CINDY’S CHINESE GARDEN

Food: () Quality Chinese-American food, mostly prepared from scratch without MSG.

Service: () Experienced server is generally fast, efficient and responsive to requests.

Atmosphere: () Lacking in attention to detail and discretion in storage.

More Info

Location: 1362 S. Highway 97, Redmond

Hours: Sunday to Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Cuisine: Chinese

Price range: Lunch $8 to $11; dinner appetizers $6.75 to $16, entrees $9.25 to $17.50.

Credit cards: American Express, Discover, Mastercard, Visa

Kids’ menu: Seven Chinese and American dinners priced at $6.50

Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Many options

Alcoholic beverages: Beer, wine, cider, sake

Outdoor seating: No

Reservations: Large parties are accommodated in banquet room

Contact: 541-923-9928, www.cindyschinesegarden.net

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First impressions can be misleading.

The facade of Cindy’s Chinese Garden, on U.S. Highway 97 on Redmond’s south side, clearly needs a new coat of paint. Inside the double doors, highly visible cleaning supplies clutter a corner of the room facing the host stand, with no effort at discretion.

It’s not an introduction that suggests a quality experience.

But Cindy’s offers some of the best Chinese food in Central Oregon. The vegetables are fresh; the meats are good; the Peking pot stickers superb. And although the absence of brown rice on the menu is a major fail, I’ve been more than satisfied with each of the entrees I’ve sampled.

At my lunch and dinner visits, service was executed by a single veteran waiter who had perfected the art of multitasking. He was at once friendly, efficient and knowledgeable of the menu items.

And I appreciated his honesty. When I asked about the Sunday-­morning dim sum (dumpling) selections the restaurant promotes, he immediately confessed they are pre-made and frozen. Specially trained dim sum chefs are rare.

Cindy’s seats about 52 in its main dining room, with another 38 in an overflow or banquet room. Decor is subtly classical Chinese in the table paintings and wallpaper. Cut-glass dividers etched with fish and wildlife scenes separate seating sections, and an aquarium occupies the middle of the room.

Dinner for two

When my dining companion and I arrived for an evening meal, we were slow to be seated but served with good speed thereafter.

We each had a cup of soup to begin our meal. The egg flower soup was bland and ordinary, its broth including not only egg drops but also frozen peas and carrots, water chestnuts, celery and onion. The peppery hot-and-sour soup had much more flavor, along with lots of bamboo shoots, carrots and straw mushrooms, along with tofu and egg drops. Best of all, no corn starch was added to thicken the potage.

As previously noted, our “pot sticker” appetizers ($10), made from scratch, were excellent. A half-dozen plump dumplings were generously stuffed with ground pork, pan-seared with presented with saucers of Chinese mustard and tangy, soy-based yuzu sauce.

Of three entrees, my favorite was green beans in black bean sauce ($14). Strips of tender beef steak were stirred into the soy-based brown sauce with the wok-sauteed vegetables.

Pine-nut chicken ($14.50) was boosted as “Oregonian flavors in one dish.” Indeed, the piñon nuts and straw mushrooms in a gentle brown sauce gave it a regional taste. An ample amount of diced, sauteed chicken was blended in, along with zucchini and water chestnuts.

Cantonese-style shrimp and scallop ($16) was the least memorable of the entree trio. Although the prawns were nicely poached, the tiny bay scallops had a slight fishy flavor that wasn’t diminished by a white sauce with only a hint of garlic. But a cornucopia of vegetables — including bok choy, broccoli, carrot, celery, baby corn, zucchini, water chestnut and snow pea pods — redeemed this plate.

Steamed white rice, which accompanies every meal that doesn’t include fried rice or noodles, was mediocre. When we requested brown rice, we were told it is not available. No apology was offered.

A solo lunch

My midday visit was less grandiose than dinner. But an $8 lunch menu with no fewer than 46 selections — 19 of them built around chicken, with the balance divided among pork, beef, shrimp and vegetables — made it a meal worth noting.

Service was remarkably fast, enabling diners on work deadlines to be in and out in a half hour.

Each of the selection included a choice of two soups, two appetizers and two kinds of rice. I enjoyed the hot-and-sour soup and pork-fried rice, which I found to be much more flavorful than steamed rice.

As an appetizer, I picked egg rolls over crab puffs (fried wontons filled with cream cheese and imitation crab). My choice gave me two fried egg rolls with rice noodles and shredded cabbage, along with celery, carrot and onion.

Yu Hsing pork was my main course. In the Yu Hsing style of preparation, meat is traditionally marinated in cooking sherry before serving. Cindy’s version was hardly remarkable, but it was satisfying. The pork was sauteed in a brown sauce with garlic and shredded vegetables, including celery, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, onions and green onions. Sweet-and-sour dipping sauce was offered on the side.

Cindy’s is not so good as to be worth a special drive from Bend, which has several Chinese restaurants of its own. But if I were in the northern Deschutes County area, I wouldn’t think twice about stopping here for quality Chinese-­7American fare.

— John Gottberg Anderson can be reached janderson@bendbulletin.com .

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