Despite the mysterious and enticing name, Hidden Garden isn’t particularly well-hidden at all. In fact, it’s located in a strip mall on Sepulveda, right next to a McDonalds. Frankly, it could barely be better located if it wanted to be seen.
But enough of the puns related to what is clearly meant to be a hyperbolic name. There are more important things to discuss here, namely the exquisite Thai food on offer. The first thing we notice upon entering is the fact that every member of staff is smiling. We’re practically treated like a dinner guest at a home as we’re seated among a big, comfy pile of cushions. Water is poured immediately, and we’re offered a drink as we pore over the menu.
As we arrive before 3:30 p.m., the lunch menu is available to us, and that means the $10 specials – incredibly reasonable given the quality of the food. The specials automatically come with a fresh, shredded papaya salad in advance of the main meal. The salad is small but it serves as a tasty palette cleanser – a small bowl of zesty vegetables that manages to raise anticipation for the main meal through the roof.
When the meal arrives, it comes with an egg roll and jasmine rice, as all the lunches do. The egg roll isn’t particularly hot and crispy – we’re not sure how fresh it is. But it is tasty enough. The rice is sticky and fragrant, and pairs perfectly with the sauce of the main dish.
Which only leaves us with the teriyaki chicken. The meat arrives neatly sliced and drenched in the sweet sauce. The chicken is tender and moist – not at all dry – with the skin still in place. The whole thing is so perfectly cooked, even the pile of steamed cabbage and carrots on the plate seems delicious.
A combination of saucy meat, rice and veg on the fork is to die for, meaning that every bite is a winner. A look up and down the menu suggests that there are many other items well worth checking out too, and the room’s comfortable vibe certainly makes us wants a return. At those lunchtime prices, there’s really no reason why not.