Ahh, Elmhurst Queens, you never fail as haven for a myriad of internationally infused cultural adventures. Just east of the city and north of the other international capital [Brooklyn], Elmhurst houses a multitude of immigrants who've turned each section of the area into a 'home' of their own. Among the Latin, Polish, and Chinese aggregation, Taste Good restaurant has found a home on 45th Avenue.
Be sure to keep your eyes peeled as you navigate to the tiny sit-down restaurant, as the next door food market almost engulfs the lilliputian sign and entrance. As we entered the curry haven, the aromas from the semi-exposed kitchen on the left overwhelmed our senses and the salivating began on impact. The 90% populous of Asian customers didn't bother looking up from their steaming bowls, chopsticks in hand. A warm feeling overcome, as we thought: this place may be authentic...
The overly accommodating, non English-speaking staff welcomed us with open arms-literally-waving over to the only open table in the house. Byob and no corkage fee...1-0, Elmhurst-Manhattan. Before we could undress (just our coats...it's not that kind of place!), a hot pot of tea was rushed to our table. Mild, with a hint of rose, served in tiny ethnic tea cups, it was a great aperitif to a culinary feast. An intermission from table conversation was definitely warranted to browse the 8 page menu, filled with an incredible variety of appetizers, soups, curries, noodle and rice dishes, meats, and sides. As we diligently studied our options, the staff was more than willing to help...indirectly. Although our two smiling waitresses and one buss girl were not able to understand us [or reply in English], one considerate patron was beckoned over as a translator.
We ordered roti canal (crispy Indian pancake with curry chicken sauce) to satiate ourselves while deciding. The 5" round was accompanied by a small bowl of flavorful, spicy curry with a few pieces of steamed chicken, happily floating about. The pancake, a perfect combination of a crisp outside with a moist and warm inside, was a great vessel for the savory, flavorful curry. As the [assumed] owner was making small talk with us, we finalized our choices and as a thank you [for finally ordering] she brought over a plate of achar salad (mixed pickled vegetables, tossed with ground peanut, sesame seed, and tamarind sauces). Our taste buds were blissfully overwhelmed with a combo of sweet, spicy, savory, and crunchy veggies, for which we profusely thanked our gracious host. Malaysian popiah (paper thin steamed pancake, stuffed with vegetables, rice, and egg) followed as our third appetizer of the evening. The rolled crepe-like log, stuffed, and topped with a pleasantly spicy sauce was a great accompaniment to the Saperavi we brought. The delicate dough melted in our mouths as the tangy spice and sweet rice kernels fused.
For the main course, Curry chicken noodles and Hainanese chicken rice. The curry, presented in a deep bowl, united boiled chicken, tender vegetables, and thick noodles in a moderately spicy coconut curry-which could have taken a bit more spice (perhaps they were being careful due to our alien status). Nevertheless, a tasty finish with the last drops of hot tea. The tender, mildly flavored chicken (notably boiled in a flavorful broth) was served atop vegetable rice, with a soy based dipping sauce.
With the slight exception of a spicier curry, the meal was perfectly seasoned and not overly salty. The overall experience-including staff, presentation, and freshness-were all eminently executed...hence an appropriately simple, unforgettable name. It tastes good!
Taste Good Malaysian Cuisine-8218 45th Avenue-Queens, NY