HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >

Discussion

Cantoon Garden long review (w/ pics) - one of the best of Manhattan chinatown

  • l
  • Lau Jan 20, 2009 06:58 PM
  • 211
  • Share

I've been meaning to try Cantoon Garden for a long time, well to be fair I think that I tried it once when I first moved to NY, but I don't think that really counts b/c i don't really remember it. It came recommended to me from a friend who's from HK / Vancouver (i.e. she's a foodie and knows what cantonese food should taste like) and who's family eats here when come to visit relatives in NY. So, I finally got around to it saturday night with my gf and i, which is not the optimal amount of people for a cantonese family style seafood restaurant, but screw it the LES is so close to ctown that I'm going to just try everything now.

Cantoon Garden is pretty non-descript in front, its on Elizabeth close to Jing Fong. It's got a run down yellowish onning with the name in red and a bunch of fish tanks in front and looks sort of beat up and dirty (just what I like). When you walk in its deceptively large with very high ceilings, bright white lights, mirrors on the side and white walls with the specials listed in chinese on different color sheets of paper. It's all large tables with lazy susans and there are no table clothes rather there are plastic sheets stacked on top of each other (when one table it done they simply take off the plastic sheet and there is another below it).

It's a total madhouse full of chinese families (probably 90% cantonese, 9% other chinese, 1% non-chinese), I talked to the hostess (if you can call her that), it was literally the first time i've ever had to wait in ctown, I literally waited 30-40 minutes, but all that said, I knew the minute I walked in and really knew once there was a big wait that this had to be good b/c there is no way chinese people (especially cantonese people) are going to wait in some crowded ass place for 30-40 minutes unless it's good. Plus this is a straight up family place, reminding me of the places I went to when I was a kid (literally its the whole family, grandparents, parents, kids, other relatives).The hostess must also be the owner b/c she was walking around, chatting up with customers and generally seeming to be having a good time. You'll notice her b/c she's got kind of crazy hair and was wearing very casual clothes (she had fur lined boots and a vest on) while the other waiters had the typical black slacks and white button up shirts. She kept track of the customers on a note pad with a crude numbering system. She was pretty nice and kept talking to me in cantonese even though I probably only understood about 1/3 of what she was saying.

So anyhow, I got sat upstairs where there is a small room with two big tables (filled with a birthday party) and one small 4 seater where my gf and I sat. I was so hungry at that point I probably would've eaten just about anything.

So here's what we got:
- sauteed ginger and scallion lobster (jiang cong chao long xia): CG is known for its lobster and crab, I believe its a better time to get lobster (crab is out of season), so we got lobster. They have a selection of 6 different types of preparations (unfortunately for most, they are all in chinese, but i'm sure the waiters can translate for you or I can translate if you plan to go here). I ordered the ginger and scallion version although it wasn't exactly what I was looking for b/c the version I wanted has garlic in it and this didn't. The lobster is sliced into pieces and sauteed in oil with ginger and scallions. The lobster is easy to eat and is very nice and tender. The sauce was good, but didn't have as much flavor as the preparation I was looking for (probably going to go back this weekend and try the XO sauce version). That said the lobster was very good. Also this was a pretty good deal btw at $25 for 2 lobsters.
- salt baked squid (jiao yen huo chao xian you): definitely best salt baked squid I've had in NY (admittedly I haven't eaten this at my favorite cantonese restaurant Imperial Palace) and the best dish of the night. The batter was perfect and fresh, not too heavy or salty (although salty enough), the sliced peppers and fried garlic were delicious and most important the squid was still tender (this is the only place I've had in NY where it's still tender even NY Noodletown's heralded salt baked squid is somewhat chewy). Highly recommend.
- crabmeat w/ pea leaves (xie rou pa dou miao): this was excellent, it's basically sauteed dou miao (if you don't know what it is think something like spinach, but better) covered in a sauce made of egg whites and crab meat. I really like this dish as it's not too heavy or salty. Its not a flavor bomb if thats what you're looking for, but has a great subtle flavor. This version was as good as the version I get at Imperial Palace.

I was very pleasantly surprised at the quality of the dishes I had at Cantoon Garden, they don't use MSG (at least in the dishes I had), but a friend of mine told me they don't use it in any of their dishes, the prices were reasonable and the quality of the seafood was excellent. There are alot of other dishes that other diners had on their plates that looked delicious....whole fish, bo zai fan (the real deal in the clay pot...its a baked clay pot rice w/ various toppings served with a very dark soy sauce if you've never had it, delicious), fish soups, jing du pai gu (peking pork chops), whole garlic fried chicken, salted fish fried rice, casseroles etc.

This is the type of cantonese restaurant I've been looking for in Manhattan and I plan on being a regular here.

It won't post my pics (probably too big), so check them out on yelp (I'm R.L. on yelp):
http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/ll52jf...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. There's a second floor? I didn't know that. Great report! My wife found it when it was called New Pearl River after a hard morning of buying fake purses on Canal St. She asked around and was directed there. We ended up eating there three or four times in three days. Not as good as SGV but we were happy enough.

    1. Thanks lau! It's been a long time since I've been to CG so I will have to get back.

      1. Thanks for the update; I like this place too.

        My favorite dish here - and probably one of the two or three most memorable I've ever eaten in Manhattan's Chinatown - was the two different kinds of eggs w/ pea shoots. It was a little saltier and more overtly flavorful than how you describe your clam and egg dish. The two eggs - one being the of the thousand year variety - cascade down a tower of pea shoots, the sauces and flavors converging at the bottom of the plate. I also had a great winter melon soup here, as well as a better-than-average whole fish dish.

        Granted, my visits have been few, far-between, and not too recent. Judging from your post, CG has maintained its' high standards.
        P.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Polecat

          We'll have to try the pea shoots with double egg and crab meat again based both on comments on this board and the frequency that other diners get that dish. When we tried that dish it was terrible--runny and bland, not at all salty like you describe. Perhaps the busboy was working the kitchen that day.

          1. re: Chandavkl

            yeah you should try it

            btw remember the crabmeat dou miao is a fairly mild dish flavor wise, i've been with some people who were expecting some really flavorful dish

        2. "...clam and egg dish..."

          Sorry for the misprint. I meant the crabmeat with eggwhite dish.
          P.

          1. Thanks for your report. When they start to be in season, the salt baked soft-shelled crab is very good as well.

            The dou miao with crab looks wonderful -- I've never had it but must try it soon. And I think your description of dou miao is very fitting -- kind of like spinach but better -- MUCH BETTER! Next to ong choy, I think it's my favorite green vegetable.

            1. lau, thanks for that report. the pics are so appetizing. next time i'm in nyc, i am definitely going here!! wowee!

              1. thanks, Lau...great review...NY Noodletown has always been my favorite salt-baked squid in Chinatown, but i shall definitely try CG soon...

                11 Replies
                1. re: Simon

                  I definitely think that the salt-baked squid at Cantoon is better than Noodletown, though the latter has better salt baked soft shelled crabs

                  1. re: kobetobiko

                    heya...i'll chime in on my recent visit to Cantoon.

                    i liked it, but perhaps i was expecting too much...(after falling in love with Amazing 66 after learning of it here, i think i was hoping to be similarly wowed)...

                    -- Lobster w/ XO sauce...yummy and a good deal...

                    -- salt-baked squid...eeeh, i'm sorry to admit that i was underwhelmed...i agree that it was tender, but i found it doughier (lots of flour) than i remember NY Noodletown being...could have been an off-night, but it was a bit too bready/mushy for me...

                    -- winter melon soup...decent...

                    What really intrigued me was a soup i saw some Chinese customers eating at other tables: it was dense, vegetal swamp of a soup, full of long stringy tendrils and roots...i asked the waiter and he said: "House Soup. Vegetable"......Lau and/or Kobe, have you tried it?

                    Service was super-nice...

                    While i obviously haven't explored the menu in depth yet, my first impression was that it's a place i'd mainly go back to specifically when i'm craving lobster (or crab in season)...

                    1. re: Simon

                      well its somewhat apples to oranges b/c CG is definitely more of a seafood specialist as opposed to Amazing 66

                      glad you liked the lobster, try the garlic crab w/ ho fun next time (although waiting til in season will likely make it much better).

                      Weird that it was too batter-y, must've been an off night b/c i haven't had that problem although i did notice that the saltiness of the batter can vary a bit (i've been there like 3-4 times since this original post, they know me know).

                      haven't tried the winter melon soup, but meaning to

                      not sure which soup that is although i might know if i saw a picture of it...i've got a copy of the menu at home, let me take a look at it and maybe i know what it is

                      1. re: Simon

                        HI Simon,

                        It's hard to know what soup it was. What color was it and was it thick like thickened with cornstarch or thick with a lot of vegetables and ingredients?

                        Usually in Cantonese restaurants the house soup changes everyday and is not posted on the menu or the wall. People just ask what soup they have today and order if they like.

                        1. re: kobetobiko

                          hi...it didn't look cornstarchy...more like it was just dense from all the vegetables that had cooked down...the color was brown w/ a faint greenish hue...like muddy water from a swamp or jungle river...or maybe like the jungle curry at a Thai place...i want it...

                          1. re: Simon

                            I am guessing that it might be a watercress soup with pork and dried date or dried and fresh cabbage with pork. Of course, no way to verify it now unless there were other hounds who ate there and ordered the soup....

                            1. re: kobetobiko

                              cool...well, in any case, you've clued me in to asking about the house soup of the day in Cantonese places...i plan to start asking every time...

                              1. re: Simon

                                yeah i looked at the menu and they don't list their soups and i know they listed them at the menu they give there, but as kobetobiko said there is alot of stuff that isn't on the menu....so difficult to say what it was without seeing it

                                1. re: Lau

                                  They normally give you soup at the beginning of the meal - it's a good strong broth (pork and chicken I presume) with scraps of meat and some kind of reconstituted dried cabbage. Sometimes there are a few peanuts or black-eyed peas or red dates in it. It's quite delicious even though it looks a bit unprepossessing.

                                  1. re: buttertart

                                    maybe it's the red dates that gave it that deep swampy look that i found so enticing...

                                    1. re: Simon

                                      I confess I did not find the look of it too thrilling at first but it tastes great.

                  2. I have to try this place. Thanks for the detailed review! Do you have a sense of how much of the menu is in English? I love the photos. I suppose some of them were from another visit. In addition to the things you mentioned, that Chicken & Chinese Sausage w. Rice in Casserole looks very good! How was it?

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Pan

                      Here's a link to an online menu. Hopefully Lau will weigh in on how current it is:

                      http://www.menupix.com/menudirectory/...

                      1. re: small h

                        small h - this is pretty current, i think its slightly dated, but just slightly all the main dishes on here

                        Under "Seafood":
                        #10 - is the lobster (and as you can see the preparations are below in chinese)
                        #29 - is the salt baked squid
                        - the crabmeat w/ pea leaves isn't on here, but on the new menu its right above the crabmeat w/ spinach

                        Pan - In terms of the menu, the entire menu is in english for the most part...the specials on the wall are not and i couldn't read alot of them anyhow. I haven't tried their chicken & chicken sausage w/ rice in a casserole (bo zai fan), but I absolutely love bo zai fan and it was the real deal there, i saw a guy scrapping out the crusty rice at the bottom, i definitely plan on trying it next time (my go to spot in fact the only spot i go to for this dish is Yummy Noodle House b/c it was the only place i've seen make it correctly except it looks like CG does make it correctly as well)

                        1. re: small h

                          Thanks. That menu is very extensive and interesting. Lau, I find the salt-baked items too salty in recent years at Noodletown. How salty are they at Cantoon? Also, what is Hak Bain (#9 under "Steamed")?

                          1. re: Pan

                            u know id have to try them back to back to gauge which one is saltier b/c i haven't been to NY noodletown in a few months. That said, I'm very critical of places that oversalt their food (I find its a sign of poor cooking skill) and I didn't have any issue with the saltiness of the dish, so I thought it was fine.

                            1. re: Lau

                              i almost went to CG today to try the salt-baked squid, but lately, i find that if i'm within a ten block radius of Amazing 66, i find it almost impossible not to head directly there for the oyster casserole...and today, with the cold weather, there was no way i could resist that bubbling pot of oysters and ginger ...i'm addicted...

                              but i'll try to be strong next time and go to CG...

                      2. I like this place a lot too. The only downside is that their rice is usually really wet.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Peter Cuce

                          my ancestors are rolling in their graves over this, but i try not to eat too much rice now b/c i end up getting too full to fast

                        2. We love this place as well and go at least once a month for late lunch on Saturday or Sunday, have never had to wait more than a few minutes. Standard order: 2 lobster special steamed woth garlic (tons of garlic, tastes fantastic), crispy skin chicken (sometimes with sauce - soy-based - and sometimes not), mixed vegetables with lotus root slices - mad for lotus root...and beef (or sometimes roast portk) fried rice. The only place we eat fried rice out. The waiters are very nice as well, the one we usually get especially so (tallish, slim, in his 50s I would expect). Comes with a thin brothy soup which doesn't look like much but tastes great. Costs around $60 for this plus 4 Tsingtaos, and provides fodder for my husband - the Chinese food for breakfast fanatic - for several days. When they closed for renovations a few months we were distraught - but it seems the only effect of the reno was to make the surfaces even more reflective of noise. The very definition of a "renao" restaurant - hot and noisy, in the best possible way.

                          1. very interesting stuff, their salt baked squid looks great, i too have only had ny noodletown's. ive never tried the garden but i want to soon.

                            1. Hi Lau,

                              Great report! Next time you can try the steamed lobsters with garlic, and ask them to add E-Fu noodle to the bottom of the steamed lobsters. The best part of the dish is the noodle. It absorbs all the juice of the lobster and I usually go straight to noodle beofre I even bother with the lobster meat!

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: kobetobiko

                                yeah i saw that, but i got the sauteed lobster, but they've got both the crab and lobster where they put the noodles below it (i like that dish as well)

                                1. re: kobetobiko

                                  I've had the steamed lobsters w/ garlic over the e fu noodles there and it's just ok. But then again I prefer steamed crab/lobster over sticky rice as the rice soaks up all the flavor/juices whereas the noodles just sit in the liquid without completely absorbing it .

                                  1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                                    SRI,

                                    If you like the steamed crab with sticky rice, Amazing 66 has a great version. They also do it with lobsters.

                                    1. re: kobetobiko

                                      love the sticky rice

                                      you should hit imperial palace their version is excellent

                                      1. re: Lau

                                        Where's Imperial Palace?

                                        1. re: Pan

                                          Flushing. IP is my favorite chinese restaurant in NY, excellent cantonese seafood (reasonably well documented on CH). Tastes the way cantonese food should taste (fresh ingredients, not too salty / gloppy / oily, no MSG)

                                          Here are some posts (including my own):
                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/543625
                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/331182

                                          Yelp link has a map:
                                          http://www.yelp.com/biz/imperial-pala...

                                        2. re: Lau

                                          I had it at imperial palace a couple of weeks ago. It was good but I think I prefer the one I had 6 chatham a while ago more.

                                  2. What is Ji Looa beef? (#6 under the beef section) I like the ring of it.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: RedVelvet

                                      im actually not sure either, i was wondering the same thing

                                      i took the menu to a friend of mine who can speak / read chinese at a very fluent level (way way better than me) and she wasn't sure what it was either

                                      although i bet its one of those dishes i just don't know the name of and ive probably eaten if i saw the dish...ive eaten most cantonese food at some point or another with family or friends

                                      1. re: Lau

                                        I've had it, although my memory's a bit shaky at this point. All I remember is that it's chunks of beef with pineapple. I liked it a lot.

                                        1. re: Peter Cuce

                                          Ji Looa beef is indeed beef with pineapple, but the key ingredient in this dish is ginger. Cantoon Garden's version of the dish with chicken was fabulous. I say "was" because the last few times we went by there, they only had a similar dish without the ginger, which is much less tasty, though still pretty good. Without the ginger the dish with the pineapple and reddish orange sauce visually resembles sweet and sour, but even without the ginger it definitely is something different.

                                          1. re: Chandavkl

                                            Chandavkl is right about the ginger. It is actually pickled young ginger, not the regular ginger, which is similar to the ginger used in serving sushi.

                                            1. re: kobetobiko

                                              Sounds interesting, thank you all.

                                              1. re: RedVelvet

                                                To those that have been to both, how the Cantton's salt baked squid stack up to Chanoodle's (my current favorite)

                                    2. so i went back today for dinner with a more proper number of people (8), we made a reservation this time, so we didn't have to wait long although it was still a total madhouse, we had to switch tables actually, but aside from that the service was fine.

                                      So we obviously got alot more dishes:
                                      - crabmeat w/ pea leaves (xie rou pa dou miao): same high quality, very good
                                      - salt baked squid (jiao yen huo chao xian you): just as good as last time
                                      - sauteed lobster in XO sauce (XO jiang chao long xia): excellent, better than last time. the sauce is more flavorful, slightly spicy, has garlic and the lobster was excellent again
                                      - garlic crab with ho fun: this was excellent, everyone loved it. A big steamed crab over ho fun (noodles) with alot of garlic, the noodles were delicious drowning in a bath of crab juices and garlic. Very good
                                      - garlic fried chicken: this was good, not as good as Canton Garden or Amazing 66, but good nonetheless. Juicy chicken, great crispy skin and lots of garlic.
                                      - salted fish fried rice: this was very good, not as good as the version at Canton Garden, but again pretty close. Only difference was that its a little wetter than CG's, if it was slightly drier it would've been perfect.
                                      - peking pork chops (jing du pai gu): this was good, not as good as Imperial Palace's version, but pretty close. The pork chop itself was delicious, very tender, the only thing was the sauce was slightly sweeter than i prefer although i'd definitely order it again

                                      Overall, everyone loved the place, the quality of the restaurant was excellent again and my meal was probably even better this time. I'm starting to think that along with Amazing 66, this is the best cantonese food in manhattan.

                                      I also get a huge kick out of the manager (owner?), she's all over the place shouting at waiters, bs'ing with customers, she speaks to me in cantonese like i can understand it even though i was like uhhh i don't really speak cantonese haha (i literally only understand bits and pieces of it)

                                      10 Replies
                                      1. re: Lau

                                        Sounds good. I used to go to Cantoon Garden often but not lately due to my numerous cold episodes and busy traveling schedule. I am glad to hear that the quality of their food is still good. The manager/owner is quite a character. She definitely overpractices her "leadership skills" but maybe that's how they could manage not to slip in their quality. (I think she speaks Mandarin too so if you can't speak Cantonese you can speak back to her in Mandarin and she will reciprocate.)

                                        Based on my previous experience, when I visited in smaller groups, I noticed the crab dishes sometimes had fewer pieces than other restaurants. For some reason the plate always looked a little less full than at other restaurantsl but since the food was good and the price was good, I had no complaint. But in the back of my mind, I was always wondering whether they split, say, 4 crabs into 5 dishes, and "recycle" some of the shells (I found no green stuff, which I always consume when ordering crabs, in some of the crab shells I got the few times I ordered crabs there which lead me to suspect the shells were 'recycled' but I was never in their kitchen to confirm that. Besides, the price was good I just put up with it.)

                                        You have mentioned "Canton Garden" a few times in the above comment when doing comparisons (ex. Garlic Chicken was "not as good as Canton Garden or Amazing 66"). Is that a new Cantonese restaurant in Chinatown? If so, can you let us know where it is, I might give it a try just to see how it compares with Cantoon Garden.

                                        Thanks and Happy Chinese New Year!

                                        1. re: bearmi

                                          we tried that and she still spoke to me in cantonese haha, but she's nice and i got the gest of what she wanted, so it was fine....all the other waiters either speak to me in mandarin or english (i think the remembered me) so its just her

                                          sorry i actually meant Canton Gourmet in Flushing...i just realized that I messed up the name for some reason.

                                          If you do decide to go there, they have excellent garlic crab and garlic chicken, they're both listed as house specialties and you can't miss them on the menu plus every table will have one or both (btw they preparations are almost exactly the same); I like this place for cantonese food along with Imperial Palace

                                          here's my report on it:
                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/454983

                                          1. re: bearmi

                                            here's the yelp report on canton gourmet btw:
                                            http://www.yelp.com/biz/canton-gourme...

                                            i agree with you on the price...all in it was $25 / person, which was a steal considering how much seafood we got. I could see how you could say that about the crab as well, but i thought the dish was great and still a good deal

                                            1. re: Lau

                                              Thanks for the clarification! I will have to check out Canton Gourmet next time...

                                          2. re: Lau

                                            I really want to thank all the hounds who recommended this place. I went yesterday with my girlfriend. For a place that started out by putting me off somewhat because the teacup had a residual lemon cleanser aroma and I had to have my chopsticks replaced, due to a couple of bits of vegetable on them, I could hardly have been more pleased. We ordered Fried Tofu with Assorted Seafood in Casserole, a special, and Pea Shoots with Double Egg. The casserole was excellent, superior to the equivalent dish at Congee Village. The pea shoots were accompanied by century egg and egg drop over chopped meat (probably pork), making for an interesting and again, very tasty and satisfying dish. I really liked my meal, and the portions were absolutely humongous (while the prices were inexpensive: $38 and change before tip), so I took home most of it. And I haven't finished it yet; most of the pea shoots are still in my refrigerator. It's unlikely I would have wandered into the restaurant without your recommendations, because its exterior is so unprepossessing and you really can't judge the food's quality from the menu. So thank you very much for introducing me to a very good restaurant, where I figure to return many times.

                                            1. re: Pan

                                              very glad you enjoy, ive been eating here alot, its quite good

                                              1. re: Lau

                                                Best Cantonese meal I've had probably since at least last winter, when I got really excellent takeout from World Tong in Bensonhurst.

                                            2. re: Lau

                                              Hi. Going to CG tonight and the garlic crab with ho fun sounds great. But, I did not see it on the menu linked to this forum. Is that a newer item not on the linked menu or something ordered off the menu? Thanks.

                                              1. re: jdf

                                                its on the menu, the menu that is linked on this is old

                                                1. re: Lau

                                                  Great. Thank you, Lau. Looking forward to my meal there.

                                            3. Lau:
                                              RE: crabmeat w/ pea leaves (xie rou pa dou miao)

                                              Doesn't look like real crab in the pics....looks like that surimi stuff.
                                              Also the dishes don't look that big?

                                              24 Replies
                                              1. re: monku

                                                no it is real crab meat, the actual chinese translation is crab meat claw pea shoot, the meat is all claw meat hence the red-ish appearance, Also, i guess the picture is deceiving the dishes are big

                                                1. re: Lau

                                                  OK....just looked like that fake crab sliced up. Also the spoon in the Pork Chop w/ Salted Black Pepper looked as big as the plate.

                                                  1. re: monku

                                                    trust me you'll be fine with the portions

                                                    1. re: Lau

                                                      Question for you if you will.
                                                      So, you like this Cantoon Garden well enough it seems.
                                                      But could I ask you more specifically what percentage of your favorite Imperial Palace is it? 90% as good, more, less?
                                                      I am always skeptical of anything in the genre in Manhattan but I do trust your say so. Thanks.

                                                      1. re: dietndesire

                                                        well its not as good as imperial palace, which is my favorite chinese restaurant in nyc, although its a slightly different sort of restaurant

                                                        what i like about imperial palace is that they get the nuances of cantonese food right and to me the subtle flavors and fresh ingredients of good cantonese food are what make it my favorite type of chinese food. For example, the braised fish and fried tofu casserole at IP is just right in almost every respect, the sauce is not too starchy or salty and complements the fish and tofu perfectly such that it doesn't overpower either and you can taste it, the fish is good quality so you can taste good clean fish meat and the tofu is fried just enough that you get the great fried texture of the skin, but you haven't killed it and made it into a sponge either. The crab rice is another example where if i compared amazing 66's i'd say this is pretty good, but IP's is better. Long winded way of saying the execution is excellent.

                                                        I rarely judge things on a relative basis (i.e. i dont care if its "good for manhattan" if its still not good). To answer your question, CG is good i'd say its 85% as good as IP. When I say that its a different type of restaurant, I mean that the dishes a little less refined than the really good dishes at IP. I stir fried lobster in XO sauce or salt baked squid does not have the same subtle qualities as some of the dishes at IP, but they are very flavorful and I think the restaurant is definitely worth trying (assuming you don't live in flushing). Also, I generally think the chinese food in manhattan (85% of it) is pretty forgettable

                                                        1. re: Lau

                                                          Thanks.
                                                          Y, I can tell you have a good sense about you in terms of your standards, tastes, writing, etc. I won't mention how rare that is on the boards.
                                                          The "good for Manhattan" or "good for...." bit is totally irrelevant.
                                                          You cannot imagine how on board I am with that your thought process on that subject and the frustrations of sifting through the prose of the dark side on the boards.

                                                          Honestly, I NEVER eat Chinese anymore(I think your 85% is low) but might put Imperial P on the list for a try sometime. Start out with what is best, see what that is about and go from there. Though this try might or might not occur for quite some time.

                                                          1. re: dietndesire

                                                            thanks for the compliment

                                                            also remember that the dishes you order are key at these restaurants (if you need recs feel free to ask me as i eat at IP somewhat frequently and ive been eating at CG pretty frequently), it sounds like you know chinese food (so u should be good to go), but i can't tell you how many times ive told someone go to X restaurant and order XYZ dishes and the order something totally different that is way off base from the specialty of the restaurant and they come away disappointed (i.e. ordering soup dumplings at a cantonese restaurant etc).

                                                            1. re: Lau

                                                              Your review and follow-up posts are significant contributions to this board.
                                                              Thanks.
                                                              We plan to make our first visit this evening and understand that they serve you soup with each meal. Question: we're not meat eaters...is there any way to be sure the soup contains seafood and veggies and NO meat at all (pork, chicken, etc.)?

                                                              1. re: famdoc

                                                                so you only eat seafood? u can ask them, the waiters generally speak decent english...i dont think it would be a problem at all unlike most ctown restaurants most of the food is seafood based

                                                                1. re: Lau

                                                                  famdoc and Lau,

                                                                  There does exist a possible problem though...... if the wok cooking line has a chicken based stock pot in use for their general cooking preparations..... . Remember to ask first. I cannot speak specifically for Cantoon Garden...but most Chinese kitchens do use chicken for their stock pots and is the base for most soups and menu items if they do not specifically cater to Vegetarians.....Even soups including something along the likes of a House Seafood Special or Seafood Wonton Soup. The ingredients may contain seafood items like lobster, shrimp or scallops, but the broth will be made with chicken and not from fish stock.....

                                                                  1. re: fourunder

                                                                    that is a good point actually

                                                                2. re: famdoc

                                                                  The free soup is definitely meat-based. I don't know about soups from the menu never having ordered any. As Lau says, there is no problem in communicating with the waiters, just ask.

                                                                  1. re: famdoc

                                                                    They don't serve soup with every meal. I didn't get soup with the two dishes I ordered when I went there. How many people are you going with?

                                                                    1. re: Pan

                                                                      Thanks, Lau. We enjoyed our first meal at Cantoon Garden this evening.
                                                                      Salt-baked squid, braised tofu with vegetables, lobster with ginger and scallions and crab with pea leaves. Along with one Tsingtao, the check was $65 for three people. Waiters were very helpful, most spoke enough English to answer our questions. Food arrived quickly, very fresh. Each of the dishes were exactly as you described it. No soup dilemma, since no soup was brought. We arrived around 6:30, but by 7 there was a small line at the door. The three of us agreed that this one's a keeper and voted for the salt baked squid as our favorite dish of the meal. We asked for a single lobster, since there were only three of us and we had ordered enough food. They charged only $15.

                                                                      1. re: famdoc

                                                                        glad you enjoyed, its good

                                                                        try the lobster in XO sauce next time, i think its better

                                                                        1. re: Lau

                                                                          I asked for the lobster in XO sauce and my server said it wasn't available.
                                                                          He said that the ginger and scallion preparation was "Chinese-style"
                                                                          Next time, I'll ask fro the XO sauce.

                                                                          1. re: famdoc

                                                                            they recommend that, but i like the xo sauce version better

                                                                      2. re: Pan

                                                                        Last time I was there, it was just myself and another friend and we got free soup. I think they might have run out of soup that day... or maybe your party was not Chinese/Asian (or your party didn't have any Chinese/Asian in it) so they decided to skip it because they assumed that you won't like it.

                                                                        1. re: bearmi

                                                                          Yeh, the house soup tends to be very "very homey Cantonese" type and not really something that western diners enjoy.

                                                                          Or perhaps they don't want to have to explain what goes into the soup in English :P

                                                                          1. re: bearmi

                                                                            They think non-Chinese people won't like the soup? I can't imagine why. But really, we had so much food, I don't mind. I'll ask for the soup next time, though.

                                                                            1. re: Pan

                                                                              i think there are alot of chinese restaurants that tend to do that, i mean i obviously dont have that problem, but ive seen it happen alot b/c i think their logic is that americans (effectively anyone who doesnt look chinese / asian) wants american style chinese food and will be disappointed with more authentic chinese food. while i know most people on this board definitely do not fall in that camp, ive got plenty of friends who definitely get intimidated by authentic chinese food or are so used to american chinese that its effectively not "chinese" food for them although their is nothing wrong with that (taste is very subjective at the end of the day)

                                                                              1. re: Lau

                                                                                Wouldn't you think, though, if someone ordered pea shoots with century egg that they weren't chop suey and sweet & sour chicken only types?

                                                                                1. re: Pan

                                                                                  haha i agree, but i think alot of them still just assume unless they know who u are or something

                                                                          2. re: Pan

                                                                            Just my husband. They started giving us soup after we had been going there a couple of times.

                                                        2. hi Lau,

                                                          i was wondering if you've tried the whole fish yet at CG and/or where else you might recommend for whole fish in Chinatown...i've been craving it recently but haven't had it in a while...in the past, i've had decent steamed whole fish at Fuleen and Ping's, but thought perhaps i should try it at CG or at a new place...thanks...

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: Simon

                                                            i havent tried it at CG

                                                            i like whole fish alot, but its fairly rare that i order it for some reason...so i dont want to give u any suggestions since its been a really long time since ive ordered it

                                                            1. re: Lau

                                                              cool...well, perhaps i'll order it next time i'm at CG and i'll report back...

                                                          2. so i tried a couple other dishes tonight:
                                                            - bo zai fan (claypot rice): i got this with a steamed pork and salted fish cake...quite good, the steamed pork and salted fish cake was excellent. I'll give the slight nod to Yummy Noodle House just b/c the rice at the bottom is a little crispier, which I really like, but this version is the real deal and its good
                                                            - fried stuffed tofu: this was good as well, not the best version ive ever had, but good. They use a fairly silky tofu (i.e. its quite soft), its fried very nicely on the outside (very crispy on the outside, but very soft on the side) and there is a fish cake inside. They give you the very dark soy sauce, which goes well with it.

                                                            this is probably the 6th-7th time ive been here and it is extremely consistent...i think i may give this the nod as my favorite restaurant in manhattan ctown

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: Lau

                                                              I'd really like to go to this restaurant more often, but their portions were so colossal when I went. Is there anything they make that's not humongous and good?

                                                              1. re: Pan

                                                                well it is a family style cantonese restaurant so its not very conducive to eating by yourself...you really need at least 3 people and 5-8 would be optimal. you could get a bo zai fan (claypot rice), but thats enough for one person

                                                                1. re: Lau

                                                                  Or overorder, eat the things you want the beauty of hot first - like the lobster - and take the leftovers home for breakfast as my DH loves to do.

                                                              2. re: Lau

                                                                i went there for lunch today...i got the house soup ,and the fried stuffed tofu per your rec...

                                                                house soup was good...it was not the same one i'd seen before, but a lighter colored soup w/ "yellow beans", carrots, and some pork, in a pork&chicken base...healthy and yummy......

                                                                i also liked the fried stuffed tofu, particularly the nice density of the fish cake inside and the dark soy sauce...a big portion (about a dozen large cubes of tofu)...i took half of them to go, and plan to add them to a stirfry or eat with some fish sauce or chili oil...

                                                                i still need to go back and investigate the whole fish situation...

                                                              3. i love this thread, to eat vicariously through all your reports. thanks! ;-).
                                                                i have got this place on my list for my next trip to manhattan.

                                                                1. We went to CG on Saturday for lunch and I was highly impressed. The place is nothing special but the food was excellent. We might not have had the most adventuruous menu but everything what we did order was great. We had hot and sour soup, beef noodle soup (big enough for a meal - the beef was excellent), salt and pepper pork (fried pork ribs that were just SO good), beef fried rice (just OK but it's not a particularly special dish anyway), and the 2 lobsters with ginger and scallion. Everyone enjoyed and we were treated very well by the staff and other diners (we were the only non-asians in the restaurant). For $55, it was a steal considering the amount and quality of the food. Will definitely go back!

                                                                  1. On Tuesday evening, I was part of a party of 16 at Cantoon Garden for dinner. My brother ordered one of the Chinese-language banquet sets for $198, after the waiter explained what the dishes (some of them, it turned out) were, and one or two more fish courses were substituted for frog (which most of the people at the banquet didn't like). A few other dishes were also ordered. Everything was shared around two combined tables, and there were plenty of leftovers that were taken home at the end of the banquet, but we also ate a lot, and the party was happy. I will describe the dishes we had to the best of my ability:

                                                                    Wonderful, soothing, unfishy-tasting Fish Soup, a single small bowl per person to start the meal. The first of several highlights of the meal.

                                                                    Circle-cut large carp slice with sliced onions, braised in a wonderful garlicky sauce, brown in color, that I can't easily describe - this was another one of the highlights.

                                                                    Crispy fried chicken with garlic - called "House Special Chicken" at several other restaurants, this was the best version I've had so far in New York, another highlight.

                                                                    Conch, scallops, and fried tofu stuffed with fish, with Chinese yellow chives, ginger, etc. - this was delicious and the only thing wrong with it was one piece of conch that was just too hard and chewy. Very good dish.

                                                                    Sauteed lobster with ginger and scallions - good rendition, good lobster meat.

                                                                    Very cartilaginous, fatty fish with bok choy - I thought this was the only unsuccessful dish. It was hard to eat, the fish didn't have much meat, and I didn't get the point.

                                                                    Orange flavor beef - best rendition I've had in New York, or at least in ages. Had plenty of whole dried hot peppers, large pieces of tangerine peel, and just tasted great!

                                                                    Glazed walnut prawns - the usual Hong Kong-style dish with the mayonnaise sauce. People who like the dish said it was a very good rendition, but I hate the mayonnaise sauce and didn't try the dish.

                                                                    Ong Choy sauteed with garlic - the usual, classic green-vegetable dish.

                                                                    We also got the same preparation with Gai Lan.

                                                                    Double Mushroom Mustard Greens - I think I liked this more than many other people did. I like mustard greens and mushrooms.

                                                                    Fried Rice - excellent rendition. Lots of non-rice substance that tasted great: Shrimps, ham, pork, eggs.

                                                                    I don't think I'm forgetting anything.

                                                                    Service was good.

                                                                    I would encourage any large group of people to inquire about the Chinese-language banquet sets and consider ordering one of them. Do what my brother did: Ask the waiter to explain what dishes are on the menu for the set.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Pan

                                                                      awesome...i organized a group dinner at Amazing 66 recently (a big success) and was planning CG (where i've enjoyed also) for a second group dinner...thanks for review/suggestion of the banquet set...sounds delicious...

                                                                    2. Went for lunch on Sunday - was excellent as usual, the lobsters were at least 1 1/2 lb size and the lotus root mixed veg dish had nice big fresh asparagus in it. And their crispy skin chicken can't be beat.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                        went last night...not impressed i've had better easily in toronto and vancouver. I'll go back again to give it another chance and with a bigger group-last night it was just the two of us and we tried a few dishes:
                                                                        -crispy fried chicken-a bloodied mess
                                                                        -lotus root with vegetables lacking in seasoning
                                                                        -walnut shrimp, okay so this is not authentic but a little more effort could have been put in place beyond breaded fried shrimp with a cup of regular mayo thrown on top esp for 18.95

                                                                        maybe next time having my chinese ma present will help matters. casserole dishes on the other tables looked yummy though.

                                                                        1. re: deabot

                                                                          We should probably clarify that Cantoon Garden is near the top of the heap for New York Chinatown. Vancouver and the better places in Toronto are in a league of their own, way ahead of what you get in New York, or for that matter, Los Angeles or San Francisco.

                                                                      2. I went for dinner tonight, a very fine experience. We arrived at 7 sharp and got one of the last two spots at a shared table - a line quickly formed and it looked like about a 30 minute wait. We had the snow pea shoots with crab, which were very good, delicately flavored. Note that this dish has a short half life - by the end of the meal it had wilted into mush and didn't look so appetizing anymore (lucky for me, my companion ordered it, so those leftovers were hers). I asked our waitress the difference between seafood casserole with bean curd and seafood casserole with tofu (seems like the same thing to me), and she said the bean curd had a shrimp sauce that she didn't know how to describe. So she brought me a little bowl of the sauce to taste - it had a musty, funky taste that I thought was a pretty overpowering. I ordered it anyway. When the dish arrived, the taste was much more subtle, thankfully. We were brought bowls of the house soup to start; it was a chicken broth with mushrooms and a vegetable that I didn't recognize (not bok choy, not yu choy, some other kind of choy). The service was very friendly and helpful. And I have two pints of leftover casserole. The portions are humongous.

                                                                        1. Finally made it to Cantoon Garden last week. They were out of Ji Looa (I was told that is beef with ginger) so we had sweet and sour pork (http://www.flickr.com/photos/loladear... ), seafood with bean curd in casserole (http://www.flickr.com/photos/loladear...) and mixed vegetables fried rice (http://www.flickr.com/photos/loladear... ).
                                                                          They were all good - but I have to say in all honesty that we weren't wowed. It felt like something was missing although I couldn't say exactly what... Just didn't give me the pleasure I get when eating at NY Noodletown.
                                                                          Also, I'm not the one to care much about service in Chinatown - never been bothered at New Green Bo, for example - but our waiter was... let's say "a bit too bored". Indifferent service is fine with me, but this time I just felt slightly uncomfortable. I couldn't wait to finish my food and leave.
                                                                          We might go back at some point to try other dishes, one never knows.

                                                                          15 Replies
                                                                          1. re: RedVelvet

                                                                            red velvet, your photos are great. that seafood with bean curd in casserole looks so delicious.

                                                                            1. re: RedVelvet

                                                                              hey RedVelvet - sorry you didn't really like it although i'd suggest trying it again and trying some of the dishes i mentioned in my posts above (original and others) given its a chinese restaurant not all of their dishes are going to be great (all chinese restaurants, in NY at least, suffer from the age old problem of having too many dishes on their menu)....ive been going here for a while now and tried a myriad of different dishes and the ones i mentioned above are generally the better ones (i actually haven't tried any of the dishes you had)

                                                                              also just type of food, NY noodletown is a very different type of cantonese restaurant than CG...NYNT is basically a cantonese bbq / congee / noodle soup specialist vs CG which is a cantonese seafood restaurant, so i'm not sure they are really comparable restaurants...NYNT is definitely more comfort food

                                                                              1. re: Lau

                                                                                Lau, I didn't mean to compare them, sorry if it came across that way. Actually we wanted to try CG because it's different. We might go back, there are some dishes from your list that we should try.

                                                                                @alkapal, thank you.

                                                                                1. re: RedVelvet

                                                                                  If you want to get fried rice there again, get the regular fried rice. It's really good and looks a lot more interesting than the vegetable fried rice you got.

                                                                                  1. re: Pan

                                                                                    Thank you for your advice, Pan. I'll definitely keep that in mind.

                                                                                    1. re: RedVelvet

                                                                                      You're welcome. And definitely look at some of the recommendations from Lau and others. My post on April 3 contains some strong recommendations from a banquet I had. I also recommend the Fried Tofu with Assorted Seafood in Casserole, if they have it (it was a special) and Pea Shoots with Double Egg that I posted about on Feb. 10.

                                                                              2. re: RedVelvet

                                                                                I went once too with my hubby I found it to be rather a-okay. Might go back with a group so we can try more of the dishes. My fried chicken was extra bloody, the vegetables were a tad gloopy-if this is the best that new york has to offer for cantonese/seafood then I'm sad I left Toronto!

                                                                                1. re: deabot

                                                                                  I like Cantoon Garden a lot, although I haven't been there for a while. However, I think there are many people here who agree that Toronto has better Cantonese food. You are not the only one!

                                                                                  1. re: bearmi

                                                                                    i think the vast consensus would be that toronto has better cantonese food than NY...i dont think you'll get much push back on that

                                                                                    you should go to Imperial Palace to try the top cantonese seafood in NY (its in flushing)

                                                                                    deabot - you should re-try CG, i've never had remotely "bloody" chicken (i order the fried chicken everytime) and ive never had problems with gloppy sauce

                                                                                    1. re: Lau

                                                                                      Bloody chicken? is that, when you break up a bone, the marrow looks pink with blood? Or, is it the flesh? Never had the latter.

                                                                                      I'd also like to recommend Canton Gourmet for the Cantonese cuisine other than seafood (ie, chicken, hotpot, etc) @Prince St, corner of 38th-- in Flushing again. The wait line can be long, sigh...

                                                                                      1. re: Lau

                                                                                        Yes I will retry it it's close for me but I am also considering a visit to Imperial Palace too when company comes in.

                                                                                        The chicken I had was bloody not just pink, I stand by my assertion. It capped off the dismal service I was already receiving perhaps due to the presence of my non-chinese hubby.

                                                                                        1. re: deabot

                                                                                          yah thats really weird, ive never had those problems and i go there with non-chinese all the time, ive always found them to be pretty nice and i eat there alot...i mean its possible since its usually me ordering i get some sort of preferential treatment and an off night on food is always possible at any restaurant. although friday / saturday night is super hectic is at that place b/c its so crowded

                                                                                          IP is definitely the best in my opinion, here's my post on it: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/543625

                                                                                          highly recommend the crab rice, fried chicken, lamb chops (really good even people who don't like lamb usually like this), sauteed pea shoots in crab and egg white sauce (not on the menu), braised fish and seafood casserole, jing du pai gu....generally all seafood ive had there is quite good

                                                                                          the only thing ive had that i wasn't a big fan of was the salt and pepper squid (too heavy and oily), the steak and peking duck

                                                                                        2. re: Lau

                                                                                          Thx. I walked past Imperial Palace last time I was in Flushing and it looked really good but it was impossible to get in! I will have to try it after the holidays, after the crowd dies down.

                                                                                          1. re: bearmi

                                                                                            yeah on the weekends (fri-sun night) its pretty packed at peak hours (7-8ish) and there is usually a small wait although id avoid it unless you go early (6ish) or later (9ish)...i learned that the hard way on father's day and we had to wait around an hour (it was a total zoo)

                                                                                      2. re: deabot

                                                                                        Cantonese fare in Manhattan's Chinatown is Old World style, Toronto's New World. Pink around the chicken bones is not uncommon but it should not be dripping in blood.

                                                                                    2. had dinner here yesterday, found a new great dish here. The fried stuffed pepper is really good. They ran out of the normal pepper they use, so they told us they were going to use a very spicy pepper. It's a small spicy green pepper stuffed with a fish paste and then fried (but not battered). The fish paste is perfect, tender with a delicious flavor (not even remotely fishy). The pepper is tender and had great flavor. However, the pepper was very spicy...like you'd eat a couple and have to take a break b/c it would get very spicy. Cantonese food is not usually spicy and it was b/c they ran out of the regular peppers that they used these peppers although they tasted great.

                                                                                      Highly recommend trying this dish (normally wouldn't be nearly as spicy)...everyone thought this dish was great

                                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Lau

                                                                                        That does sound good, you're luring us off our beaten path of our standing order!

                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                          its very good, everything was excellent last night

                                                                                          1. re: Lau

                                                                                            What else did you have?

                                                                                            1. re: Pan

                                                                                              i had:
                                                                                              - salt and pepper squid (jiao yen you yu)
                                                                                              - sauteed lobster in xo sauce (xo jiang chao long xia)
                                                                                              - snow pea shoot in crab and egg white sauce (xie rou dou miao)
                                                                                              - half of a garlic fried chicken (suan xiang ji or something like that): they list it as fried chicken on the menu, its served as either a half or whole chicken, looks like a roasted whole chicken, but its actually fried (golden skin not battered, topped with minced garlic)
                                                                                              - the fried peppers

                                                                                              they gave us a free house special soup that was excellent as well. these are the dishes i normally order, there are some other things i get, but we only had 4 people, so even this was over ordering a bit

                                                                                              1. re: Lau

                                                                                                @Lau:

                                                                                                Do they know you by now? Does that result in any preferential treatment?
                                                                                                Is a Chowhound banquet at Cantoon Garden in the cards?

                                                                                                Thanks for turning us on to CG and helping make our ordering so much easier.
                                                                                                Our two visits thusfar have been fabulous!

                                                                                                1. re: famdoc

                                                                                                  yeah they definitely know who i am.

                                                                                                  i've always found the servers to be pretty nice (much nicer than most ctown places), so i dont think i get preferential treatment per se. you'll notice that its always the same staff which is a very good sign and the staff is also very english competent, which i think makes things alot easier for most chound people. i also think that the vast majority of the people who go there are families who probably go there as much as i do

                                                                                                  definitely my favorite restaurant in ctown...reminds me of eating out with my family when i was a kid

                                                                                                  1. re: Lau

                                                                                                    They really are very nice there, in addition to serving great food (we too have the crispy-skin chicken every time and have never seen it undercooked). The waiter who looks to be in his late 40's early 50's - taller and very slim - is a sweetie. We were recognized by our 3rd visit and they have a lot of regulars.

                                                                                                    1. re: Lau

                                                                                                      Lau: I have been re-reading this thread in preparation for dinner with a small group sometime after the holidays. Question: Are there any meat dishes that you might recommend to round out the meal and to please a fish-shunner?

                                                                                                      Would you be interested in being our guest of honor sometime?

                                                                                                      1. re: erica

                                                                                                        umm i'd go for the chicken, it will say like fried chicken, but in chinese it says like fragrant garlic chicken, its very good (looks like a rotisserie chicken, but its actually fried (not battered though) and it minced garlic on it, very tender meat and crispy skin

                                                                                                        you could also go to the jing du pai gu (which i believe will say like peking pork chop or something like that on the menu), its a fried pork chop in a sweet & sour sauce, sounds americanzed but its pretty typical cantonese actually

                                                                                                        other stuff: salt & pepper pork chops, you probably can't go wrong with like a sizzling steak in black bean sauce or something like that

                                                                                                        sure, do you have an email address i can reach you at? i'm actually in asia right now (hk, singapore, taipei ---> the food is so ridiculously good here) and will be LA after that, so won't actually be back in NY for a bit

                                                                                                        1. re: erica

                                                                                                          For whatever it's worth, and though I'm not Lau, I'll tell you that I had possibly the best Orange Flavor Beef ever at Cantoon Garden. I totally agree on the garlic-fried chicken, too.

                                                                                                          1. re: Pan

                                                                                                            These are great tips! Thanks, guys! BTW: I thought the Peking pork chops at Imperial Palace were quite amazing (actually one of my favorite dishes there) and will look forward to trying them at CG. We will not plan this dinner until after the holidays and between now and then I will try to figure out a way to send you my e-mail.

                                                                                                            Lau I will be headed to HK (also Shanghai) in March and I look forward to receiving a full run down from you after you return. Happy eating!

                                                                                          2. I love CG. The crab with garlic over noodles can get messy, but is worth the wrestle. The chicken I could eat once a week, easily. I love that when you're a large party and order enough Tsing Tao beers, they just bring you the whole six-pack. I now know most of the servers, and they're welcoming and recognize me. I try not to look into the face of the crab as they haul it out of the tank towards the gallows!

                                                                                            1. Finally after a year of reading this post we made it to CG for Christmas dinner. We had the following: double lobster with scallion and ginger, lotus root and vegetables, sweet and sour spare ribs, orange flavor beef, scallops in black bean sauce and salt and pepper shrimp. Everything was flavorful, clean tasting, and super fresh. I especially liked the sweet and sour spare ribs, they reminded me of the same dish we would order at Hong Fat many many many years ago. Thanks Lau! p.s. Thanks Pan the orange beef was great. If you get a chance try it Shanghai Cafe there's is also really good. I like the flavor at cg better, but SC's crispiness is just like kfc's extra crispy. If only the 2 could meet!

                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: michele cindy

                                                                                                glad you enjoyed your meal there, its a good place

                                                                                                btw you can always ask them to tailor a dish to how you like it (i.e. ask them to make it extra crispy)

                                                                                                1. re: Lau

                                                                                                  Did you ever eat one of those giant crabs? They looked really good, but I was wondering how much meat would be in one. The orange beef was definitely very crispy, but the one at SC was almost like a lacy tempura crispy. ie the difference between regular kfc vs. the extra crispy version. Looking forward to going back. Thanks again!

                                                                                                  1. re: michele cindy

                                                                                                    the only crab ive ordered there is the steamed garlic crab over ho fun. the crab you're talking about i assume you're talking about ones in the tanks? they are good, but they are more dependent on how they cook it

                                                                                                    i got a 4 lbs alaskan king crab (huge) for the crab rice at imperial palace as a special, it was amazing, but it was also pricey ($150-160) although it was more than enough for our table of 7

                                                                                                2. re: michele cindy

                                                                                                  I'm glad you enjoyed your meal. I like the Orange Flavor dishes at Shanghai Cafe, too, but to me, the style and execution at Cantoon Garden is just about perfect, down to the amount of tangerine peel and hot pepper.

                                                                                                  1. re: Pan

                                                                                                    You are definitely right about that. They gave us a perfect balance of each.

                                                                                                3. Went a few nights back. No two top tables available, but were seated at a communal table in about 5 minutes. We had:
                                                                                                  -sauteed lobster in xo sauce-the sauce was nice and we liked the dish, but the lobster was not particularly sweet or flavorful. We were able to order just one lobster, so it was only $15.
                                                                                                  -salt baked squid-very good. A lot of squid and very tender. I liked it better than Noodletown's version (which has been my favorite), but do agree with another poster who said it was a little on the salty side.
                                                                                                  -Fried oysters-oysters were big and flavorful, but just plainly fried. Tasty, but probably wouldn't order next time
                                                                                                  -bok choy

                                                                                                  All in all, very good. Total cost around $60. Would like to try the fried chicken and clams in black bean sauce next time.

                                                                                                  1. Help me plan a banquet menu here!

                                                                                                    I'm having my birthday party here on Saturday with about 16 people. I was hoping to get one of the Chinese language set menus, but when I asked about them they told me they didn't have them anymore... I'm going to try again but just in case am coming up with my own ideas for a menu.

                                                                                                    Here's what I'm thinking so far:

                                                                                                    Sauteed lobster xo sauce
                                                                                                    Salt baked squid d
                                                                                                    Clams w/ black bean sauce
                                                                                                    Peking style pork chop
                                                                                                    Crispy fried chicken w/ garlic
                                                                                                    Fried stuffed bean curd
                                                                                                    Bok choi w/ minced garlic
                                                                                                    sauteed dou miou
                                                                                                    fried rice
                                                                                                    e fu noodles w/ black mushrooms

                                                                                                    suggestions, thoughts, comments? i've eaten here once before but haven't had a lot of the menu.

                                                                                                    23 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: robertgoulet

                                                                                                      I really like the bass fillets in corn sauce. Not sure I'd get two vegetable dishes, particularly something as pedestrian as bok choy.

                                                                                                      1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                        Thanks -- there are some vegetarians/seafood-phobes coming, which was why i picked a couple vegetable dishes, but if there are better ones I am open to suggestion.

                                                                                                        What's the corn sauce like? I've never heard of this.

                                                                                                        1. re: robertgoulet

                                                                                                          The lotus root with mixed veg (last Sunday it included broccoli, asparagus, you cai stems, onions, celery, snow peas, black mushrooms, red and green peppers, and a small amount of a sweet-sour pickley thing) is very good and unusual.

                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                            I second the lotus root dish. It was really good. It reminded me of the mixed chinese vegetables I used to get at a place yun luck, which was on doyer st. years ago. It's the closest thing to theirs I've seen at any Chinese place in CT.

                                                                                                          2. re: robertgoulet

                                                                                                            Fish fillet with corn sauce is extremely common at Hong Kong style restaurants, though I'm not sure how that happened since it's certainly not a traditional dish. Think Green Giant creamed style corn diluted a bit and egg flower thrown in.

                                                                                                        2. re: robertgoulet

                                                                                                          you've got most of the dishes i like

                                                                                                          i'd think about adding the following:
                                                                                                          - fried stuff peppers: i think this is one of the best dishes here, so i'd highly recommend getting it; its small green peppers stuffed with a fish paste (not remotely fishy tasting at all) and sauteed in a black bean sauce
                                                                                                          - dou miao - i prefer the xie rou dou miao to regular sauteed dou miao, which is dou miao in an egg white and crab claw meat sauce
                                                                                                          - winter melon soup - i like to start my meal off with his
                                                                                                          - crab w/ ho fun: i like this dish, its a whole crab steamed with garlic over ho fun so the crab juice and garlic run into the noodles

                                                                                                          agree with chandavkl, dont need to get two vegetables

                                                                                                          1. re: Lau

                                                                                                            I was hesitant to include the xie rou dou miao just because the picture of the dish linked on yelp at the top of this thread looked just a little bit offputting to a couple of my less adventurous friends. I will definitely add the winter melon soup and the crab w/ ho fun. I didn't see the fried stuffed peppers on the menu I have (but it's the older one that linked online). Your description sounds great, I'll add it in.

                                                                                                            1. re: robertgoulet

                                                                                                              it very mild, i mean you know what dou miao is and then its just egg whites and crab, i think its a pretty mild dish

                                                                                                              1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                Great. Thanks for your suggestions. I'm a big fan of your contributions to the board.

                                                                                                                1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                  Lau, Firstly, thanks for a wealth of insight on a variety of places. So, as you see, I've been converted to C Garden. What would be your choice if you wanted a crab dish without the shell cracking and wrestle of getting the meat out? You alluded to the crab with XO ( or fish) sauce. I've taken many people, we all love the crab over noodles in garlic, but we leave covered in it. I saw the one dish you wrote about in an early review. It was kind of a lobster sauce with some cool looking vegetables, but didn't look like my ideal choice. Is there a crab dish you like where it's out of the shell?

                                                                                                                  1. re: sing me a bar

                                                                                                                    i've only tried the crab with ho fun and the crab sauce dou miao as far as crab goes there. the thing is that most chinese crab dishes are going to be in the shell (in fact in most cuisine its usually left in the shell), so sorry cant be of much help there. Although i'm not sure they have that many other crab dishes other than the typical sauteed crab (which will be the same preparation as the lobster just with crab) and there maybe a casserole

                                                                                                                    you should go for the lobster, its easier to eat and is the closest thing to crab

                                                                                                              2. re: Lau

                                                                                                                It's just my opionion But I dont think the Winter melon soup at Cantoon isn't all that good (a bit bland). In my opion you shoud pick some other simple soup, and save my winter melon soup jones for when someone wants to eat at Yeah Shanghai Deluxe around the corner.

                                                                                                                1. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                                                                  its definitely not the best i've had, but i actually like a nice light soup to start the meal off, i dont like having something too heavy to start the meal off, but thats just me

                                                                                                                  1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                    I never said anything about heavy; one of the things I prize about yeah Shanghai's version (particualry the one with just the melon and the ham) is how light it is. I never said the person shound have soup, just that In my opion Cantoons winter melon was not the finest avaible and they migh want to choose another soup that Cantoon does do exceptionally (I can;t thnk of one off the top of my head by there probably is one) instead.

                                                                                                              3. re: robertgoulet

                                                                                                                I stopped by last night and got a copy of their set menus. In case it's helpful for posterity, here's a photo with translations from a friend:

                                                                                                                8-10 people. Set menu -- Seafood Group Two Styles - $198

                                                                                                                Tofu Pork Bone Broth
                                                                                                                Stir Fry Seasonal Greens w/ Meat
                                                                                                                Golden Bricks & Bay Scallops (???)
                                                                                                                Walnut Shrimp
                                                                                                                Ginger Scallion Lobsters
                                                                                                                Stir Fry Seasonal Greens w/ Frog
                                                                                                                Black Pepper Steak on Sizzling Plate
                                                                                                                Mushrooms and Greens (?)
                                                                                                                Garlic Crispy Skin Chicken (Half)
                                                                                                                YangZhao Fried Rice

                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                1. re: robertgoulet

                                                                                                                  that sounds like a pretty good selection although i dont really like walnute shrimp

                                                                                                                  1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                    I'm not crazy about the mayonnaise sauce myself. Any idea what the Golden Bricks thing is?

                                                                                                                    1. re: robertgoulet

                                                                                                                      not off the top of my head although if i saw it i might know what it is

                                                                                                                      1. re: robertgoulet

                                                                                                                        Just guessing: Fried tofu (fried to a golden color) with crispy skin?

                                                                                                                    2. re: robertgoulet

                                                                                                                      We got Fish and Tofu Soup on the 2nd.

                                                                                                                      I hate frog, so we got Steak with Black Bean Sauce, instead, which was great.

                                                                                                                      I don't like that mayonnaise sauce with the Shrimp with Walnut, either, but others at the banquet did like it.

                                                                                                                    3. re: robertgoulet

                                                                                                                      That's not true; I had a banquet for 17 people on February 2 for my birthday, and we ordered two set menus - one for $198 for the larger table and one for $168 for the smaller table. That was exclusive of tax and we made some substitutions and got some extra dishes, so the total with tax but not including tip was some $406.

                                                                                                                      The banquet was much enjoyed by all, but the fish with bok choy is not much worth getting.

                                                                                                                      Also, one dish I want to get next time is a lamb in a hot wok that the table of Chinese people next to my cousins' table got. It smelled delicious and was redolent of rice wine.

                                                                                                                      In terms of your dishes, the Fried Chicken with Garlic is great! The Fried Stuffed Bean Curd, if it's the dish that comes with scallops, conch, etc., is excellent, and the conch was more tender this time (on the other hand, the Beef with Orange Flavor was not as good - the beef wasn't as crispy). We got Lobster with Ginger and Scallion, which was excellent.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Pan

                                                                                                                        This is pretty much what we ended up doing -- the $198 set menu, plus a bunch of extra dishes. We ended up with 12 people, so could sit at one table and got a TON of food, really bordering on the absurd. Some were better than others, but most of the food was fantastic. It was insane how much food came at the same time -- a little intense, to be honest, but a lot of fun.

                                                                                                                        The soup that started the meal was pretty forgettable. I think it was some kind of pork bone broth and came with a plate of fish, greens and tofu. I don't think any of us got through more than a few slurps of the soup because so much other food came to the table right away.

                                                                                                                        The "Golden Bricks" were indeed fried tofu, stuffed with a bit of fish paste and served with scallops and conch. The crispy fried skins of the tofu were the perfect texture, and the insides were piping hot and very silky. The conch was perfect -- we didn't find any of them to be tough as some previous posters have described. Came with dark soy sauce to spoon on top of it, which added a nice richness to the dish.

                                                                                                                        Ginger Scallion Lobsters were typically delicious, as has been described repeatedly on this thread. I've had both these and the XO sauce preparations now -- both were quite good, I'm not sure I have a preference between either. Does anyone know what the other preparations on the menu are?

                                                                                                                        Walnut Prawns -- the classic HK dish. I think this was probably the biggest hit of the night. I have to admit, I didn't think I would like the mayonnaise sauce, but this was really addictive and got eaten up very quickly. The candied walnuts were a nice addition.

                                                                                                                        Peking Pork Chop -- Breaded and dripping in a thick, sweet, tangy red sauce. We were gnawing at the bones and picking it up with our hands by the end.

                                                                                                                        Sizzling Black Pepper Steak -- Hibachi style, with onions and peppers. Also a big hit.

                                                                                                                        Big Crab with Ho Fun Noodles -- an ENORMOUS crab over flat rice noodles covered in garlic. The crab legs were very fresh and the noodles were were full of garlic crabby goodness.

                                                                                                                        Braised E-Fu Noodles w/ Mushrooms -- a good dish, very simple flavors. Wanted to have long noodles to end the meal and it was good for vegetarians, but not a standout otherwise.

                                                                                                                        Half Crispy Chicken w/ Garlic -- AMAZING, and maybe the biggest hit of the night. Crunchy skin, tender chicken falling off the bone, covered in garlic sauce. Everything about it was delicious and I'd come back just to eat this again.

                                                                                                                        Salt Baked Squid -- as has been repeatedly described on this thread, this dish is delicious. Perfectly crisp, just salty enough. A real winner.

                                                                                                                        Yangzhou Fried Rice -- Pork, shrimp, egg, veggies. It's not a banquet without it, though it wasn't otherwise remarkable. Quite good for what it was.

                                                                                                                        I think there were some other dishes too, but I'm blanking on it. The table was literally so full that for a while we had to wolf things down while the waiter stood there holding a platter and waiting for us to make more room on the table. It was amazing.

                                                                                                                        All this food and an endless parade of Tsingtao beer came to about $370 before tip.

                                                                                                                        Thanks so much for all the great insight about this reastaurant, was really a joy to eat there. The waiters were so nice and accommodating, and actually quite helpful with picking food. It's true that the hostess doesn't really speak any english, but the waiters do, and are happy to help pick things out on the menu. I'll definitely be back, and can't wait to try Imperial Palace out in Flushing too.

                                                                                                                        1. re: robertgoulet

                                                                                                                          glad you enjoyed

                                                                                                                          i have had the golden bricks before, i think i couldn't read the chinese so i just translated the english into chinese, they are pretty good although not the best version ive had of it

                                                                                                                          i dont have the menu in front of me, but the preparations are listed below the dish and only in chinese for some reason, besides the two you mentioned i think there is a malaysian version, salt & pepper, black bean and maybe one or two other preps

                                                                                                                    4. are the lobsters still 2 for 25? sounds unusually cheap

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: FrankieLymon

                                                                                                                        It's around that - has been for a couple of years - lobsters are cheap right now anyway. They are very good.

                                                                                                                      2. On our last visit we ordered the giant crab with scallion and ginger over the e-fu noodles. It was super. My one question... Our noodles arrived cut up rather then long. I've never seen that before. Isn't that unlucky? Coincidentally, I lost my cell phone while leaving the table. I think it was swept up in the plastic table cloth when they were cleaning the table off. Never found it... Other then that everything was delicious. I really like the sweet and sour spare ribs, and salt and pepper shrimp (which are much tastier here then those I've had at Great Noodle).

                                                                                                                        45 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: michele cindy

                                                                                                                          glad you enjoyed...i think they might always cut them up there, not sure why

                                                                                                                          its actually supposed to be over ho fun (he fen), which is a fatter broader rice noodle that goes much better with the crab / garlic, but the last couple times i went they were out of ho fun for some reason

                                                                                                                          1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                            Based on reviews on this board, 9 of us went to the now named "South China Garden" for a b-day dinner sat nite. (wanted to go to imperial palace in flushing, but they didn't have a res and i didn't want to wait for a table.)

                                                                                                                            Food was fresh and well-prepared, but just not wow-inducing. we had:

                                                                                                                            lobsters with ginger and scallions--not bad, but sort of bland. no discernible ginger taste and can't say the lobsters were super-fresh, tho they weren't old either.

                                                                                                                            hot peppers stuffed with fish paste--IMHO the best dish on the table. delicious sauce and fiery hot, which i usually don't get in a cantonese restaurant, even from dishes labeled "hot."

                                                                                                                            peking pork chops--too sweet, but otherwise not bad

                                                                                                                            fried chicken--delicious

                                                                                                                            crabmeat with pea leaves--had high hopes for this dish, but found it just sort of "eh." prefer plain sauteed pea leaves. Also, the pea leaves were overcooked.

                                                                                                                            sauteed chinese broccoli with garlic--a terrible rendition of this dish--too many stems on plate and undercooked so stems were tough.

                                                                                                                            vegetable fried rice (we had one young vegetarian in our group)--this was great. Someone on this board says they always order the fried rice here, and I can see why.

                                                                                                                            salt-baked shrimp--they asked us shell on or shell off and we chose shell on, of course. These were very good, tho not the best i've ever had.

                                                                                                                            I noticed that every other table had the lobster with scallion dish and either the peking pork chops or the fried chicken.

                                                                                                                            I know this place isn't supposed to be wow!, just solid, freshly prepared food, but I kind of wanted it to be a little better than it was. Maybe I just don't like cantonese food, though I love dim sum and loved the food I ate while in Hong Kong.

                                                                                                                            I'll try Imperial Palace and see if that wows me more.

                                                                                                                            1. re: missmasala

                                                                                                                              South China Garden is very good, my favorite Chinese restaurant in NY Chinatown. BUT, it's located in Chinatown. I can't think of any North American city that has both a core Chinatown and a secondary concentration of Chinese elsewhere in the metro area where the Chinatown food doesn't lag, individually and collectively. That's just the way it is.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                                                Is there any Cantonese restaurant in Manhattan outside of Chinatown that you prefer?

                                                                                                                                1. re: Pan

                                                                                                                                  not sure who you are responding to, but if ure talking about in NY. Imperial Palace and Canton Gourmet are both better. I've heard places like tung yi fung are good too, but i haven't tried them

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                                    I was responding to Chandavkl. I know Imperial Palace is in Flushing, not Manhattan, but where are Canton Gourmet and Tung Yi Fung?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Pan

                                                                                                                                      They're both in Flushing. Canton Gourmet is on Prince street between 37th and 38th ave (if you walk down the street past the Church and the Parking lot and stop at the corner with the bench and the wall sculpture of the scholar tree pods, it's more or less next door to the place right across the street from you ) Tung yi fung is another block over on, 37th, a couple doors away from the Flushing branch of Sichuan Gourmet.
                                                                                                                                      Incidentally, if you are confining your search area to bits of Manhattan (which seems to be what Pan was asking) Many people speak quite highly of the Phoenix garden, on 40th and 2nd. I won't try to cliam that ALL thier food is wonderful, partiucalry in those cases where they've tried to add on things that an not really cantonese (like the lo mein, which gives me shivers, and not the good kind. If you do go there and need noodles with your meal take my advice go for the "family" or "home" style mai fun, that at least is passably tasty) but a lot of thier seafood dishes are spoken quite highly of and the "stir fried fresh milk with crab" is something you have to try at least once in your life (though in my opinion is usually better as something you pick up as takeout, stick in the fridge and eat the next day as part of breakfast.)

                                                                                                                                      1. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                                                                                        if you were confining yourself to manhattan CG is much better than phoenix garden, which is good for midtown, but just okay on an absolute basis

                                                                                                                                        fyi, i have never eaten at tung yi fung...im just going off friends recs. i've also heard high pearl in elmhurst is very good (for cantonese)

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                                          I agree that "Cantoon Garden" (that extra "o" typo as it may be is essential from telling this one and the one in flushing apart). I agree it's better in the absolute, but Pan specifcally asked about Cantonese resturaunt that AREN'T in Chinatown. I you meant "Canton Gourmet" (CG could cover either one) I'm a little confused as according to my knowedge there IS no resturaunt in Manhattan called "Canton Gourmet"; the one in Flushing is to my knowledge the only place in NYC to bear that name. There's a "Canton Kitchen" on Hester, is that where you meant?

                                                                                                                                          Oh and as I HAVE eaten at Tung Yi Fung............It's okay though I thing the dim sum at Grand Harmony are better.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                                                                                            canton gourmet is in flushing, cantoon garden (now south china garden) is in manhattan

                                                                                                                                            you ate dinner or dim sum at tung yi fung?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                                              Just dim sum as of yet; I'm not usally in NYC late enough to try dinner. Though now that I think back it was a little late and they were running a bit low on dim sum, so I did supplement with some simple things off the regular menu (ginger scallion beef and Xiamen Mai fun) the beef was good, the noodles were not.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                                                                                              I haven't been to Grand Harmony in some time, but that's by design, because its dim sum has never impressed me. So if Tung Yi Fung's dim sum isn't as good as Grand Harmony's, there's no reason for me to ever go there for dim sum, as if that's the case, there are much better places for dim sum in Flushing.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                                                                                            What's non-Cantonese about lo mein?

                                                                                                                                            To clarify, my question upthread about Cantonese restaurants in Manhattan outside of Chinatown was partly (and seems to have somewhat ended up being) a rhetorical question, demonstrating that Chinatown is actually the best place to get Cantonese food in Manhattan, and therefore, that Manhattan's Chinatown is actually a place where one can get good Chinese food. Sure, Flushing has restaurants that are well worth going to from Manhattan, but it doesn't make me agree with this formulation:

                                                                                                                                            "South China Garden is very good, my favorite Chinese restaurant in NY Chinatown. BUT, it's located in Chinatown."

                                                                                                                                            I don't see "but it's located in Chinatown" as a negative. I'm very happy to have Grand Sichuan St Marks in my neighborhood, and I'm very happy to be about a 15-minute walk from Chinatown. I'm also happy to be about 50 minutes by train from Flushing - not close enough to go every day but close enough to go every few weeks or so for some kind of wonderful food that either doesn't exist in Manhattan or cannot be obtained in equal quality or breadth here. And Elmhurst is closer, for Southeast Asian cuisines.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Pan

                                                                                                                                              "I don't see "but it's located in Chinatown" as a negative."
                                                                                                                                              Thank you. I couldn't agree more.
                                                                                                                                              P.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Pan

                                                                                                                                                Re "lo mein" I was just going by waht I had heard about its regionality, it had always been told "lo mein is North Chinese" they eat wheat noodles and wheat breads up there becuse they can't grow rice. Guess I was misinformed. Change statement to just "The Lo mein there is no good, (Or if you wan't to pare it down to the bare minimum " The Lo Mein there is no good, in my opinion).
                                                                                                                                                As for Grand Harmony, to each his own, Dim sum is after all very subjective (well, all food is subjective, but Dim sum seems particualry prone to divisions. I like Grand harmony, but I have a core of 5-6 dim sum items that I partiucaurly go for and when I go out for Dim sum those are the items I tend to stuff myself on; for all I know the rest of Grand Harmony's offerings might be terrible.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                                                                                                  I didn't say Grand Harmony was terrible, only that I've never found it impressive for dim sum. Rather, I've found it on about the same level as the other big dim sum eating halls in Chinatown - average.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Pan

                                                                                                                                                    For most thing's I'd agree with you; I just happen to find their shrimp and chinese chive cakes and sticky dumplings particualry tasty. It's much the same as the fact That I am on the whole ambivalent about most of Chatham Square's (the one with the big cursive "h" on the sign) dim sum, but have a particular soft spot for thier honey roasted pork buns. Belive me we are on the same page!

                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                    Chatham Square Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                    6 Chatham Sq, New York, NY 10038

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                                                                                                      I'm getting this now.

                                                                                                                                                      I'll say this: A few years ago (has to be at least 5), during a lull in jury duty, they gave us extra time off in the morning, so I had breakfast at Harmony Palace (its name then) just a bit after 9, and at the time, it was peaceful and everything was fresh, so it was a good breakfast. A big part of the problem in the big eating halls is that you usually don't get things freshly made for you.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Pan

                                                                                                                                                        That's true. I do a lot of my dim sum takeout (actually sitting and waiting for the one to two kinds of things I actually want often seems like a waste of time) at GH it may actually be to my advantage I do this since the staff at the DS takeout counter (its next to the right hand door) don't like running after the carts either they tend to fill orders directly from the kitchen so they are as fresh as they can be.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Pan

                                                                                                                                                  Agree agree, we are so lucky to have the panoply of Chinese and other cuisines essentially at our fingertips here in NY. I love going to any of the Chinatowns in NYC because seeing the signage and knowing that a great meal is in the offing makes me feel at home (in my adopted home, anyway).

                                                                                                                                          3. re: Pan

                                                                                                                                            Well, there's Chinatown Brasserie, but that's a once in a lifetime visit since the price differential really isn't worth it to me. Otherwise, it's off to Flushing like Lau suggests.

                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                            Chinatown Brasserie
                                                                                                                                            380 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                                                              I know Chinatown Brasserie is a full-service restaurant, but I think of it as a place for dim sum and cocktails only. And it's been a few years since I went there, for the same reason it's a once in a lifetime visit for you.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                                                                What do you guys think of Phoenix Garden in midtown? That's supposed to be Cantonese, right? I got takeout there a few times and thought the food was good but not great. But I remember one time I got stir-fried rice noodles (Mai-Fun) and they added so much ginger, which is quite uncommon. On top of that, the rice noodles came out really soft and soggy.... I was really grossed out.

                                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                                Phoenix Garden
                                                                                                                                                242 E 40th St, New York, NY 10016

                                                                                                                                                1. re: bearmi

                                                                                                                                                  I made mention of Phoenix a few posts ago the general consesus is it's good for midtown but average if you factor in some of the places in CTWN proper. I like some things about it like the stir fried milk with crab (for takeout, and breakfast the next day) But I agree that a lot of the dishes are dissapointing.
                                                                                                                                                  I'm probably wrong but I think you may have gotten a misorder on the noodles. What you describe doesn't really sound like PG's mai fun, but sounds EXACTLY like thier Lo Mein (if the noodles were also a lot FATTER than what you were used to for Mai fun, that's probably a lead pipe cinch). For reasons best known to itself, Lo mein as PG does it does not have much in common with Lo mein as done by anyone else. First they use really thick very white, very soggy noodles (to me, they look sort of like the kind of noodle that is used when making "Noodles with Peking meat sauce") They appear to use no soy sauce, no sesame oil, and no stock of any sort so the noodles are still dead white when they are serve to you (for mai fun this would be normal but this is Lo Mein we are talking about) the only thing that seems to be on the noodles besides the "add ons" (the veggies and whatever meats are supposed to be there) is oil, and a lot of that. as for the ginger thing, PG does make a Ginger and Scallion lo mein (that all that's added ginger,scallions and a few bean sprouts) if I'm right and they mixed your order up, maybe you got that. Don't get me wrong I love ginger scallion lo mein, it can be truly wonderful done in the Hong Kong style with a pile of thin chewy yellow noodles, a wodge of shredded scallion, ginger and oyster sauce and a bowl or cup of broth to add to your own taste (my favortie redition currently, however is the beef version offered by the Hon Cafe on Mott who, in the tradition of the old Grand Street gourmet does a sort of hybrid using the hong kong type noodles and ingrediants but stir frying it like "regular" lo mein. Incredible!) but if done with standard type lo mein noodles (let alone PG's white worms) it just doesnt work they just cook too soft.

                                                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                                                  Hong Kong
                                                                                                                                                  78 5th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                                                                                                    Ahh.. thanks. I now see your previous post. I am pretty sure it was mai-fun that I ordered because I think the owner/cashier lady is from Taiwan (I speak Mandarin so I could hear all their conversation) and I was hoping that they would give me a Taiwanese style mai-fun. But instead, I got this white stuff with no flavor at all and with tons of ginger and scallions.. ewwwww! Now that you mentioned that their other noodles are like that... I am not surprised... I guess that's just how they make it... Definitely a dish to avoid!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bearmi

                                                                                                                                                      I actually making my guess based on the fact that I knew PG make ginger scallion Lo mein but not mai fun. I have just gone to Menupages as it turns out they do both, so not mistake (unless you ordered another mai fun and they gave you the ginger scallion mushroom beanspout). Incidentally if you ever are stuck going there again and actually NEED noodles (odd as that sounds) try the mai fun home style (what they call thier subgum/ten ingredients etc.) It's not great, but it is edible (marginally) If you happen to be vegetarian please ignore reccomendation.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                                                                                                        Thanks. That lady was always very friendly to me when I visited so I will go there again because it's really close to Grand Central. I am not vegetarian so I can look into the 10 ingredient dish you have recommended... I am just shocked that some of their other dishes were pretty decent but that mai-fun dish was pretty awful.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bearmi

                                                                                                                                                          If you looking for good Chinese around Grand central and just want a quick snack you may wany to give Asia Cultural Society/Heavenly Bamboo Pavillion a try. It's about equidistant with regards to Grand Central (I's on 39th btween madison and 5th so it's a mattle of one more block updown'downtown and 1/2-3/4 blocks less crosstown assuming you don't factor Grand Central itself into the calculation. al lot of the food is, to be honest a little on the oily side, but their west lake soup is in my opionion some of the most flavorful in all of NYC (it may even be better than the versions done by New Green Bo and Yeah!Shanghai Deluxe) puls its got to be some of the cheapest as well (ture its by the pint while most places give you a quart but as that pint is $3 and the average cost of a quart anywhere else is around $8-9 its still works out cheaper

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                                                                                                            This is a Shanghainese place? I haven't been satisfied with the Shanghainese places I've been going to, so I appreciate the tip. Have you had xiaolong bao there?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Pan

                                                                                                                                                              I actually am not sure WHAT region it is, It's menu leads me to something along the lines of Generalist. I compare resturants on a dish by dish basis; that's where the comparisons to Bo and Deluxe came about. Besides the west lake soup, they make an odd sounding item called "old duck soup" which can be quite warming on a cold winter day (I've never asked them, But I think it is possible that the base for that soup is all of the bones and leftover shreds from the dishes of Peking Duck they serve as well as a lot of cabbage.)
                                                                                                                                                              No I haven't had xialongbao there, but that's becuse I am not overly fond of xiaolong bao so I'm not likey to order it myself.

                                                                                                                                                              I agree that a lot of the Shanghaiese places around are not great. There are a few I frequent but mostly they are one dish places (places where I'd order one thing to go and continue on to somewhere else) Evergreen (one block over from Heavenly Bamboo on 37th makes a passable rice cakes with pork and pickeled cabbage. Our Evergreen on 2nd btwn 48th and 49th makes a very nice wintermelon ham soup (which I like much better than the more commonly found wintermelon soup with all of the egg and other odds and ends in it) at least on days when they don't accidentally drop too much black pepper into it (this has only happended once).

                                                                                                                                                              BTW there is a GREAT Shanghaiese place in Flushing, Called New Shanghai Tan (on the menus I think the actual sign has something to do with waves) at 135-20 40th rd (just off prince street) Great Winter melon ham soup, great rice cakes and the staff is really friendly. If you ever go to flushing and find them closed, A taste of Shanghai 39-07 Prince (despite the adress, its actually on 39th on the corner.) also makes a good rice cake, though you may want to steer clear of the soup. (if you are on that block and dont mind doing a little resto hopping the cafe that actually is on that corner makes some of the most excruciatingly delicios bacon wrapped shrimp balls you will ever have in dim sum dom. and Gu Shine (a tiny sichuanese place about 10-15 store fronts along about paralled with where the parking lot ends and the church's cemetary begins) makes a very good tea smoke pork with green garlic.)

                                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                                              Our Evergreen
                                                                                                                                                              913 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10017

                                                                                                                                                              New Shanghai
                                                                                                                                                              63 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                                                                                                                interesting never heard of Heavenly Bamboo or New Shanghai Tan, will have to try

                                                                                                                                                                fyi, gu xiang (gu shine) is a taiwanese restaurant not a sichuan restaurant

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                                                                  Oh, my bad, I'm just used to thinking of anywhere that serves smoked pork with green garlic as sichuan, since for the most part (at least in NYC) only the Sichuan resturaunts do (Though I understand the dish is in fact far more typical of hunanese cuisine than sichuan)

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                                                                                                                    well taiwanese cuisine has a ton of influence from many different regions in china b/c people from all over china fled there when the communists took over....part of the reason i think their food is so good

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                                                                      Plus the Japanese influence from the occupation - it really is a fascinating cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                                                                                                                      Incidentally I tried out Lan Sheng (Midtown on 39thst btwn 5th and 6th ave) at lunch last wed for the first time (though a few of the dish names lead me to believe that the place may have taken in cooks from one of the previos resto's in the area that I have been to). I wasn't enamored of thier scallion pancakes and thier West Lake soup was average at best ( I'd put a snarky comment in here about why a nominally sichuan resto' is serving WL soup (which is Cantonese I think, despite the name) but then Wu Yang Li (all the branches) serve it as well (though based on some of the ones Ive had there, many of them probably shouldn't) so it's not all that abnormal) but thier cured pork and leeks was actually quite good nicely smoky and salty. Given the fact that they are only about 5-10 doors away from Sichuan Gourmet (who also make an excellent smoked pork and leek) this isn't as much of an world shaker as I might usally be for me, but it's always nice to have another place where I can't get a favorite dish and like it.

                                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                                      Lan Sheng
                                                                                                                                                                      60 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                                                                                                                        Lan Sheng is EXTREMELY uneven. Sometimes really great, sometimes oddly bad. I have eaten there for lunch maybe 7 times and it's really a crap shoot.

                                                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                                                        Lan Sheng
                                                                                                                                                                        60 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: prunefeet

                                                                                                                                                                          Guess I was lucky that day, then.
                                                                                                                                                                          BTW returning to Chinatown I feel i must give some props to the "fairly" new (I haven't been in the area for several months, so I don't know how new it actually is) Shanghai Gourmet at 23 Pell. I though the scallion pancakes were a little bland and the rice cake only average, but I tried two of thier soups (the West Lake and the Ham and Salted pork) and both were sublime.

                                                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                                                          Shanghai Gourmet
                                                                                                                                                                          23 Pell St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                                                                                                                    We went to Bamboo Pavilion several times when it first opened (a couple of years ago). At that time they were promoting themselves as Shanghainese (had a card that had the minced pickled green with minced firm doufu that's a typical Shanghainese appetizer on it for example). Their versions of the standards we generally order (mao dou bai ye rou si, tai tiao yu tiao, doumiao, xlb, among others) were good if not spectacular. Then one day we went and it appeared that the place had changed hands and the food was not good at all, so we never went back. It was in the same ballpark as Tang Pavilion as far as price goes so with the other Shanghainese options in the city it just hasn't seemed worth retrying. (I was a bit miffed when it opened because it was on our route of march from the subway to Szechuan Gourmet and I figured I'd never get my Jiangzhe-fixated husband past it to get to sg.)

                                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                                    Tang Pavilion
                                                                                                                                                                    65 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

                                                                                                                                              2. re: missmasala

                                                                                                                                                Incidentally the English name has changed but the Chinese name has not.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                  nothing other than the name has changed, the staff is exactly the same

                                                                                                                                                  - lobster: i know alot of people order the ginger and scallion version but as you said missmasala i find the preparation at CG / SCG to be a bit bland, I much prefer the XO sauce version. If you go again, try the XO sauce version its much better. And it has to do with the way they prepare the ginger / scallion version b/c normally at alot of cantonese restaurants i would order the ginger / scallion version not the XO sauce version
                                                                                                                                                  - sauteed chinese broccoli in garlic: haven't tried the so can't comment on that.
                                                                                                                                                  - salt baked shrimp: I much prefer their salt baked squid to their salt baked shrimp
                                                                                                                                                  - pea shoot with crab meat sauce: I had a feeling and I think i've said this before that some people may not love this dish as its not really bold in flavor in fact its quite mild, i have a soft spot for it b/c i grew up eating it, but i could see how people might be just ok with it

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                                                    had leftover crab with pea leaves for dinner tonight and I have to say, they were much much better today. Maybe I like the dish more after the crab flavor has really sunk in.

                                                                                                                                                    Also had the leftover hot peppers stuffed with fish paste and must reiterate that this dish, while delicious, is one of the hottest restaurant dishes I have ever had. (and I spend a lot of time in Thailand) the heat may vary according the peppers used (time of year, etc) but these were so hot that in order to eat them I had to remove the fish paste stuffing, scrape out the seeds and ribs, and then put them back together. worth it, though!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: missmasala

                                                                                                                                                      the hot pepper dish is very surprisingly hot especially considering cantonese food is not spicy and cantonese people generally don't like their food very spicy, but the dish is really good. also you are correct in that some days its spicier than other days. once i went there and they told me they ran out of the regular peppers and they only had more spicy more ones, they were way spicy although i have say the flavor of them may have actually been better, but you could only eat one every like 5-10 mins

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                                                        those must've been the ones we got!

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: missmasala

                                                                                                                                                          its possible you go those, they are smaller and softer than the regular ones, but the flavor is really really good

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                                                            hmmm, this sounds very very good...i should go there soon and request the spicy peppers!...

                                                                                                                                          4. my revised review on South China Garden (Cantoon Garden): http://www.lauhound.com/2010/11/south...

                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                            South China Garden
                                                                                                                                            22 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                                              Glad to see they're still going strong. I don't love the Beijing Pork Chops, but that's just a matter of personal taste.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Pan

                                                                                                                                                yah people either love or hate them....i love them

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                                                  Eh, I don't hate them, just not one of my favorite things. (Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens... :-)

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                                                    Are they sweet? Haven't had them in ages - or ever, at CG - but any "Peking sauce" stuff I've had has been quite sweet.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                      yah they are sweet, but its a pretty typical cantonese dish, its not an americanized dish even though it sort of looks like one...if you look on people's tables at cantonese family restaurants you will usually see either peking pork chops or salt and pepper pork chops