Good things come in small packages, they said. This stands true for Taste of China which is one of the very limited options serving authentic Chinese food in Lahore. It is a closed space located in Garden Town. This place is a guest house for Chinese too.
I discovered this restaurant a few months back when a friend invited me and a couple of other friends for lunch here. Since then, this place has become a regular to visit for me. They do not have much to offer on their cards but they are doing their best with their limited resources.
A Chinese businessman bought this restaurant a year ago and opened it for the general public. Earlier, it was catering Chinese only. Now, when its doors are wide open for all still, the majority of its guests are Chinese. The majority of Pakistanis who come here for dine-in are those who have lived in China and have a familiarity with Chinese food.
It was my third time there but I enjoyed it as much as I did in the first time. I had visited it with my friends, this time I was with my editor. We reached there around lunchtime. We were given the menu card as soon as we took over our seats around a small table. It was a simple menu card. They have a detailed card for Chinese guests but they can provide that to you if you demand. That is a little pricey.
They also make special Chinese dishes like hotpot which are not mentioned in the menu card otherwise. We ordered chicken and mushroom soup, beef dumplings and spicy chicken which is basically crispy chicken pieces with spices.
The food came in 15 minutes. We took to start with the soup. That was a big family size serving bigger than the normal family size we get in restaurants. Chinese have big portion size. They do not have smaller servings on their entire menu at the moment. We suggested them to add smaller portions to cater to Pakistani audience.
After making the suggestion, we moved to our soup and woaah it was brilliant. It had a perfect mixture of spices and sauces – just perfect. The chicken was tender and the mushrooms were mild. I knew the Chinese culture so I was a little careful with my soup, my editor was not. He chews on a whole slice of ginger which made his eating experience a little bitter.
Chinese love ginger and garlic so do we. The only difference is that we use its paste and Chinese add as a whole in whatever they are cooking. One has to be really careful while eating Chinese food cooked by a Chinese to avoid crushing a whole clove of garlic under their teeth.
Beef dumplings came to rescue his taste buds. Usually Chinese eat dumplings with the black vinegar which they import from China. They also have fried dumplings but I personally prefer steamed dumplings. I was not a fan of dumplings when I was in China but I ate a few yummy varieties of dumplings in Nanjing which helped me to develop a taste for those tiny pockets. This plate of dumplings was surely a comfort food for me.
Now, it was the turn for the spicy chicken. It had small pieces of chicken marinated in a spicy mixture and then deep fried in a pan served with dry roasted chilies and spices. Those were crunchy and spicy pieces of chicken with bone. It can go best with a side of French fries.
While they buy most of their products from Pakistan, they also import few from China which gives that authentic touch to their food. This place also has a small shop where you can get instant noodles from China, instant tea and other snacks.
Damage on pocket:I count this restaurant as somewhere between not very cheap and not very expensive restaurants. The per headcount can range from 800-1000 Rs if you order two to three dishes.