Szechuan Taste recently opened in San Diego, in the same plaza as Bullpen and Do Re Mi.
There’s been an influx of Sichuan-style Chinese restaurants that opened in San Diego this year and I guess there’s no signs of stopping.
On the evening we dined, the restaurant was pleasantly full but we were able to get a table right away. The menu, much like all the other new Sichuan restaurants in San Diego, is quite extensive, with glossy pages and photos. One noticeable difference is that they offer live whole fish, an item the waitress tried very hard to sell me on, but with just the two of us dining, I wanted a simpler dinner.
One thing I like about this place is that the serving plates and portions are quite large. Nearly every table in the restaurant was ordering the spicy boiled fish (a popular Sichuan dish which involves gently poaching fish fillet pieces in a spicy broth), which was served in a oversized bowl that looked big enough to hold food for at least half a dozen people.
For this dish, thinly sliced lamb pieces are stir fried with cumin and peppercorn. I thought this version was a little too toned down. While the meat was lightly scented with cumin, it wasn’t nearly as potent as other versions I’ve had.
Dry Cooked String Beans
This dish involves a technique of cooking the beans in a shallow fry until the skin begins to blister and the inside begins to soften. The key is to be able to remove the beans while they are still crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
The dish arrived on an oversized platter, with plenty of green beans accompanied by minced pork and pickled mustard greens. This was quite a large portion and we barely made a dent. The beans were cooked just right though.
Tea Smoked Duck
Over Thanksgiving break, we had a delicious tea smoked duck at a restaurant in the Bay Area. We’ve had little success finding a good version in San Diego, so I don’t know what possessed me to order it here. As soon as this dish arrived, I knew it wasn’t going to be good.
This dish involves smoking a marinated duck over tea leaves and twigs, which renders off some of the fattiness of the duck. It’s then fried for a few minutes to crisp up the skin. Like most smoked meats, when it’s done right, the meat should be a lovely shade of pink. As you can see, this duck looked extremely pale–almost gray. The inner pieces had the very faintest of pink.
The duck was marinated but lacked any of the tea smoked flavor. It was extremely disappointing.
Overall, we had an okay first visit here. It was hard to get a good feel for the menu with just the two of us dining. I’d love to come back with more friends and try some more of the traditional dishes to get a better idea. I did think the service was above average for a Chinese restaurant and the portions were quite generous.
You can also read Faye’s recent visit here.
8199 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92111