Every neighborhood needs a place like Szechuan Taste. A place you can go for reliably decent food at sensible prices. A place where the music is soothing and the staff behaves with low-key courtesy. A place where you'll feel at home even if you don't feel like dressing up and putting out a lot ofeffort.
At Szechuan Taste you won't feel like you're slumming, though. This Parkville place is in a shopping center, but isn't one of those Formica-clad carry-outs. (Although you can carry out, of course.) The walls are an interesting shade somewhere between rose and terra cotta, the chairs are rattan, the art is discreet and the background music consists of lilting, bird-like flute sounds -- sort of Asian New Age. In short, tasteful.
Despite the name, the menu offers all sorts of Chinese tastes, from chow mein to "Seven Stars Over August Moon" and "Flaming Diamond Head." Not much innovation is found among the appetizers, but judging from the kitchen's fine performance on something as simple as an egg roll ($2.95 for two), it doesn't need to delve into anything flashier. The rolls were huge (one is big enough for two, two will spoil your appetite), plump and savory. And the fried crab wontons ($3.70) were even better. The exteriors were crisp, the pastry inside tender and elastic, and the creamy crab filling, which resembled hot crab and cream cheese dip, was wonderful. I wouldn't give it high points for authenticity -- the Chinese aren't dairy buffs -- but no sensible crab-lover would complain.