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Imperial Garden - West

In a word: Idinnerod: 7 days, 7 restaurantsDelightful upscale Asian cuisine.

The specs: #0259
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; Madison Originals profile; reviews at Foodie and Yelp: East and West; official web site; Imperial Garden Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Latest Imperial Garden news and reviews at del.icio.us

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).

Imperial Garden

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.

Shrimp rangoon

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.

Orange beef

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.

Cashew chicken

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.

Moo shu chicken

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.

Comments

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i'll second the vote that West is better! i went to the East location last year for valentine's day as a funnymeal, and boy was it awful!

Hey guys. Is there anything you can do on your end to show more than just the most recent post on your feed? Sorry to seem lazy, but it's nice to make sure at a glance that I haven't missed a review. I've tried the Atom, RSS1.0 and RSS2.0 options.

This is one of my favorite restaurants. This is the way Chinese was meant to be consumed; not at one of those warmed-over buffets that are popping up on every corner.

Elegant dining experience, good customer service, and the food is excellent. I love the almond chicken, chicken egg drop soup, egg rolls with hot Chinese mustard, and Oolong tea. My fiancee loves the Epicurious Delight.

This restaurant is so good we visit it about once a month, making it more difficult to try different restaurants in the Madison area.

I've been to both East and West side Imperial Gardens and have had great luck with both. We now live on the East side and often get takeout for dinner. Our favorites are the Grilled Potstickers, Chicken Lo-Mein, and Governor's Chicken (without the peanuts). I also like the Imperial Chicken, but only if we're eating in the restaurant because the breading gets too mushy in the takeout containers.

Those "warmed-over buffets" are the Asian equivalent of McDonalds; in Malaysia we call them "economy rice". They're OK for a quick and cheap lunch, but unfortunately that's what some Americans' impression of Chinese food is in toto.

I went to Imperial Garden West with a couple of friends for a quick bite a while ago and we're going to go back on Tuesday with my boyfriend...exciting!

Do you guys accept external reviews of differing opinion? This place appears not to be vegetarian-friendly, and people who've not had meat in their diets for extensive periods of time ought to know why; it could save them a night of discomfort and pain.

We went there once last summer. It was a huge disappointment. I have to say that Madison does not have any decent Asian restaurants except Saigon Noodles on Odana Road. As Jean points out above, this place is equivalent to Chinese version's MacDonald's.

@jackaroo - she was saying buffets are a Chinese equivalent of McD's (agreed!!)- not Imperial Garden. I've not been to a Chinese restaurant in Madison that has super authentic food (although I haven't been to Fugu yet...), but that being said, I've always thought Imperial Garden was one of the better Chinese places in town.

With regard to Fugu: From my opinion, it's great, both in authenticity and taste; JM & Nichole's review of the place is spot on. Imperial Garden isn't bad at all, but the meals I had there weren't particularly memorable.

This might be getting off subject, but since it hasn't yet been reviewed; does the Wah-Kee Noodle House fall under the "Authentic Chinese" category? I've been there before and it is definitely good, but I can't vouch for that category of authenticity.

Fugu is legit - my research group (sans me) are entirely Chinese and say that it's the only place worth going to in town. One used to live in DC and says that Fugu is better than any restaurant in DC's Chinatown.

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