Leftovers are the best. Sometimes I eat them when I write, which helps complete the gustatory picture. And right now, there’s a few forkfuls of boiled pots beef ($ 17) in the mug to my left. Tendrils of beef, delicious and generous in both size and number, meld beautifully with cabbage, all of it tenderized in a red broth slick with fiery red-orange oil and redolent of Sichuan sizzle.
Lay folks unfamiliar with the numbing pop of this Chinese province’s petite, pearly peppercorns might find its heat potent, but the regional delights of this new Waterford Lakes venue are incredibly balanced. Fans of supreme spice might even call them understated.
But on multiple visits, every single dish I tried delivered hard on the restaurant’s name: Yummy Taste.
Located in the space formerly occupied by VLC Vegan Eatery, the new occupants have held on to some of their predecessor’s popular plant-based dishes. I encountered a couple on my visits. All seemed pleased to have the old options, but I am deeply enamored with the new.
Yummy Taste is another stellar addition to the growing roster of international options in East Orlando, in particular since the neighborhood lost its outpost of Chuan Lu Garden’s Sichuan offerings early in the pandemic.
My most recent foray was unplanned, but manager Ze Qin Zhang – who also goes by Linda – recognized me immediately and when I asked for a recommendation it was this dish she noted among her favorites. We also ordered the Braised Sliced Fish with Spicy ($ 19) and no, “spicy” doesn’t modify anything.
You won’t care. My youngest didn’t. It was her pick on our first visit and while she’s always happy to explore whatever else I bring home, she’d found a keeper in this one, which despite the name, isn’t spicy at all. Fall-apart fillets are many, layered atop meltaway squares of tofu, all of it bathed in a darkly golden liquor of ginger and garlic and topped with a bracing burst of green cilantro.
Entrée three, however, was the most potent on this visit, and straight from the hometown Linda shares with chef Qinping Kang – who is also her husband. The Chong Qing Roast Chicken ($ 22) is an on-bone barn burner, a dish for those who like to get personal with their food. If you’re not one for sucking meat from bone – fans of roast duck or chicken feet, this one’s all you – you’re at least going to have to get your fingers dirty tearing flesh from the rough-chopped bird. Tender hunks of potato are a nice complement.
Kang, whose experience slinging Sichuan fare has taken him through a handful of immensely popular local kitchens, has even stronger firepower in his arsenal in the form of the Spicy Overlord Rabbit ($ 24), another bone-in delight, studded with jewel-like peppers and an anesthetizing heap of peppercorns.
The beef fillets with tofu pudding ($ 18) are the rabbit’s textural opposite, with meat that’d be spoon-tender if not bite-sized, served alongside creamy dollops of silky tofu in richly spiced sauce that’s heat forward.
Sauteed cabbage ($ 11) is a tender-crisp offering, boldly spiced, as are the cucumber sticks ($ 9), a cold, crunchy appetizer laced with roasted peanuts. Sweet rice cakes ($ 11) are a chewy delight, fried and topped with sesame seeds – as well suited to ending the meal as breaking the seal.
Portions on everything are generous, which likely means leftovers for you, too. Yummy Taste is a little understaffed, so be patient – in particular with takeout (if they tell you 25 minutes, tack on another 10-15 for good measure) and if you’re dining in, plan for leisure – relaxing amid the greenery they ‘ve retained from the VLC space.
English is a second language for staffers here, but hospitality is a universal tongue. And food this good could never get lost in translation.
If you go: 504 N. Alafaya Trail in Orlando; 407-866-2199; yummytasteorlando.com
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