Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hong Kong Garden - Xiang Gang Yuan!

Since my last article, I’ve had Chinese on the mind.  Another place that seemed to receive quite a few accolades is Hong Kong Garden.  So I gathered up a girlfriend and we headed out.

I ordered similar items for comparison, then rounded out the victuals with some other interesting dishes.  

Out rolled a cup of the Hot & Sour soup ($2.95), Potstickers ($5.95), and a Spring Roll ($2.25) to start with.  The Hot & Sour soup was great.  It was a synergy of powerful flavors that was amazingly well balanced.  But with its thick viscosity and over packed plethora of ingredients, it acted more like a filling stew than a soup.  You’d never find a Hot & Sour stew in Asia, but I was pleased that the typical ingredients were uncompromised by strange fillers like carrots and celery.  And since it was so good, I’ll be coming back for more.

The Potstickers were good but unremarkable.  The dough simply overwhelmed the pork center.  My friend, who was watching her carbs, cut one in half and said, “Is there supposed to be something in here?” She found the entire center hiding in one half of the dough, ate that, and left the empty side.

Then, the Spring Roll.  Before ordering, she asked what the difference was between an Egg Roll and a Spring Roll.  I rolled my eyes; it can be a contentious question.  Once, a friend refused to talk to me for weeks because we didn’t agree.  So here’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  It’s all about the wrapper.  Yes, the Egg Roll tends to be larger, seemingly filled with more vegetables, but the inner workings of a fried roll are largely the same.  The Egg Roll has a wrapper made with egg and tends to be thicker, which lends to its doughiness.  The Spring Roll, on the other hand, isn’t made with egg and is quite a bit thinner and more delicate.  It’s a much crispier eat, and because it’s smaller, I like the ratio of wrapper to whatever is on the inside.  Lastly, I consider the Spring Roll to be much more authentically Asian.  In my travels to Asia, I can’t remember a single time I saw an Egg Roll being peddled.  It was always a delicate little Spring Roll.  And that’s exactly what you get at Hong Kong Garden.  It was beautifully crispy, allowing for a satisfying crunch before getting to a soft center of meat and vegetables that all come together so nicely.

Next came the entrees in eye-popping portions; hope you like Chinese leftovers.  We ordered Beef Chow Fun ($11.95) and Steve’s Special ($14.50), pan-fried steak sitting over steamed asparagus and topped with French fried onions.  Last time, I explained how temperamental Chow Fun can be, so it’s a pretty high hurdle.  At Hong Kong Garden, it was still missing the requisite caramelized flavor and many of the noodles were stuck together. Flavor-wise, though, it could pass muster.

Steve’s Special was quite good.  The steak was succulent and tempting.  And sitting at the bottom, soaking up all that savorilicious sauce, was the asparagus – tender, yet still with some bite.  Lastly, I was surprised to see the French fried onions sitting atop it all.  It’s a common ingredient in Chinese cooking, but I rarely see it used in American Chinese restaurants.  It was a nice touch – imparting a nice textural and flavor element.

So far, Hong Kong Garden has my vote.  And while the search will continue, it’ll take a moment’s rest.  In the meantime, I know where to go for some pretty good Chinese. 

Hong Kong Garden

1807 Columbia Ave, Lancaster

(717) 394-4336


1 comment:

Eric Bierker said...

Great review! Like to give props to places that are good.