Local publications have heaped so much praise on Chengdu Taste since the Sichuan-style restaurant opened in 2013 that it’s barely possible to tell the front wall exists beneath a sea of framed write-ups. I can see why, considering the number of standout dishes from chef Tony Xu, including Cabbage with Sweet & Sour Sauce, Mung Bean Jelly Noodle with Chile Sauce, and Boiled Fresh Fish with Green Pepper Sauce. Still, it took a fluke to discover my favorite dish to date, which doesn’t even have a codified name.
Sadly, Chengdu Taste was out of House Special Live Shrimp on late Friday night, but my astute server was ready to suggest viable shrimp-focused alternatives. The off-menu Shrimp and Potato dish he suggested last turned out to be my favorite Chengdu Taste dish to date.
The stunning stir-fried dish arrived in an aluminum foil nest that resembled saw teeth. Shell-on shrimp were sliced down the middle, half way to butterfly status, allowing the oil and spices to infuse the sweet meat. Potato sticks were similarly caramelized, kind of like French fries, but not as crispy. Next came a shower of ground pork, chiles and scallions. The cumulative effect was staggering, and even though the food was coated in spices, my friend and I couldn’t stop plowing through the plate. It’s a good thing Chef Xu was out of the special shrimp.