Bridgeport has recently welcomed another new restaurant to its vast culinary community – Home Style Chinese Restaurant. What I find funny about it is the fact that it isn’t exactly Chinese… the owners and all dishes are Taiwanese. Home Style serves up some great authentic Mandarin food to the Asian community in Bridgeport. This place is small, easy to miss, and fills up quickly. I also found myself to be the only non-Asian in the restaurant, which told me right away the food would be good. However, very few of the staff members understand more than a few words of English, so unless you know Mandarin Chinese, you will quickly get in the habit of pointing at menu items. The service is also very slow and unattentitive, but that can be expected at new restaurants so I won’t mark them down on that just yet.
One of my favorite Mandarin dishes is cabbage, tofu and pork ball soup. For only a few dollars, the waitress brings out a massive glass bowl full of one of my newly favorite soups. Since everything is served family style, each diner gets a porcelain bowl and ceramic spoon to eat it with. The soup was pretty good, although I think it could have used a little star anise to really set off the flavor of the pork balls. The pork chops in brown sauce was also a pleasant surprise. It’s a dish I had never tried before. This dish is not made up from whole pork chops and actually seemed to be made from the leftover porkchop bones. I’m a person who loves eating meat off the bone, so this dish was right up my alley. Not much meat, but a whole lot of flavor.
The tendons and wild mushrooms in brown sauce was a dish I didn’t order, but was accidentally brought to my table. I have no idea what those bread-like triangles on top of it are, but they tasted kind of like a stale cookie. The tendons were extremely tender and the wild mushrooms mixed great with them.
However, one of the most unspeakable dining experiences I had ever seen occured because of this dish. After this dish was mistakenly brought to my table instead of the table next to me, I decided to dig in, not knowing what it was. I left a nice baseball-sized crater in the bowl. Moments later, the waitress returned to my table to take the dish away saying it wasn’t ours. I thought that was a bit unusual since any other restaurant would give the dish as a freebie since it was a mistake and already eaten from, but that was not the horrifying moment. What horrified me is a couple minutes after taking the bowl away, the waitress returned to the table next to me and put the same dish on their table. The crater I was eating from had been filled with extra sauce to cover up their mistake. I have never in all my years of eating out have ever seen such a disgusting act of food recycling!
The highlight of the night was the bamboo shoots and bean curd in garlic sauce. One thing I have learned recently from trying out different Asian restaurants is that the vegetarian dishes are almost always the best items on the menu, and this item was no different. Everything was so fresh and flavorful. The garlic sauce really set off the flavors and made the dish come alive on my palate. This dish alone makes Home Style a place worth checking out, although it will probably be some time before I return after seeing that horrifying act of food recycling.