Restaurant Review: Asian Garden
By Ling-Mei Wong
Asian Garden is all about the wok.
The mark of a first-rate Chinese restaurant is its “wok hei,” or literally “wok air” in Cantonese. For a dish to have “wok hei,” the food must sizzle when it lands in a flaming-hot wok. Cantonese and Szechuanese cooking from southern China emphasizes high heat for a delicious char that seasons the dish.
Asian Garden earned a reputation for solid cooking when it opened 20 years ago in the basement of 42 Beach Street, now the Café de LuLu. Word spread about the authentic “wok hei” and the hard-working couple from Hong Kong who ran the place with big smiles.
The rest is history, with Asian Garden residing at its 28 Harrison Avenue location for the past nine years. Its owner stops by every day, while his wife personally greets regulars by name.
A new dish with plenty of “wok hei” is the stir-fried eggplant pork vermicelli ($7.95).
Diced pork and strips of eggplant are tossed into a fiery wok with a dash of soy sauce. Bean sprouts and scallions add crunch and color. The result is a fragrant combination of vermicelli and herbs, with the eggplant absorbing the flavors of the pork.
One of the must-have signature dishes is the chicken salad ($15.95).
An entire cooked chicken is deboned and shredded, then tossed with cabbage pickles, cucumbers, carrots, peanuts, jellyfish strips and cilantro in sesame oil. It’s a great appetizer to share with friends, with the tender chicken and crispy vegetable flavors. Asian Garden has a homey look, with comfortable chairs, large tables and Cantonese dramas on its TV. It may not exude the luxury vibe, but the food is consistently tasty and comforting.
Please note this was an arranged tasting.
28 Harrison Avenue
Boston, MA 02111
This post is also available in: Chinese