Yu’s Garden – Pretty Decent Taiwanese Food in Irvine
Yu’s Garden is located in the small Chinese / Asian area of Irvine off the Jeffrey exit on the 5 freeway. There are several Chinese places in the two strip malls there and most of them are Taiwanese. In general, the best place out of all of them is probably A&J (Ban Mu Yuan), but A&J is really the Taiwanese take on mainly northern Chinese dishes or Taiwanese breakfast on the weekends, so they don’t have a lot of more “classic” Taiwanese dishes. They’ve left that to places such as Yu’s Garden.
I believe Yu’s Garden either changed owners or management because the manager who runs the place is the lady who used to run Nice Time Deli which is about 3 doors down. She is extremely friendly and the service is actually pretty good here. Both the service and the food have improved since the prior management.
The place is fairly small and probably sits around 25 people or so. It has two types of food: 1) a steam table type set up with various cold dishes and hot dishes laid out on display; it will remind you of a bian dang (lunch box) type restaurants in Taiwan and 2) an actual sit down menu. The food at the steam table part is actually pretty decent, but in this trip we ordered off the sit down menu. When you sit they will ask if you if you want zhou (rice porridge) or rice with your meal and then will bring you a big bowl of it.
Here’s what we got:
Three Cup Chicken (San Bei Ji):
Three cup chicken is called three cup chicken because it uses sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine. The dish consists of diced chicken on the bone that has been cooked with the previously mentioned ingredients as well as basil, sugar and ginger in a clay pot kind of thing. The result is tender chicken that is slightly crispy on the outside is a semi sweet sauce. The chicken was nice and tender and easy to get off the bone. The sauce was not overly sweet or gloppy and tasted good. I thought this was a good rendition of the dish. 7.75/10
Egg Omelet with Sliced Radish:
The picture looks like a regular omelet however there are finely sliced radish strips in the omelet, but given radish’s mild flavor it will taste pretty similar to a regular omelet albeit with more texture. This was pretty good and a nice compliment to the other dishes. I recommend getting some chili oil or paste to eat with this. 7.5/10
Shredded Pork with Dried Tofu (Xiang Gan Rou Si):
I’m a big fan of this dish which is shredded pork sautéed with a type of dried smoked tofu (dou gan). Sometimes they put chilis or sliced spicy green peppers in it as well, but they do not here. The pork was nice and tender and the dou gan tasted nice as well. It was not overly salty or oily either. However, I did think it was missing a dimension of flavor that a great version has and I would’ve preferred some spicy peppers and maybe some more scallions, but overall it tasted good. 7.5/10
Egg Flower Soup (Dan Hua Tang):
I originally ordered fish ball soup, but they ran out so I ordered this because my sister likes it. While I’m not a huge fan of egg drop soup the version here was surprisingly good. It was very light and not overly salty. It also tasted of sesame oil which was a nice touch with the flavor of the egg. It turned out to be a good compliment to the meal. 7.5/10
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised and I think the food has gotten better overtime. It’s not a destination restaurant as you can get better in the SGV, but if you’re in the area or if you live in OC and want Taiwanese food it’s worth checking out.
5408 Walnut Ave
Irvine, CA 92604
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