I will not be the first or the last blogger to write about Oriental Garden Restaurant at 14 Elizabeth Street in NYC (212-619-0085). Its a CitySearch favorite and is always given a great review by Zagat. None the less, I feel compelled to add my name to the chorus of admiration for the place. I add my name specifically because they were able to accommodate about 16 of us, including a full table of finicky adults and a full table of "chicken and broccoli" loving children with minimal fuss. The plain decor and giant tanks full of potential dinner items adds to the charm of the place. Most importantly, the food is good and liked by everyone there, including 7 year olds, adolescents, vegetarians and male martha himself.
The menu contains "Chinatown classics as well as Southern Chinese specialties. Do not knock the traditional dishes: let he who does not like sesame chicken cast the first stone. In addition to the regular menu, there is a chef's special menu, which includes photographs. Two dishes that I liked from that menu are the sea snails, pictured, and a combination of minced pork and duck served on lettuce leaves. Whole fish is good, but be firm as to what you want and how you want it cooked. The Peking duck is surprisingly good, with just the right combination of fat and crisp. We ordered a combination dish of shrimp and scallops off of the special menu, and received two separate dishes. Both were good, but we're still not sure if we got what we ordered. The fried tofu, which we had in a vegetarian dish of vegetables and tofu, is crisp on the outside and silky soft on the inside. This dish needs to be eaten as soon as you get it; before the tofu reverts to its god given form of a congealed vegetarian soilent green.
Not as good were the dumplings: leave these for another place. Two noodle dishes were forgettable, and the fried rice was fine, but "fine" is not a reason to order fried rice when there are so many other dishes abound.
The lovely wife used to go to Oriental Garden all of the time when we were dating. I am happy to report that it, too, has survived and thrived all of these years.