One or two of you guys told me about JS Garden awhile back and I’ve had it on the list ever since. I love the sort of strange location (it’s in a little strip mall behind Rally’s off 54th and Keystone). So I rounded up a couple of friends to give it a try. The restaurant bills itself as “teriyaki and Asian food” which seems to encompass a lot of things. I’d say the menu is heavy on Chinese items, with several other things mixed in from different regions of Asia (from curries to teriyaki).
I was surprised at how, well, nice the interior was. I mean it’s new, but I’ve sort of come to expect a stark interior at little places like this. They made an attempt to make this feel a bit nicer with darker colors and nicer tables and chairs. Also, the lady who greeted us and served us was very, very friendly and accommodating. If you go for lunch, take a moment to check out the specials board on your way in though. That’s the only place you can see them (otherwise you just get one of their carry out menus to look at). The lunch specials are around $5-6 and come with rice and a spring roll.
We started with an order of tempura veggies ($3.49—mainly because when I asked our server what veggies it included, she mentioned broccoli, which is my favorite tempura’ed veg. Unfortunately, while including many of my favorite other items as well (mushrooms and cauliflower), I didn’t really care for the crust—I think of tempura as a poofy batter and this was more of a grainy type breading. The veggies were the right tenderness, but the batter wasn’t good. They were also served with a sweet and sour type sauce rather than a tempura sauce, which is what I prefer.
We all had a bowl of hot and sour soup ($1.99 for me, $1.25 if you add it to a lunch special). It wasn’t bad. Pretty thick and dark—more of a sesame oil flavor to it than most—and kind of following with the theme of the rest of the food-not a lot of “hot” in it as far as spiciness goes. It was pretty hearty with lots of the typical hot and sour ingredients—tofu, mushrooms and egg. They also give you a nice plate of crunchy wontons to put in, which I always appreciate.
I ordered from the regular menu and decided to try the chicken Pad Thai because I was just sort of in the mood and our server recommended it. It wasn’t one of the lunch specials but on all of their dishes, they offer small and large sizes. I like that because I often feel over served with Asian food. I got the small ($5.79) and it was still more than I could eat. It was only ok though. It mainly consisted of noodles and not a lot else—I was looking for more of the fresh stuff (bean sprouts and green onions) to give it a bit of that fresh crunch. I had a hard time finding the bean sprouts. I also had to search a bit to find the pieces of chicken. The “sweet and sour tamarind sauce” was pretty darn sweet. There wasn’t the balance of spicy, sweet and sour that I typically like with Pad Thai. (She had asked me how spicy I wanted and I told her medium.) There was a little sprinkling of crushed peanuts on top but that was about the only thing that varied the texture or flavor of the dish.
My friends both had the General Tso’s chicken lunch special. I had a bit and preferred it t mine because it was pretty large hunks of chicken that were not overly fried the way General Tso’s can be and it also wasn’t drenched in sweet sticky sauce the way it can be as well. There were veggies (mostly broccoli and carrots) and rice and a small spring roll.
I always enjoy trying to find a new little jewel around. Sadly, while I appreciated the reasonable prices, the friendly people working there, and the clean and modern interior, I didn’t eat anything that I loved. I would go back and see about trying something else. Anyone else been there?
5425 N. Keystone Ave # 500
Indianapolis, IN 46220