Seriously, what's in a name? It was confusing at first because the sign on the outside with lights said Ding's Garden, but the menu said Savory Garden. It was some what confusing at first looking around the place trying to figure it out what type of cuisine it serves. After a while, I decided to ask Lao Ban Niang (Chinese term for lady manager).
She explained it to me there was a few regions of China that influence the dish with a little Taiwanese adage. I don't know whether or not she added Taiwan in there because she is trying to cover all base with me, but I could give a little latitude on that since they did have some appetizer dishes and the deep fried stinky tofu to back that up. As in for the name of the restaurant, let's just say she stressed that it's not the same owner of the restaurant with the same name in Valley Blvd & Garfield Ave intersection.
My friend and I wanted to come here to taste test out their stinky tofu. There are a few types they have here to suit your liking. If you are not familiar with stinky tofu, the odor can resembled the stinky smell of a sewer or a garbage can. The tofu is often fermented for days to months depending on the preference of preparation. It can be cooked in deep fried, steamed, or stewed with sauce.
My friend wanted to order the steamed version of the stinky tofu where the smell would stand out. He is on the money when he said the smell will be strong, but it was not as stinky like a sewer kind of smell. More like a bad body odor kind of smell. I did came back to order the popular version of stinky tofu when it is deep fried. It was mildly stinky, but very crispy for that delicious taste.
The obscure dish of the night was the Meicai Shrimp Egg Fried Rice. Meicai is a re-hydrated dried mustard greens. In our dish, it looked like a preserved vegetable seeds that tasted very good in the fried rice mixed with a bit of shrimp and egg.
We also gotten fried rice cake noodle that mixed with vegetable and beef that was quite delicious. The noodle dish that get the most attraction in this place is their beef tendon noodle soup. What I appreciated about this place's beef noodle soup is the subtlety of how the soup was not too greasy. It doesn't cloud the taste of the beef and noodle with unnecessary chili where you can add it to the soup on the side. The tendon was tender and melt in right in your mouth. The noodle was also a huge complimentary team member to complete the entire bowl.
I also can't resist coming here without ordering Xiao Long Bao (Pork Juicy Soup Dumplings). Made to order and comes in fresh right at your table. Eat those little suckers while it's hot because the skin would be still fluffy but trapped all the delicious juice inside the dumpling.
Very casual dining place with not much of an ambiance or decor to speak of. Majority of the main dishes are cheaply price at $4.99 to $5.95. Appetizers are lower than $5, except for the salted duck.
Very happy in coming here for casual dinner or lunch. The fuss about the name of the place was gone by end of a very satisfying meal. It's a three person operation with Lao Ban Niang holding down the fort in the front where she made the service goes smoothly in this place.
Made the repeat trips worth while on any given night.
534 E Valley Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776