Here are some excerpts from recent Dining Out reviews by Globe West correspondents. Full reviews appear in the Sunday edition.
New Garden250 Chestnut St., Needham, 781-449-1450, 781-449-1698 What makes New Garden so special? The food and service are top-notch, the prices are more than reasonable, and the dining room is immaculate.
We especially like the way the menu is designed, with various combinations and sizes for every taste and appetite. We liked all that we sampled, down to the basic egg roll ($2.10), which was crunchy and fresh, and filled with finely chopped vegetables.
For entrees, we especially enjoyed the beef chow fan ($10.50), a hearty platter of tender beef tossed with wide rice noodles, scallions, bean sprouts, and onions. We also liked the hot and spicy kum po chicken ($8.75), a colorful blend of sliced chicken, celery, scallions, peanuts, and fiery chili peppers.
The Yu Hsiang three delight ($14.75) is a good choice for meat and seafood lovers. The dish features chicken, beef, and plump shrimp, sauteed in a hot pepper, garlic, and scallion soy sauce.
Some judge a Chinese restaurant on the quality of its Peking duck. New Garden's version, $37 for a whole bird, $20 for half, could challenge the best of Chinatown eateries. The roasted duck is butter-soft, the skin crispy, shiny, and nicely browned. The duck is served with very delicate warmed Mandarin pancakes and a plummy hoisin sauce.
Lemon Thai Cuisine555B Washington St., Wellesley, 781-237-6995 or 6996 I knew, after tasting myriad dishes and watching the waitress tend to each table, the food, cheerful efficient service, and careful attention to details are what keep diners coming back to Lemon Thai Cuisine. My table had three appetizers, four entrees, and one dessert and escaped with a check for $60, not including tip. Unheard of when the food is this good and the value this satisfying.
Each dish -- right down to the carrot blossom garnish -- shone with fresh ingredients. The menu is vast -- everything from fried chicken wings and crispy rolls to seafood, vegetarian, curry, rice, and Thai noodle dishes. Many of the items list a lunch price as well as dinner. Some are just served at dinner. All the appetizers are priced the same for both.
From the seven varieties of curries, the massamun chicken curry ($6.50 lunch/$9 dinner) had a distinct tropical flair, with potatoes, onions, carrots, and chicken steeped in a coconut broth studded with peanuts and pineapple.
The crowning pad Thai ($7 lunch/$7.50 dinner) won praise for its glistening noodles, loaded with bits of chicken, shrimp, egg, and scallion, tossed in the classic pungent sauce that included fish sauce, sugar and vinegar, and crushed peanuts. A clump of watery bean sprouts added texture.
Yama Japanese Restaurant245 Washington St., Wellesley, 781-431-8886We started our meal with the workhorses of Japanese cuisine -- miso soup ($1.75) and seaweed salad ($4.75). Yama's versions were more than competent, the soup rich and flavorful and the salad nicely spicy. An appetizer of agedashi tofu ($4.75) was particularly good -- its trademark dried fish flakes writhing and curling atop steaming-hot fried bean curd in a tangy soy sauce.
We moved on quickly to the lively fire dragon roll ($8.50) -- crabmeat tempura wrapped in rice and topped with spicy tuna, flying fish roe, and scallion. It was well presented and enjoyable, although a separate order of California rolls ($4.50) seemed hastily assembled and loosely wrapped, with rice leaking out of many segments.
A beef teriyaki entre ($17) was not as flavorful as it might have been, but we were pleased with the tempura udon soup ($10), a rich broth filled with thick, soft noodles. It came with a generous side bowl of fried taro, zucchini, broccoli, and shrimp for dunking or sharing.
Yama does udon noodle dishes particularly well -- the yaki udon with chicken ($9.50) was unexpectedly rich, flavorful, and filling.