We wanted to make an attempt to celebrate Chinese New Year this week, and what better way to ring it in than with Americanized, MSG-laced takeout? My normal go-to, especially since I moved, has been Number One Chinese in Hazlet. However, our last order there encountered a small problem: there was a piece of metal in Justin’s beef with broccoli. He actually pulled it out of his mouth. It was tiny, almost like a metal string you would see on a Brillo or heavy-duty scrubbing pad. We didn’t make a big stink out of this because it really could happen to any restaurant, but it was off-putting enough that we needed a break. This leads to the review below.
Review #232: New Happy Garden (Keansburg)
This town ain’t exactly a food mecca, but New Happy Garden has delivered with competent Chinese food on three straight instances. That being said, the quality can range. Some nights it is excellent while on others it can be just average. I will admit that their garlic sauce is probably the best I have ever gotten from takeout anywhere. It is thicker and a bit sweeter than most. It happens to be the spiciest compared to other places, which will not draw complaints from me. They also seem to pack more chicken and beef into the containers, meaning their meals will fill you up. No, you won’t be charging back to the refrigerator an hour later. Justin and I have gone from our usual order of two large meals to one large and one small, or sometimes a large and an appetizer because of the amount of food they give you.
Their dumplings hold up pretty good as well. The dough is a bit thicker than I would like, but the filler has good flavor. Even their vegetable dumplings manage to come across as superior. I do have one complaint which pertains to my most recent order. Ever since Sichuan Cottage’s glorious wontons in hot oil, I have been searching for a place closer to where I live that can do the same. Still to no avail. These above were listed as “Szechuan Wontons with Hot Oil”. Not only did they send dumplings instead (and charge a higher price), but that sauce is clearly not oil (it was more like their garlic sauce and very much not spicy). While it tasted good, it was not what I was expecting and horribly mislabeled. There was hardly anything “Szechuan” about it. I really wish restaurants would stop throwing wording onto their menus without the product to back it up. Maybe with actual wontons it would have worked better. With me still being a bit stunned from the incident at Number One, perhaps Happy Garden will become my new go-to. 3 out of 5 stars.
This will probably be the last “Takeout Joints” column for a while. I think I have pretty much exhausted the supply of takeout places in my immediate area, and with us cooking more and ordering a hell of a lot less, the well is running dry.