Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Good things grow at The Garden Bakery

A good noodle house just might be one of the most important things in life. Knowing that one special place you can go to, whether its one in the afternoon or 12:30 at night, and get a consistently good meal of noodles, veggies, and saucy beef, is a source of comfort. These few items are the staple of any great Chinese restaurant. If they don't have good noodles and good beef, and if the dishes are lacking in fresh vegetables, never go back. In fact, tell your friends to avoid it. Even better, tell me. The Garden Bakery is clean, fast, and has an extensive menu of snacks, popular dishes, and the standard fare of noodles, meats, fried rices, and vegetarian options. They also have delicious soups and barbecued duck.
I was there tonight for a quick meal before the hockey game. We sat down and they brought us tea right away. As the temperature outside was a sweltering 35 degrees, I asked and promptly received a pitcher of ice water . We ordered and the food arrived steaming hot and fresh about 5 minutes later. My very favourite thing is the soya sauce chow mein. Dry chow mein noodles, tossed with green and yellow onion and bean sprouts are pretty much the most satisfying dish ever, no matter what time of day or the weather outside. I also ordered the beef in satay sauce, which was served with sliced green peppers, julienned carrots, and lots of spicy curry peanut sauce. Though the two dishes would have been more than enough for my companion and me, I also got an order of the steamed gai lan - a sort of bitter Chinese green resembling a cross between broccoli, asparagus, and cabbage - with oyster sauce on the side. The meal was rounded off with a small bowl of steamed rice.
The thing I love about meals like this is that they are simple yet satisfying. My little bowl is filled with steamed rice, beef and sauce, noodles and veg, and all the flavours mingle and mix into the rice at the bottom of the bowl, which I adeptly pick up with my amazing chop stick skills. The only trouble is, with such a little bowl I never realize how many times I've refilled it until I'm mosying out the the car, feeling like I'm carrying a food baby.
The Garden Bakery is a delightful little spot in Edmonton's Chinatown area, with plenty of parking behind and on the street out front. If you're still hungry after (which is unlikely, but not inconceivable), then you should certainly check out the actual bakery in the front of the restaurant. Take home some bbq chicken buns or almond cookies and enjoy them with your leftovers, which you will undoubtedly have at the end. All told, my companion and I ate for $28, tip included, and had enough food left over for an enviable lunch to take to work the next day.

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