412 22nd Street
Oakland, CA 94612
I’ve mentioned the Bay Area’s prowess in terms of Cantonese food numerous times on my blog, including last week’s post on Dragon Beaux. While I do appreciate the sheer multitude of Cantonese people in the Bay Area that help propagate many good dim sum parlors and cha chaan tengs, there is an unfortunate downside. Up until recently, there has been a discernable lack of good non-Cantonese Chinese food in the metropolitan area, meaning that the Bay Area severely lags Los Angeles, and even New York City, on other popular Chinese regional cuisines like Sichuanese, Shanghainese, and Taiwanese.
Therefore when I stumbled upon Taiwan Bento about a month ago, as I was trying to find a good, reasonably priced place to eat on my way home, I was ecstatic. I thought, finally I had a chance to get really delicious and authentic Taiwanese food to replace my longings of the excellent places I ate at when I went to college in Irvine. The menu of this year-old restaurant cemented my excitement with such dishes as Beef Noodle Soup (牛肉麵) and the Braised Pork Bento (滷肉飯).
So over the course of a few weeks I tried out a few of their items:
- Beef Noodle Soup (牛肉麵) – Their beef noodle soup tasted as if I was transported to a Taiwanese home kitchen. The beef was marinated well and tender that worked beautifully with the thick wheat noodles. The carrots and preserved mustard greens helped brighten the dish and helped cut the fat of the beef and broth. I did wish the broth was a little bit richer and spicier, like how I was used to in Irvine, but overall the noodle soup help significantly ease my cravings.
- Braised Pork Bento (滷肉飯便當) – I tried this dish twice, and both times it turned out well. The minced pork is broiled in a nice marinade that has a good balance of shallots, soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar, none that I could tell really overpowered the other. The rice was pretty good as well, as were the pickled vegetables, even though I would have preferred the preserved mustard greens instead of shredded lettuce and carrots. The tea smoked egg had a good tea flavor as well. However, I could done without the edamame in this dish.
- Zha Jiang Mian (炸醬麵) – I did really like the noodles in this dish and the use of fresh bean sprouts, cucumbers, and carrots. However, I felt the sauce was a bit too sweet and there could have been a better ratio of bean oaste to vegetables, in that there should have been more bean paste.
Overall, I really liked Taiwan Bento. It’s a very nice mom and pop operation that is working really hard to bring authentic Taiwanese flavors to the East Bay. While I can’t say it totally replaces the Taiwanese restaurant in Irvine (those are just that good), it will definitely satisfy my cravings until my next trip to Southern California.
In the future I would like to try their Gua Bao, Fried Popcorn Chicken, and their 3 Cup Chicken Wings. Thankfully, the location is reasonably close to work and my new apartment, meaning I will enjoy many more trips back to Taiwan Bento.