Asheville has long cried loudly for a great New York style Chinese takeout restaurant. A few years ago, China Taste appeared in a small strip mall location off State Street in West Asheville to try to fill that void.
State Street spans from Haywood Road to Amboy Road, a commuter thoroughfare from the RAD and South to the westside. It’s an ideal location for easy dinner pickup, especially since China Taste’s delivery only runs in a 3-mile radius.
No, this is not a new take on Chinese food. But what the restaurant offers is focused mainly on delivery and takeout with a quick turnaround time, a concept most will readily buy into.
China Taste’s menu covers virtually any classic Chinese takeout dish most have heard of. I grabbed a paper copy of the menu, which lists 107 items, not including five other subsidiary menus, including chef’s specials and hibachi dinners. All in, you’re looking at more than 150 choices.
Google China Taste and you’ll find two different websites. Both are for the same restaurant, but appear to facilitate different online ordering platforms. The one I chose was easy to use, lets you scan the whole menu and even add a tip onto the tab. The only thing it didn’t seem to let you do was pay. It wasn’t a deal breaker for me, but it would have quickened the process and upped the convenience.
Otherwise, quick defines China Taste. I was given an order time of 15 minutes and my food was being bagged as I walked in exactly 15 minutes later. In the small narrow space China Taste occupies, customers walk up to a counter and a wall of plexiglass.
The plastic divider spanned vertically from counter to ceiling and sideways from wall to wall. A small door cut and hinged in the plexi partition suggests cash is preferred, which might explain why the website doesn’t take payment. Regardless, I slid my credit card through the tiny door, which was accepted with a nod.
Once I paid, a dumbwaiter-style box door opened on the staff side of the counter, and my bag was placed inside. Lift the box handle on your side, grab your bag and you’re done. Is that contactless? If it hadn’t been for one other customer who came in behind me, the only interaction would have been with someone behind a wall of plastic. That’s close enough.
The other pretty great thing about ordering Chinese takeout is you can get a lot of food for your money. Take, for instance, what $25 can get you at China Taste.
To begin, a spring roll, chicken on sticks and an order of steamed dumplings. Three starters and I had just rolled up on $11. A pint of hot and sour soup, which came with a bag of fried wonton strips stayed under $3 and was as full as you can safely fill a pint container.
An order of Moo Shu pork finished the order out. For just under $11, the Moo Shu comes with a quart of rice, five paper thin pancakes and a clamshell container so full it felt like a ten-pound weight coming out of the bag. This isn’t listed as a dish for two, but it is. Plus, you’ll have leftovers.
If you’re like me and have a 15-minute commute after picking up your food, you can plan on everything being incredibly hot when you get home. Packed tightly in traditional oyster pails and plastic clamshells, you won’t have to contend with reheating your dumplings.
The food isn’t groundbreaking. But, everything I ordered was good, without a single dish dragging down the curve.
Among the highlights is the Moo Shu. Though the vegetables far outweighed the pork, it was a well-done version and the nearly transparent pancakes roll out in sizable sheets. The dumplings are definitely worth your order and the chicken on a stick was a surprise highlight, crisp and with plenty of flavor. An added plus: the novelty of meat on a stick somehow makes it an instant child pleaser for your pint-size family members.
Another plug for the Moo Shu; it’s another dish your kids will love. If you want to see a look of amazement, show them how much you can pack into one of the paper-thin pancakes. Just a hint; it’s a surprising amount.
IF YOU GO
Where: China Taste, 202-A State St., West Asheville
To order online: www.chinatastenc.com
Contactless pickup available? Somewhat.
Matthew DeRobertis is a chef, writer and father to a kid who loves food more than her dog. Contact him at [email protected]