Tak Shing (Lakeville, MN)
The thing about Italian food in America is that, at its worst, it can be so very very bad. Think beans in the school lunch spaghetti and you realize how badly Italian can be misinterpreted in America. On the other hand, nearly every Chinese restaurant is run by members of a Chinese family with at least a couple of recipes they really like.
At Tak Shing in Lakeville, we had the good fortune of ordering some of those marvelous dishes.
The best thing we had was the Tak Shing wonton soup. The broth has that particularly excellent quality one finds in a great wonton soup: it's not heavy, like a European chicken soup, but is densely flavorsome and still as light as water. The Tak Shing presentation is heartier than most, with baby corn, broccoli, pea pods, carrots, mushrooms and water chestnuts. This soup comes in one size only (large) and makes a good meal for one or a fine appetizer for a group. Either way, you're in for a treat.
We also liked the twice-cooked pork. The name comes from the fact that the pork is first cooked as a large roast, and then sliced to be stir fried with vegetables. Tak Shing's version came with cabbage, peppers and mushrooms, all cooked in a flavorful hot sauce.
The orange chicken, another twice-cooked dish, also was tasty. The pieces of chicken are breaded and deep fried, then stir-fried in the wok in a good sweet and sour orange sauce together with broccoli, corn, carrots and other vegetables.
As much as we wanted the rest of the menu to be as good, these were the exceptions. Our main complaint was that the sauces generally had nearly no flavor, and all the dishes tasted both similar to one another and bland. Too much cornstarch gave several dishes an unpleasant texture.
The sa-dae beef, the tung ting shrimp, the happy family, the pork with oyster sauce, the lo mein -- all were similarly bland and disappointing. On the other hand, these might be just the ticket if your companions aren't all that crazy about Chinese food. The spice scale here is weighted in favor of the timid Midwestern palate. Even dishes marked spicy aren't all that fiery. You can ask the kitchen to kick it up, of course, but even the Szechuan specialties were milder than we expected.
The kitchen uses a lot of fresh vegetables, which we always like. And portion sizes are large, so either order fewer dishes than you have people at the table or be prepared to take a lot home. The wait staff is friendly and the service is fast. We wish the food were consistently better, but you've got a decent meal waiting for you here if you order carefully.
Location: 17709 Kenwood Dr., Lakeville
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.- 9 p.m., Sat. noon-9 p.m., Sun. 4 p.m.- 8 p.m.
Service: Fast and friendly
Sound level: Not too noisy
Recommended dishes: Tak Shing wonton soup, twice-cooked pork, orange chicken
Prices: Entrees $7–$10
Children: Basic children's menu available