I definitely think this is a hidden gem for North Londoners.
I was reaaaallly craving dimsum over the weekend but being pressed for time, I could not afford the wait at Royal China or treking all the way to Soho.
So to get my Dim Sum Fix, I decided to try out this restaurant on Finchley Road.
I have to admit, I wasn't expecting much, but to my surprise I was delighted with both the food and service.
The cheung fun was perfect, the gyoza was grilled to the T and the pork dumpling in spicy soup was absolutely divine. I also go the squid in salt and chilli which was yum- but I suspect the bean curd option might be better.
I cant say much about the mains as I was there on a mission, a dim sum mission.
The service was really good- not rushed at all.
The ambiance was not really much to speak of, but what really is the ambiance of a Chinese restaurant supposed to be like? The place itself was quite busy with people who seemed like they came there often.
The prices were pretty reasonable too.
I am certain I am going to be back here again soon!
Really quite disappointing. Visited China Garden a little while ago for lunch with the family. We had a so-so meal £60. The starters were not cheap and was tasteless - not sure how I managed to eat 2 of them. The first disappointment was the Wonton noodle soup was cold and tasted like the chickren had taken a bath in it. The mains was cold and very salty, Singapore fried noodle looked plastic and tasted plastic.
The waiting staff was so slow , we could had taken a nap between dishes. Now, I see why the other people in the restuarant was reading a book or the newspaper. Would definitely not go back.
I always find it really frustrating whenever I find a Chinese restaurant (or any restaurant for that matter) that prepare some of my favourite dishes really really well, but then offer some other dishes which are not so good in quality or taste. It's like I want those other dishes to be just as yummy as the nice ones they prepare. This always inevitably leaves the relationship I have with the restaurant in question, somewhere round about no-mans land. China Garden is a prime example.
I used to pass it on the school coach every Tuesday and Thursday, when we used to go for sports; and back then I had an obsession whereby I had to say the name of every single shopfront we passed along the way, in the coach, there and back. And that means, that since China Garden was always there as far as I can remember, I must've said China Garden approximately two hundred times a year for well over three years. But it was only recently, say a couple of years ago, when I actually ordered some food from them. I must admit, the first meal I had delivered from them, really put a smile on my face and almost blew me away. I remember tasting the Roast Duck and thinking to myself ahhh finally, somewhere nearby that does good Roast Duck. And the Salt n Pepper Chili Squid was just scrumptious.
But the latest meal I've had from there, kinda let me down a bit. I've developed a real fetish for Sweet n Sour Pork recently, (I used to avoid it like the plague due to the cliched connotations associated with it), but China Garden's version of it, left me feeling a bit gutted and really let down. The flavour was just not right, and the batter covering the Pork was just a touch too cruddy and tough for my liking, not to mention the Pork pieces being rather small in size. It was just a massive let down really. The sauce had this funny taste to it, which reminded me of Liquorice , Aniseed or perhaps Chinese 5 spice or something; whatever it was, it wasn't welcome in the pot and completely ruined the overall flavour. On the other hand, the Salt N Pepper Chili Squid was just how I remember it; small frilly-cut finger-length cuts of squid in a soft-but-crispy powdery batter coating, tossed about with lashings of fresh-cut red chili, garlic and some spring onions; very simple and very effective. The Honey Roasted Pork was quite tasty, although similar to the SnS Pork it had this ghost of an unwanted flavour lingering about in the background, something which I can't describe. Reminded me of that whiff you get from a supposedly clean glass when you go to take a sip from it, and just think to yourself I haven't washed this glass properly or did I cook eggs the other day or what? That kinda thing. Ditto with the Special fried rice It was all very colourful and packed with goodies, but just had that hint of something unsavoury lurking about.
I have a funny feeling that China Garden's food would taste a lot better freshly served in the restaurant, as opposed to it being delivered. You might think that that is an obvious statement, but I have a funny feeling it is more-so the case with China Garden. I still think their Roast duck is amazing; and if you ask them nicely, they will put the entire duck in a plastic bag for you, complete with the frazzled head attached to it n all. The expression on the ducks face is worth the order in itself; just looks like he/she was taken by surprise or something; like he or she was just taking a casual saunter down by the pond and got roasted big time.
Consistency isn't China Garden's forte, but when they get the turbos blowing and are in full swing, you can expect to get some pretty tasty food from them. Bit of a 'fingers crossed' scenario though, I'm afraid. On the plus side, they are pretty liberal with the freebies, and regular customers who are in their good books will expect a free bottle of wine and a whopping big bag of prawn crackers (and sometimes even a big bottle of some obscure table water thrown in as well). I've had so much free water from China Garden in the past, that at one time I was considering canceling my contract with Thames Water, because I just didn't need them anymore.
A big shame about the Sweet n Sour Pork. (Hope the chef reads this and starts tweaking the recipe a bit!!!). Maybe that's why the Roast Duck's face looks like that; coz he or she tasted the Sweet N Sour Pork
Delivery is swift and now they have a brand new website that lets you order your food online and pay for it using a card, which is pretty neat.
China Garden Sometimes a 4-star, sometimes a 3. Tonight was a 2. Time to cross my fingers again I think.
I have been here a few times and have always been happy with the service and food. I find that the portions come a little small, but if you order a couple of dishes, it is still quite reasonable and then you have a couple of dishes to eat from. If you go in a couple, I would suggest getting two mains and that would be fine.
On my last visit I had some Dim Sum, and absolutely loved it. Everything here is of a high standard in my eyes, the food and service is fantastic and has never been too heavy on the wallet so it is definitely worth a visit.
They also have a take-away service which I have not yet tried but it is good to know that they do.
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