Happy Lunar New Year, everybody! Say goodbye to the Year of the Snake and say hello to the Year of the Horse. You’ll probably see depictions of an anaconda with a long white beard giving way to a pony in diapers.
By the way, the correct term is Lunar New Year, not Chinese New Year. Not even the Chinese refer to it as Chinese New Year. If they don’t call it Lunar New Year, they call it Spring Festival. The reason is that the occasion is marked by other countries as well, including Korea, Vietnam and, though to a lesser extent, Japan (most of Japan has move to the Gregorian calendar).
What’s great about knowing that is that your celebratory cuisine choices increase exponentially. If you want to join in, at least by dining out, you are not limited to Chinese restaurants (good thing that), you can also choose from our vast inventory of Vietnamese restaurants and growing number of Korean eateries.
I visited Tasty Wok many years ago when it first opened on the corner of Shine Avenue and Colonial Drive. I was underwhelmed. I still wouldn’t put it on my list of best Asian restaurants, but the meal I had there was enjoyable enough to recommend for an everyday dining experience.
The dining room is small and cramped. There are a couple of round tables in the center of the room for typical family-style dining and some smaller tables, all with a green faux marble top, ringing the room. The dining area itself is kempt, but there are bits of clutter -- a bucket and rag, stretched phone cords -- visible about. Next to the counter in front of the window to the cooking area is a large glass case for displaying roast ducks. There was only one when I entered and it was soon taken down.
I assume that’s because I had ordered the roast duck appetizer, cleavered duck carcass, bones still in there, served with beautifully crisped skin. The meat was succulent and tender and really didn’t need the soy dipping sauce. Don’t bother with the chopsticks on this one, just grab the bony part with your fingers and bite off the good stuff.
For my entree I had the beef chow fun, which brought the noodle part of the operation into the game. The noodles were wide and had just the right amount of chew. They were tossed with bits of beef, strips of scallions and mung bean sprouts. The ingredients glistened but they weren’t greasy. I did find that the dish needed some extra spicing, but not squirts from the bottle of sriracha on the table. Instead I asked the server for some hot pepper oil, which she provided in a small dish. Just a pinch was all it needed.
Two women worked the tables together. They were mostly officious, but every now and then one would offer a smile or show some attention.
Things will probably be a bit more celebratory here for the next couple of week -- Lunar New Year runs until Valentines Day this year, so you’ve got plenty of time to stop in and give it a try.
Tasty Wok BBQ & Noodle House is at 1246 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. There is no website. Prices are reasonable, with most entrees at or just above $10. The phone number is 407-896-8988.