There are about three Chinese restaurants in our neighborhood in the Lougheed area, and surprisingly, all of them have the word "garden" in it (Mui Garden; Yan's Garden; North Garden). Last week we went to one of our regular Chinese spots, North Garden, right on the corner of North Road and Cameron. It's quite a big restaurant, with booths on one side and tables in the rest of the room; at the back there is also an additional room that consists primarily of booths. The decor is minimal, but this place has really tall ceilings which are painted a cobalt blue. The feeling is of strange combination of old-school diner with modern, industrial bits thrown in there.
We've been here many times before, and I must admit that the service has sucked. Being ignored happens on a regular basis, and you're just left alone. To be honest, we've kind of gotten used to this indifference--it gives you a kind of anonymity that can be refreshing. However, much to our surprise, this time around, the service was excellent. Our waitress was nice and not too chatty, and she even asked us how we liked things. Plus, she even asked us if we wanted dessert, and brought our bill promptly! Awesome.
Every time we come here I almost always order the HK style cold milk tea. It's sweet and delicious, and reminds me a little of the 'cha yen' that I used to have in Thailand.
The restaurant has a very large menu, and they have cheap lunch specials. This time around, we opted for the combo dinner, which is 2 dishes with choice of soup, rice, and dessert, all for $26 bucks. This is a great deal, since the soup that comes with it is pretty large.
North Garden has one of my favorite places for hot and sour soup. I love this soup, and I've had mixed experiences with other restaurants. Word of warning though: I like the soup to have strong flavours, and this really fit the bill. It is very sour and quite spicy. Yet delicious! In addition to the usual pork, bamboo, egg, etc., they have really crunchy shrimp in the soup. This is almost up there with the Hot and Sour soup from Bo Kong.
For one of the main dishes, we chose the crispy chicken with soya. This arrived brown and glistening to our table. The chicken was cooked really well: moist, juicy and with really crispy, yummy skin (which was, of course, the best part). The pile of julienned ginger and green onion gave the dish a really nice flavour as well.
The last dish we got was the Szechuan green beans, which is a dish we get pretty often. It doesn't have the special numbing peppercorns, however; this green bean dish has just pork, onion, and bits of pepper. Not spicy at all. However, it tastes pretty good. The beans are crisp (though a little greasy), and the sauce just coats every last bit of bean. Really good with rice.
One of the great things about this place (and Chinese places in general) is the portions. We ate until we were full, but we still had enough leftovers for two more meals.