Dec. 18, 2010
6450 Powers Ferry Rd.
Sandy Springs, GA 30339
Finally! Tasty China's itinerant chef has opened his long-awaited restaurant. We were lucky enough to get tickets to the Grand Opening this past Saturday. Dishes were served family-style at a table set for 10 (luckily only eight of us showed). Thankfully, no one at Table 5 was shy about trying everything laid out before us. And special thanks to our server who snuck me a copy of the menu.
Among the cold appetizers (in place on the table before we even arrived), the black ear fungus was my favorite. It had that "cartilage" crunch from the mushrooms and was refreshing, not overly sauced. The Shanghai smoked duck was also wonderfully cooked, although I probably would have preferred if it had been served hot instead of cold. Also served but not listed on the menu, the cilantro beef was a solid dish. The shredded tofu skin reminded us of noodles and the chili oil was not too spicy. The sesame tofu was another table favorite.
Next up, the two hot appetizers. The seafood with dough ball soup was very delicate. The dough balls (which were more like tiny dumplings) were chewy and tasty. The soup did not have a fishy aftertaste at all. I was disappointed in the steamed dumplings that were rather pedestrian.
Nine courses of entrees tested our stamina. The dry-fried small fish (smelt) and dry-fried mushrooms were table favorites. Wonderful finger food and palate cleansers. The beef with snow bean was nothing special. The Peter rolls were not popular. Any subtle flavor was overpowered by ginger. The texture of the minced chicken in the stuffing seemed to confuse diners.
I have no recollection of the lamb which probably means that it wasn't spectacular, but wasn't bad either. In the shrimp dish, the asparagus was very well cooked and perfectly sized. The spicy fragrant duck seemed to be missing the "funyuns" that made the dish so successful at Tasty China. The dish lacked the extra crunch they provided to offset the fatty duck.
The Yangzhou fish was the consensus loser of the night. While beautiful to look at, it was far too sweet and drenched in sauce. To me, it felt like eating fried dough soaked in sweet and sour sauce. The crab meat with bean seedling was strange. Even though we could see crab in the dish, we smelled more than actually tasted it. The bean seedling had an asparagus aftertaste to it.
Dessert was served scorching hot. The red bean paste center was only slightly sweet, but after all the strong flavors, we probably could have used something to cut the savory overload.
In general, the dishes were less spicy than we have come to expect from Tasty China. Not sure if this was an intentional choice to the wider base of people who would be attending or just a function of this batch peppers not having much kick. The meal started out strong with the appetizers but did not finish well. Although it's possible this could be because were were all very full by the end.
Having read reviews from other people attending pre-Grand Opening events, I was sorely disappointed that pork belly did not make it onto our tasting menu. But at $35 for two people (not including beer or tip), I still received tremendous value. I'll be sure to order some when we come back to try again.