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New Chinese Restaurant in the Conejo Valley: Zen Garden

liu May 31, 2013 10:25 PM

Zen Garden, Oak Park, opened a week ago. It is solid.

I do not know if it is a-m-a-z-i-n-g, but it is very good. The hot and sour soup was a standout; it was hot both in temperature and in Szechuan pepper...delicious! We also enjoyed mu shu pork and sauteed shrimp with veggies.

My usual complaints in a Chinese restaurant concern overly-salty food or too much oil. We were four for dinner tonight and we all enjoyed everything we ordered.

The space is open and airy and the service was gracious, friendly and attentive.

We will return to try more of the menu.

Zen Garden
668 Lindero Canyon Road (at the far North end of Lindero in the same shopping center as Breakfast Cafe and Cleo's Hair Salon)
Oak Park
Open 7 days

  1. TripleAxel Aug 13, 2013 11:36 PM

    ugh, I hate the name Zen Garden because "zen" is Japanese, not Chinese....

    2 Replies
    1. re: TripleAxel
      Tripeler Aug 14, 2013 12:29 AM

      Yeah, the owners must have had some real Conejos to give it that name.

      1. re: TripleAxel
        Ogawak Aug 15, 2013 12:59 PM

        Actually Zen Buddhism comes from China, where it's known as "Chan". Westerners know the Japanese word, hence "Zen", though I think Chan Garden might have worked.

      2. cant talk...eating Aug 13, 2013 10:09 PM

        Liu - I'm a couple months late to the party, obviously! Finally got in here tonight (missed your original post). Saw they had a special Beijing menu and was excited obviously.

        This place is great, what a perfect addition and I hope they stick around. We ordered "dried tofu with pork" which was that ubiquitous shredded pork with strips of brown-edged tofu, served here w/ sliced celery. Also had shredded potatoes (served warm, not quite as snappy as the cold app version from Sichuan places in SGV), and cumin beef. Would have preferred more heat in the latter, and more cilantro, but it was fine. Prepared with two green peppers (bell and jalapeno) and not as dry/"crusty" as I like it but hey, it's in Oak Park for God's sake.

        Talked w/ the owner a bit - the chef's apparently from Tianjin (hence the Beijing menu?) and formerly cooked at what she translated as "Little Chong Qing" in "Chinatown" (= New Chong Qing in San Gabriel??), as well as Newbury Park as mentioned. Anyway, looking forward to ordering more pickled offerings. By the way, that menu is up here:

        1 Reply
        1. re: cant talk...eating
          liu Aug 14, 2013 08:09 AM

          "...as I like it but hey, it's in Oak Park..."

          cant talk...eating, I am so glad to hear your take. No, it's not worth miles of travel, but it's in my backyard, so we are happy to have it nearby for a week-night fix. Then, on the weekends, we head to the San Gabriel Valley!

          I particularly like their Beijing mu shu pork -- no pancakes. This dish is hearty and each ingredient is distinct. The mushrooms are wonderful and the flavor says "mu shu."

          Please post if you visit again.

        2. l
          LesThePress Jul 5, 2013 10:06 AM

          We went there for lunch yesterday and I can confirm that the people are very nice. The owner, Lyn remembered us from the Sesame Inn in Newburry Park and was genuinely happy to see us.

          Since we only had lunch, we only ordered two dishes, Mixed Steamed Vegetebles and Kung Pao Chicken. First, let me tell you the portions were huge. My wife didn't eat 1/2 of her vegetibles, and I'm having leftover Kung Pao today. There easily was enough for three porions per dish.

          The vegetables were very fresh and my wife enjoyed them. I liked the KPC too. Not the best I ever had but for $10 and enough for 3 portions, who's complaing. The two dishes, two cokes and some extra brown rice came to $26 (before tip).

          They've applied for a liquor permit so hopefully soon they'll have wine. Lyn said until then we could bring our owe wine (YEA!!!).

          We will try it again but for dinner when we usually have 3 dishes, and we'll try different ones, so I can give a more detailed report.

          But for now, it looks like our driving days to Newburry Park may be over!!!

          1 Reply
          1. re: LesThePress
            liu Jul 5, 2013 02:00 PM

            Thanks for the report, Les-. I am glad that you liked it.

            We ate at Mandarin Bistro, Newbury Park, a few nights ago. It, too, was delicious and I might give it the edge to any other Chinese around. We had a lotus root dish that was outstanding.

            However, Zen Garden is much closer for us, so we will continue to explore their Chinese menu.

          2. liu Jun 14, 2013 10:09 AM

            We tried Zen Garden again last night. The owner and servers recognized us as "repeat" customers and warmly welcomed us...nice!

            This time, we were handed the Chinese Beijing menu, as well as their regular menu. The Chinese menu had some very enticing items...I wanted to try so many.

            We ordered the Beijing moo shu pork. This item had no pancakes, but delicious egg, large black mushrooms, thinly-sliced pork and veggies...delicious! We didn't miss the pancake.

            The other item that we ordered was pickled cabbage with rice noodles. Both the server and the owner tried to steer us to another item because they thought this might be too "strange" for our palates, but we held firm. We were glad we ordered this item; it was such a nice find in a Chinese restaurant in the Conejo Valley! The owner told us that it was this chef's personal recipe; he was reluctant to serve it, but was so happy (surprised!) that we liked it.

            I am so happy to find a Chinese restaurant in the neighborhood that is so different from all the others around. How great that they are cooking something besides beef and broccoli!

            2 Replies
            1. re: liu
              puppychao Jun 14, 2013 11:00 PM

              Thanks for the additional information liu. I tried some take out from the Beijing menu during the soft opening a couple of weeks ago and thought there was some potential. I talked to the owners and from what I understood, one of the servers used to work at Sesame Inn and they are friends with Dani from the Szechuan Place.

              Looking forward to dining there some time soon.

              1. re: puppychao
                liu Jun 15, 2013 08:00 AM

                Thanks for your response, puppychao.

                I do look forward to "your take" when you go.

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