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South China Garden (formerly Cantoon Garden) – Still the Best Restaurant in Chinatown

l
Lau Nov 29, 2010 05:53 PM

**For full review and pics**: http://www.lauhound.com/2010/11/south...

I originally wrote about South China Garden (formerly Cantoon Garden) in January 2009 (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/589457) as one of the best restaurants in Chinatown. Since then not too much has changed except for the English name; the Chinese name remains the same 粵江春餐館 (yue jiang chun can guan) which literally means Cantonese river spring restaurant, but really is referring to the Pearl River. The menu, staff, manager and cooks all remain the same. This has led to it also being the most consistent restaurant in Chinatown, which is actually quite a feat seeing how many if not most restaurants in Chinatown seem to suffer from ups and downs in quality as their kitchen staff comes and goes.

I probably come here about once a month maybe more, so I also come here much more frequently than any other restaurant in Chinatown by a long shot. I’ve also slightly changed my order patterns as I’ve found other dishes in the restaurant that are very good. I decided to write this post as an update since things are always changing in Chinatown and this is my re-affirmation that this is my favorite restaurant in Manhattan’s Chinatown.

Here’s my latest meal here as well as my typical order now:
- 黃 龍魚兩食 (Huang Long Yu Liang Shi / Yellow Dragon Fish Cooked Two Ways): the one type of dish I always felt was missing at SCG was a good Cantonese fish dish, which I feel is pretty emblematic of Cantonese cuisine. I’m not a big fan of the type of fresh water fish they used in their qing zheng yu (steamed fish) as it has that sort of fresh water fish taste that I’m not a big fan of (think the fish equivalent of being gamey). This time I asked the waiter what fish is good and he told me to order the 黃 龍魚 (huang long yu). Unfortunately, it is not listed on the menu and only listed on the wall in Chinese (hence I’ve provided the Chinese characters to make things easier for anyone who wants to try this). First comes out the a very light fish soup that boils the fish, tofu, mushrooms, ginger and baby bok choy together and then they separate the soup from the ingredients. The soup is excellent, very light, not fish and goes great with a dash of white pepper. The other ingredients they give you on the side, but they’re not all that tasty since you’ve sapped most of the flavor for the soup. The second preparation is diced pieces of the fish that have been lightly sautéed in a light clear sauce with peas (in the shoot), some other green stalk vegetable which I couldn’t identify and mushrooms. This is a big winner, the fish is much higher quality (not remotely fishy), very tender and just a really good dish. I highly recommend this as it’s one of my favorite dishes on the menu now. 4.5/5
- Lobster in XO Sauce (XO Jiang Chao Long Xia): this has been another staple dish for me and is not only quite good, but a steal for $25 for two lobsters. I’ve tried most of the preparations and I prefer the XO sauce the best as it has good flavor and a slight amount of spice that really make it quite good. The lobster is always tender and the sauce is great. 4/5
- Fried Stuffed Hot Peppers: this is another one of my newer favorite dishes here. It is spicy green peppers stuffed with a fish paste and then sautéed in a black bean sauce. The peppers are really delicious and the fish paste and black bean sauce go really well with the peppers. Surprisingly, the green peppers can be very spicy (it depends sometimes they are spicy, sometimes not) as Cantonese food isn’t usually even remotely spicy. If you don’t like spicy food, I suggest removing the fish paste (it comes out easily) and scrapping out the seeds as the seeds are what is actually hot. 4.25/5
- Salt Baked Squid (Jiao Yen You Yu): along with NY Noodletown, SCG has the best version of this dish in Chinatown (I think NY Noodletown’s breading is better, but SCG has more tender squid). The saltiness of the batter along with how non-greasy it is and the fact that the squid is still tender makes this a solid rendition of this dish. 4/5
- Fried Garlic Chicken (Suan Xiang Cui Pi Ji): for some reason this dish is called “Fried Chicken w. Sauce” on the menu, but it’s actually a fried chicken with minced garlic on it. However, it’s not like American fried chicken as it’s not breaded and it actually looks like rotisserie chicken. The meat is very tender and the skin is perfectly crispy, but not dried out. The garlic compliments it’s really well. I definitely think this is one of their strongest dishes. 4.5/5
- Steamed Big Crab With Ho Fun and Garlic: This is great dish that consists of a large crab that has been steamed over a bed of ho fun (thick rice noodles), garlic and scallions, so that the juices from the crab mix with the garlic and great it’s own sauce that is really good. The star is the noodles rather than the crab although the crab is still good. 4/5
- Peking Pork Chops (Jing Du Pai Gu): this is the Cantonese very of sweet and sour pork chops. The pork chops are fried and coated with a sweet and sour sauce that is not gloppy or weird tasting. It’s a very solid dish although it is sweet in case you don’t like sweet dishes. 4/5
- Stir Fried String Beans with Preserved Vegetables: I very recently started ordering this dish at the request of a friend and it turned out to be another good dish to add to the rotation. It’s the classic stir fried string beans with minced pork, minced pickled vegetables and dried chilis. They do it well here as you can taste that great wok flavor and the minced pork and pickled vegetables really compliment the dish and are not overly salty. 4/5
- Pea Leaves With Crab Sauce (Xie Rou Pa Dou Miao): this is dou miao (pea leaves) sautéed and then covered in a egg white and crab claw meat sauce. Pretty self-explanatory, but very good. 4.25/5

Overall, still my favorite restaurant in Chinatown and definitely the most consistent. Highly recommend.

Address:
22 Elizabeth St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 964-2229

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

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  1. JoanN RE: Lau Dec 10, 2010 04:04 PM

    Okay. Had dinner at South China Garden last night and didn’t even look at the menu. Just ordered the Lau dinner. Fried Chicken in Sauce (how would one have known?), Salt Baked Squid; Lobster in XO sauce (would definitely have ordered it in scallion sauce if I hadn’t had a cheat sheet).

    Can't recall ever having had such gorgeously crisp skin on such moist chicken. And that garlic! They could sell it by the jar.

    Didn’t even know what XO sauce was. Just took your word for it. Now I’m hooked.

    Least enamored with the Salt Baked Squid. Been a while since I had it, but my recollection is that I preferred that dish at NY Noodletown. Not at all bad, but the coating wasn’t as crispy as I was hoping for.

    Three of us ordered three dishes and I took home the leftovers. Enough for two meals. Can’t wait to go back. Next time with a larger group and some who are meat eaters. With very grateful thanks.

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

    10 Replies
    1. re: JoanN
      l
      Lau RE: JoanN Dec 11, 2010 05:54 AM

      glad you enjoyed i actually had dinner with a big group their last night

      i think ny noodletown's batter is better, but the squid is more tender than ny noodletown, but if you ate their last night their squid was a little off, it was good, but normally its a little better...not sure why, everything else was fine

      1. re: JoanN
        k
        kathryn RE: JoanN Dec 11, 2010 07:09 AM

        > clear sauce with peas (in the shoot)

        Looks like snow peas to me?

        XO sauce
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XO_sauce

        I wonder if they make their own....sounds like it.

        Thanks for the post, Lau!

        1. re: kathryn
          scoopG RE: kathryn Dec 11, 2010 07:16 AM

          XO sauce is widely available in jars in the Chinatown supermarkets like Kam Man.

          1. re: scoopG
            k
            kathryn RE: scoopG Dec 11, 2010 07:23 AM

            In my experience, the jarred stuff never tastes "right" to me. It could also be that I'm a bad cook. :)

            1. re: scoopG
              JoanN RE: scoopG Dec 11, 2010 07:41 AM

              Yes, I've always seen it on the shelves but never bothered to look at the ingredients list. And since nearly all of my Chinese cooking is Sichuanese or Hunanese, I hadn't run across it in my cookbooks, either. Even my bilingual Chinese cookbooks, gifts from my Chinese sister-in-law, make no mention of it.

              @ kathryn: Yes, I did look it up after the fact because it was so good. And I liked that it had a bit of heat to it.

              How is the bottled stuff? Doesn't sound as though it would be all that difficult to make at home, though.

              1. re: JoanN
                l
                Lau RE: JoanN Dec 11, 2010 08:52 AM

                XO sauce is very cantonese and particularly very hong kong....it also never really tastes exactly the same restaurant to restaurant, one of my favorite restaurants in HK actually sells it by the jar, but only in their restaurant. I always want to bring it back, but i think the jar is too big for airport security

                http://www.lauhound.com/2010/10/fu-si...

                1. re: Lau
                  d
                  diprey11 RE: Lau Dec 11, 2010 04:15 PM

                  AFAIK, they make their own XO sauce, which is somewhat old-style and hard-core, and is surely meant as a serious compliment.

                  1. re: diprey11
                    l
                    Lau RE: diprey11 Dec 11, 2010 09:32 PM

                    AFAIK?

                    1. re: Lau
                      daffyduck RE: Lau Dec 11, 2010 09:51 PM

                      i googled afaik, i think it means as far as i know

                      1. re: daffyduck
                        d
                        diprey11 RE: daffyduck Dec 12, 2010 07:54 AM

                        yep, As Far As I Know. I am not 100% positive (I never asked) but what I tried there on a number of occasions could only be homemade.

        2. p
          Pan RE: Lau Feb 3, 2011 09:11 AM

          Yesterday, for my birthday, I had a banquet at South China Garden as part of a party of 9. We ordered all the dishes you mentioned above except for Steamed Big Crab With Ho Fun and Garlic and Peking Pork Chops, and they were out of pea leaves, so we had Baby Bok Choy with Crab Sauce. In addition, we also got Tangerine Beef and Yangchow Fried Rice. It was a very good meal. I particularly liked the stuffed peppers, which were popular with the table. Ordering the fish you recommended did improve the Fish Two Ways. Also worthy of mention: I liked the Salt-Baked Squid here better than at New York Noodle Town, because it was less salty. There were saltier spots, but in general, the salt content was kept down to a good level for my taste. Also, the Stir Fried String Beans with Preserved Vegetables were actually long beans, and the preserved vegetables were just part of the overall taste, I guess, and not evident in themselves. The dish was chiefly pork and had a tangy, salty but good flavor.

          One dish that I didn't order that was missed was the sizzling beef chops with onions, and there's also a great circle-cut sea bass with onions, but the number of dishes I ordered was perfect for the number of diners.

          The meal cost $215 including a 20%+ tip.

          9 Replies
          1. re: Pan
            l
            Lau RE: Pan Feb 3, 2011 09:30 AM

            glad you liked it...haven't tried the beef chops or sea bass, ill try it next time

            i was actually around the corner for a pre-CNY dinner at hsin wong last night

            1. re: Lau
              d
              diprey11 RE: Lau Feb 3, 2011 11:33 AM

              >> .haven't tried the beef chops or sea bass, ill try it next time
              Striped bass is local to NY. When you order steamed fish there, what kind of fish do you prefer?

              1. re: diprey11
                l
                Lau RE: diprey11 Feb 3, 2011 11:39 AM

                well i actually think its varies depending on what they have, i forgot what fish they normally use, but im not a huge fan of it b/c it has this fresh water fish taste that i dont like, so now i only order it with the huang long yu (not sure what its called in english) which i think has a much better flavor

                1. re: Lau
                  d
                  diprey11 RE: Lau Feb 3, 2011 12:09 PM

                  Are you referring to the 長江 catfish they occasionally have? :-))))
                  Post-edit: got it, thanks!

              2. re: Lau
                p
                Pan RE: Lau Feb 3, 2011 04:30 PM

                How was it, and what did you have?

                1. re: Pan
                  l
                  Lau RE: Pan Feb 3, 2011 08:41 PM

                  it was good, ill write a review about it very soon

                  1. re: Lau
                    p
                    Pan RE: Lau Feb 3, 2011 08:43 PM

                    I look forward to that.

              3. re: Pan
                r
                Riverman500 RE: Pan Feb 3, 2011 11:32 AM

                I love the salt baked squid at SCG. Happy Birthday, Pan!

                1. re: Riverman500
                  p
                  Pan RE: Riverman500 Feb 3, 2011 04:31 PM

                  Thanks. I think this is the third year in a row that I've had a banquet there for my birthday, so it's starting to become a tradition for me.

              4. b
                brighton312 RE: Lau Feb 3, 2011 11:16 AM

                I had dinner there last week and had the Lobster with XO sauce. I didn't enjoy it as much as I expected to. The garlic in the sauce overpowered the lobster flavor, and the lobster itself was overcooked and not terribly tender. It was certainly edible, but I wouldn't order it again. It was also much messier than I was prepared for!

                4 Replies
                1. re: brighton312
                  l
                  Lau RE: brighton312 Feb 3, 2011 11:23 AM

                  it can vary slightly, its def better sometimes than others...its actually probably the only dish that varies in quality and its prob the least popular among the people i usually go with (i'm basically a regular there)

                  1. re: Lau
                    f
                    Falk RE: Lau Feb 3, 2011 05:27 PM

                    in your estimation will this place be a zoo on sunday? we are heading into town for the parade and it sounds like it might be a great place to go

                    1. re: Falk
                      p
                      Pan RE: Falk Feb 3, 2011 06:16 PM

                      I'd say so, and Lau would probably agree. They do take reservations if you have enough people in your group, though (I don't know what the minimum number would be, but it doesn't hurt to call).

                      1. re: Falk
                        l
                        Lau RE: Falk Feb 3, 2011 08:41 PM

                        you'll be fine if you make a reservation

                  2. m
                    MRich RE: Lau Feb 21, 2011 10:53 AM

                    Had lunch at South China Garden today and really enjoyed it. We made our selections based on these threads so our order will be no surprise.

                    Lobster with XO was fantastic. I imagine that sauce would be good on nearly anything.

                    Fried chicken with garlic sauce was fantastic. Delicious tender chicken, delicious sauce. Not "fried chicken" like the typical US fried chicken.

                    Squid baked in salt. Excellent. Very tender. My young son Zeke says it looked like french fries and he loved it. He wouldn't stop eating it. He wanted to eat it all day long. Along with the lobster this was his favorite.

                    Pork chop with Peking sauce. Too sweet and a little gloopy. Not bad, but I wouldn't order this again.

                    Thanks for the recs!

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

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: MRich
                      s
                      swannee RE: MRich Feb 21, 2011 03:06 PM

                      Most places make their own XO sauce. In Hong Kong one is often charged a special extra price to have it on the side of steamed fish, etc. It varies a lot, kind be quite spicy or not. It always has dried scallops and some kind of preserved meat (like Chinese ham).
                      I had steamed pork patty with salt fish at South China Garden, and it was excellent (almost as good as it used to be at the lamented Nice Restaurant). I don't if it is on the menu.

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

                    2. buttertart RE: Lau Oct 10, 2011 04:26 PM

                      We had our usual for lunch there today and it was every bit as good as it's ever been. I love that restaurant. Walked out and into a Double 10 celebration - the100th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of China is this year - with drumming and very good lion dancers. What a city this is.

                      25 Replies
                      1. re: buttertart
                        l
                        Lau RE: buttertart Oct 10, 2011 04:45 PM

                        i enjoy going here probably the most out of any restaurant in chinatown b/c a) i like family style dining b) its very consistent and c) the waiters are actually nice although they know me pretty well now so i think that always help

                        1. re: Lau
                          buttertart RE: Lau Oct 10, 2011 04:48 PM

                          The waiters are very nice (especially the taller, slim man) - we don't even have to order any more (stuck in a rut, but everything we get is so good, I don't want to change). Great place.

                          1. re: Lau
                            Silverjay RE: Lau Oct 10, 2011 04:49 PM

                            Question for you buddy, because I have an important dinner to plan- gun to your head and you have one choice: South China Garden, Oriental Garden, or NY Noodletown? It's a big family style dinner...

                            1. re: Silverjay
                              l
                              Lau RE: Silverjay Oct 10, 2011 07:37 PM

                              NY noodletown - definitely not NY Noodletown b/c its more a bbq / noodle shop, its not set up well for a family style dinner

                              OG - I haven't eaten at OG for a dinner in a very long time (like so long ago i barely remember the food). I've heard the seafood is the best in ctown, but i havent had a chance to try it yet (its high on my list of things to do). It does have the nicest ambiance of the three places

                              SCG - i dont think you can go wrong here if you get the dishes that i've got in the original post. i personally like the atmosphere as it feels like some old school hong kong place and i always like the servers. btw if you going on thurs-saturday at prime time (7-9) id make a reservation

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

                              Great New York Noodletown
                              28 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

                              Oriental Garden
                              14 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                              1. re: Lau
                                Silverjay RE: Lau Oct 10, 2011 08:21 PM

                                Thanks! Yeah, will definitely reserve.

                                1. re: Silverjay
                                  s
                                  Simon RE: Silverjay Oct 28, 2011 10:57 AM

                                  i went there last weekend...Lobster w/ XO Sauce still wonderful and a great bargain...i also love their house vegetable soup...

                                  my only qualm: i wish they had chili oil, instead the chunkier red chili sauce...but i like the place (and chili oil) so much, i think next time i'll bring some of my own...

                                  1. re: Simon
                                    l
                                    Lau RE: Simon Oct 28, 2011 12:17 PM

                                    go to bo ky, buy their chili oil

                                    it's teochew style chili oil (by far my favorite style) and it has minced dried shrimp in it, its excellent

                                    -----
                                    New Bo Ky
                                    80 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

                                    1. re: Lau
                                      s
                                      Simon RE: Lau Oct 28, 2011 12:29 PM

                                      Nice! I'll go there soon -- they'll sell just the chili oil? (never been to Bo Ky, is it a store in addition to a restaurant?)

                                      1. re: Simon
                                        a
                                        AubWah RE: Simon Oct 28, 2011 01:05 PM

                                        The chili oil for sale is right by the register

                                        1. re: Simon
                                          l
                                          Lau RE: Simon Oct 28, 2011 01:46 PM

                                          yah aubwah is correct, when u go to the cash register you'll see jars of it for sale

                                          you can see my reviews here (you might as well try some of their food when ure there):
                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/751160
                                          http://www.lauhound.com/2010/12/bo-ky...

                                          1. re: Lau
                                            s
                                            Simon RE: Lau Oct 28, 2011 02:46 PM

                                            Yeah, i should try it...i've been to several of the Chiu Chow places in HK, and i've wanted to try Bo Ky but i havent rushed there yet as i think we figured out on another thread that they dont serve my fav cold sliced goose over tofu w/ vinegar dish...nor the eggwhite dumplings...

                                            1. re: Simon
                                              a
                                              AubWah RE: Simon Oct 28, 2011 03:40 PM

                                              Bo Ky is very good but it is more Chinese-Viet style. For Chiu Chow, New Chiu Chow 111 Mott Street is the best in Chinatown. It won't whisk you away to Tak Kee on Belchers Street but its good for NYC

                                              1. re: AubWah
                                                squid kun RE: AubWah Oct 29, 2011 09:34 AM

                                                Closed this summer, unfortunately.

                                                -----
                                                New Chiu Chow
                                                111 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                              2. re: Simon
                                                buttertart RE: Simon Oct 28, 2011 05:20 PM

                                                Damnit why is there no goose to be had in NYC Chinese places!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                1. re: Simon
                                                  l
                                                  Lau RE: Simon Oct 29, 2011 08:09 AM

                                                  yah u cant get that style goose in NY unfortunately....i wish we had a full blown chiu chow restaurant, but unfortunately we don't

                                                  AubWah - unfortunately, new chao chow closed down recently and i think it maybe done for good. also, i wouldn't say that new chao chow was more chiu chow than bo ky, they both basically have the same exact of chiu chow dishes except that new chao chow had hae chor (fried shrimp balls) and bo by has some fried tofu dishes. However, you are correct in that they are from vietnam, but vietnam like most of southeast asia has a big chinese population that has alot of chiu chow people.

                                                  I think there is some health code reason why you can't get whole goose in the NY (only certain parts), which is the reason why you don't see it in restaurants. there is some reason for it, but im not sure why. in singapore you can't get full goose either only certain parts like feet.

                                                  1. re: Lau
                                                    buttertart RE: Lau Oct 29, 2011 05:37 PM

                                                    It's very expensive to buy a whole goose, I think that's more likely it than health code.

                                                    1. re: buttertart
                                                      scoopG RE: buttertart Oct 29, 2011 08:13 PM

                                                      Price – and the cost of raising geese is certainly a major part of it. Geese in the USA represents only 0.2% of all poultry production. There are absolutely no USDA nor NYC Dept of Health and Metal Hygiene concerns on farm raised geese.

                                                      Raising geese is not easy. They are much more complicated than chickens – especially when considering their down and feathers. Ask any poultry farmer: they are one ornery critter. Maybe that is because they do best when kept naturally as they are excellent foragers. The are fussy eaters to boot, quite independent and do not do well in enclosed spaces. One acre will only support 20-40 geese. They are better adapted to hot climates in high rainfall regions.

                                                      Geese are not easy to kill and special equipment is required. They have many feathers which can be more difficult to remove. After 10 weeks, their growth is very slow. They are not prolific egg layers: producing only one quarter of the eggs that a chicken will lay and their reproductive rate is low.

                                                      And finally, they do not have much meat. Ducks sell for 1/8 th the cost and feed more people.

                                                      1. re: scoopG
                                                        l
                                                        Lau RE: scoopG Oct 30, 2011 07:09 AM

                                                        interesting, someone told me it was b/c of some health code reason, but i guess they were wrong....any which way its too bad we cant them in NY

                                                        1. re: Lau
                                                          JoanN RE: Lau Oct 30, 2011 07:43 AM

                                                          What you (or they) may be thinking of is last summer, after the plane landing on the Hudson, when there was to be a culling of geese at the airports. There was initially a plan to give the geese to food banks and homeless shelters, but New York had no protocol in place to process and test the meat--something required by law if the meat was to be distributed to the hungry. The city ended up donating the geese to Pennsylvania because they had already established the required protocols..

                                                          ETA: Actually, that was the summer before last, wasn't it? Not only geese fly.

                                                          1. re: JoanN
                                                            scoopG RE: JoanN Oct 30, 2011 08:14 AM

                                                            As far as I know the NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene prohibits all wild game from being sold and eaten - it must be farm raised. And I think the geese from a few years ago ended up in landfills.

                                                            http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/201...

                                                            1. re: scoopG
                                                              JoanN RE: scoopG Oct 30, 2011 08:19 AM

                                                              You're right. It was last year's cull that was dumped. This year's went to PA after the huge brouhaha over the dumping last year.

                                                              http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/201...

                                                          2. re: Lau
                                                            scoopG RE: Lau Oct 30, 2011 08:12 AM

                                                            The season is upon is now - usually they are slaughtered in November and then quickly frozen. Geese farming today is only economically feasible on small farms in the emerging world.

                                                            1. re: scoopG
                                                              buttertart RE: scoopG Oct 30, 2011 04:36 PM

                                                              And the best price on them in the city is in Chinatown, when they have them. Yet another reason to love Chinatown. (I had a run-in with a goose on a family friend's farm when I was little - really quite terrifying creature!)

                                                2. re: Simon
                                                  Peter Cuce RE: Simon Oct 29, 2011 09:35 AM

                                                  Make sure you go to the original branch on Bayard just west of Mott. I think it's better than the newer Grand St spot.

                                                  -----
                                                  New Bo Ky
                                                  80 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

                                                  Grand Bo Ky
                                                  216 Grand St, New York, NY 10013

                                                3. re: Lau
                                                  MVNYC RE: Lau Oct 29, 2011 02:14 PM

                                                  That stuff is addictive, I even spread it on toast

                                    2. s
                                      Steve Drucker RE: Lau Jan 3, 2012 04:28 AM

                                      Secret menu special during during Dec 2011 xmas week: 'Big' oysters steamed with minced pork sauteed with shrimp paste, black beans and scallions. On the first visit two filled an 11" oval; on the second visit one filled a 9" oval. Had the oysters themselves not been so good, the price could have been the best part: $1.00 each. Yes, a buck each.

                                      When we had tried to over-order by almost a factor of two and thus enabling chow radar and engaging our ESL wait person into discussion, only then were we made aware of the Big Oysters. Sadly, however, we were unable to order the twin lobsters--it was just too much. Sigh.

                                      Ditto praise for the Seafood Stuffed Long Hot Pepper. And the Stir Fried Stringbeans, with that same minced pork/shrimp paste and the addition of preserved vegetable.

                                      Cons: the salt baked squid. Heavy handed breading, would not re-order.

                                      Thank you Manhattan board, and Lau.

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

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: Steve Drucker
                                        l
                                        Lau RE: Steve Drucker Jan 3, 2012 04:39 AM

                                        glad you enjoyed...sounds like you had a off-night on the salt baked squid, they should not be oily or heavy handed on the breading, they are generally probably the lightest version in chinatown or flushing which is why i like them there

                                        1. re: Lau
                                          JoanN RE: Lau Jan 3, 2012 05:29 AM

                                          I haven't had any luck either with their salt-baked squid. The first time I went the coating was more soggy than crispy and the second time it was too heavy handed, just as Steve Drucker describes it. Guess I'll have to go with you next time.

                                          1. re: JoanN
                                            l
                                            Lau RE: JoanN Jan 3, 2012 06:45 AM

                                            sorry you had a bad experience with it as well.

                                            its actually only one of two places that i like it at in NY (the other being NY noodletown)

                                            1. re: Lau
                                              JoanN RE: Lau Jan 3, 2012 08:32 AM

                                              Yes, New York Noodletown's squid has always been my point of reference (see above) and at least the two times I was at SCG it didn't begin to measure up.

                                              1. re: JoanN
                                                l
                                                Lau RE: JoanN Jan 3, 2012 09:05 AM

                                                i like NY noodletown's batter slightly better as it's got a slightly better flavor, but i think the squid is a little too chewy. SCG's squid is more tender, but the batter isn't quite as flavorful.

                                                however, the thing that the two have in common is that have that lighter color batter that is much less greasy than most of the places

                                            2. re: JoanN
                                              s
                                              Simon RE: JoanN Jan 3, 2012 07:23 AM

                                              I like SCG, but the one time i had salt baked squid there it doughy and tasteless, as described above.

                                          2. re: Steve Drucker
                                            r
                                            raw RE: Steve Drucker Jan 3, 2012 09:10 AM

                                            Was at SCG for New Years eve. Ordered the Squid dish which was exemplary. Also had the twin lobsters in XO sauce, Peking Pork Chops, Fried chicken w/ garlic sauce and eggplant with minced garlic. Everything was delicious as usual.

                                            1. re: Steve Drucker
                                              buttertart RE: Steve Drucker Jan 3, 2012 10:31 AM

                                              Secret menu? Or dishes posted in Chinese on the wall?

                                            2. buttertart RE: Lau Feb 27, 2012 05:56 AM

                                              Closed for good last night. Really a shame.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: buttertart
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                                                Lau RE: buttertart Feb 27, 2012 07:46 AM

                                                really?? when did that happen? i just had dinner there a few weeks ago and none of them said anything to me wow

                                                1. re: Lau
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                                                  kathryn RE: Lau Feb 27, 2012 08:11 AM

                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/835793

                                                  1. re: kathryn
                                                    buttertart RE: kathryn Feb 27, 2012 10:31 AM

                                                    Totally freaking bummed.

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                                                Lau RE: Lau May 14, 2013 06:11 AM

                                                great news! the new owners of SCG opened a new restaurant, Cafe Hong Kong. It's part HK cafe food and part regular cantonese food. I haven't tried it yet, but very excited to

                                                http://www.cafehongkongnyc.com/

                                                http://www.yelp.com/biz/cafe-hong-kon...

                                                20 Replies
                                                1. re: Lau
                                                  sgordon RE: Lau May 14, 2013 10:37 AM

                                                  Hooray! I know where I'm eating tonight!

                                                  (Though admittedly, not such a big fan of HK style diner food... want to support the SCG crew!)

                                                  1. re: sgordon
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                                                    Lau RE: sgordon May 14, 2013 10:39 AM

                                                    yah this just moved to the top of my list of places to eat at

                                                  2. re: Lau
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                                                    pravit RE: Lau May 14, 2013 03:52 PM

                                                    Wowww... so many HK style western food places popping up in Chinatown! We now have Cha Chan Teng, Cutting Board, and Cafe Hong Kong in the Mott/Bayard area!
                                                    I will be trying this place soon too.

                                                    1. re: pravit
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                                                      Lau RE: pravit May 14, 2013 03:58 PM

                                                      yah ure right there are, there is also XO Kitchen, XO Taste and M Star fairly close as well

                                                    2. re: Lau
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                                                      Lau RE: Lau May 14, 2013 03:59 PM

                                                      btw the owner and his sibling are the cooks again, but they also hired some other new cooks

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                                                        Pan RE: Lau May 14, 2013 06:36 PM

                                                        I'll give them a try, but I hope that they don't decide in the new place that they want to leave 2 hours before closing time and try to throw me out.

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                                                          Lau RE: Pan May 14, 2013 07:16 PM

                                                          huh?

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                                                            Pan RE: Lau May 14, 2013 07:18 PM

                                                            I think I reported on that incident at South China Garden upthread, but that's the general description.

                                                            [Edit:] Doesn't seem to be in this thread. I remember you read and commented on it, though. You were surprised. So was I.

                                                            1. re: Pan
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                                                              Lau RE: Pan May 15, 2013 04:06 AM

                                                              ahh i dont remember that, but yes that is surprising, they've always been very nice to me there. in fact it was one of the only places in ctown that was pretty nice in general

                                                      2. re: Lau
                                                        Chandavkl RE: Lau May 15, 2013 08:24 PM

                                                        Hooray! Hooray! Can't wait for my next trip to New York! Is this the location most recently occupied by the Pho place (and historically, Kam Bo Rice Shoppe)?

                                                        1. re: Chandavkl
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                                                          Lau RE: Chandavkl May 16, 2013 04:22 AM

                                                          its just down the block on bayard maybe like 3-4 stores down from NY noodletown

                                                          1. re: Chandavkl
                                                            squid kun RE: Chandavkl May 16, 2013 10:49 AM

                                                            That's right, most recently a Vietnamese place.

                                                          2. re: Lau
                                                            Peter Cuce RE: Lau May 16, 2013 10:47 PM

                                                            I went today for lunch and had bitter melon and ribs over rice. There was a bit of a mix-up, with the very young waiter bringing us the dishes we ordered as lunch specials instead of over rice, and I was a bit irritated with his attitude, but other than that the meal was great. I do miss the gracious waiters from SCG that had been there forever. The staff here is all young and not particularly swift, at least for the daytime shift.

                                                            The bitter melon was good and the ribs were perfectly cooked, with addictive seasoning, although the rice was a bit undercooked. The portion was generous for the price.

                                                            The cafe is relatively small, compared to the old space, and strangely enough there's a full espresso set up in the front, and they serve Gimme! Coffee.

                                                            1. re: Peter Cuce
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                                                              Pan RE: Peter Cuce May 17, 2013 02:15 AM

                                                              What kind of seasoning do you expect in rice, Peter? This was regular steamed white rice that you got?

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                                                                foodiemom10583 RE: Pan May 17, 2013 05:48 AM

                                                                I think Peter meant that the ribs were prepared with an addictive seasoning, but his serving of rice was undercooked.

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                                                                  Pan RE: foodiemom10583 May 17, 2013 08:43 AM

                                                                  That's what he wrote. I think I was just tired last night and my brain was addled. :-)

                                                                  1. re: Pan
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                                                                    foodiemom10583 RE: Pan May 17, 2013 09:31 AM

                                                                    Gotcha! ;)

                                                              2. re: Peter Cuce
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                                                                Lau RE: Peter Cuce May 17, 2013 04:43 AM

                                                                yah according the yelp reviews seems like they have some service issues, but it sounds like according to your review (and the ones on yelp) that the cantonese food is up to par, which would make sense since the head chef is the same (the owner). as long as the food is up to par i can deal with the rest

                                                                1. re: Lau
                                                                  Peter Cuce RE: Lau May 17, 2013 11:58 AM

                                                                  Oh for sure. I would go any time as long as the food is something like what I had yesterday. I was just reporting the situation. I remember the rice at the old one was usually too wet so I found it sorta humorous that this one was undercooked.

                                                              3. re: Lau
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                                                                pravit RE: Lau May 19, 2013 05:35 PM

                                                                Just tried this place for dinner for the first time tonight. Had bitter melon and ribs, and a clay pot dish with eggplant and chicken. Thoughts:
                                                                1) Wow, this place is kind of expensive - I mean obviously not in the context of all NYC restaurants, but a bit pricier than most Chinatown restaurants. Average entree around $14-$24.
                                                                2) Food was good, though I wasn't really blown away by anything. You can have similar food at Sing Kee or Hop Shing or those other family-style Cantonese restaurants on Bowery.
                                                                3) Decor a bit cozier and brighter than typical Chinatown restaurant. I like the framed photos on the walls.
                                                                4) I personally found their menu somewhat limited; I don't much care for all the baked spaghetti / HK-style western dishes, and their selection of Cantonese dishes was smaller than at a typical Cantonese restaurant. I guess all the rice plates are convenient if you are eating with people who don't want to eat family-style.
                                                                5) No problems with the service, but I don't really care about that sort of thing. I'm happy as long as I get the right dish and it doesn't take too long, which was the case here.

                                                              4. buttertart RE: Lau May 17, 2013 10:52 AM

                                                                Please please tell me they have the crispy skin chicken and the lobster, I didn't see them on the online menu...

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: buttertart
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                                                                  Lau RE: buttertart May 17, 2013 11:10 AM

                                                                  i think i saw both on the menu

                                                                  i wish it had the chinese names though so i could make sure

                                                                  1. re: Lau
                                                                    buttertart RE: Lau May 17, 2013 05:22 PM

                                                                    Gotta go.

                                                                    1. re: buttertart
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                                                                      peter j RE: buttertart May 18, 2013 01:42 AM

                                                                      The fried chicken and salt and pepper squid were excellent at Cafe Hong Kong. We saw the lobster with XO sauce being served at other tables but we didn't get to try it.

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                                                                  Lau RE: Lau Jun 7, 2013 08:52 PM

                                                                  here's my new review of Cafe Hong Kong (their new restaurant)
                                                                  https://www.lauhound.com/2013/06/cafe...

                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/904820

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Lau
                                                                    buttertart RE: Lau Jun 8, 2013 04:17 PM

                                                                    Must go. have been jonesing for the cui pi ji since the last day :(

                                                                    1. re: buttertart
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                                                                      Lau RE: buttertart Jun 8, 2013 09:44 PM

                                                                      yah its just as good as ever, so definitely check it out. its also alot nicer decor wise

                                                                      1. re: Lau
                                                                        buttertart RE: Lau Jun 13, 2013 05:53 PM

                                                                        Would pretty much have to be. That's the only place I ever saw get renovated and made noisier rather than quieter. But I miss it terribly.

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