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Cantoon Garden is now South China Garden (But The Food Is The Same)

Didn't want to give anybody a heart attack. Brand new signs and menus, but everything's the same including the owner and wait staff. Only been going there for six or seven years and this is the third English name incarnation. (I think the Chinese name is unchanged.) Were there others in the past beside New Pearl River?

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  1. interesting, ill be eating there on weds, so ill let you know if everything is the same

    the name in chinese is yue <blank> chun, i forgot the second character....they've had the same staff forever, so should be pretty easy to see if its exactly the same

    19 Replies
    1. re: Lau

      Hi Lau & Chandavkl - any update on whether the quality is still as good post name change? The Chinese name is 粵江春 yue4 jiang1 chun1. I'm planning a Cantonese dinner for a large group of friends (all Hong Kong transplants) and am debating whether we should try Cantoon Garden or if we should stick to our old standby (Congee Village). How would you compare the 2 restaurants? And to throw 1 more restaurant into the mix, is Amazing 66 even worth a try, or is it a tourist place? Thanks in advance for your feedback. To reiterate, everyone is from Hong Kong, so we're not interested in Americanized Chinese food, only the real Cantonese family style dinner. (Lau - I know you're a fan of Imperial Palace in Flushing, but unfortunately this particular dinner I'm planning needs to be in Manhattan).

      1. re: Noodle fanatic

        its exactly the same, the staff, chef everything is the same except the english name

        i think CG is better than congee village which i'm not a huge fan of, check my original post on what dishes i specifically like at CG; i've got a decent line up of dishes that i find are pretty consistent. Amazing 66 is good, not great, hits and misses on dishes. alot of their casseroles are pretty decent, CG is more seafood focused than Amazing 66 fyi. On the whole i like CG the best out of the bigger family style cantonese places

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        Amazing 66
        66 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

        1. re: Lau

          Agreed. This is as good as you're going to get in Manhattan Chinatown.

          1. re: Chandavkl

            Chandavkl - what are your thoughts on Congee Village? Surprised that Lau's not a fan of CV actually, because that's been the go-to place for all my HK friends for years. (Although we only eat there once or twice a year for Chinese New Year's Eve etc.) Will try CG and report back. Lau - will check out your original post for specific dishes. Thanks!

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            Congee Village
            100 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

            1. re: Noodle fanatic

              Only been to Congee Village once and thought it was OK, but nothing special. I'm on a quest to try as many Chinatown restaurants as possible and I just passed the 200 mark, and as a result don't make a return visit to many of them. South China Garden is the biggest exception.

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

              Congee Village
              100 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

              1. re: Chandavkl

                Wow that's an amazing achievement! I'm on a similar quest myself. Have not been wowed by much so far though. We'll have to compare notes. Starting to think that making stuff at home might be the best way to go. I'm starting to learn how to cook Chinese food and soups myself and have been extremely impressed by Bayard Meat Market's selection. The butchers there are very friendly and love to offer cooking tips when I tell them I'm trying to recreate my mom's recipes. My mom bought live lobsters from Bayard a few weeks ago and made the best ginger scallion lobster at home. Although since she doesn't live in NY, and I'm too lazy to do it myself, I'm hoping South China Garden will live up to all the positive reviews!

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

                1. re: Noodle fanatic

                  The problem is that there is no center city Chinatown in North America that has particularly good Chinese food. In New York, the good stuff is in Flushing. In LA it's the San Gabriel Valley, in Vancouver it's Richmond, in Toronto it's Scarborough-Markham-Richmond Hill and in SF it's a bunch of regional nodes. In that regard, South China Garden is the best of the bunch in Manhattan Chinatown, but it wouldn't crack my top 50 Chinese restaurants in the U.S.

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

                  1. re: Chandavkl

                    It is like comparing Apples and Oranges. Chinatowns in America are poorer with less educated immigrants. Wages are well below regional averages. Flushing, the SGV and suburban SF are part of what is now called "ethno-burbs." More diverse enclaves with wealthier, better educated immigrants. And a great majority of Chinese immigrants now here arrived after 1990!

                    1. re: scoopG

                      You're absolutely right, and on top of that the core Chinatowns are where the tourists frequent, which knocks the food down an extra rung.

                  2. re: Noodle fanatic

                    yah i mean to temper your hopes, on an absolute basis its good, but its not like amazing...that said most of the places in ctown are plain bad, i'm actually writing this in HK right now.

                      1. re: buttertart

                        not yet, but it will definitely happen this week...i just got here last night

                        1. re: buttertart

                          Tsam Tseng dude!!! I soooo envy you!!!

            2. re: Noodle fanatic

              congee village on allen street? I never really liked it. or are there the other congee _____ places, I think one on bowery? I do like Amazing 66 but it's the first time I've heard that it might have a tourist rep; that must be the price to pay for being one of the new kids on the block, with a relatively nice room but by no means does it diminish the food or the clientele.

              regardless, stick with whatever Lau says.

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              Amazing 66
              66 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

              1. re: bigjeff

                At one time Mott St. was nothing but tourist places and as such I viewed any Chinese restaurant there with suspicion. That's changed over the last 20 or so years, but still Mott St. in the block between Canal and Bayard has the highest tourist concentration in Chinatown (not counting replica shoppers). As such any restaurant on that block is going to get its share of tourists.

                1. re: Chandavkl

                  oh yeah, I can see that; I'd count Wonton Garden (or even Big Wong, although that place is actually good) in that group but I suppose you can only embrace your location, and hopefully transcend it.

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                  Big Wong
                  67 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                  1. re: bigjeff

                    Even 25 years ago I think Big Wong was a (if not the) major exception to the don't eat on Mott St. rule. And who remembers Chui Yuen on Bowery or Sun Yeung Shing on Bayard back then?

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                    Big Wong
                    67 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                    1. re: Chandavkl

                      The long-gone May Flower Tea Parlor on Mott was also quite good; particularly their noodle soups.

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. Takeout from South China Garden tonight was particularly outstanding, I thought, so I'm reporting on it:

              (1) Crispy Fried Chicken with Garlic - excellent as usual, could be just a tad more cooked, but I'm not complaining.
              (2) Fish Filet (not sure what kind, off-hand) with Preserved Mustard Greens - really delicious and highly recommended! The mustard greens tasted as if they were preserved in a combination including sugar and ginger juice, ergo, a kind of crystallized ginger flavor.
              (3) Yangchow Fried Rice - good as usual.

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

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

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

                34 Replies
                1. re: Lau

                  my gf says the chefs here are old women!

                  1. re: AubWah

                    really? the chefs i've seen are old dudes, but i'm pretty sure the place is run by women

                    1. re: Lau

                      the handsome older gentleman waiter..very nice guy....with a beautiful head of dark hair...my gf and i were talking about how old we thought he was...im thinking early 60's?

                      1. re: Lau

                        The chefs are definitely men, the one I think is in charge reminds me of Jack Lemmon a little.

                    2. re: Lau

                      Must try those stuffed hot peppers. Their salt-baked anything is great, and that chicken...even love it w/o the garlic.

                      1. re: Lau

                        Hi Lau,

                        Great review at your blog.

                        How much is it approx for cab ride from midtown to South China Garden?

                        How clean is the restaurant? People I may go with prefer clean Chinese restaurants. Most restaurants I come across in various Chinatowns are the typically the cleanest. TIA!

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

                        1. re: SpeedyG

                          where in midtown? depends east or west and what time, but generally id say 20 mins?

                          as far as cleanliness, it is actually quite clean although if you're looking for ambiance SCG has very little, typical chinatown, bright white lighting, white walls with chinese special dishes written on them.

                          1. re: Lau

                            Hi Lau,

                            I just registered here so I am not sure if I can send you a PM. We will be staying at Waldorf hotel area.

                            Is there a comparable traditional cantonese rest like South China Garden near Waldorf? How about other Chinese cuisines near Waldorf? It would be great if you can provide 3 or 4 options.

                            You do sound like a Chinese food expert. Thanks a lot!

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

                            1. re: SpeedyG

                              Speedy, no there is not. You really don't have 3 or 4 options. The only chinese worth eating in midtown is from Szechuan Gourmet. You should just take the subway to chinatown, or a cab if you like spending money. Its worth it

                              -----
                              Szechuan Gourmet
                              21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

                              1. re: SpeedyG

                                no there isn't, i mean nothing in manhattan is all that far really. if you're staying at the waldorf, just get in a cab and ull be down there in 15-20 mins

                                you could try the phoenix garden, but SCG is much better
                                http://www.yelp.com/biz/phoenix-garde...

                                other than that you're options are going to be sichuan restaurants, which are much different than SCG, it will be quite spicy and completely different. If you're interested in those then i can tell you where to go?

                                1. re: Lau

                                  Tang Pavilion on 55th betw 5th and 6th is very good if you order Shanghainese specialties - a cuisine I'm very familiar with - which are perfectly executed and very refined. Speak to the very charming owners, they will guide you in the right diection. The naysayers on Tang Pav here seem to have ordered Americanized Chinese dishes (why you would go to a restaurant that says Shanghai-Soochow cuisine on its menu and order that kind of food is beyond me).
                                  Nice quiet atmosphere, white tablecloths, beautiful oxblood ceramics and C.C. Wang paintings along the entryway walk to the main dining room.

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

                                  1. re: buttertart

                                    ive only eaten there once (and it was so long ago that i dont remember it), but i do remember it being reasonably nice

                                    thanks for reminding me buttertart, i want to go there soon

                                    1. re: Lau

                                      It's more than reasonably nice. The owners are from Taipei, talk to them.

                                      1. re: buttertart

                                        what were the best dishes again? i might go there next week

                                        1. re: Lau

                                          I'd be interested to hear buttertart's recs as well. I could not find the Shanghai menu online, and the NY Times review of Tang Pavilion was from 1994 I think.

                                          1. re: Lau

                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6406...
                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6406...

                                            Also the chicken with yellow leeks and the beancurd skin with fresh soybeans, pickled veg, and pork strips.

                                            We've been going there since the NYT review in 1994, at that time Shanghai food was quite thin on the ground in NYC.

                                            Cuisine is a favorite because we've spent considerable time in Jiangsu for professional reasons (historical research).

                                            1. re: buttertart

                                              ok thanks, that's helpful...do they have two menus?

                                              1. re: Lau

                                                as far as shanghai goes i have no reason to ever leave shanghai cafe. their kitchen has shown me the light

                                                1. re: Lau

                                                  to Lau: I have never seen one completely in Chinese, but it may exist. There's a smaller menu they hand out at lunch, ask for the dinner menu if you go then. They used to have a separate menu of the specialties but I think they stopped using it.
                                                  Forgot, but the Xihu Cuyu (West Lake vinegar fish) is also very good there, you can specify a bass - even though should properly be a fresh-water fish, I know you're not fond of them).
                                                  to AubWah: That's nice, we did not find Shanghai Café to be all that special (on one visit, admittedly).

                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                    buttertart - thanks for that. btw its not that i dislike fresh water fish, but i find alot of the fresh water fish used in ctown restaurants has that sort of mineraly / metallic flavor which i dont like. although i would say i generally prefer salt water fish

                                                    aubwah / buttertart - shanghai cafe is good, but not amazing by any means. Also, they are very hit or miss they make some shanghainese dishes pretty mediocre. i've found most of their regular menu to be not so good, however i do think their off the menu / chinese menu dishes are quite good.

                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                      I had that West Lake Vinegar Fish at . . . . West Lake! hella bony. but pretty tasty. (yes, I still haven't done my asia writeups).

                                        2. re: Lau

                                          Yes, Lau,

                                          Please recommend best sichuan restaurants near midtown.

                                          I am Chinese and we go to Chinese restaurants 1or 2 times per week in Richmond, BC Canada. We try to visit other Chinese restaurants whenever we go on vacations. We we werein LA area in April and tried a few restaurants there.

                                          However, it has been ages since we have gone to a Chinese restaurant in older Chinatowns in various cities, main reason being restaurant cleanliness thus I am hesitant in trying out SCG.

                                          Thanks.

                                          1. re: SpeedyG

                                            Tang Pavilion is upscale and very very clean, also near your hotel. I understand the level of Chinese food in Richmond is very high indeed but I really don't think you'll be disappointed if you discuss the menu with the owners.

                                            1. re: buttertart

                                              Thanks buttertart. We will consider TP. How about Grand Sichuan in Chelsea. I hear it's pretty good and mostly frequented by Chinese, which I believe is an important sign. We don't need a real high end rest (moderate to above moderate in pricing) and cleanliness (at least in appearance) is important.

                                              1. re: SpeedyG

                                                i think the grand sichuan in chelsea is pretty bad. btw there will be some chinese patrons, but i actually think its the least frequented by chinese

                                                1. re: Lau

                                                  Don't go to the Chelsea one, Lau's 100% right.

                                            2. re: SpeedyG

                                              ok so for some reason sichuan food has become pretty popular in manhattan, so there are actually quite a few restaurants in midtown

                                              Szechuan Gourmet: generally, the consensus chowhound favorite is Szechuan Gourmet, they have 2 branches. i've only been to the original 39th st branch. the links have a ton of dish recs, pay attention to the dish recs b/c while i like SG, they have some very hit or miss dishes and you need to know what to order, the one dish i will say you must order is the cumin lamb (unless you don't like cumin) by far my favorite dish there.
                                              http://www.yelp.com/biz/szechuan-gour...
                                              http://www.yelp.com/biz/szechuan-gour...
                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/738351
                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/459240
                                              http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/23/din...

                                              Great Sichuan: i know the manager here since i've been going to the restaurants he's been working at for 6-7 yrs, he's a really nice guy (sonny, middle aged gentleman with glasses). I really like this place and i find it to be the most consistent, but there is a caveat 1) specifically talk to him and ask him for dish recs 2) if he's not there (however, he usually is) tell them in chinese that you want authentic sichuan food and to not hold back (see my chowhound link as to why
                                              )http://www.yelp.com/biz/great-sichuan...
                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/723163

                                              Ma Po Tofu: i've only eaten here once, but it was quite good when i went
                                              http://www.yelp.com/biz/mapo-tofu-new...
                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/710598

                                              Wu Liang Ye: I haven't been here in a really long time although it used to be quite good, but its been so long that i can't comment
                                              http://www.yelp.com/biz/wu-liang-ye-n...

                                              Lan Sheng: alot of people rave about it, my visit was awful, but i've only been once
                                              http://www.yelp.com/biz/lan-sheng-sze...
                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/673788

                                              -----
                                              Wu Liang Ye
                                              36 W 48th St, New York, NY 10036

                                              Szechuan Gourmet
                                              21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

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

                                              Great Sichuan
                                              363 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

                                              1. re: SpeedyG

                                                My girlfriend and I had dinner at Szechuan Gourmet on 39th street just a few nights ago. We both found the mapo tofu to be exemplary. We also really enjoyed the crispy cumin lamb as well as the spicy cucumber salad and the General Zhangs smoked beef. This is a quality restaurant.

                                                -----
                                                Szechuan Gourmet
                                                21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

                                                1. re: SpeedyG

                                                  Dont worry about the cleanliness at Cantoon Garden. It is fine

                                                  1. re: AubWah

                                                    Thanks for all the info.

                                                    We will only have 1 opportunity for Chinese dinner in NY. We will consider TP, SCG, and Szechuan Gourmet. For a table for 7, is a reservation required for a Sunday night?

                                                    -----
                                                    Szechuan Gourmet
                                                    21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

                                                    1. re: SpeedyG

                                                      on a sunday night you should be fine. Might want to make a res at SCG or SG just in case

                                                      if you happen to change and go to SCG on a friday or saturday night as there will definitely be a wait anywhere from 30-60 mins as the place is jammed from 7-9 or so, definitely one of the popular restaurants with local families.

                                                      1. re: Lau

                                                        Thanks Lau. What is the seating capacity at SCG?

                                                        1. re: Lau

                                                          What is the rough est for cab fare from Waldorf to SCG? Wondering if it will be better to hire car service that will fit everybody in vehicle rather than take 2 cabs..

                                                          1. re: SpeedyG

                                                            the place is reasonably big, you won't have a problem getting a reservation even if you get it earlier in the day although the day before is always better b/c alot of like families just walk in, but they end up waiting like 30-45 mins

                                                            cab down to chinatown probably costs like $10-15 bucks depending on traffic, but given you're going on a weekend night it'll prob be ard $12. btw i checked google maps and it says it takes 12 mins in a cab. two cabs is easier and cheaper than booking a car and it will be very easy to get a cab from where u are staying