Posted in Restaurant Adventures

Review: May’s Garden Restaurant – Ottawa

122 Preston (at Somerset St. W.), Ottawa , (613) 234-6437

Date of Visit: February 1, 2011

Ambience and Service

The restaurant is quite small and homey but decidedly shabby and of dubious cleanliness. The cleanliness issue was not to the point of causing health concerns or anything but the place did seem a bit run-down. I was seated and had my orders taken by a young girl who was competent enough but seemed nervous and quite shy. The dishes I ordered were then brought by an older woman who was friendly and very helpful in answering questions. Overall, the service was quick, efficient and friendly.

(Please excuse the quality of the above picture. I forgot to take a decent picture of the interior. I hope you can get some sense of the place from this image)

The Dishes

Kung Pao Chicken – (宮保雞丁)

This came as a lunch special with rice and either soup or an egg roll for just $6.95. This was an excellent price but I really just wanted to sample the main dish and I waived the extras. The dish consisted of irregularly cut ‘cubes’ of chicken breast with dried chillies and peanuts. Non-standard additions were green pepper, canned water chestnut and chunks of baby corn. Restaurants obviously have to turn a profit but I though the additions, especially the latter two, were a bit too much. The sauce was a rather nondescript soy based sauce with no scorched chilli or ‘lychee’ sweet taste. There was also a jarring presence of 5 spice powder, although this taste seemed to be associated, strangely enough, just with the peanuts. I would have to say that the dish was not nearly as good as any of my own renditions and only rated 2 out 5 on my Kung Pao scale.

Boiled Pork and Shrimp Dumplings – The order was $6.95. I was rather expecting 3 or 4 pieces but I was given a plate with 10! This was rather more than I wanted as I hoped to sample other dishes so I ended up leaving three even though they were pretty good. The Chinese character name for the dish was 三鮮水餃 meaning ‘three fresh’ boiled dumplings. Two of the ‘freshes’ were obviously pork and shrimp and I guessed that the third was ginger as the taste was fairly dominant. The server, however, told me that the third ingredient was cabbage. This rather surprised me as the taste of cabbage was hardly noticeable. A few flecks of green could be seen but they obviously did not use cabbage as a bulky filler as is the case in so many places. The wrappers were fairly thick but not overly so and I enjoyed the dish. Rating 3 out of 5


A pleasant dining experience with cheerful, helpful service. The menu is very interesting and there are lots of dishes I would like to try. I will definitely visit again.

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