Today I had errands to do in the Coolidge Corner area, and I decided to eat someplace new. Seems to me that I saw mention of New Taste of Asia here when I was going through some posts, so I headed off in that direction. Although the restaurant was supposed to open at 11:30 (possibly 11, I don't remember), it was not open at the posted time, and there was no obvious sign of life inside. I stood there for a while, reading the review in the window, which spoke of the chef's extensive experience in Beijing, and then I wandered over to Harvard St. By the time I came back, it was open. No customers there, alas.
I asked whether the Chinese menu had been translated and was handed a laminated sheet. (Now, in retrospect, I suspect the Chinese side is NOT the same as the translated side. I would have been surer if the Herald's review was dated.) I really wanted to order one of the fire-exploded dishes, but I didn't want any seafood so postponed that delight (which also includes kidney and liver). Instead I ordered Sweet Eggplant with Eight Kinds of Nut (from the laminated "Special Menu"), Open-Mouth Dumplings (in English on the wall), and Hot and Sour soup (yes, you can get a bowl for one--a big bowl).
The eggplant was very intriguing, quite different from anything else I had ever ordered, which was why I ordered it. Sweet, with walnuts, cashews, Chinese dates (many of these contain pits--watch out!), maraschino cherries (I could have done without those), lotus seeds, sesame seeds, peas, carrots, golden raisins (or maybe I should say raisin, because I only saw one), pineapple... I think I stopped analyzing things when I started wondering what the small, slightly flat, elongated oval, orange berry was. (Any ideas?) I enjoyed this dish and think it would be even more interesting if one had a contrasting dish to juxtapose it with.
The dumplings were good, not what I had envisioned. The dough was rolled around the filling, with the sides overlapping slightly and the ends open. The dumplings were fried, with one side being fairly well done. The flavor was nice and fresh but not remarkable. They came with a dipping sauce.
The hot and sour soup was probably the best rendition I have had for a long time, although it was more hot than sour. At first, I could discern some sourness, but then that got lost as I ate more. The cilantro on the top was a bit distracting, probably because I am not used to it being in H+S soup. I loved the BIG succulent wood ears!
The waiter spoke fine English, so I am sure it would be easy to get translations of the Chinese items on the wall and (if I am correct) on the back of the laminated menu. The chef, who came out to eat his own lunch, also spoke English. I am happy to say I will probably be in that area about once a week, so I can do some more exploration.
This tiny new restaurant deserves some business. Check it out! See, too, the review in the Herald (link below).
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