Joy Garden, a Korean restaurant located at 5605 Tieton Drive in Yakima, is often passed by without notice. Without an overly obvious sign, and in a commercial complex where it is not expected to have a place to dine, it’s no wonder that many people do not know of Joy Garden.
But you should.
Upon entering Joy Garden, it is unusually quiet. You are greeted with the front counter, which gives patrons a clear, open view of the kitchen behind it. The walls have photos of some of the food they serve. Overall, the seating area is cleanly, but a bit sparse of atmosphere.
Something I found really fantastic was the small menu. It is one page, front and back, including appetizers and drinks. Having a small menu takes away the stress of deciding what to eat. After ordering, it took only 10 minutes for the food to come out.
The service for this particular visit was average. Over the course of the meal, my dining partner and I were only checked on once. When in need of a refill, we had to call over the waiter, even though there was only one other couple to wait on. However, I have visited Joy Garden another time and found that the staff is the friendliest that I’ve seen in quite a long time.
Personally, I am not a huge fan of spicy food. For all of you just like me, you will change your mind after eating here.
First, we ordered a plate of Kim Bap, which is what the restaurant calls its Korean sushi. A lot of people think that sushi can only be raw fish, but don’t be frightened by that misconception. This is a sushi roll with cooked beef and vegetables.
I also ordered Cham Pong, a soup consisting of homemade Korean noodles, shrimp, octopus and mussels in a red, hot broth. When the bowl came out I was instantly mesmerized by the smell that was wafting over to me. The steam was a cloud of spice that made my nose run. My first thought was that I would have to be very hungry to be able to tackle this bowl on my own. Without even asking, though, they had already brought out a ladle and two smaller bowls so my dinner partner and I could share the bowl of soup.
All of Joy Garden’s entrées come with three sides that the whole table can share: kimchi, sliced daikon radishes and cucumber. Kimchi can also be spicy, but out of all the kimchi I have tried this one is my favorite. While there is a small kick to it, it is not overwhelming. The daikon radishes are simply sliced. My favorite side was the cucumber. It is soaked in a sauce that is very tangy and sweet, but if eaten with some of the topping that is left it is also very spicy. So you have a choice on whether you want spicy or sweet and tangy. Without the sides, I most likely would have been struggling to eat such a spicy meal. But the sides evened out the spiciness of my soup perfectly.
When I first looked at the menu, I thought some of the meals might be a little expensive based on their description.
After ordering my meal, though, I realized that the prices were very reasonable.
You are given a large amount of food, and the price is small in comparison. On this visit I spent $20 for a dinner for two, including drinks.
I highly recommend going to Joy Garden to dine. It is a great experience to eat here and you will leave feeling content with your meal.
• Lindsay Schwehr is a sophomore at Eisenhower High School and a member of Yakima Herald-Republic’s Unleashed journalism program for high school students.