Why: Taste of Sichuan recently opened in Vancouver. If you have visited the Beaverton, Ore., location then you already know the menu offers traditional Chinese cuisine. The restaurant brings a welcome new face to the dining scene in Clark County.
What I tried: My dining companion and I tried the green onion pancake, the chow mein with vegetables, the crispy walnut prawns and the chopped pepper hot chicken. We had the sweet potato cakes for dessert.
The green onion pancake was served with a sweet sauce for dipping. The pancake was made with a pastry instead of batter and it had a light, appetizing onion flavor. The pancake was pan fried to a golden brown and retained a fair amount of oil.
Broccoli and mushrooms were the vegetable add-ins to the chow mein. Both were in bite-sized pieces. The broccoli still retained a little bit of crunch, and the mushroom pieces were likewise not overcooked.
My dining companion’s favorite dish was the prawns. The prawns were conservatively battered tempura style, fried, doused with a sweet white sauce and topped with candied walnuts. Preparation of the prawns included de-veining and detaching the tails, which allowed for a hassle-free dining experience.
My favorite dish was the pepper hot chicken. Though it was chicken, it had a similar texture and flavor to meat used in lettuce wraps. The dish’s peppery flavor grew over time as I ate. Chopped green beans and red pepper were mixed in with the meat.
Dessert did not particularly wow either of us. Two cakes were included and one was slightly more fried than the other. As far as desserts go, it was not sweet, relying on the sweet potato’s natural sweetness, and the flavor of the mung bean jelly in the center of each cake was hard to detect. The consistency of the cake that was fried longer was better than the other cake, which was a bit undercooked and doughy.
Menu highlights beyond what I tried: Camphor wood and tea smoked duck sounded adventurous. Ants on a tree is simply ground pork and Chinese noodles. The Hunan chicken sautéed in black bean sauce sounded intriguing, as did the fiery pot of sliced beef on a bed of cabbage. Taste of Sichuan has a Wild Side menu as well, with items such as rabbit chunks in chili oil, sour and spicy jelly fish, and dry cooked pork intestines.
Atmosphere: Although the restaurant occupies a strip mall space, once inside, it feels like a stand-alone establishment. Large entry doors open into a receiving area clad in dark wood. A beautifully carved panel adorns the wall directly behind the hosting station. To the left, a window allows a view into the kitchen’s pastry station and large glass tanks holding live crab and fish.
A high ceiling emphasizes the enormity of the dining area. Booths along most of the walls and tables with ornate chairs fill the space. Most of the lighting comes from can lights in the ceiling. Along the perimeter of the restaurant, glass sconces add a touch of sparkle.
Other observations: Our server was attentive and friendly; the food arrived quickly and was hot; and the atmosphere was pleasant.
The menu has a legend which makes the most popular and the spicy dishes easy to spot.
Take-out is available.
Cost: Soups at dinner cost $1.50 for a cup and $6.95 for a bowl. Appetizers are $6.95 to $9.95. Noodle dishes come with your choice of hand-shaved or egg noodle and range from $7.95 to $11.95. Fried rice is $9.95 and $10.95. Vegetable and tofu dishes are $8.95 to $13.95. Meat dishes are $9.95 to $14.95. Lunch special prices are a few dollars less, and meals come with soup and either steamed or vegetable fried rice.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday; 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday; 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday and holidays.
Where: 1825 S.E. 164th Ave., Suite 110, Vancouver.
Contact: 360-253-8133 or www.tasteofsichuan.com.
Health score: Taste of Sichuan received a score of 26 on Aug. 15. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants with a score of 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.