When you think about it, there are very few “sit-down” Chinese restaurants left in New York City. I don’t mean buffet restaurants…I mean table service with white cloth linens, china tea service and silverware. J.J. Garden has all this, plus superior Chinese food with a specialty in seafood, tropical cocktails and excellent service provided by Jerry, the master waiter. Sure, you could order J.J. Garden’s excellent food to go, or for delivery, but eating in is a lesson in Chinese hospitality, from the moist towels brought at the beginning of the meal to the fruit brought at the end of the meal. These are details that people love, as evidenced by a full dining room on a weeknight in August. A handsomely decorated private room in the rear can accommodate 20-30 people for a business lunch, dinner or other private gathering, and the prices are great.
Relax in the clean, peaceful dining room and order a cool, refreshing Mai tai, frosty Piña colada, Scorpion or Zombie, all elegantly festooned with tiny umbrellas and fruit skewers. Owner Jessica Chan, who hails from Hong Kong, greets all her guests personally. The menu features dishes from all regions of China and all are prepared on the spot using the freshest ingredients and presented to you on gleaming white platters.
We started with a selection of their fabulous dumplings, filled with either pork, seafood, vegetables or chicken. Juicy, little pork buns are actually dumplings filled with meat and hot soup, and come from the Dim Sum menu, which is traditional in Chinese culture. There are also egg rolls, crispy, light spring rolls and fragrant scallion pancakes, none of which is greasy or salty, but light and flavorful. Barbecued pork ribs and roast pork are wildly popular for their meaty tenderness and the soups are great too. One of the most popular is the spicy shredded pork and cabbage soup.
The menu boasts of dozens of entrees including a fabulous array of seafood dishes, meat, poultry, pork, vegetable and noodle dishes, all cooked to order and served nice and hot. J.J. Garden specializes in the freshest fish and seafood and the highlight of the seafood menu is undoubtedly the whole fish, quickly fried and served in its entirety. In one variation, a whole sea bass is topped with zesty sauce and scallions. In another, the whole flounder is topped with vegetables and pineapple, in a sweet and sour sauce. Both are crunchy outside and flaky and moist inside. Chinese cuisine is meant to be shared so put everything in the middle of the table and dig in. One of my favorites is J.J. Garden shrimp. These plump, tender shrimp are prepared in a delicate white sauce with candied walnuts and bright, fresh broccoli ($12.95). Big, juicy scallops are prepared with a rich garlic sauce, with black bean sauce, in a zesty Hunan sauce or with mixed fresh vegetables. Try the chef’s special salt and pepper prawns, scallops and calamari, dusted with a light breading that includes sea salt and black pepper, then delicately fried to a crisp, golden finish. Go for the lobster served here in your choice of ginger and scallion sauce, spicy garlic sauce, black bean sauce or with their famous salt and pepper breading.
My companion ordered the Peking pork chops, another house favorite, due to the tangy barbecue sauce. Beef dishes include classic pepper steak, Kung Po beef and Moo Shu beef with 4 pancakes, ideal for sharing. Peking Duck is a delicious specialty of the chef, expertly prepared in about 40 minutes’ time, but well worth the wait for this succulent, perfectly seasoned duck. There are lots of noodle, rice and vegetable dishes so even vegetarians will find plenty of choices. Vegetable lo mein sautees fresh vegetables with spaghetti-like noodles. Buddhist delight is a mélange of colorful vegetables, black mushrooms and tofu in a delicate sauce . The fried rice is excellent; light and fluffy, flecked with vegetables, or roast pork, chicken or shrimp. There’s even a “Spa Menu” for light, healthy dining.
J.J. Garden is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, from 11:00am to 10:30pm on weekdays, until 11:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and from noon until 10:00pm on Sundays. There are lunch specials served from 11:00am until 3:30pm starting at just $5.50 that include soup or salad, main course and rice. J.J. Garden is conveniently located in the Jackson Heights shopping center, so there’s ample parking. Grab a take out menu or visit their website for menus. Fast free delivery is available, but for a unique dining-in experience, visit J.J. Garden, enjoy a festive cocktail and a fabulous multi-course meal served by professionals in a clean, comfortable setting. Xie Xie Ning! (Thank you very much!)
75-21 31st Avenue