Imperial Garden - West
In a word: Delightful upscale Asian cuisine.
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JM ate the cashew chicken with lemonade.
John ate the moo shu chicken with oolong tea.
Nichole ate the orange beef with oolong tea.
The bill was $42, or $14/person, plus tip.
John gave Imperial Garden an A; JM and Nichole gave Imperial Garden an A- (see our grading rubric).
We had a devil of a time choosing which Imperial Garden to go to. We've heard conflicting reports of which one was better. What eventually tipped the scales was that we had an errand to run nearby, so West won out.
It turned out splendidly. Not only did we have a fine meal, but the service was gracious. And we think John found his meal: moo shu was made for him. He'd had an excellent moo shu at China Palace, but this second try cemented the fact that any place he can get it will get an A, which he describes as something of a problem if you're trying to find relative quality from his reviews.
We started with some shrimp rangoon. They were served with two sauces: an average sweet and sour, and a delectable lemon sauce. John and Nichole found themselves spooning the sauce into the rangoon pockets.
Nichole's orange beef was actually too mild if she avoided the actual peppers. It had an exceptional crunchy (fried) texture that the server pointed out was much better the first time around (which was true, but the next day's lunch was still fine.) More than just garnished with spinach, the dish was well balanced by substantial greenery.
JM had a weird experience with his cashew chicken. He came to dinner not feeling very hungry, polished off his whole plate, then ended dinner not feeling very full. The dish arrived a tad cold, but a little warm rice mitigated this problem. The vegetables and cashews were sufficiently crunchy and the whole meal was really quite good.
As noted above, John yummed up his moo shu chicken. He called it "incredible," with the lemon and plum sauces making a tangy, sweet, tender meal. He felt a little silly eating it burrito-style, though. He said he'd definitely come back, as would we.
Again, we've heard wildly varying reports of the East side location and even this West side spot can have hits and misses on a menu this expansive. Of course, there is also the gas station that accompanies this Imperial Garden; it contains an Asian market of which we've also heard good things. But the prepared food seems reliable, and, while we were there, there was a brisk takeout trade which is a recommendation in and of itself.