Lucky Garden Restaurant
21 Bellevue Way NE
Bellevue WA 98004
Do you feel lucky? Well do you?!
By: Steve G
What do you look for when selecting a good Chinese restaurant? The outside dcor, location, cleanliness, service, clientele? Personally, I go by the last aspect to get a feel for how good a Chinese restaurant is. If I sit down and gaze around the room and see no Chinese people, typically it becomes a red flag that maybe this menu is more catered to Western palates. I usually buckle down my stomach and get ready for a wild ride.
By contrast, if I see more people of the Chinese denomination, I tend to think they probably make some great food Chinese. More often than not, it usually turns out well. Lucky Garden in Bellevue was the first place I was confused when trying to use my foodie-radar. Located right on Bellevue Way, the clientele was almost split completely down the middle diversity-wise with no clear way of determining how good it was.
Going by the other metrics still did not help the cause. From the outside, it looked like a converted International House of Pancakes, and while it was moderately clean it looked like there were some maintenance issues going on. But we knew Lucky Garden has been around for a while, so setting aside our pre-conceived notions we pressed on to the menu.
For lunch, Lucky Garden offers 19 different dishes each served with a side of soup, spring roll and fried rice. If you're looking for a good lunch deal in Bellevue, their prices are some of the lowest. At $4.95-$7.99 for the lunches, those prices are very hard to beat. We asked for the dinner menu, because the skill needed for lunch usually isn't as high as for dinner. We ordered the Fuk Chow Fried Rice, XO Seafood Sauce, and Salt and Pepper Pork Chops.
The Fuk Chow Fried Rice was a highly dense mixture of broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, and chicken in a brown gravy over the rice. All of the ingredients were chopped very thinly. It seemed prepared well enough, but we weren't too impressed by it. It seemed more like a generic mixture of ingredients that were slapped together with nothing truly standing out in terms of taste.
The XO Sauce Seafood had us very intrigued. But what's XO sauce exactly? Well it is used in some types of Chinese cooking and consists of dried scallops, chili, garlic and onions. This tangy sauce was very good in the dish, and the shrimp seemed very fresh. Grant commented that while the seafood was supposedly spicy, we didn't feel a hint of spice.
The Salt and Pepper Pork Chops was one of my favorites compared to all the others. The pork chops were lightly battered, then seasoned with salt, pepper, and some dried garlic. While it was favored by the reviewers the most, the one underlying issue of note was the strange aftertaste. Maybe it was the garlic or something else, but for some reason the taste in our mouths reminded us of eating dry Quik.
There were some minor glitches when it came to taking our order and we were a little miffed at the lack of water refills. Even the check took awhile to finally get paid which made the meal longer than necessary. Maybe they didn't think we were apart of the lunch crowd, but we were ignored for quite awhile and even flagging down a server took some considerable time. From the minor service mishaps, to the lackluster food, Lucky Garden made me feel like I just ran out of luck. There are many Chinese restaurants in the area to choose from and Lucky Garden didn't seem to put forth the effort to stand out.