Hunan Taste in San Jose: Similar to Henry's Hunan in SF in That It's Not All That
This place reminds me of Henry's Hunan in Downtown San Francisco in so many ways:
-My co-workers love it.
-Hunan Taste is an offshoot of Henry Chung's original Hunan Restaurant on Kearny in SF (but not Henry's Hunan?).
-Converts at both are addicted to the Meat Pie, Smoked Ham, and Dumplings.
The place looks super run down from the front. I don't mind - it usually means the food is cheaper. Inside you can see photos of celebrities who've eaten here like Maroon 5. My co-workers raved about this place to me, and said the Meat Pie, Smoked Ham, and Chicken with String Beans were must orders. Since my husband doesn't eat pork, we only ordered one of those dishes (guess which), plus the Curry Vegetables.
I like my chicken meat like I like my milk. White. Hunan Taste only uses breast meat (at least for most dishes). The Chicken with String Beans ($9.25) was covered in red chili pepper flakes. I was fine with the spiciness but it was also too salty, was too oily (chili oil), and had an odd flavor. It was the better of the two dishes. The Curry Vegetables ($8) had too much filler vegetables (cabbage, onions, bamboo shoots), and odd salty flavors.
The server was really friendly but also didn't check with us at the end of the meal, and we spent 10-15 minutes just trying to catch his eye to get the check.
If you're looking for white meat chicken (a big draw for us) there is better and cheaper food to be had in a really nice environment at Eric's in San Francisco.
998 N 4th St, San Jose, CA 95112
Since you love neither Henry's or Hunan Taste, I guess it just isn't your type of place. But, those of us that are fans of Henry's were happier than Kate Winslet on Oscar night to find Hunan Taste putting out the real stuff in San Jose. First off, it's almost not worth going if you don't eat pork. They're known for their smoked ham dishes. Yes, the dishes can be salty. But, (my mouth is actually watering just thinking of this food) if you like hot, spicy food with huge bold flavors, this is your Chinese place. This food makes a bowl of steamed rice cower in fear, bow down and hope it gets taken along for the ride. The meat pie never did much for me. It's unusual I suppose. But the smoked ham w string beans, smoked ham w chicken, hot and sour beef, song's special, harvest pork, noodles w special sauce, chicken salad, and curry chicken all pop into my brain as a major craving about once a week. It's packed at lunch, empty at dinner. The owners great people. Long live Henry's and long live Hunan Taste!
I love it, too, but cannot vouch for how authentic/inauthentic it is, having never eaten at any other Hunan restaurant. Yes, it can be a bit salty. I wonder if I can ask the very nice manager to tone down the salt a bit? You can order anything mild, medium or spicy, by the way.
My favorite dishes of theirs are those containing basil The basil offsets the fiery vivid flavors very nicely. I also have fond memories of their "eggplant salad", a chilled stir-fry of spicy eggplants in a vinegary sauce. Like you, Hoss, I'm starting to salivate.
And when I have a head cold, the best remedy on this earth is a bowl of their hot and sour soup. I have to order it mild, and it's still tremendously spicy. I can't imagine eating the "spicy" version of this!