Very Curious - The Queue in Front of Tasty Garden on Valley?
Valley Boulevard in the San Gabriel Valley is chock-a-blocked with a lot of eateries. The breadth and depth is beyond me. Some have lines of willing and waiting eaters of which Tasty Garden in Alhambra is one. From what I've gathered on little tidbits of posts sprinkled throughout the LA Board, this place seems to be a Hong Kong-style cafe. I hate standing in lines, but am wondering if it's worth it in this case. Any thoughts or recs would be appreciated.
Thank you for the responses and recs. We went today - early - and seating was no problem. After taking 15-20 minutes to just look over and decide over the extensive menu, the restaurant was full (about 11:30AM) and the queue was already forming.
We played our first visit safe and ordered the house pork chop, the green beans in XO sauce, and the Hong Kong-style waffle. We were tempted to order the duck tongues, but we have no clue as to its taste or texture. In the event that we didn't like it, the thought of an unfinished plate of duck tongues wagging at us kept haunting me... :)
The pork chop was perfect. Just the right amount of fat, nice tasty fondant crust on the outside, and moist on the inside. It's a very generous portion that is probably more for two to three people. Very American-ish in presentation with the side of tomatoes, corn along with a cup of dipping sauce. I didn't personally find the sauce necessary - thought the pork chop was perfectly fine by itself. My wife, who is Chinese, was constantly dipping the pork chop in it - this might be cultural. A pork chop by itself may seem incomplete on a plate to many in the Chinese culture. A Chinese diner at the next table was complaining in Cantonese to the waiter about his pork chop: "What is this? You call this a House Pork Chop? Is this it? Is this what I ordered?" The waiter calmly opened the menu to both the text/order number on the menu, as well as the photo and asked, "Is this what you ordered?", and sure enough, the diner affirmed this in a more submissive tone.
The green beans in XO sauce were also perfect in preparation. The skins on the cut long beans were perfectly crinkled and coated with the XO sauce and some sliced chilies were tossed in as well. I could have eaten just this with some rice and that would have been my meal.
The Hong-Kong style waffle was interesting. We noticed a lot of other tables eating this, where multiple diners in the same party were sharing this, pulling off the individual blisters and snacking on this while drinking tea. Like the previous dishes, this was perfectly prepared, baked to the point where the outside was just barely crisp, while the inside was moist and tender. Like poster raytamsgv suggested, we dipped the waffle bits in the condensed milk for a perfect snack.
The service here is quite attentive - no easy task when one considers how busy this place is. Our Hong Kong-style milk teas were always replenished before the cups hit bottom, and the wait staff would regularly drop by to see if all was well. The place itself is pretty cheery as well. I think, given the very pleasant eating experience, it's pretty hard to be sad here. We will be back - maybe just maybe - those duck tongues?
It's one of the better HK cafes around. That particular location is very small and cramped. The Arcadia location is larger. Both get fairly crowded around peak times. The Arcadia location has a waiting place where you can watch a widescreen TV. Sometimes, Chinese programs are on. Other times, it's ESPN.
Other posters have recommended some really good dishes. I also like the beef stew with wide noodles. If you get the HK-style waffles, ask for the condensed milk for dipping.
I've been to Tasty Garden in Alhambra a few times now. With something like 135 menu items...one has a lot of choices. My visits have all been in 80+ degree weather, but many of the items seem perfect for chilly (and wet) nights. I'd recommend it strongly, especially for really late night eats in the area.
In addition to the HK style waffles, there is the peanut butter-coconut "pizza" (quesadilla really, minus the queso). It goes great with a boba milk tea of your choice (they offer refills too).
The walnut shrimp, french style filet mignon, black pepper filet mignon and Hong Kong style waffle are my favorites. Unlike Ipsedixit, I start my meal with the waffle!
Have also had their beef chow fun, chow mein (cantonese style), and string beans with XO sauce--they were all just okay for me, although the XO sauce was delicious.
I have been to the Arcadia location and definitely suggest going to Alhambra.
It's probably one of the better more consistent HK style cafes. You might try the branch in Arcadia, where the lines are not as formidable.
Baked pork chop, the clay pots, chicken feet, duck tongue, and salted fish are all good bets. Make sure to finish off your meal with some Hong Kong style waffles and mochi cream.