Feels like OUR Garden at: You Garden Xiao Long Bao in BAYSIDE, NYC
While planning a trip that we were taking (that never happened, thanks a lot Covid-19) to Asia, we stumbled upon this Shanghai style restaurant in NYC. With two locations we decided to visit the one we figured would be less crowded (we were wrong, even with reservations we waited a bit to be seated) and closer to the home. I’m not sure yet what the food tastes like in Shanghai, but if it’s anything like the food at You Garden Xiao Long Bao, I cannot wait to reschedule that trip!
You Garden is an extremely well lit business. Very bright yellow and purple lights outline the building and it’s quite impossible to miss this place. If that wasn’t enough to give it away, the many ducks hanging in the window and the many skillful workers with their hands moving super quickly is a good indication as well. While in the waiting area for our table we were looking into a glass case of items and honestly couldn’t tell what over half of them even were. That’s enough to scare some people off…it only made me more excited to get seated and get the meal underway!
Since we had a fairly large party (we made this a trip for Chas’ birthday meal) we were taken to a private room that had a large circular table with a huge glass lazy Susan – a la Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. There was a beautiful chandelier above us and it was a large but also cozy room if that makes any sense at all?! We were nearly immediately served tea and once the commotion around the restaurant was bit more tame, we put in the first wave of our order.
Starting with the Main Event!
The entire (large) menu here looked incredible and we ended up ordering quite a bit of different dishes but there was one major reason we came here. The Giant soup filled crab bun is the attraction that caught our eye! This thing is the size of a softball and is filled with huge amounts of crab meat and broth. The way to properly consume these is to stab the
doughy flesh with a straw and drink the broth until it is gone and then eat the rest of the crabmeat and the dough. It was not only incredible and everything I had hoped it would be, but it proved to be a really fun experience and also at a very fair cost. Each huge soup dumpling I believe came in just under $4. Not only will I guarantee we will be going back here many more times, but we have already been back once.
What else is in store?
We ordered in waves because we ordered so much food so I’ll just briefly hit on everything we tried. First, I will say that the Sweet Purple Potato Mochi with Salted Egg left much to be desired. It was in no way poor, but it was just bland. I expected a lot more out of that knowing how strong salted egg can be. The Red Bean Puff’s however were the exact opposite. Flaky crust almost like a croissant and the paste was super flavorful. If there was a “winner” from our “appetizer” style items though, it is 100% for certain the Scallion Pancakes. These are NOTHING like the ones you get from most Chinese take-out places and they were incredible. Hot, light, flaky, full of scallions...delicious!! Highly Recommended!
For more of the “main” style items let’s start with the Peking Duck. This was super juicy and the skin was extra crisp. They served the duck with a thick and pungent dipping sauce that
was perfect and they also sent out some flat bao that almost looked like mini flat taco shells but with more body. You could make a little sandwich bao or just eat the duck. It was good either way but honestly just dipping the duck in that sauce was 100% good enough for me.
The Garden Special Soup Dumplings were also very good. These are more bite size type dumplings that you bite a small portion of and allow the broth to run onto your soup spoon and then you drink the broth and eat the dumpling. These come with a few each of three different varieties of dumplings: Shrimp and Pork, Crab and Pork, as well as Squash with Shrimp and Pork.
The Pan Fried Pork Buns and the Pan Fried Dumplings were exactly what I expected. Picture any of the fried dumplings you’ve ever gotten at a take-out place and then picture them five times better. The filling was delicious and the dough was still pliable on one side and crispy on the other.
The Diced Beef with Black Pepper Sauce was like a significantly better version of any Pepper Steak you’ve ever gotten from take-out. The beef was far superior in quality and the seasonings were more concentrated and calculated.
Honestly, I feel as though Grandma’s Braised Pork was a miss. A near miss, but a miss. The quail eggs that came with it were tasty and a fun addition but the pork belly had practically no sear on it whatsoever which texturally was a turnoff. It made the fattiest portions have a poor mouth-feel and the meat itself was also just not as good had it been seared hard and then hit with sauce.
The Pan Fried Noodles with Shredded Chicken was also a miss for me personally. These noodles had the texture of being deep fried so they were very hard, genuinely reminded me of a package of ramen noodles that had not been cooked yet. If this is how this dish is served in Shanghai, I will be certain to not order it once I get there.
YOU make me happy
All in all, this was one of the best Asian restaurant experiences of my life. If you know me (Chuck) at all, you’ll know that’s a very bold statement. I have dined in many different Asian restaurants from Chinese, Thai, Korean, Japanese, and many more backgrounds and I feel this was in the top 3 I’ve ever been to. Not only have we already been back to You Garden, but I’m 100% confident that we will be going back again…and again…and again.
You Garden Xiao Long Bao – Bayside … Didn’t Suck!
Please check out our video content about You Garden and check out the MANY photos in our photo gallery!