used to cook at Tsuru, which was a family favorite and the only place I knew in Southern California that did a banquet menu combined fancied up homestyle Taiwanese dishes and more often seen seafood items. It's a great alternative to the Cantonese seafood banquets that can be found almost anywhere in So Cal.

Caveat: we used to eat quite often at Tsuru when Chef Eric worked there, so he remembered my dad. I'm sure we got some special treatment in terms of how much food we received for our price, but he is a wonder in the kitchen and worth much more than he charges. I only wish May Garden had better ambiance. I don't know if he has plans to remodel, but "worse for wear" is the nicest thing I can say about the restaurant. So go with adventurous eaters who don't give a bleep about a restaurant's interior, but remember to call ahead for the banquet menu! Otherwise you'll be ordering kung pao chicken off the "normal" menu.

Standout dishes included deep fried seafood rolls, fresh water cooked mochi, squid rolled around masago and seaweed, Taiwanese sticky rice, and Buddha jumps over the wall.

I did not love every dish we were served, and there were a few things we remembered that weren't served this time around. So I think having someone who knows the cuisine speak with Eric would be the ideal situation, but being curious enough to give him a price point and ask him to whip up a meal from 10 would be a lot of fun for most Chowhounds.

photos: http://www.chezpei.com/2007/10/may-ga...

May Garden
1400 SE Bristol
Santa Ana, CA
714-751-9229

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  1. Pei, it took almost a year to check it out? Remember the post below?
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/354077

    1 Reply
    1. re: russkar

      I'm so ashamed, I hoped no one would bring up that post... :) I know, I've been remiss. But it's so hard to gather enough willing souls, then drive an hour for a meal. We're not true Angelenos in that sense.

      kingkong5, the price can be anywhere from $30 to double that, you just need to call Eric and decide what works for you. Lobster/no lobster, shark's fin/no shark's fin can make a huge price difference without a big taste difference!

    2. Pei, that sounds yummy. I've never been to a Taiwanese banquet, what price point is appropriate for this custom meal? Is 10 the minimum for such a request?

      2 Replies
      1. re: kingkong5

        Chef Eric will accommodate how ever many people you wish to bring. I like to do a large group so we can try several dishes. The cost is always very reasonable. I love the giant Sashimi Platter and the Lobster or Shark Fin Soup.

        1. re: russkar

          Thanks good to know! We had 8, so it definitely does not need to be 10.

      2. Wow so thats the secret of this place.

        I went here last week with a couple of co-workers to indulge the curiosity of one of them. The food was good but the menu didn't seem very authentic (see lots of things like orange chicken and other P.E. regular dishes, I grew up in the SGV). Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the food, but i thought of it more as "Chinese" food then Chinese food.

        Glad to see there are more traditional offerings being served here. Will have to call in advance next time before we drop in.