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December 23, 2009 > Restaurant Review: Rose Garden

Restaurant Review: Rose Garden

By Shavon Walker

"You often hear about restaurants going out of business these days," says Lawrence Wong, owner and manager of Rose Garden in Union City. "It's rare that you hear about one that's stayed in business all these years. I think our secret is that we've remained consistent over the years. We take pride in what we do and how we do it."

Truer words were never spoken. Rose Garden restaurants have been around for the last thirty years. They are a family owned business with friendly wait staff and a family-friendly environment. A second location at Union Landing Road closed in June of this year but the one on Alvarado Niles is doing well. People of all ages and backgrounds eat here with their children and other relatives.

The first thing I saw when I entered Rose Garden was a kitchen worker with a tray of fortune cookies. The best part? Each cookie was being dipped in milk chocolate. At that point, I knew I was in for a treat.

My party of five was seated fairly quickly and given menus. We decided to start with the appetizer plate: barbecue pork, chicken skewers, and fried wontons - served with a side of sweet and sour sauce. Normally, I detest pork at Chinese restaurants because it never tastes fresh but this pork was perfect. The fried wontons had no hint of grease and the chicken skewers were juicy, not overly dry.

As we were finishing the appetizer, the rest of our meal arrived. Hot and sour soup came in a large white bowl with a light garnish of green onions. It was steaming hot, and exactly what I needed for my nagging cough. Forget chicken soup - Rose Garden's hot and sour soup is amazing. The bamboo shoots provided a slightly crunchy texture and we finished it in record time.

Our Mongolian beef dish arrived soon after. Strips of beef cooked in a lovely red sauce, was served, topped with green onions. One of my spice sensitive friends warily eyed the chili flakes, but soon discovered that the flavor was very mild. What pleased me the most was the absence of gristle or connective tissue in the meat. It was tender and delicious.

Lemon chicken was next on the list. Breaded and fried pieces of chicken were served with a coating of lemon sauce, and a slice or two of lemon as a garnish. This was the favorite dish of another friend. Once the rest of us got a taste, we realized why. The breading was light; it stayed crispy and held just enough of the sauce. The sauce itself was wonderful; most lemon sauces for this type of chicken tend to be gooey and overly sweet. This one was lightly flavored with lemon and an actual sauce, as opposed to a gelatinous mess.

Chicken chow fun was the last dish full of crunchy bean sprouts, wide noodles, and stir fried chicken. Just enough sauce was used to coat all the noodles without overpowering; I hadn't had chow fun in a long time, and this dish was worth the wait.

To complete our meal, we decided to order dessert, chocolate mousse and lemon cheesecake. Both the mousse and the cheesecake were light and fluffy; the mousse was rich and chocolaty, while the cheesecake was lemony without being tart. The waitress was kind enough to bring us some of the previously mentioned fortune cookies and they were just as wonderful as I thought they would be. These Rose Garden originals have been around for at least ten years - $.4.95 for a quart - and make a lovely gift.

Rose Garden's recessed lighting and lovely flowered dˇcor give it a hint of elegance. The staff is friendly, the food is incredible, and bathrooms are perfectly clean. "We're not a chain," said Wong. We have a love for our food and we try to keep it unique." Visiting this restaurant is like finding an island of beauty in a sea of mundane. If you want good food at a great price in a wonderful location, make sure you travel to Rose Garden. And don't forget the fortune cookies!

Reviewed December 14, 2009

Rose Garden Restaurant
33348 Alvarado-Niles Rd., Union City
(510) 489-5090

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