Not wanting to deal with the lack of parking in the sunset or Richmond, I head down to Millbrae to the recently opened Tasty Place. The chef is from Northeastern China, and the backbone of the menu is starch-based— dumplings and noodles, hand cut wheat or dishes made with glass noodles. They have an assortment of cold dishes and the ones that went by me looked pretty good.
The server recommends as specialties the fish and celery dumplings; the shrimp pork and chives dumplings; vegetarian dumplings; stewed pork foot; clear cold noodle with sesame sauce; and the spareribs or pork belly with fermented napa and clear noodles, and the roasted eggplant, which he said was a particular specialty. The noodles are a mix of northern and Sichuan dishes.
The fish dumplings were great and more pierogie like in construction than is typical for northern/Northeastern Chinese boiled dumplings in the Bay Area, which tend toward fat on the bottom with thick wrappers. The cooks roll out the skins in a glassed off area in the rear of the restaurant. The finished half moon shaped dumplings lie flat. The fish is mild and tasty, Celery supplies freshness, water chestnuts add crunch, and the filling holds together without being pasty.
The house noodle soup is excellent, and according to the server closer to Sichuan style than Northeastern china per se. The soup reminded me a bit of Chongqing xiao mian (and is labeled as xiao mian in Chinese)- aromatic reddish soup with chilies, Sichuan chili bean paste (doubanjiang), background of numbing Sichuan peppercorns, and I think I like it better than the versions I’ve had at local Chongqing restaurants. It’s topped with crushed peanuts and juicy ground pork that has umami fermenty flavors. It’s light grayish, either from sesame paste or pork fat and the greens added a nice touch.