Unfortunately there aren’t a great deal of restaurants to choose from in the Teays Valley area. And if you don’t count the fast food joints, there are only a dozen or so. If you also disqualify national chains, you’re down to a handful. I was so starved for a new restaurant when Taste of Asia II opened, I patronized the establishment once a week.
They have great tasting food at this Jewel of eastern culture, but they also serve beautiful food. Drilled into me from an inordinate number of hours fixated to the Food Network, you eat first with your eyes. The feast for the eyes begins with the interior decor of the Teays Valley location. Everything looks new and clean. In the original space, there are rows of booths and some tables around the perimeter. The bar is in the back as you walk in. On the left, they have added a new space: a hibachi area. The grills are separated from the main dining room by natural wood lattice walls. It separates the space visually but maintains a spacious, open feel. We could hear knives clinging and delighted guests squeal at the chef’s routine as we ate our lunch.
My first course was the golden brown, crispy egg roll that came free with my lunch special. It’s like a built-in appetizer! I like that it comes out in advance of the entree because I am hungry when I arrive at the restaurant and don’t want to wait very long for satisfaction. (The instant gratification of the chips & salsa is one reason I like Mexican so much.) The filling is finely shredded so you don’t get any big clumps of cabbage. There is some pork included, but just enough to give it some flavor. I am not an egg roll officienado, but I like these.
My second course was an order of spicy tuna roll. I received six pieces for $6.95. (I took three pieces home for later.) They have a sushi bar in the back of the restaurant, opposite a nice “alcohol” bar. You can sit right in front of the Sushi Chef and watch him create works of art from rice, seaweed, vegetables and fish. Today, I enjoyed my tuna at the dining table as a precursor to my main event. The rolls here are pretty small – I would like them even smaller – because it is difficult to stuff a whole piece of sushi in your mouth at one time. For me, anyway. I dipped the roll in the soy sauce, holding on to it with my chopsticks, and…down the hatch. Yum. The last time I ordered spicy tuna roll, they were topped with a spicy condiment. Today, that dab of condiment was missing and instead there were some little crunchy pieces of…well, I don’t know what it was. The roll still had heat to it but the mystery ingredient remains unknown to me. If you know what that stuff is, please comment and enlighten me. Maybe it was just a boo-boo on the chef’s part that day. Either way, they tasted good and fresh.
For my entree, I selected the Chicken Hunan, extra spicy. As I have noted in a previous post, I don’t think Chinese food generally is spicy. Not the Appalachianed Chinese food anyway. My solution to this problem is to order something already marked spicy with the tiny chili pepper on the menu and then request it be prepared extra spicy. I enjoyed a pleasingly spicy Chicken with Garlic Sauce by using this tactic on my last visit to Taste of Aisa II. It was spicy enough that my face was hot halfway through. Awesome! The Chicken Hunan wasn’t quite as spicy, but still very good. The vegetables they use are fresh and in large pieces. I feel like I am really getting quality food here. The plate was loaded with chicken so I had meat for every bite of veggies. There was a plentiful amount of thick sauce as well.
I metioned the plate – for Daniel’s benefit, let me elaborate on that. The plate was a clean, white, unscratched rectangle. My sushi plate was also an unscratched square. Daniel would have liked the dishes.
The sodas are overpriced (just like everywhere it seems, these days) at $1.99 with free refills. I didn’t feel I got my money’s worth even with 3 refills. (I’ve gotta remember to pack that 2-liter next time.) I should have had the Sapporo….tastes so good with the sushi.
The service was good, as always. I never waited for a refill on my drink and the take out box I requested was delivered promptly. The young lady serving as cashier that day engaged my party in friendly conversation as she happily split our ticket and processed the credit cards.
Taste of Asia II
1 Liberty Sq
Hurricane, WV 25526