Lily’s Garden Restaurant (Albany, North Shore City, New Zealand)
Chinese cuisine is quite diverse but what we are exposed to are the main stream ones like Cantonese, Huaiyang and Shanghainese cuisine, there are much more variety than that like the Anhui, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Zhejiang and Sichuan to name some but of all these cuisine types Sichuan for me stands out as very unique where it is best known for its use of strong spices unlike the rest. Sichuan at the moment at least here in New Zealand is gaining its popularity and there are many restaurants now that showcases this cuisine type and the latest one, we tried was this Lily Garden Restaurant in North Shore.
Again like most of my review posts since COVID-19 started was done before our lockdown here in New Zealand, and actually this was the place a learned more about it from a Chinese perspective since I dined in with my ex-colleague who was originally from China and his wives parents are residing near the Wuhan Province, the epicentre of the virus. During the time we were here the virus is ramping up in China and New Zealand has one case, that is why when we were here there were few diners, in fact in such a large place there were only two families on a busy dinner time, and one of them was us. I will not dig deeper to our COVID-19 discussion but one thing to note was the lockdown of Wuhan was quite tough most of the Chinese nationals condemn it. Many days later everyone praises it since it was an effective method of containing the virus (was it?).
Now back to the food. Lily Garden was our choice for dinner since my ex-colleagues home town was from the Sichuan province and he want to showcase their cuisine to my family, but there is one problem, my wife is not a fan of really spicy dishes, now this will be interesting, especially for a cuisine that is known for hot spices. Surprisingly they have some non-spicy alternatives which I was surprised and delighted.
So like a typical Chinese dinner we started with a cold dish and it was this Sweet and Sour Spareribs with Plum Candy NZ$20.00. I was intrigued at first because I was never used to cold dishes specially when it’s made with pork ribs, this dish feels like a less sour and sweet version of a sweet and sour, it’s quite lean eating it cold is not a problem, but I just feel like I was eating a leftover sweet and sour from the refrigerator. Don’t get me wrong, it was not bad, in fact it was really tasty and quite addicting after your third or fourth rib, I was just not used to it.
Then we had this amazing bowl of Fried Chicken with Chilli NZ$28.00 or better yet chillies with Fried Chicken? While it may be shocking for most, don’t worry you are not required to eat all the chillies plus they are not that hot, still hot but manageable. It’s a very flavourful dish, well-seasoned and the chillies just upgraded that experience.
We also had this Fried Tofu with Shrimp and Salted Egg Yolk NZ$26.00, which was spot on, not just for me but also for my wife who does not enjoy tofu at all. This means, this was quite special, the flavour of that salted egg yolk definitely made this dish quite enjoyable.
Another good dish was this Sautéed Meat Shreds with Soybean Paste with Cake NZ$28.00, basically they were shredded meat in a savoury sauce served with Gua Bao or Lotus Leaf Buns. Another great dish and the serving portion was large, in fact there was a lot of meat for that buns.
And for our soup was this Egg Dumpling in Casserole NZ$38.00, there’s quite a lot of happening in this dish. There were egg dumplings, tofu, meatballs, vegetables and seaweeds. It was light but it packs a lot of nice and delicate flavours. Definitely one of our favourites.
Then to top it all up we have this dessert simply called Sweet Cold Jelly NZ$4.50, some call it ice jelly, I guess can decipher why from the photo above. Very interesting dessert and we love it, we so liked it I will feature a recipe of this one in the near future. Made with water jelly I suppose, because the clear jelly does not have taste at all, the flavour comes from the brown syrup which I guess is made with brown sugar. It was topped with raisins, sesame seeds and haw flakes. Describing it is not as appetizing as trying it out. It’s so simple but it was surprisingly likable, it was a very refreshing dessert and it was very light, so light I can eat the whole large bowl on my own.
We will definitely go back here; food was interesting and delicious to say the least. Place looks cool too, in a garden setting with lush foliage all over the ceiling and walls. Service was impeccable and with an affordable price tag, this place is a steal.
Lily’s Garden Restaurant 归蜀花园餐厅
Address: Shop3/270 Oteha Valley Road, Albany, Auckland 0632, New Zealand
Phone: +649 414 2488