Meat dumplings were the stars of the show

The Taste of China restaurant in High Street, Cosham
The Taste of China restaurant in High Street, Cosham

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Chinese restaurants flourish in Cosham, with no fewer than six in the vicinity of the High Street including New Jumbo, Golden Bridge and Pearl of the Orient.

Taste of China, whose owners are previously of the remarkable Mr Kong in London’s Soho, is celebrating its 10th year of business. The ageing green awning above the double-fronted window looks as if it’s been there since 2002, while inside the very green décor is similarly reminiscent of a decade ago.

There are two-tone green walls, a mock green marble bar, green carpet and green seating, only relieved by white tablecloths and typical festive red decorations (green for health, harmony and healing, red for happiness, joy, celebration and good luck following Chinese custom).

High backed chairs with a carved motif surround the many tables in the long restaurant. One round table has 10 chairs around it and a lazy Susan for moving the dishes around in an inclusive manner.

Nondescript music plays. As for service, the owner’s nephew is a smart, quiet, efficient, ultra-polite credit to the restaurant. But his young girl sidekick slammed a menu down without greeting or comment, then slammed dishes down. Her lack of grace and care was disappointing.

‘Bowl or plate?’ she barked. It’s enough to put you off your mock shark fin soup. Maybe she was distracted by the woman with a baby who loudly asked if they had a baby changing room.

In a small neighbourhood restaurant? Of course they didn’t. Go down the road to the McDonald’s golden arches if you need those facilities.

The menu kicks off with specials and set meals for two or more (these days the single diner is forever unfairly singled out), including crispy hot platter of seaweed (read spinach usually); spare ribs; spring rolls and prawn on toast.

Continue with that must-have aromatic duck; chilli beef; sweet and sour pork; sizzling prawns with garlic sauce and fried rice. All these are naturally from the main menu, the choices in English and Chinese. There’s baked lobster with ginger and spring onion (£24); baked mussels with black bean sauce and chilli (£7.50); fried squid with chilli and spices; sizzling fillet steak with black pepper and chilli (£8.50); deep fried shredded chicken (£6.50); baked beancurds with chilli and spices (£5.50); beef or chicken curry (both £6.50); baked frog’s legs (£10.80) and duck with yam paste (£16).

In short, all Chinese things to all men. But wait. English dishes can be had too, all with chips. My grilled meat dumplings were light and excellent, the star of the show, The Cantonese roasted belly pork was also good. A copious portion of tender, superb pork, cut into squares, was topped by the best crackling this side of Denmark (where crackling is Europe’s finest).

Beneath the pork was cabbage cured in vinegar, a top-notch addition to counteract the pork fattiness. This is food addiction par excellence. The rice, by contrast (and eaten from my asked-for bowl) was rather dull.

There are more wines than usually found in ethnic restaurants, although they tend to be of the Piesporter variety. I had a Chinese beer, probably a better bet, if not a pot of Chinese tea or rice wine. Despite the waitress’s attitude and the elderly décor, there lurks a fine beating heart in Cosham capable of giving Chinese food a very good name. Do go. My bill came to £18.40, not including service which was pressed into the young waiter’s hand.

Taste of China, 115 High Street Cosham PO6 3BB

Tel: (023) 9238 2322

Open Noon-2pm and 5.30pm-11pm all week.

Food: HHHH

Service: HHHH (for the young waiter)

Atmosphere: HHH

Disabled access: Fine. Large spaces for wheelchairs between tables.

How to get there: Take the A3 from the Portsbridge roundabout at Hilsea and then turn right by McDonald’s into the High Street. The restaurant is on the right. On-street parking.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Last week Carol reviewed Sellers Coffee House in Southsea. Here’s what you thought:

Mark Baxter says: ‘Carol, you missed the best bit - the dedicated Canine Corner. The Coffee House is perfectly placed to stop off when walking your dog along the seafront and common. Water and free snacks for your four-legged friend and excellent coffee and cakes for you.

Whilst the menu may offer standard fare, at least it is all prepared freshly to order and is a clear cut above the standard of the local national coffee shop chains. It’s become a regular weekend venue for me and my little terrier.’

If you’d like to comment on Carol’s reviews, go to portsmouth.co.uk/eatingout, e-mail features@thenews.co.uk or send a tweet to features editor Simon Toft @SIMONTOFT1 or use the hashtag #godsmark. To let others know where you’ve had a great meal lately, go to portsmouth.co.uk/findit