babka eater was impressed enough with a meal at Joyful Garden to revive a four-year-old thread on the matter. The place is improbably located in a Days Inn, but there is tons of parking, and once inside, you’ll find cloth napkins, bubbling fish tanks, and a sit-down atmosphere.

Like so many Chinese places, there’s a Chinese and an English menu, and they aren’t exactly the same. “Bring a large group, ask to order one of the set banquet menus,” advises Fukui San. The menus are for six people or more and have fixed price levels. The more you pay, the more you get. “I’d suggest you go with what’s there, be brave, and be willing to receive a dish or two that may be beyond your comfort zone. You will get a balanced set of offerings.”

If you prefer to explore the menu dish by dish, standouts include the crispy tofu with shrimp, water spinach, tofu and fish hot pot, and eggplant with basil.

Perhaps the best feature of Joyful Garden is that the Americanized Chinese food (like pepper steak and crab rangoons) is good, too, so you can take a timid eater for the pepper steak and he’ll wind up trying your crispy tofu with shrimp. “Consider Joyful a ‘cross-over’ Chinese restaurant for curious diners,” concludes tatsu.

Joyful Garden [Allston]
1234 Soldiers Field Road, Boston

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