Hours: Open every day except Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Credit Cards: Visa.
Price Range: Luncheon prices begin at $2.95; dinners from $3.95-$5.75.
Atmosphere: Neighborhod Chinese restaurant.
Special Facilities: Lots of free parking, accessible to wheelchairs; booster chairs and high chairs.
Reservations: Not necessary.
For our 23rd anniversary, we rounded up the four children and headed for the Dragon Garden Restaurant, where the prices are reasonable enough to permit a splurge and the menu varied enough to please six people with very different tastes.
The Dragon Garden is small and cozy, seating maybe 60 people at most, but one wall is mirrored to give the illusion of more space.There are attractive Chinese hangings on the other walls.
It is a simple, friendly place. There is no children's menu but the waitress told us that we could certaintly order one dish for two "and I'll bring extra plate." However, as it was a celebration, we decided on full course dinners for all around.
We ordered a half bottle of wine, a real bargain at $1.50 (a whole bottle only costs $2.50), and some appetizers called show-mai ($1.70 for six), which were little shrimp- and meat-filled dumpling-like things, fried crisp and delicious. They looked like little bells and were so tasty that only the thought of all there was to come stopped us from ordering another round.
Our 18-year-old daughter, a vegetarian, ordered the deluxe vegetable platter ($3.75) and vegetarian fried rice. The vegetables were crisp, not overcooked, and covered with a savory light sauce. Her younger sister, who doesn't usually like Chinese food, chose the lo mein ($2.85) and an egg roll. The lo mein had lots of bean sprouts and long strips of beef in addition to the soft noodles. The addition of a little duck sauce in one case and soy in the other brought out the delicate flavors of both dishes.
The real winner of the day was tenderloin pork strips which had been marinated, fried to a crisp and served on a bed of lettuce. It was covered with a rich brown sauce. This dish, which we all begged to taste, came on a combination dinner ($4.65) and included soup, egg roll and fried rice.
The stuffed walnut chicken, a house specialty, was not available that night so I chose the Shanghai duck ($4.95). Big pieces of boneless duck were breaded lightly, fried crisp on the outside, tender inside, and served in a rich, sweet raisin and wine sauce. At $4.95 it, too, was a real find.
Other dishes that we tried were the four happinesses, Shanghai style, which turned out to be strips of beef, pork, chicken and shrimp sauteed with Chinese vegetables, and seafood paradise, Shanghai style, which was full of tender, big pieces of shrimp, scallops and crab. Each of the three seafoods had its own distinct flavor, not at all overpowered by the light sauce.
For an appetizer, the hot and sour soup ($.70 a bowl) was quite good, not too hot and filled to the top with meat and vegetables.
We finished with toffee bananas and apples ($3.50), which were good, but the half hour wait for them was excessive. The cook prepared the fruit in the kitchen and the waitress put the finishing touches on at our table. That included plunging the hot fruit into ice water and dusting it with powered sugar before serving it to us.
The service was friendly and hospitable. We appreciated all of the extra attention, like the waitress bringing our son a bag of bottle caps for his "collection," the extra-large order of toffee bananas "because there are so many of you," and the plate of fortune cookies brought to keep us busy during the long wait for dessert.
At first we thought we were ordering too much -- at the low prices you tend to get carried away -- but when we finshed, all that was left was a small amount of lo mein and some white rice. The bill for six, including tip, came to $52.15.