Something Wrong At Tasty Garden Alhambra a.k.a. Mr. Yuet

When Tasty Garden opened up in Alhambra almost 15 years ago it sent Hong Kong style cafe food in the San Gabriel Valley to new heights. When I wrote my one and only Top 10 Chinese restaurant ranking back in 2012 I seriously thought about including Tasty Garden as one of the top 10 Chinese restaurants in the United States. For 10 years Tasty Garden Alhambra had an uninterrupted run of serving superior Chinese food, and was the restaurant that we patronized the most. New branches opened and crowds grew in Alhambra such that they annexed the beauty parlor next door and expanded the restaurant. Then came the BOE scandal and apparently its sale to the Pot Pot Rice group, though the Tasty Garden name was retained. It seem to stagger a little, but then fortunately appeared to regain its footing. Then last year we dropped by one evening and all the staff was now wearing “Mr. Yuet” shirts and handing out Mr. Yuet menus. though the outside signage still said Tasty Garden. And much of the menu remained the same and the food was good enough to keep us coming, though not as often as it was clearly a little hit and miss, too. Then last week Mrs. Chandavkl dropped by, noticing that the previous expansion area was now blocked off and under construction. She ordered some of our favorite dishes and they weren’t very good nor were the portions what she remembered. I decided to check Yelp and in the past three weeks the staff had been completely replaced and people are complaining that the food is bad and the portions are smaller.

I hate it when things like this happen.

Running a restaurant business is hard.

Don’t know their story, but in a weird parallel sort of way we lost Cooking Papa up here to new owners who seem to be taking a more millennial approach to marketing (even going so far as to make some mock video explaining how they source their quality ducks and their philosophy of food handling like it were a food documentary) but perhaps not trying to up the former quality it once had and enjoyed. Gut feeling tells me that staff had turn over, chefs who knew how to make the good stuff were underperforming perhaps felt demoralized and some left for other pastures and thus having to take shortcuts…all the way until the new owners took over and still persisting and struggling in a way (thus inheriting an existing massive problem). Their longevity (maybe similar to Mr Yuet) will depend on how much the customers care about quality or if they just want to go there for whatever perceived value they’re getting and just fill their stomach space.

Yes, we recently heard about Cooking Papa from some friends. Horrifying.