I went to May Garden for the first time this weekend, to sample the Taiwanese banquet offering. The chef used to cook at Tsuru, which was a family favorite and the only place I knew in Southern California that did a banquet menu combined fancied up homestyle Taiwanese dishes and more often seen seafood items. It's a great alternative to the Cantonese seafood banquets that can be found almost anywhere in So Cal.
Caveat: we used to eat quite often at Tsuru when Chef Eric worked there, so he remembered my dad. I'm sure we got some special treatment in terms of how much food we received for our price, but he is a wonder in the kitchen and worth much more than he charges. I only wish May Garden had better ambiance. I don't know if he has plans to remodel, but "worse for wear" is the nicest thing I can say about the restaurant. So go with adventurous eaters who don't give a bleep about a restaurant's interior, but remember to call ahead for the banquet menu! Otherwise you'll be ordering kung pao chicken off the "normal" menu.
Standout dishes included deep fried seafood rolls, fresh water cooked mochi, squid rolled around masago and seaweed, Taiwanese sticky rice, and Buddha jumps over the wall.
I did not love every dish we were served, and there were a few things we remembered that weren't served this time around. So I think having someone who knows the cuisine speak with Eric would be the ideal situation, but being curious enough to give him a price point and ask him to whip up a meal from 10 would be a lot of fun for most Chowhounds.
1400 SE Bristol
Santa Ana, CA