Home Town Deli - Irvine
I have. And I've posted on just about all the restaurants there. 101 Noodle Express. Chef Chen. Liang's Kitchen. Even Yu's Garden, which was a recent discovery. All of these restaurants get a lot of business, being on the right side of the mall, where the parking lot traffic is as crazy as SGV during dim sum. But on the other side of the plaza, it seems a very different story.
There's so far only two restaurants there: House of Shabu Shabu and Home Town Deli. Home Town Deli opened a few months ago and is owned by the same people that owns Yu's Garden. There's a big difference between the two: Yu's Garden is a take-out joint; Home Town Deli is a proper sit-down with an exhaustive menu you expect of a Chinese restaurant that's catered to Chinese people (the take home flier promises a mix of Taiwanese, Shanghai, Szechuan dishes and Northern-style noodles).
As a challenge to Chong Qing Mei Wei Szechuan Restaurant across the parking lot, the menu has its own Szechuan section that includes pork intestines with pickled chili peppers and mao xue wang, duck blood in chili sauce that the restaurant doesn't bother with an English translation as if to deter any novices who think they can handle it.
Since I have to be in a certain kind of mood for spicy food, the Szechuan menu remains uncharted on this first visit. In fact, I wanted something the opposite of hot and spicy. I wanted something with yin. Something cooling. Cooling in the Chinese sense, that is. I found it in the "sauteed okra and mein jing with soy bean."
It's a stir-fried vegetable dish that if it had anymore gravy, it'd be a soup. Chinese okra, that ridge-backed long gourd that looks like a dragon's tail, is the main ingredient, here rendered silky and slippery and cooked with tofu skin that sops up that corn-starch-thickened clear sauce like a mop. You'd be mistaken in thinking the dish is bland. It isn't. Although I'm sure that when I come back and eat it in concert with the spice-assault of Szechuan specialties, I'm going to be glad for its excess of yin.
Home Town Deli
5394-C.D Walnut Ave.
Irvine, CA 92604
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