Restaurant: China Taste
Location: 529 E Valley Blvd. Ste 108A. (626) 766-1788
Date: September 3, 2017
Cuisine: Anhui Chinese
Rating: Great and really different
I was excited to try this place because I’ve never had Anhui cuisine before — neither probably have you. For those not in the know, it’s a province of China just west of Shanghai. Landlocked and fairly rural although the Yangtze passes through it and it’s certainly had it’s share of famous goings on during the last 10,000 years of habitation.
China Taste is located in a slightly upgraded version of the space that used to house Hunan Restaurant. That was a good place too actually, but not Anhui (as the name betrays), and there is always Hunan Chili King right across the street. China Taste is more modern now with booths and less standard Chinese big tables. The buffet of cold appetizers is gone.
From my cellar: NV Drappier Champagne Brut Rosé. JG 90+. As I noted in the past, the Drappier Brut Rosé is one hundred percent pinot noir from the estate’s own Aube vineyards and is produced by the saignée method, so that its lovely cherry color is from skin contact, rather than by adding a bit of still red wine to the blend. The cuvée is aged two and a half years sur latte prior to disgorgement and has a dosage of 7.5 grams per liter. The current release in the market is really pretty and stylish on the nose, offering up a vibrantly complex mix of strawberries, a touch of blood orange, chalky soil tones, rye toast, woodsmoke and a hint of clove in the upper register. On the palate the wine is brisk, full-bodied and focused, with a good core, frothy mousse, lovely minerality and a long, nascently complex and still quite tightly-knit and youthful finish. I was surprised how youthful the structure still was here, given how open the nose is at the present time, but it is certainly approachable today and should really blossom with a year or two in the cellar.
agavin: great with spicy Chinese
Shredded potato? or some other root vegetable. Vinegar and chili oil give this crunchy stuff an awesome spicy/sour flavor.
Sake. A decent mid-end sake, but doesn’t pair that well.
Cucumbers and garlic. Standard dish. Fine, but not particularly great.
From my cellar: 2012 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault Clos de la Baronne. 95 points. Light gold color. Drank 1 glass over 45 minutes plus. I’ll echo a lot of the sentiments of Chablis28. This was a thing of beauty. There was everything happening here tonight, finesse, purity, fruit, minerals, and all coming together in a perfect package tied neatly in a pretty little bow just ready for us to open. And speaking of open, it surely was. A great wet stones nose with stone fruits, pear, melon, citrus, great aromatics. The palate is bright, but elegant and seductive, the fruit is fresh and lively without being too forward, just the right amount of toast shows, stone fruit, lemon, balanced, lengthy finish, just plain lovely stuff.
Cold beef. Great with the sauce.
Cold chicken with peanuts in chili oil. You have to like the chicken bones and cold chicken in general but the chili oil had a great flavor.
2005 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Spätlese. JG 93. The 2005 Brücke Spätlese is another stunning bottle in the making. The bouquet is deep and racy, offering up a mélange of white cherries, kiwi, very slatey minerality and a topnote of spring flowers. On the palate the wine is medium-bodied, deep and intensely flavored, with a great core of fruit, brilliant structure, and a very, very long, nascently complex finish. The Brücke Spätlese is more closed than either the Kirschheck or the Felsenberg at this early stage, with the wine’s inherent complexity now a bit muffled by the combination of firm underlying structure and plenty of puppy fat. But this will be a great wine with a few years bottle age.
House special griddle chicken in chili pot. The white stuff is like dumpling skin or peking duck pancake floating in the rich dark chili soup. The chicken is little bits of chopped up chicken parts underneath. They were boney (full cleaver treatment) but the broth was extremely tasty!
Sliced pork with black fungus and garlic. Super delicious bacon-like pork in a nice garlic sauce.
Shrimp with aromatic chilies. Like the chicken and chilies dish that is common in Szechuan, but with whole shrimp. You could eat the shell and they were sweet, salty, and hot.
Warren brought: 1994 Zind-Humbrecht Tokay Pinot Gris Herrenweg de Turckheim. 81 points. Too old. Not undrinkable, but thin with no fruit or sweetness. Residual sugar was too low to last 23 years.
Special whole fish. Some kind of fish from China in a chili sauce, covered in chilies, and with tons of lotus root and other interesting stuff. Really delicious sauce. Fish was fish. I loved the sauce and vegetables over rice.
2010 Sea Smoke Pinot Noir Southing. 93 points. Central coast, cherry, earthy, mineral. Low tannin, complex.
Spicy beef soup with white mushrooms and chives. Looks mild but it was hot as bejesus. The waiter told us that it had 5-6 types of “spicy things”. We could see some green peppers. It nearly burned my esophagus out — tasted amazing though.
2013 Sea Smoke Pinot Noir Botella. 93 points. Deliciously approachable. Cherry, light cedar and oak, tannins still pull your cheeks in a bit on the finish to remind you there is still a lot of youth in the bottle
Mystery pot of mystery meats. Hot dogs, tripe, bacon and who knows what other yummies were at the ends of the sticks.
Spicy crawfish. Great sauce, but the cockroaches of the sea were very hard to get any real meat out of.
Dai dan qiezi. Amazing dish of 1,000 year-old eggs and eggplant.
You mash it up and it was incredibly umami.
David brought: 1989 Château Meyney. 89 points. Bright red in color. Green pepper, stony mineral, tobacco, black pepper and mature tannins. Very savory with little remaining fruit. Modest finish. Cork was intact. Possible an off bottle, but mostly just very mature Bordeaux.
Spicy chicken. Similar very spicy brown sauce and more super cleavered chicken bits. Bones again, but very tasty (and hot).
Fried rice. Nice fried rice, particularly with just about any of the red/brown sauces.
Scallion Pancake. They were out of preserved meats (Chinese salami) to stick on top. Still it was a yummy slice of oily goodness.
I brought a pair of homemade gelatti made that day: on the left, “Bourbon Street” a molasses, coffee, chocolate caramel with Knob Creek bourbon and home-made butterscotch. On the right “Triple Chocolate Cloud” with two kinds of Valrhona chocolate, Valrhona cream cheese chocolate icing and chocolate on chocolate oreos!
Overall really fun night. China Taste is family run with parents cooking in the back and the young (twenty-ish) son working the front room. Service was very friendly if not the speediest, but they really took care of us and brought the dishes out 1-2 at a time nicely. And the food was really interesting, very inexpensive ($31/person all in with a big tip) and extremely interesting. I’ve never had a bunch of these dishes and many of them were outstanding.
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