If I do a couple of healthy things in one day, like have a salad, or wake up without a hangover, I start patting myself on the back for my newfound healthiness. To celebrate, I figure I should treat myself to a big ole dinner, and there are few things I love more than a giant meal of Chinese food. After having one such “healthy” day, I took my friend Tim out to celebrate by gorging ourselves on Chinese food.
I had driven by Szechuan Garden a bunch of times and never paid much attention to it. The exterior is fairly nondescript, tucked away in a Moana Lane shopping center. In fact, the reason I ended up there was that another place I was intending to try was closed. Walking in, I was surprised that the inside was a lot nicer than the outside. There are a ton of fish tanks, plain white walls with Ansel Adams pictures, black booths and a black ceiling. The blinds and fake flowers date the place a bit, but overall, it’s fairly comfortable.
I arrived before Tim and was immediately seated and offered something to drink by a very pleasant and efficient waitress. Tim arrived shortly after, and our waitress was right there to ask if we knew what we wanted. The menu was fairly extensive and separated by categories, such as chicken, seafood, pork, etc. To start, we ordered the paper-wrapped chicken (six for $6.95). I had never had paper-wrapped chicken before, so I guess I was expecting something other than chicken wrapped in paper, though I’m not sure why. The chicken was fairly moist and had a nice teriyaki taste, but even I can marinade some chicken, so I’m not coming back for more of those. I don’t blame Szechuan Garden, I blame Tim for not warning me, then looking at me like I was an absolute idiot when I kept asking, “So, it’s really just chicken in paper?”
For entrées, we ordered the Triple Crown ($13.95), which was a large plate of beef, chicken, shrimp and vegetables on a sizzling plate—think Chinese fajitas without the tortillas. The mushrooms and pea pods were great, but there were too many baby corns and not enough broccoli for my liking. Overall, I felt like there could have been more vegetables in general, but the huge plate of meat made me forget about the vegetables. The beef and chicken were flavorful and cooked well, but the shrimp tasted too “shrimpy” and was skimpy. The sauce was a little heavy, although once I put it over rice, the sauce issue wasn’t a problem.
We also ordered the sweet and pungent chicken ($10.95), which arrived with a light batter and tangy, sweet glaze. The batter didn’t overwhelm the chicken, and the glaze wasn’t too syrupy. I definitely liked this dish the best and proceeded to shovel it into my face until the waitress looked at me strangely, and I noticed the piles of food surrounding me on the table—so much for my healthy lifestyle.
Overall, the food was decent, but after I visited Szechuan Garden, someone told me that there is a “genuine Chinese menu” if you ask for it, where nothing is in English and the dishes are more traditional instead of Westernized. I wish I had known about this, because I would have been more than willing to order from it. I guess I’ll have to go back again for a more authentic experience.