Mei Garden is at the corner of Lawrenceville Highway and Bethesda Church Road, in a strip mall that used to contain a Publix and is now half empty. It’s snuck up the UrbanSpoon charts, ranking 10th in Lawrenceville as I write, largely through word-of-mouth approvals and no media attention that I can see. I’ve been wanting to get back into some kinds of Chinese food, but diabetes makes Chinese about as tricky a cuisine as I can try to eat. All the sauces with sugars make it far harder than, say, a steakhouse, with steaks pan grilled in butter, and a veggie on the side.
I had heard though, that black bean sauces weren’t bad for diabetics, and conversations with Chloe Morris, of Chow Down Atlanta, seemed to confirm that. So as Memorial Day approached, I wanted to try Chinese. Mei Garden, being in the area and reputable, seemed appropriate. Problem is that black bean dishes tend not to be found in Americanized Chinese, and Mei’s menu is clearly aimed at the “fast lunch” and take home crowd. But it’s more versatile than some, and lo and behold, they had shrimp with black bean sauce. So we were in business.
I took my daughter, as my wife was still at work this day. It’s a generic strip mall store front, to the right of the empty space that used to house Publix. The inside is small, perhaps 7-10 tables total, and a little cramped. I ordered shrimp with black bean sauce, and my daughter, in homage to her cousin, ordered a curried beef dish. She was asked if she wanted a “combo” and she said yes.
“Rice?” I was asked.
“Do you have brown rice?”
“No, fried rice or steamed rice.”
“Steamed rice, please.”
First thing to arrive were the combo extras for my daughter. Those included a decent bowl of wonton soup and also a small spring roll and a fried chicken wing. I peeled off most of the fried outer layer and took a bite of the chicken. Pretty good, actually.
When the entrées arrived, mine was a dinner portion so larger than my daughter’s food. Her dish came with fried rice on the side, mine came with a pretty large bowl of steamed rice. I counted about 12 medium sized shrimp in the dish. I can’t eat a lot of meat at one sitting so that was ample for me.
I thought my dish was good and subtle. What rice I could eat I poured into my plate, to get the last of the black bean sauce, which was quite tasty. My daughter liked her dish but wasn’t overwhelmed with it. If I had to rate the food overall, it would come in as a cut above standard strip mall Chinese. It’s not that far from my house and so would be on my radar if I were shopping in the area. Staff, though often seeming pretty quiet, were pretty observant, and to the point. Service overall was good.
Verdict: Well earned reputation for pretty good Chinese food. Recommended.
3059 Lawrenceville Hwy
Lawrenceville, GA 30044