It was a cold and blustery night. Snow fell and the roads were deserted. Nevertheless, my intrepid family plunged onward in search of new flavors. As we pulled up to the restaurant, the adventure faltered as one child tumbled face-first out of the car into the snow. Nevertheless, we trudged onward and into the exotic confines of Hunan Gardens. Okay, it wasn’t quite that dramatic the night we visited Hunan Gardens, but the weather was bad. When we stepped inside, I noticed that we weren’t the only ones braving the weather to sample Hunan Garden’s Chinese cuisine. A good sign!
After we were greeted, and seated at a table already set with crispy fried noodles and duck sauce, our server promptly brought us water and a teapot filled with tea. The mom in me appreciated how our server filled the water cups only half-full for the kids (one still managed to spill) and that the teapot had a special bottom that made it almost stick to the table, lessening the chance a hot water spill.
As we settled in, the kids marveled at the décor— hanging lanterns, a geisha doll sitting atop the sushi bar. These touches made the stark, strip mall location feel more exotic and festive.
Big menu, big portions
Given my limited experience with Chinese food and the extensive menu options, I gave my husband, Jeremy, the task of ordering, since he ate Chinese food regularly growing up on Long Island, NY. The rest of us enjoyed reading the Chinese zodiac placemats and determining whether or not there was any truth to the predictions.
To get started, we ordered crab rangoon, pot stickers and chicken sticks, since all seemed like kid-friendly options. All three were big hits. Joey stole as many crab rangoons as she could, and I particularly enjoyed the pot stickers with crispy bottoms that contrasted well with the soft, steamed dough. The chicken sticks, simply pieces of chicken skewered and grilled, were a little dry, but the flavor was quite good.
Jeremy, our resident Chinese food expert, ordered several dishes for us to share including sesame chicken, sweet and sour chicken, pork fried rice, orange beef and General Tso’s chicken; when given the option, all were ordered with mild spiciness.
As soon as the food arrived, spoons were flying. We heaped rice and colorful, steaming food onto our plates. Our family rule is that everyone must try one bite of everything. Our 4-year-old, Mae, stuck with the safer, more familiar looking sweet and sour chicken, occasionally swiping a veggie from another dish. All of us enjoyed the sweet and sour chicken with its light, crispy breading that enveloped the meat. The sesame chicken featured beautiful, bright green broccoli. I noted that the pork fried rice offered an almost equal mix of meat, veggies, egg and rice, while some fried rice with mostly rice and little else. The orange beef, though sweet, had a delicious spiciness that built slowly with each bite.
Like any good Chinese restaurant, Hunan Gardens concluded our meal with fortune cookies. The kids enjoyed cracking them open.
Throughout the evening, more people came to dine in and a steady flow of people stopped by to pick up takeout orders. The five of us put a healthy dent into those five dishes yet still packed up several boxes of leftovers. In the days that followed, Jeremy had to fight the kids for those leftovers. I’m sure he was happy that our kids enjoyed the food but despaired when he missed out on delicious leftovers. I cannot wait for our next visit to Hunan Gardens when we can explore more of their huge menu.
When asked if they liked the restaurant, my older kids nodded in the affirmative with a fake, open-mouthed “Yesssssssss!” That is a dining win if there ever was one.
The Short Course Kid-friendly: Yes Noise level: Quiet to average High Chairs & Boosters: Yes Got milk? Yes
Kids’ menu? No Reservations: Yes
Food Allergy Concerns: Ask your server or the manager for assistance with allergy concerns.
1949 Tiffin Ave, Suite 7, Findlay 419-420-1689
“Hunan Gardens Findlay” on Facebook Open:
Closed Mondays Sunday–Thursday
11am-9pm Friday & Saturday