Sherman's Food Adventures: Rose Garden

Rose Garden

Sometimes, we just need to go back to the Chinese well.  No, I'm not talking about the polluted water supply in China itself, rather I'm referring to plain ol' Chinese food for late night.  Believe it or not, we have not went for "da lang" (Chinese late night) in quite some time.  Consisting of smaller-sized dishes served with plain congee, da lang is both an economical way of late night feasting as well as being a way to sample more items.  So with that in mind, Milhouse, Lionel Hutz, Bear and myself headed over to Rose Garden on Kingsway.

Not only have we not done da lang in years, the last time we were at Rose Garden, Polka King was still allowed out of the house.  Yes, it has been that long! Things started off with 2 similar dishes except for the main protein.  The Chili Salt Pork Chops arrived as a fairly large portion for the price (all dishes were $5.99 except for seasonal veggies, add $1.00).  Lightly crispy and minimally greasy, the pork chops were tenderized and well-marinated.  Hence, the chilis, salt, garlic and white pepper only enhanced the existing flavour.  Next up was the Chili Salt Fish which shared the same elements as the previous dish.  Also lightly battered, the fish (most likely basa) was soft, but not exactly flaky.  The batter itself was well-salted, hence, the other ingredients were only complimentary.

Onto another dish with the exact same cooking process and seasoning, we had the Chili Salt Silverfish.  Okay, first of all, we weren't being boring here.  Chili salt goes real well with plain unseasoned congee, especially dunking in these little fried suckers.  Second of all, these are not the same silverfish you find scurrying on your kitchen floor...  Crunchy and salty, we did in fact dunk them into our congee.  Moving away from chili salt, we had a relatively healthier dish with the Garlic Pea Shoots.  Even though it was $6.99, this was a substantial amount of pea shoots for the price.  In addition to size, these were stir-fried just right with good wok heat with little moisture on the plate.  There was plenty of garlic to go with the ample seasoning.

With yet another veggie item, the Four Seasons Green Beans were decent.  Oil-blanched just enough, the beans were crunchy while cooked all-the-way-through.  There was a good amount of dried shrimp, onions, pickles and chilis which added the necessary array of flavours.  Again, the wok heat was there which ensured that the dish was not watery and at the same time, caramelized the ingredients.  Of course we couldn't ignore Milhouse's favourite dish, so we got the Sweet & Sour Pork.  Not trying to sound repetitive, but this dish was pretty large for $5.99.  The chunks of pork were large and meaty with a firm crispy batter.  Although it appeared that they were re-fried, the pork was not dry.  As for the sauce, it was more sweet than sour, but the dish as a whole was good.

Continuing with pork, we ordered the Jellied Pork Hock which was average at best. The meat itself was pretty dry and chewy while the skin was firmly gelatinized.  In addition to the missing garlic vinegar dip, the pork hock was completely over-seasoned being quite salty.  Our last dish was also enormous being the Spicy Wontons.  Sadly, these were not spicy at all.  In fact, the whole dish was lacking in impact with predominantly pork wontons soaked in a bland soy-chili oil mixture.  It was really a shame that our meal ended off on 2 duds as the rest of it was quite solid and good value.  I guess if one was to choose all of the right dishes, Rose Garden would be a really good inexpensive option for late night Chinese eats.

The Good:
- Inexpensive
- Large portions
- 6 of 8 dishes were good

The Bad:
- Place is in need of a reno
- Although mostly good, a bit hit and miss still

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