With Kelley McLaughlin.
58 Mt Auburn St., Watertown
When we think of comfort food - food that warms our hearts and bodies and makes the world OK again - we think of noodles. Ramen, pho, macaroni and cheese. There's nothing like coming inside from a brisk fall day and sitting down to food that's clearly been prepared with care and delighting in the comforting textures and sensations of a warm noodle dish.
That's exactly what we found at Home Taste.
The inside of Home Taste:
Home Taste is a family-owned, home-style Sichuan restaurant in Watertown that makes traditional hand-pulled noodles and is operated with a focus on food, not frills. Every bite is a testament to the chef's love of cooking. In a world of pretentious dining experiences, it stands out as a beacon of authenticity and value.
The decor is utilitarian, and the ambiance is simple. The walls are a cheerful orange, the dining room sunny. The service is warm and welcoming, and so is the jasmine tea. The friendly, attentive staff creates an environment where you can relax and enjoy your meal. While you might not bring a first date here, it is still a great place for a working lunch or a chat with a friend.
On top of that, considering the quality of the food and the generous portions, Home Taste's prices are as unassuming as the decor. We ordered Scallion Pancake ($7.58), Cold Skin noodles ($6.58), Sauteed String Beans ($13.58), and Dried Bean Curd Salad ($11.58). Both the string beans and the bean curd came with rice.
Because we spent over $25, we were also able to order a free small serving of our choice of noodles. (Check out their deals section on the back of the menu.) We chose the Spicy Hot Oil Seared Noodles. Before tip, this came out to $42.07, and it was enough food for us to have lunch together twice.
They do also have an extensive lunch special menu, with each special costing $10.58. If you go with friends, orders of three or more lunch specials are further discounted. However, the lunch specials are not vegetarian-friendly.
The scallion pancake:
The Scallion Pancake was hot, crispy, salty, buttery, and thin. No toughness at all, just tender, tender flakiness. In a word: dreamy. It comes with a soy-based sauce, but even on its own it is wonderful.
The Dried Bean Curd Salad is a combination of dried bean curd, fresh vegetables, and a sweet vinegar dressing. The dried bean curd was softly chewy and faintly nutty, and the dressing was a perfect balance of sweet, sour, and garlicky. One of us loved this; the other one of us didn't care for the chewiness.
The sauteed string beans:
The Sauteed String Beans were a fresh, enticing bright green. They were lightly blistered in oil with garlic and sprinkled with just enough salt to bring out their natural sweetness. They still had their crunch, but were not tough at all. As far as the best way to cook green beans, theirs is definitely at the top of the list. One of us who doesn't generally care for green beans even enjoyed these.
Cold skin noodles:
But the star of the show is, without a doubt, the noodles.
The Cold Skin Noodles, which are made by creating a "skin" with rice or wheat flour starch-water, were served slightly chilled but not cold. These are lovely and refreshing, topped with garlic, crunchy toasted peanuts, cucumbers, bean sprouts, and a silky tahini vinegar sauce. The noodles themselves have less chew than other kinds of noodles, but are silky smooth and still have structure. The overall effect is a symphony of flavors and sensations with every bite.
Spicy hot oil seared noodles:
Finally, the Spicy Hot Oil Seared Noodles, which we ordered with hand pulled noodles. The handmade noodles are slightly doughy but in the best of ways. They have awesome chew without being tough, and are perfectly seasoned. These would be a great meal all on their own, because they are very filling. You can control how spicy they are, but even as they come they are not terribly spicy. Instead, you get a nice balance of heat, salt, garlic, and umami. Like with potato chips, you want to keep eating this.
As we put our chopsticks down, contentment washed over us. Home Taste is an authentic and refreshingly affordable Sichuan dining experience. While its appearance may be modest, the flavors within are anything but. And just as the name says, the staff will make you feel at home.
Review from the Independent Review Crew.