Monday, December 22, 2008

What's In a Name? Savory or Ding's Garden (San Gabriel)

Seriously, what's in a name? It was confusing at first because the sign on the outside with lights said Ding's Garden, but the menu said Savory Garden. It was some what confusing at first looking around the place trying to figure it out what type of cuisine it serves. After a while, I decided to ask Lao Ban Niang (Chinese term for lady manager).

She explained it to me there was a few regions of China that influence the dish with a little Taiwanese adage. I don't know whether or not she added Taiwan in there because she is trying to cover all base with me, but I could give a little latitude on that since they did have some appetizer dishes and the deep fried stinky tofu to back that up. As in for the name of the restaurant, let's just say she stressed that it's not the same owner of the restaurant with the same name in Valley Blvd & Garfield Ave intersection.

My friend and I wanted to come here to taste test out their stinky tofu. There are a few types they have here to suit your liking. If you are not familiar with stinky tofu, the odor can resembled the stinky smell of a sewer or a garbage can. The tofu is often fermented for days to months depending on the preference of preparation. It can be cooked in deep fried, steamed, or stewed with sauce.

Stinky Tofu: Deep Fried and Steamed with chili sauce

My friend wanted to order the steamed version of the stinky tofu where the smell would stand out. He is on the money when he said the smell will be strong, but it was not as stinky like a sewer kind of smell. More like a bad body odor kind of smell. I did came back to order the popular version of stinky tofu when it is deep fried. It was mildly stinky, but very crispy for that delicious taste.

The obscure dish of the night was the Meicai Shrimp Egg Fried Rice. Meicai is a re-hydrated dried mustard greens. In our dish, it looked like a preserved vegetable seeds that tasted very good in the fried rice mixed with a bit of shrimp and egg.

Meicai Shrimp Fried Rice

We also gotten fried rice cake noodle that mixed with vegetable and beef that was quite delicious. The noodle dish that get the most attraction in this place is their beef tendon noodle soup. What I appreciated about this place's beef noodle soup is the subtlety of how the soup was not too greasy. It doesn't cloud the taste of the beef and noodle with unnecessary chili where you can add it to the soup on the side. The tendon was tender and melt in right in your mouth. The noodle was also a huge complimentary team member to complete the entire bowl.

Noodle Dishes: Beef Tendon Noodle Soup and Fried Rice Cake Noodle

I also can't resist coming here without ordering Xiao Long Bao (Pork Juicy Soup Dumplings). Made to order and comes in fresh right at your table. Eat those little suckers while it's hot because the skin would be still fluffy but trapped all the delicious juice inside the dumpling.

Xiao Long Bao (Pork Juicy Sou Dumplings)

Very casual dining place with not much of an ambiance or decor to speak of. Majority of the main dishes are cheaply price at $4.99 to $5.95. Appetizers are lower than $5, except for the salted duck.

Very happy in coming here for casual dinner or lunch. The fuss about the name of the place was gone by end of a very satisfying meal. It's a three person operation with Lao Ban Niang holding down the fort in the front where she made the service goes smoothly in this place.

Made the repeat trips worth while on any given night.

Ding's Garden
534 E Valley Blvd
Suite 10
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 573-5668


Ding's Garden on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Hmmm...everything looks delicious. How do you compare their XLB to Din Tai Fung's?


Right Way to Eat said...

Hey Rodge,

Thanks! Yeah, the place got some great dishes. I still probably would hit up Din Tai Fung for XLB, but the noodle dishes and their snack type items are excellent here (especially stinky tofu).

Hope you do hit up SGV again. We got to get some dim sum here again soon.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I noticed this place the other day.

The Ding's Garden in Alhambra is really good. Well, the two dishes I ordered were anyway. I just haven't had a chance to go back so it's been sitting in my queue forever.

Anonymous said...

You came back and got the NRM and fried stinky tofu. You've beaten me on the return visit! :)

Right Way to Eat said...

Hey Wandering Chopsticks,

Can't wait for your review of the Alhambra's Ding's Garden when you are ready. That place sounds interesting and it was on my queue for a place to try out for me.

Thanks again for your pho recommendations for me!

Hi Danny,

I think I went there a few days later. I was too anxious in wanting to try out their deep fried stinky tofu. LOL