I enjoy going to a restaurant where the staff greets me warmly when I come through the door, serves the food with an easy smile and thanks me for my business when I leave.
I hope to visit a restaurant like that soon, but for today I’m at Tasty Wok BBQ & Noodle House.
Tasty Wok is a new/not new Cantonese restaurant in the Mills 50 district. The location is new but the business is not. For many years it had been on the corner of Shine Avenue and Colonial Drive, but late last year it moved across the street, presumably for more seats and to be closer to across-the-lot sister restaurant Ming’s Bistro. (More parking, too, without patrons having to co-opt the spaces in Publix’s lot.)
On my most recent visit to the new space, I was...well, greeted isn’t the right word. I was noticed, eventually, by an unsmiling woman who pointed to a table that she presumably wanted me to sit at. This dour person turned out to also be my server. She brought me a menu and put down a plate with a paper napkin and a fork on it. (I’d have to flag someone down later for some chopsticks.)
Because it was a cool day, I ordered the Beef Brisket (Beef Stew) from the section of the menu listed as “snacks.” And for my entree I selected the House Pan-fried Noodle.
My entree was delivered fairly quickly and there was no sign the brisket was coming. I was nearly finished with the noodles and ready to ask for a takeout container (the portions are ample) when a bowl of the stewed meat was set on my table. So much for it being a snack.
As I moved the bowl in front of me I noticed that the meat seemed to jiggle. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The movement was from the ample bits of flavorful fat that still clung to the beef. There were a few pieces of chewy tendon, as well, and I could have been happy with this as an entree with a side of rice or maybe some noodles.
Instead I had filled up a bit too much on the pan-fried noodle dish, which included strips of pork, tiny shrimp, a few pieces of chicken, greens and broccoli (stalks only, no florets). The noodles were thin and crinkly Hong Kong style egg noodles, some of which were nice and crispy from the pan frying. The rest were softer and chewier. The flavor was mild with just a hint of soy sauce. The noodles had a not-unpleasant greasiness.
On a previous visit I had a house special fried rice, or at least I think that’s what it was. I had made the mistake of asking the man who waited on us for a recommendation. He seemed slightly annoyed to be asked, and the mound of rice with shrimp, pork and chicken was the result. This time the greasiness wasn’t as pleasant. Can’t fault them on portion size, though. (And the prices, with most items under $15, are fair, too.)
My companion’s Noodle Soup with Roasted Duck was considerably better. The duck had a nicely crisped skin – the ducks hang in a hot box near the back of the dining room – and the meat was moist and tender. (Tender as long as you don’t chomp on a bit of bone; the duck is cleavered and served on the bone.)
Tasty Wok moved into the space that had previously been Viet Garden. There is little in the way of decoration and the mood is rather drab. Maybe that’s why everyone working there seems so dismal.
In my Server Training Course I mention that people are more likely to frequent a restaurant with mediocre food if the service is exceptional, more so than the other way around. The food at Tasty Wok is fine, but I don’t find it good enough to put up with an indifferent and unwelcoming staff.
Tasty Wok BBQ & Noodle House is at 1237 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. It lists a website but it does not work. The phone number is 407-896-8988.