Friday, October 17, 2008
Last weekend we were over in Marietta for a fabric warehouse sale, and it just happened to be right down the road from Tasty China. We've heard a lot about this restaurant on Atlanta Cuisine, often touted as the best Chinese food in the Atlanta area. However, our first impression does not agree with that statement at all.
The inside of the Tasty China is nothing fancy and pretty typical of the strip-mall Chinese restaurant.
Service is no-nonsense and the main hostess will impatiently help you with your order. The menu is pretty long and you'll see many items crossed out and a few prices changed. We stayed away from the American menu and stuck with the traditional Chinese dishes.
First up was the Hot & Numbing Beef Rolls.
These were not what we expected at all. It looked more like Mexican food but we were pleasantly surprised by the flavor. Not too hot, but there was the numbing flavor of Sichuan peppercorns that I love so much. These are easy for leftovers too - you can just take them out of the fridge and eat immediately. A bit messy, but I would order these again for sure.
Then we had to try their Dry Fried Eggplant:
This was always well-recommended on Atlanta Cuisine and it did not disappoint. It reminded me of thick-cut sweet potato fries. Crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside - these would be even better with beer. These do not turn out so well when reheated, so try to eat them all at the restaurant.
Next, we tried the Steamed Chicken in Spicy Oil:
This is also called kou-shui-ji (mouth watering chicken). The color of the oil was much more red than my photo shows. It looked very spicy but the flavor was actually pretty mild and light. The chicken was incredibly tender and the pieces buried deep in the oil are the most flavorful.
Then we had a dish called something like Fish with Pickles:
I am not sure what this dish is supposed to be but it was rather bland, with an occasional punch from a scattered peppercorn here and there. Not spicy, not sour, not really anything. This is not something we would ever order again.
We hoped that things would look up with the Twice Cooked Pork:
Wow - talk about a salt overload! This could have been good, but it was too salty to be edible by our tastes. Some will claim they do not use MSG, but my body was giving me the signs of an MSG reaction for most of the day after eating here. This dish needed a lot of bulking up with vegetables at home to reduce the saltiness and make the leftovers last a little longer.
Finally we tried the Home Style Tofu with Pork:
Again, here was a dish that could have been very good but was made too salty to eat by most human standards. We were also disappointed that the chef did not make the extra effort to use silky tofu. They used regular firm tofu, which is the easy way out for this dish, but lacks the texture that you would expect. We added lots of cabbage, water, and some black vinegar to make a decent stew from this dish.
Overall this was not what we would call the best Chinese food we have had in this area. Much closer to us we have Sichuan House and China Master which I would put above Tasty China any day. We did get a lot of food for our money at Tasty China, but it's a waste if the food is not even edible. Maybe people think all Chinese food should be this salty? I disagree and do not have the same issues with many other restaurants I have tried. If we happen to be in the area again, we might give them a second try. I give Tasty China a "C" for their food, and a "B+" for their prices. But it would take many more visits to form a better opinion.