The first time I went to China Delight, with some work friends about a year ago, I didn’t think much of the place. I forget what dish I ordered, but when it arrived it was fairly typical Americanized Chinese food, over-fried and over-sweet. People who like that sort of thing tend to think that China Delight does it well, but it isn’t my cup of tea, so I hadn’t been back in a quite a while.
More recently, however, China Delight has become a regular destination for the two of us. The trick was discovering the “House Special” page on the menu. If you avoid the rest of the menu, and stick to that page only, your meal will be much more interesting. Ever since we made this discovery, this has become our go-to spot for serious, authentic Chinese dishes in Tallahassee.
The dish pictured above is their “Sliced Beef in Szechuan Broth,” and it is dazzlingly good. The broth is spicy, lip-tingling and savory all at once, the veggies are crisp, and the meat tender and juicy. If, like me, you are addicted to chili heat, you will want to ask for a side of hot pickled vegetables, add a little to your soup bowl (making sure to get some of the oil out of the jar), and then pour your soup over the top, liberally stirring everything together.
We are also crazy about the twice-cooked pork, pictured below. Warm and savory rather than spicy, this dish is all about contrasting textures. The pork belly is chewy without being tough, the cabbage is crisp, and the bean curd melts softly in your mouth. I usually plan on having “just a bite or two” when Sarah orders it, and then I always end up devouring more than half the plate.
The Szechuan Noodles have also been a standout dish for me, mingling perfectly chewy noodles with rich spicy broth, lovely little slivers of pork, and veggies, and served in quantities large enough to feed an army. You should make sure to get some of their delicious greens as a side, some of which are listed on the menu and some of which you have to ask for, like our favorite, the previously mentioned pea-tip greens. And there are a few things on the standard menu that are worth ordering as well, like their delicious pork dumplings or their awesome bubble milk teas.
One other highlight of the experience there is the service. Sandy, the lady in charge, is both friendly and efficient, and always goes out of her way to make sure her customers are satisfied. If you haven’t been to China Delight yet, or if you were like me and thought it was a miss after ordering from the wrong menu, you should go give them a chance to earn your culinary trust. If you are a fan of authentic Chinese dishes, they won’t disappoint.