Two years ago I started taking a Pilates class from Bai Lan, a classical ballerina from China. She has the most bubbly personality, and along with her amazing ability to train the body, she is an avid connoisseur of authentic Chinese food.
He’s been telling me about China Garden in our hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and we finally arranged a time to meet there for lunch with our friend Cindy.
Bai Lan called the owners the day before to tell them we were coming. Michael and Linda Wu, the owners of China Garden, were the best of hosts when we arrived. Michael took me into the kitchen to watch the chef cook over the flaming woks. A whole red snapper was sizzling in a pot of oil, and Linda was preparing her famous pulled noodles, which she only makes on special occasions. Fortunately, we were her special occasion that day!
When were settled at our table, the food started arriving, and it seemed to never stop. The pork pancakes with chile dipping sauce was the first course. Bai Lan said they were the best she’d ever had, and they were truly delicious. The pot of fish soup had large chunks of whitefish and shrimp in a chile broth. The cumin lamb was incredible. The lamb was cut into thin layers and flash sautéed in cumin-scented chile sauce.
My favorite dish on the table was the dry-pot beef, which was thin slices of beef fried in a dry pot without sauce or much oil. The flavors were so intense and the beef was perfectly tender. A close second was the pulled noodles with chicken. The noodles were hand made, and cooked perfectly in a chicken broth with small bits of chicken and sesame.
The beer duck was delicious too, but I’m not fond of picking bones off small cuts of duck. Bai Lan said it was very traditional in China, and I must admit it was incredibly tasty. A gorgeous platter of bright sautéed greens was presented, and we were told it was a vegetable only native to China. It was similar to bok choy, and lightly seasoned with sesame. Not only was it beautiful, it was delicious! Bai Lan’s favorite dish was a cold plate of thinly sliced beef with peanuts and spicy chile sauce.
As if we weren’t quite full enough, Linda brought us each a bowl of Ube, a purple sweet potato ice cream flavored with coconut. What a great way to cleanse our palate of spicy flavors!
You can probably tell I cannot say enough about this wonderful restaurant. People come from other cities just to experience the authenticity of China Garden. So many university students love it, Michael makes daily deliveries to Tulsa University campus, six miles away! They’re open six days a week for lunch and dinner, and closed on Mondays. Give this place a try, and tell them I sent you!
China Garden, 9720 E. 31st Street, Tulsa, OK 918-938-6518