I drive past Imperial Garden West often, and once lived next door. I find their fare good, but unspectacular. I was always deeply amused by the presence of an attached gas station/convenience store.
I'd heard they'd remodelled the convenience store and turned it into a chinese market, and I'd noticed the "Chinese BBQ" sign sitting in the window. It was sort of an unassuming sign, so I never gave it much though. It was still a gas station, after all.
A friend and I went there this weekend.
The market is decent - I found a few condiments and such that I've had a hard time finding elsewhere. It's not *great*, and is a little disorganized, but hey, it's still not bad.
The BBQ counter, though. Wow. The place was packed. The whiteboard menu listed many items, about half listed in chinese (which my limited grasp of culinary chinese characters and the writers handwriting were unable to decipher). Prices were good - whole roast cripsy duck for $13, $5/lb for BBQ pork. I bought some pork, my friend picked up a duck, we grabbed some rice noodles from the deli case, and we carried it out.
I admit to some surprise when the cashier asked me if I had gas with my takeout - aside from the obvious parsing problem, there's still something surprising about buying BBQ at a gas station.
The duck was quite good. Juicy, albiet a little greasy (although the last three chinese BBQ ducks I've had in various places were as well, perhaps it's just the standard) with a nice crunchy skin and a sweet/salty glaze. The pork was excellent - fork tender, but still a little chewy, good meaty flavor with a nice finish of that sweet soy flavor and a hint of what tasted like 5-spice.
They had a number of other english-labeled items hanging in the case that looked quite good - soy-steamed chicken, pork ribs, roast pork, etc. I didn't try them, but will probably attempt to at some point.
Now, of course, it's not *perfect* - I've had better chinese roast duck, for example, but I had to travel a long way and spent more money on it. This is good stuff and the price is remarkable.
Where are you eating and what do you think? What's opening, closing, succeeding, failing?
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