Friends of Eater have been raving about Taste of Hunan, which has joined the welcome and growing wave of regional Chinese restaurants arriving in the San Diego area; the Hunanese restaurant recently opened in the Trader Joe’s shopping center at the intersection of the Scripps Ranch and Mira Mesa neighborhoods.
The spacious eatery features the food of Hunan, a province in Southeast China known for its spicy and pungent cuisine that uses ingredients ranging from fresh, dried, and pickled chilies to smoked and cured meat and preserved vegetables. Its chef and owner is reportedly an alum of Village Kitchen, another Hunanese restaurant that debuted in 2016 on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard. He was responsible for introducing one of Village Kitchen’s signature dishes, a combo of mashed eggplant, peppers, and “thousand-year egg” served in an oversized mortar and pestle; the savory dish can be found on Taste of Hunan’s menu too along with buns stuffed with pork belly and preserved vegetables, Hunan-style lotus root, stir-fried chicken with pickled chilies, and more. Diners can also bring in their own fresh seafood, including shrimp and scallops, for the kitchen to prepare in a variety of ways; a whole fish can be steamed, braised, sliced raw for sashimi, or cooked with a spicy mix of chilies.