By Julie W. Jones and Thomas J. Sullivan–
Temple Garden at 7064 Sunrise Blvd., in the north end of the Foodmaxx Shopping Plaza in Citrus Heights, now features a special Cajun Flare menu, offered in three combination buckets.
Depending on which shiny metal bucket you choose, you’ll find a large assortment of shrimp, clams, mussels, Dungeness crab, Snow crab, King crab legs and lobster tails together with piping hot potatoes, corn on the cob, and sausages in six different flavors including traditional Cajun, garlic butter, curry and a house special mix.
Seasoning ranges from very mild to “hot, flaming hot.” The restaurant serves a full range of traditional Chinese dishes, all without MSG. Vegans and vegetarians also have a number of menu choices to enjoy. Those with gluten allergies may opt to bring their own gluten-free soy sauce.
Lunchtime is generally the busiest time at the restaurant, open Wednesday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., so it’s best to call ahead to reserve a table. The staff takes a much-needed day off on Tuesdays, says co-chef Raymond Leung.
Customers can either dine-in or take out. Delivery is available for free within three miles of the restaurant, with a $25 minimum order.
Owner and chef Jackie Ruan, born in Guangdong, China, lived in New Orleans for three years before settling in Elk Grove and then opening Temple Garden in Citrus Heights. While in Louisiana, Ruan said he fell in love with the flavors of Cajun-style cuisine. He was a bit camera shy, needing to tend to his artfully prepared dishes in the kitchen, leaving co-chef Raymond Leung to take the spotlight.
Once Ruan decided to add the dishes he loved to his regular Chinese menu, his customers loved the unexpected surprise. Customers can currently get a 20 percent discount off their purchase of $25 or more from the Cajun menu, he said.
We were greeted by Cindy, also known as Yan, their friendly cashier and server who seated us. We thought we would try one of their dinner specials, but chef Ruan had a different idea.
Our first entrée was his special recipe Wonton soup which was full of thinly sliced pork and large wontons in a very mellow broth. Delicious to the last drop! For those who would like a large bowl of Wonton and Noodle Soup, he will gladly prepare it to include very skinny or large Chow Fun noodles, depending on one’s preference.
Up next came their Kung Pao chicken, generously topped with chopped peanuts, which had large pieces of chicken, zucchini chunks, water chestnuts and a few other vegetables mingled in a light, tangy sauce spiced just right. We were then served their Asparagus Beef dish which featured bite-sized slabs of tender beef and chopped asparagus in a flavorful sauce. Each entree was full of authentic traditional flavor and not over-salted as you might find in other Chinese restaurants.
When we thought we had no room for more, along came a basket of their light tempura battered Deep Fried Mixed Vegetables, loaded with large mushroom halves, onion, green beans, potatoes and more. Lightly salted, they were a treat to the taste buds and would be a perfect addition to any gathering.
Next came their lightly battered fish and chips. Several pieces of lightly-fried cod atop a bed of French fries in a basket, truly a meal in itself.
We felt the true star of the show was their Cajun Combo #1, a bucket filled with large shrimp, mussels, clams, corn on the cob, potatoes and sausages! Enough food in a single bucket to feed at least 3-4 people. Needless to say, we had lots of leftovers for future meals. We think you will too.
Visit Temple Gardens for lunch or dinner and be treated to a very special dining experience. Lunch specials ($6.95) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. are served with soup and a cream cheese wonton. Dinner specials ($8.95) from 3 to 9:30 p.m. are served with soup, cream cheese wonton and an egg roll. Two options for a complete family dinner at $13.95 or $15.95 per person are featured.
The restaurant is located at 7064 Sunrise Blvd. in Citrus Heights. A sample menu can be viewed at www.TempleGardenCA.com, where online orders can also be placed.
Hours: Wednesday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Closed: Tuesdays.
Thomas J. Sullivan is a reporter for The Sentinel and Julie W. Jones is a former food columnist for the Pacifica Tribune. Jones wrote her own Tribune column featuring original recipes and restaurant reviews for several years and now makes her home in Citrus Heights.