Taiwanese Bento, 2012

The place 陳叔叔, or “Uncle” Chen, took us to was this tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant that served lunch sets, much like how a prix fixe menu works.

I must admit the salad was a little bit bizarre: a fruit salad with some tangy, mustard sauce with paprika sprinkled on top. Interesting but not the tastiest. On the flip side, the little plate of fried appetizers was tasty. There was fried “calamari”, seaweed balls, and fish balls. Pretty much anything fried is tasty.

So these were 3 of the 4 main courses that were ordered at our table of 4:

I had  焗烤飯 [ju kao fan], which is basically where you bake rice in an oven. There are several types of “baked rice”, but mine was kimchi fried rice topped with crispy mozzarella. The cheese was so gooey and I loved the slightly burned parts. 🙂 Finished that plate in a jiffy!

Uncle Chen had a sort of fried “ham” steak that was wrapped in scrambled eggs and seaweed, which sounds odd, but works out really well. It’s salty, it’s crispy on the outside, a little squishy on the inside because of the egg, and the drizzle of sweet mayo made everything work.

My mom had meatball hotpot with vermicelli; Chinese meatballs are called “獅子頭” [shi zi tou], or “lion’s head”. Vegetarian ones are usually made from tofu, sesame oil, and shiitake mushrooms. For a “獅子頭” dish, the meatballs are put into a clay pot after being deep-fried and stewed with vermicelli, napa cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, and whatever else is to your liking. Probably one of my favorite Chinese dishes in general and something I always order if I see it on a menu.

Dessert was a “pork sung” Swiss roll and brown sugar mochi. Yum! The Swiss roll was delightfully light and fluffy, and the “pork” sung ended up highlighting the sweetness of the cake, rather than detracting from its taste. Mochi was sticky sweet goodness.

We went bread-shopping later in the day at Wu Pao Chun‘s bakery, Hogan 哈肯舖.  He won the 2010 Bakery Masters (Les Masters de la Boulangerie) competition in France for his rice wine and lychee bread.

The triangular loaf with the swirly: “米釀荔香” [mi liang li xiang]. It’s actually phenomenal. Thin, crispy, sourdough crust; doughy, chewy inside; pieces of warm walnut and lychee. MMM.

If you’re in the area and are interested, Hogan Bakery has been busy expanding into a chain, so it’s already opened up 5 stores.

And I can’t not mention the mangoes in Taiwan. Heaven.

Mangoes from Taiwan are divine. This one was a peach and mango hybrid. Our entire living room was so aromatic for the few hours the mango was in our kitchen. The fragrance of peaches, honey, and flowers permeated the house. They’re so good because:
1) the skin is a lot thinner;
2) the meat is buttery smooth–like panna cotta smooth;
3) the juices are ambrosia

My mom’s other best friend from college knows that we love mangoes, so she bought us a whole case. Happiness!! These golden yellow ones are a different breed of mango; they’re smaller but tend to be even sweeter than the bigger mangoes. I think these are called “總統” mangoes, or “president” mangoes.

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