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This North County Restaurant Highlights One of China’s Gastronomic Centers

Hometown Taste specializes in Yangzhou-style cuisine

Absolute Sauce Steak, or Marinated Pork Ribs
Absolute Sauce Steak, or Marinated Pork Ribs
Helen I. Hwang

A longtime Chinese restaurant in Rancho Bernardo has been remodeled and revamped as a showcase for regional Yangzhou-style cuisine. Hometown Taste replaces Hunan Restaurant, whose owners recently retired after 41 years in business. Its waitstaff has remained, now working under new proprietor Bruce Bu who took over the previous restaurant at the end of 2023.

Bu spent the last decade as a chef at various local Chinese restaurants like Double Happiness in Del Mar, Chin’s in Miramar, and Taste of Hunan in Scripps Ranch but before he moved to the U.S. in 2013, he ran his own restaurant in Yangzhou for 15 years. Located in China’s Jiangsu province, a coastal region north of Shanghai, Yangzhou is known for Huaiyang cuisine and is recognized as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy.

Yangzhou-style boiled dried beancurd shreds at Hometown Taste.
Yangzhou-style boiled dried beancurd shreds at Hometown Taste.
Helen I. Hwang

While Yangzhou fried rice is a popular staple found in many Chinese restaurants across the U.S., the region is also famous for minced crab meat and pork balls, braised shredded chicken with ham and dried tofu, sweet and sour Mandarin fish, and pingqiao bean curd soup.

The chef’s menu at Hometown Taste features standouts like Shanghai soup dumplings, osmanthus cakes, and Yangzhou specialties like boiled dried bean curd shreds and “absolute sauce steak,” which is a tender, marinated pork bone dish. Other dishes include dim sum, stone pot rice casseroles, and chef’s specials. Customers can also choose from an assortment of cold prepared dishes like chicken in rice wine and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, a spicy beef and ox tripe in chili sauce.

Osmanthus cakes at Hometown Taste.
Osmanthus cakes at Hometown Taste.
Helen I. Hwang

Through cooking some of the dishes he misses from back home, Bu is also looking forward to highlighting this lesser-seen regional Chinese cuisine in San Diego. The chef tells Eater that he’d like to eventually open a second Chinese restaurant in San Diego.

Grilled pork buns at Hometown Taste.
Grilled pork buns at Hometown Taste.
Helen I. Hwang