Monday, April 25, 2005

Shiang/Charming Garden

Shiang Garden (also called Charming Garden, Chinese name = Hunan Garden Restaurant, 626 458 4508, 111 N Atlantic Blvd) is an offshoot of a Taiwanese restaurant, and is generally thought of as the best Hunan-style place in Los Angeles. It's rather fancy inside but remarkably affordable, and my Chinese food experts tell me that the food is very authentic. As in most of the San Gabriel Valley, the English translations on the extensive menu are generally befuddling. Luckily the service is quite helpful - my three visits have been with Mandarin speakers but you should be able to pick out these dishes with a little help from the staff:

House special duck - A whole duck stuffed with glutinous rice, tiny dried shrimps (har mai), finely diced Chinese sausage and gingko nuts; deep-fried until the skin is super crispy then sectioned. Extravagant and tasty.

House special noodles in "hot herbs" sauce - Ropy egg noodles with a spicy fresh chilli sauce mixed in. Oily texture is luxurious like dan dan mein but the flavour is very different.

House special mushrooms - Very popular dish here, the shiitake mushrooms are spectacularly fresh and succulent, cooked with a little garlic. Sounds plain but is not to be missed.

One of my favourite things about Shiang Garden is the cold dishes that arrive as soon as one sits down - you can start eating immediately! Three I particularly liked:
Cold bamboo shoots (the thinnest tips, very tender) cooked with a thin chilli paste
Seaweed tendrils with numbing hot Sichuan peppercorns
Anchovies cooked with an extraordinary fresh chilli sauce - very spicy

House soup, chicken with herbs and spices - Medicinal is generally an adjective that connotes the worst in food, but this soup is flavoured with wonderful herbs some of which I knew (wolfberries/gou ji zi), most of which were mysterious.

Live tilapia with hunan sauce - A whole fish smothered in a Hunan sauce once again featuring fresh chillis. The peppers could have been hotter according to my expert friend but I loved the flavour of the sauce.

Chicken cooked in foil - Not sure what this is called on the menu, pieces of chicken are roasted in smallish foil packets with a delectable red sauce almost reminiscent of some Shanghainese dishes I've had.

Lobster with ginger and garlic - Shiang Garden can do Cantonese style seafood very well; this was on someone else's tab and for top dollar one can have an immaculately steamed lobster here.

A side note: the rice wine with dried plums is supposedly quite a treat.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this restaurant closed. The number is now disconnected.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They closed in May.

10:26 AM  

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