photo by Cynthia Koo
It’s difficult to stand out within Chinatown’s stupefying maze of restaurants, but Oriental Garden, a sophisticated space open since 1984, consistently draws diners and industry folk hankering for authentic Cantonese cuisine. Manager Kwok Koo, who has been with the restaurant for 20 years, claims the place boasts the largest amount of live seafood in town, and indeed, a wide variety of marine creatures swim in massive tanks at the front of the space. Choose a specimen or two, and they’ll be returned to you on massive, eye-catching platters; whole fish, crab, lobster, prawns, and (enormously phallic) geoduck clams are all good bets. Dim sum is on offer at all hours, and some of the dumplings are excellent. Look for the fried shrimp balls, shrimp-stuffed eggplant, and crisp golden tofu. Also try the fried chicken, an essential element of every Chinese holiday menu.