Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yu's Garden - Irvine

You're probably already aware of Yu's Garden. Me, I'm just getting acquainted. Although it is next door to Tapioca Express, Liang's Kitchen, Kaju Soft Tofu, Chef Chen's, J. Sweet Bakery and 101 Noodle Express, I have not, until recently, stepped into Yu's.

In fact, I've been every single one of those other restaurants, some of them more than a few times. Others I even reviewed for The Weekly. But Yu's Garden was, for all intents and purposes, invisible. I ignored it, shunned it, never even considered it an option.

Boy, was I missing out. I finally tried it after a co-worker mentioned it was his regular takeout place. This alone did not convince me. It was only when he said Yu's levies about $7 for a three item combo with massive amounts of well-prepared food that I stopped ignoring and became a kind of regular myself.

He was right. For exactly $7.08 Yu's will pack on a movable feast into groaning foam containers. The place is about instant gratification and not paying much for it. Most everything you want to eat is ready-made, but all of it fresh, and with that mom-cooked flavor and character. The cold dishes are presented in deep platters; the hot ones in chafing trays.

This is not Panda Express. There is no Orange Chicken or even Kung Pao. Instead there is chicken mousse wrapped in deep fried tofu skin. There is bone-in basil chicken in sauce-lacquered pieces you have to navigate carefully with your teeth to eat. And soy-simmered minced pork, the kind that you top rice with. And mapo tofu that harbors stinging hot peppers hiding between the custardy curds.

When I ordered the latter, I almost thought they were making a mistake. They ladled the stuff into a quart-sized container until it was practically full. Any place else would have slopped it on into the same foam container as the rice. Not here. They are intent on giving you more than you expected and paid for. (The non-soupy items do get put into the same box container your other items).

I've returned a few more times since, especially for the stir fried veggies. I like their hearty stalks of Chinese broccoli; the invigorating bittermelon; and the simplicity of stir fried spinach and mustard greens.

But most of all, I come back because of the value. In a town without a lack of cheap Chinese food, Yu's isn't just the cheapest, but probably the best of the cheapest.

Yu's Garden
5408 Walnut Ave. Ste. H
Irvine, CA 92604
(949) 654-2366

Mil Jugos - Santa Ana


At 7:19 AM, Blogger joanh said...

that looks good. i often miss restaurants that are near too many other good restaurants too, but hopefully they are solid enough to stay in business until you discover them!

At 10:55 PM, Blogger EatTravelEat said...

I am pleasantly surprised that soupy items get their own container. This makes an already fine deal even better, especially considering the wide variety of items available for choosing.

And I thought a salad and soup combo for 9 dollars was a great deal. Then again, I might be comparing apples to oranges.

At 7:48 PM, Blogger caninecologne said...

ooh, what is that dish with the bittermelon? was there meat in it?

$7 is a good deal for all that food! now if they can only be in san diego...

At 7:49 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


This one apparently has been wowing people all this time! It was me who completely missed them to my own detriment!


I too was pleasantly surprised! It's refreshing how generous they were. The soupy items like the ma po tofu is already worth the $7!


The bittermelon dish was excellent! Completely veg!


Post a Comment

<< Home