13279 Black Mountain Rd.
San Diego, CA 92129
Just to put it out there before I write another word in this post: Yenchim Garden was practically my family’s ‘second kitchen’ when I was growing up. I have had really fond memories of this place growing up. I have tried to review the food and service here as honestly as I can, but it may be colored, consciously or subconsciously, by memories and relationships I have built their over the years.
In any case, I set out to find a restaurant that was budget friendly and when I could take two of my greatest friends since childhood to eat some authentic Chinese food. After mulling many options, I decided on Yenchim Garden, the neighborhood Chinese restaurant in our community of Rancho Penasquitos. It was convenient for all of us, I was familiar enough with the menu that I could order a few things I knew would likely be good for my friends to try out.
When I entered, I was immediately greeted with a great smile by one of my old friends from high school, who just happened to work there the day I flew back into San Diego for the holiday. One of my friends and I were then promptly seated to a booth and served fried wonton noodle strips and sweet and sour sauce. Since the restaurant was just hit with the dinner rush, it took a little for a server to come to our table.
We ordered a few items: green onion pancakes, sichuan style stir fried string beans, beef noodle soup, and fried bean curd stir fried with pork strips. I had also tried to order ‘drunken chicken’ (as in chicken marinated with wine) as an appetizer, but unfortunately the kitchen did not have any. After time elapsed as we all caught up with each other on our latest stories and gossip, the food arrived. The green onions came first, presented very expertly, and were every bit as delicious as I expected. It was flakey and delicate, chewy without being too dense, and having a nice light flavor to start off the meal. Next came the sichuan style string beans, which were very reminiscent of what my mom would used to cook. Due to the string bean’s great stir fry flavor and good gentle snap of an excellently cooked string bean, this was probably the dish best liked by the table. The bean curd with pork was good too, though it was the least favorite of the table. The bean curd texture and relative blandness may have not been something my friends liked, but I loved it. Finally, there was the beef noodle soup, with perfectly cooked noodles and a rich, flavorful broth that was just subtly spicy. The beef could have been braised slightly longer for tenderness, but otherwise it was very good.
In fact, I would say the meal was so good that I almost forgot to take a picture! It’s why the blurry picture I have put here is of food almost all gone.
There were many other items on the menu that I wish I could try and order, but with just these four dishes we were more than filled. The bill was pretty good too, coming to about $30. At these great prices, perhaps next time I can get more friends to come over during holiday breaks and eat other delicious items such as shanghainese style rice cakes and their special spicy stir fried noodles.