Just a few months ago, "YummyYummy" mentioned that a new "Chinese Restaurant" was going into the former B H Chung location. When I asked around, no one knew much....though the term "Fast Food" was bandied about, much to my disappointment. Finally, the sign went up, the place was given a name....Yu's Garden, whose location in Irvine Kirbie posted on back in 2009. Looking at her post, I could see that the term "fast foodish" didn't appear to be to far from the truth. A couple of weeks ago, the menu went up, and Yu's Garden, San Diego quietly opened.
After checking around a bit, I kind of knew what to expect. We've got some young folks I know who love the place. Of course these kids aren't too far removed from college and still talk about how much they love Nongshim (though the Missus likes it too) instant noodles, which kind of puts things into perspective.
Over the course of the last couple of weeks, I managed to visit twice; once with my good friend Candice, who had met me for an awful lunch at Yes! Pingo. I was hoping that this would be an improvement. One good thing about Yu's is that they open early, remember, this is possibly the worst parking lot in San Diego, at 10am Monday thru Thursdays, 8am Friday to Sunday....although according to the sign, they must have some special calendar with two Sundays on it......having two Sundays a week, wouldn't that be grand?
The use of the plastic sheet sleeve also makes me wonder what on earth they need to protect this piece of 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper from? It's pretty far from the tables in a remote corner. One can only wonder?
As for the interior....well, much like the Irvine location, this place is ready with the quick steam and cold table stuff. Much of which looks rather greasy. So on my visits, I stuck to ordering from the menu. The hot and cold foods were really close together, which didn't quite look up to food handling standards.
This place also wins the award for making a new business look like it's been around for years. There are already stains on the walls, if you take a good look at the steam table, you can quickly see that the plywood paneling looks like it's been hacked, or at least badly cut, perhaps with a steak knife as the edges of the wood are jagged and not flush to the floor. The panel on the left is of a different make as it doesn't really match the rest. also, it has been mounted onto the steam table with a plain untreated piece of plywood that looks totally different. Which makes me think that it's only a matter of time before the tables get that nice "San Gabriel stickiness" to them.
In addition to the ton of prepared items, the menu is huge with a 139 items (I counted) on it, not counting specials. The prices are also inexpensive, with $8.99 being the priciest dish.
I know you've been wanting me to get to the point, so here's what was eaten.......
Sauteed Intestine w/Sour Vegetable ($7.99). I just can't help ordering this......
In terms of cooking technique, this was done well. If you don't enjoy the offal flavor of intestine, you might like this. If you don't enjoy your pickled mustard greens to have any flavor this might be enjoyable. If you love dishes that have way too much sesame oil on them, you will positively adore this. Still, I have no qualms with how this was cooked.
I had a synaptic short circuit and ordered the Pan Fried Pork and Napa Dumplings ($5.99). I should know better.....I mean, I have been indoctrinated...you don't pan fry jiaozi....in guotie, the dough is worked differently. If it's on the menu doing double duty, you should probably not get it......
You know that pretty yellow bag on stuff they sell at Costco with the cute panda on the front? Personally, I'd take that over this....cardboard like wrappers and mushy tasteless filling.
What would a meal here be without Chou Doufu (stinky tofu - $5.99).
You know what the Missus says, right? If I can eat it; it's not any good. This was pretty mild and bland. Nothing even close to, say Dynasty Plaza or even Shau Mei, and thankfully not even remotely close to the stuff I had in Hangzhou which I could barely swallow. I took the leftovers of this home....the Missus thought the version of smacked cucumbers was good, but of course said that the tofu was terribly bland and the sauce lacked any depth and that touch of sweetness She enjoys.
I had to have the Beef Stew Noodle Soup. Which really didn't look like much when it hit the table. In terms of presentation it looked rather plain....no pickled vegetable....
Overall, based on price, $5.99, I'd say this wasn't bad. I wish it was a bit richer, but the beef and anise flavor was there, though things were a bit heavy-handed in terms of MSG. The noodles were routine, which I expected for the price, but at least the beef was tender and flavorful. Plus this was steaming hot.
The best dish I've had at Yu's so far would be the Chicken w/Basil, aka three cup chicken. ($6.99).
Even though this looks like gloppy Chinese "faux-food", I really enjoyed it. The chicken was fried before the stir fry, keeping the skin (yes...skin on, joy of joys) crisp. Sweet, edging on too salty, I really enjoyed this. Candice summed things up when she asked me what time the place closed.......thoughts of having this after a couple of beers at O'Brien's did sound like a good thing. It was a nice parting shot to the meal......which motivated me to return a couple of days later.
I thought I'd try one of the most expensive items on the menu, the Sauteed Lamb with Scallion ($8.99).
This was a fair to middlin' dish. Nice char from the wok, the lamb was very mild in flavor, the dish was a bit too salty overall. For some reason, having the ends of the scallions, roots and all lind of bugged me, not sure why, but it just seemed wrong.
The Eggplant in Garlic Sauce ($6.99) was just a few notches down from being good. The eggplant was nice; crisp on the exterior, but molten and creamy inside.
It just lacked the amount of flavor I'd enjoy on a dish like this. Plus that pool of oil on the bottom of the bowl was a good half inch deep. I also found a piece of chicken mixed in with my eggplant....a bonus????
Overall, Yu's wasn't bad, you get what you pay for......I will say, with a bit of humor that the place is the best Chinese food in this strip mall taking into consideration the places I call the the "Bland Brothers". It's great student food....so those Nongshim lover's did have a point. No pretense here, no gimmicks, or catchy name.
The young ladies serving us were polite and pleasant, though still obviously learning the ropes.
So will I return? Honestly, the person working the wok here shows more skill than the folks at say....Dumpling Inn and things aren't gringo-ized. It does have MSG, it can be salty, it can also be bland, it can be greasy, it will be interesting to see how some of the other dishes are.....
4646 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111