Restaurant Review: Yahe Garden, North Finchley (N12), London

What was previously a rather mediocre chinese restaurant near our house has re-opened (having been closed for refurbishment for several weeks) with new name and new owners and staff. It’s now called the Yahe Gardens and it’s rather good.

We first went in for lunch 2-3 weeks ago, on a day when we were both working from home, and took advantage of their excellent weekday lunch deal. For just £5 you can choose from a selection of soups and a selection of main courses (all served with egg fried rice). Or for the same amount you can enjoy a mini spring roll (meat or vegetarian), a main course from the same selection and a soft drink too. Both choosing the second option, we enjoyed our little meat spring rolls, fresh, crunchy, bursting with flavour. Pete enjoyed his chicken with green peppers with a nicely robust black bean sauce. My crispy shredded chilli beef was amongst the best I’ve had. The service was warm and quick and the owner took the time to introduce himself and chat to us for a while. Last time we went in, he also came over to let me know that he was going to buy in some oolong tea for me, as I’d asked whether they had any on our first visit. I’d happily ordered jasmine instead.

Since then we’ve been back for lunch a couple more times enjoying a deeply savoury chicken noodle soup, a crab and sweetcorn soup that combined seafood sticks with real crab, a chinese chicken curry (Pete’s a fan) and a generous serving of plump Shanghai prawns with chinese cabbage, garlic and chilli.

Earlier this week we finally went for dinner, having been tempted by their package that allows you to order as many freshly-cooked dishes from the menu as you like until you are full for a very reasonable fixed price.

Combining that experience with our lunch time visits, I would rank Yahe Garden as above average for quality of food, excellent value, a nice range of dishes and good service.

The menu selection offers few surprises and it can’t match China Town for a few more unusual options but has a few dishes that most local neighbourhood Chinese restaurants seldom provide such as smoked shredded chicken, deep fried soft shell crab, noodle soup, baked mussels and ma po tofu.

We pigged out! We created our own mixed starters platter with spice smoked shredded chicken (which was salty, savoury and very moreish), deep fried tofu with chilli, salt and pepper (and delicious crunchy deep fried slices of garlic), satay chicken skewers (with a particularly tasty peanut sauce) and sesame prawn toasts.

The aromatic crispy duck might be a cliché but it’s a firm favourite and Yahe Garden’s provided moist meat, crispy skin and a rich and strong hoisin sauce.

We didn’t order mains until we’d finished the duck as we knew we might be full by then. We still found room for roast duck cantonese style, crispy shredded chilli beef and beef and onion fried rice. Again, the richness of flavours was present in all our choices.

We were too full to have dessert!

It’s a tricky time to open a new restaurant and we have our fingers crossed that these guys make it despite the economic climate. To that end, I’d like to encourage any fellow foodies located in or near London N12 to drop by and give this place a try. It’s not a “destination” restaurant by any means – just a local Chinese restaurant a cut above many of it’s brethren – but it deserves to be a success and I’d hate to see it close for lack of customers.


Edit: please note that this restaurant has changed owners since this review. The menu and cooking are different (though still reasonably decent) but there is no longer a fixed price eat all you like menu.

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