Generally speaking you don’t call a restaurant that has been open less than 15 years iconic, but if the Los Angeles Times can write a front page story about the closing of “old school” Empress Harbor, a restaurant such as Tasty Garden that opened just 5 years after Empress Harbor certainly can be dubbed iconic. But more than physical longevity, Tasty Garden was during its heyday probably the Chinese restaurant with the best quality/price ratio around. Indeed I remember sitting in the dining room at the long forgotten, overpriced Chi Lin on the Sunset Strip, and thinking to myself “I’d much rather be eating at Tasty Garden.” And even after the sales tax fiasco, Tasty Garden Alhambra managed to regain some of its footing such that it remained our family’s go-to Chinese restaurant until probably a couple of years ago, even in its Mr. Yuet alter ego. But whatever happened over there earlier this year when they dropped the Mr. Yuet name inside the restaurant was catastrophic as the food fell of a cliff.
As far as I know, the various Tasty Garden branches are now separately owned, with the only one coming close to the Alhambra branch at it best is Irvine, which is a long way away.
My reaction: It was still around? I used to really like the Tasty Gardens, particularly the one at Atlantic Times Square, but then the food fell off a cliff…about 4-5 years ago? I remember when the name change happened at the Alhambra location… They’ve honestly been off my radar for so long now…
Pity, as I thought they used to be the highest quality (in terms of execution) of the HK-style cafes.
When I first began visiting the SGV, Tasty Garden in Alhambra, or Arcadia, was a fairly regular stop. I had several items there, but often it was just for an HK-waffle or peanut butter pizza with a milk tea, or a coffee milk tea for the road (usually at Arcadia). The Atlantic Times Square location was good, but Tasty Garden dropped some of the more unique items, the food fell off and then there was the break-up of the original chain. I concur with strongoxman that it was the best of the HK-style cafes. I liked it so much more than the others, which to me, weren’t even close in terms of execution or menu items (though I did like KT Cafe’s scorched/burnt tasting coffee milk tea)
Beef chow fun is as good as you can find. Actually high proportion of menu items are good. Pork chops (salt and pepper or sweet and sour) are good, as are cauliflower with preserved meat, the cold crystal chicken and tons more. Best QPR in the SGV.
Yup. It’s got good wok hei but they don’t trim the ends of bean sprouts like they should for a beef chow fun. Several other items I tried there were mediocre at best…yang chow fried rice’s char siu were replaced with spam and rice was very lumpy, beef in curry beef stew was tough since it wasn’t stewed long enough, sweet and sour pork was too saucy and meat was on the dry side…