168 Café has opened in Reno on South Virginia Street behind Black Bear Diner and is offering some nice authentic Chinese dishes in addition to the standard Americanized Chinese food. My friend Glenn first brought it to my attention. I’ve eaten there twice and enjoyed it both times.
The first time I got a spicy pork and bean curd and a dish of green beans and tofu. I asked if the pork dish was just a spicier version of mapo tofu but it was quite different. First off they use a firm tofu. And instead of being cubed it was sliced like thin French fries. The pork was sliced in the same shape as were red and green peppers. It wasn’t too hot. But it had some nice zing to it. The green beans had been dried, or had that dried texture to them, but tasted great and were a nice mix with the big chunks of tofu. It was a delicious meal.
The next trip I got the boiled beef with chili oil and another dish with beans and other vegetables that I can’t recall. I liked this meal, too, but not as much as the first for this reason: The boiled beef with chili oil was fairly rich and was too much of a good thing for one entrée. This would work much better in a group where several people are sharing it. It’s almost soup like. The beef was tasty as was the bok choy and other ingredients. It was fairly easy to avoid the peppers in ladling out the food. The vegetable dish that came with this meal was also quite tasty. All the vegetables were fresh and none were overcooked.
There’s about 20 items on a special menu that look like authentic Chinese dishes you don’t see on menus in the Reno area, plus some cold plates, four soups (two of which don’t even have English translations) and special orders for Shanghai duck, lion head meatball, braised whole pork shoulder and braised duck with Chinese wine sauce.
This is an ambitious menu for a dining community that won’t go beyond wor wonton soup or General’s Chicken. I hope it can gain the traction it needs to succeed.
2303 S Virginia St
Reno, NV 89509
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