It wasn’t all that long ago that, if someone asked you if you’ve ever had hand-pulled noodles, you might respond with, “What are hand-pulled noodles?” This might still be the case, actually, though over the past 10 years or so this type of noodle found in the central and northwestern sections of China has become one of the hottest foods in the Greater Boston area, thanks to the likes of Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Cafe, Chili Square, Noodles King, Xi’an Rougamo, Xi’an Street Foods, and a handful of other spots in and around the city.
This list also includes a tiny storefront in Watertown called Home Taste that has been wowing diners since it opened in 2015, and because one location was apparently not enough for the western suburbs of Boston, another outlet debuted in Arlington Heights last summer. And while the Arlington location was mostly about hand-pulled noodles and not much else at first, its menu has since expanded so that it is now becoming popular with not only lovers of traditional dishes found in China’s Shaanxi Province, but also with those who are more into the familiar Chinese-American dishes found at takeout places on every other street corner in the area.
Much like its original location just outside of Watertown Square, the new outlet of Home Taste in Arlington Heights doesn’t look like much from the outside, though the new location has perhaps just a bit more atmosphere inside than the first spot. A few tables are set up inside the place for those who want to dine in, and its rather quiet and laid-back dining area feels much like that of its predecessor—La Posada, a terrific little Mexican restaurant that shut down toward the end of 2017.
Because of its size (or lack of), Home Taste does quite a bit of takeout business, while parking for both dining in and taking out can sometimes be a challenge as the Heights doesn’t have any municipal lots per se. In addition, parking along Mass Ave and the side streets near the restaurant can be at a premium depending on when you go, so be patient and expect to walk at least a couple of blocks.
As mentioned earlier, when Home Taste first opened in Arlington Heights, its menu was quite limited, but now there is much to choose from, though for many the menu begins and ends with hand-pulled noodles. For those who aren’t familiar with this dish, they are basically wide, flat noodles that are stretched out into long strands and have a chewy texture that, when done correctly, is neither gummy nor overly soft. The noodles at Home Taste are right in the wheelhouse of being soft but not too soft, and two of the best of the options here are noodles with savory and slightly spicy cumin lamb, and noodles with chili oil that will make you sweat more and more as you continue to eat it. Other options include noodles with chopped beef and bean sprouts, and noodles with chopped pork and mushrooms; this latter dish has a kick to it so if you like milder options, the beef dish may be your better bet.
Another item at Home Taste that greatly impresses is the Chinese “burger,” which is basically meat stuffed into what looks a little like an English muffin but is really a flatbread/pita bun. The lean stewed beef and tender cumin lamb burger options are both excellent choices. The handmade dumplings don’t quite match the heights of some of the best found in the Boston area, but they’re still very good and can be ordered pan-fried or steamed, while the slightly less adventurous types can now opt for solid takes on chicken wings, scallion pancakes, General Tso’s chicken, orange chicken, sesame beef, lo mein, and fried rice, many of which were not offered initially at this location. Prices at Home Taste are quite reasonable with most main dishes being on either side of $10, while the Chinese burgers are closer to $5.
If you haven’t tried hand-pulled noodles, you’re in for a treat trying them at Home Taste in Arlington Heights (or the original in Watertown), and if you’re particularly hungry, there’s no law against ordering a plate of dumplings or a Chinese burger to go with the noodle plate. Arlington’s dining scene may not be the best in the region, but with the opening of this restaurant, it’s definitely just a bit more interesting than it was before—and for the Heights, which has always struggled with its dining scene, the opening of Home Taste over the past year is a pretty big deal indeed.
HOME TASTE. 1312 MASS. AVE., ARLINGTON. HOMETASTEMA.COM