Taste of Chengdu, the Sichuan restaurant that opened in west Orlando two years ago and quickly established itself as arguably serving the best Chinese food in town, has opened a second location in Baldwin Park.
It is technically in a soft-opening phase and the menu is currently limited – call it a taste of Taste of Chengdu – but the quality is every bit as good as the original.
True to its namesake province, Taste of Chengdu features dishes that use Sichuan peppercornss, the boa constrictor of seasonings. Take a bite of something with the pepper, perhaps dan dan noodles with a chili oil sauce, and you at first feel a warm embrace of your tongue, then a tingling effect, just before the real heat comes in for the kill.
But it’s a pleasant demise. And even people who find western chilies overwhelming might be pleasantly surprised at how tolerable the spiciness is. It isn’t heat for heat’s sake, it is a logical component of the dish as a whole.
My companion and I started our takeout dinner with an order of Sichuan style dumplings. The doughy dumplings were filled with minced pork and coated with the spicy sauce, served dotted with sesame seeds.
And we also had the dan dan noodles, topped with more minced pork and bright green snow pea leaves. Dan dan noodles can be served hot or cold, and ours was the latter once we got the food home, which was fine with me because I love cold noodles. One little niggle: the sauce was served in a separate unmarked container. People not familiar with ddn might not know that they should add the sauce. It would be nice if someone packaging the food would mark the container for newbies.
The dish’s name, by the way, comes from the type of carrying pole street vendors would use, noodles on one end and the sauce on the other. So this was a street food before street food became a thing.
For a main dish, my companion ordered the braised beef brisket, the meat sauteed with cucumber, green peppers, cabbage and mushrooms, all medium-spicy and delicious over the white rice that was included.
I ordered the double-cooked pork belly, which had thinly sliced meat sauteed with leeks and carrots and served in a broth with noodles. The meat was a bit sinewy.
But what I liked the best was the green tea fried rice topped with chewy bits of bacon. The tea imbued the rice with a pleasant earthy flavor that was enhanced with a dose of soy sauce.
Unfortunately, Taste of Chengdu does not offer curbside pickup. And despite it being located just off the Baldwin Park Publix’s parking lot, finding a place to park was not easy. The young woman who took my order over the phone – online ordering is not available – did allow me to prepay so that that bit of contact could be avoided. And once I let the person at the front desk know I was there to pick up my order, I waited outside until it was ready.
Taste of Chengdu Baldwin Park is at 4856 New Broad St., Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Monday. The phone number is 407-286-4850.