Tag Archives: Taiwanese

Pine and Crane, Los Angeles

Pine & Crane
1521 Griffith Park Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

I acknowledge that at first I was very skeptical of Pine & Crane. Can a Taiwanese restaurant not located in the San Gabriel Valley or Irvine be good (and located in hipster-y Silver Lake no less)? Does it really live to the hype of 1,000+ Yelp reviews with a 4.5 star average after 3 years in business? But despite my skepticism, I still needed to go to actually see if yuppie-fied Taiwanese in Silver Lake actually works and is worth it. After all, if you can find decently priced, good Taiwanese around central LA, why would I (or any of my friends) want to suffer the traffic on the 10 to go to the SGV?

So during my last visit to LA a month ago, a friend and I went to finally try it out. Given that her family came from Taiwan, I’d say she’s an even better expert.

We met up around 7PM on a Sunday evening. While finding parking in Silver Lake was difficult, like always, the wait was fairly easy for a table. I do actually like the fast casual approach of sorts they have at Pine and Crane, allowing you to order what you want at the counter and then get seated and served. So after a relatively decent 15 minute wait in line, we decided to get the following, which we thought would give us a good breadth of the quality without being too saturated with food:

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Beef Roll at Pine & Crane

  • Beef Roll – The dough for the warp was nicely fried to a light crisp and filled with flavorful beef and cucumbers, lots and lots of cucumbers. While the flavor was good, unfortunately the cucumber to beef ratio was a bit off which marred the otherwise pretty great appetizer.
  • Tofu Skin Salad (Cold Item) – We wanted to try one of the $3.50 rotating cold appetizer items they keep at a display fridge by the counter so after a lengthy deliberation we settled on the tofu skin salad. The tofu skin was nice, but the marinade/dressing lacked a bit of flavor so it was a bit bland.
  • Morning Glory (空心菜) – In contrast, the kong xin cai was excellent. It was perfectly stir fried with a little bit of garlic and oil making a simple, but flavorful dish that helped balance all the heavier meat flavors of the meal. (note the list of vegetables are seasonal and rotates)
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Beef noodle soup at Pine & Crane

  • Beef Noodle Soup – The beef was nicely seasoned and tender and the noodles were cooked decently. However, my friend and I both agree that the broth was a little bland. It did have a relatively strong beef flavor, but a little bit of spicy or maybe a dash of chili oil would have gone a long way.
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Minced Pork on Rice at Pine and Crane

  • Minced Pork on Rice – At the end was the best dish of all, in my opinion. 滷肉飯 is a classic Taiwanese dish and Pine & Crane pretty much nailed it. The pork was tender, flavorful, and richly infused with the perfectly cooked rice. The egg had great soy sauce flavor and the pickled vegetables helped to cut the richness of the rest of the dish.

While you might get hung up on some of the nitpickiness of the individual dish descriptions, overall my friend and I thought it was a solid execution of Taiwanese food. It may not be as flavorful as some Taiwanese spots in the SGV or Irvine, but it definitely is a solid Taiwanese restaurant with reasonable prices. I would definitely go there again, especially when I’m spending time around Silver Lake, Echo Park, or even parts of Hollywood.

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Ah-Ma’s Taiwanese Kitchen, Atlanta

Ah-Ma’s Taiwanese Kitchen
931 Monroe Dr. Ste A-108
Atlanta, GA 30308

When it comes to Asian food in Atlanta, people generally think of Buford Highway, specifically the section of the highway in Chamblee and Doraville that is home to many of the area’s best Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean restaurants. So it was much to my delight and surprise when I was researching on where to eat on my East Coast trip that a Taiwanese restaurant in midtown was listed as one of Atlanta Eater’s 38 essential restaurants. Since I was planning to meet up with a couple of my friends that lived in midtown, the place seemed perfect with both its praised quality and close proximity.

My friends and I met up and walked to Ah-Ma’s, arriving around 6:30PM on a Friday. The restaurant was fairly busy but luckily a medium sized table opened up fairly quickly and we were seated in less than five minutes. We took a look at the menu, which is filled with a wide range of classic Taiwanese dishes, and I really had to resist my urge to order everything. Fortunately, we managed to narrow down our selections to the following:

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Fried Pig Ear at Ah-Ma’s Taiwanese Kitchen

  • Fried Pig Ear – These crunchy and chewy morsels of pork were perfectly fried, allowing the light pork taste to shine and not be overpowered by oil or breading. My friend who insisted on ordering these was perfectly delighted. We only wished that there was more on the plate.
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Dirty Bird Bao at Ah-Ma’s Taiwanese Kitchen

  • Dirty Bird Bao – A solid Taiwanese chicken cutlet that’s wrapped in a mantou bun with pickled cucumber and carrots. It was a pleasant, if underwhelming, snack bao. There was supposed to be some wasabi aioli but I don’t really remember the aioli having any of the heat of wasabi.
Pork Belly Bao at Ah-Ma's Taiwanese Kitchen

Pork Belly Bao at Ah-Ma’s Taiwanese Kitchen

  • Pork Belly Bao – Ah-Ma’s version of gua bao, on the other hand, was fantastic. The pork belly was tender and juicy. The fat of the pork married well with the pickled mustard greens. Combined, it was an excellent, if slightly messy, bao.
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Lu Rou Fan at Ah-Ma’s Taiwanese Kitchen

  • Lu Rou Fan – The braised pork in this dish may not be as sublimely soft and rich as the bowls in Taiwan, but it was a solid version for a dish in America. The pork was tasty and the egg was marinated. Perhaps my only real nitpick is that I wish there was more picked veggies and less cilantro garnish.
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Three Cup Chicken Wings at Ah-Ma’s Taiwanese Kitchen

  • Three Cup Chicken Wings – While three cup chicken normally isn’t exclusively chicken wings or drumsticks, I did appreciate this spin on the classic Taiwanese dish to make it very American with staunchly Taiwanese roots. The wings were fried very well, managing to have a light and crispy skin with juicy meat. The sauce was very nice too with a hint of heat to augment the sweet flavors from the soy sauce and sesame oil.
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Beef Noodle Soup at Ah-Ma’s Taiwanese Kitchen

  • Beef Noodle Soup – One constant theme of Ah-Ma’s is that they know how to cook their meats. The brisket in the noodle soup was no different in its tender chunks with hints of five spice. The noodles were cooked perfectly too, allowing them to absorb the flavor of the broth without being too soggy. I did wish the broth was a little more spicy, but this was a solid version of Taiwanese beef noodle soup.

All in all, Ah-Ma’s definitely met expectations and I was instantly delighted that Atlanta has a solid Taiwanese restaurant that is within walking distance of mass transit. I especially loved all the nods to Taiwan, including the ability to drink a can of HeySong Sarsaparilla. Ah-Ma finds a way to make solid plates of Taiwanese dishes at reasonable prices in a very approachable way to non-Chinese people, something that many other middle to high end Asian restaurants in yuppie Millennial filled Asian neighborhoods fail to achieve. 

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Food Alley at Westfield Santa Anita, Arcadia

For a couple of years now I have heard about the growth of exciting, quality Asian dining establishments in Westfield’s Santa Anita Mall. First, it was Hai Di Lao, the first American branch of the pricey Sichuanese hot pot chain. Then it was the development of Meizhou Dongpo’s second US location and Din Tai Fung’s new larger 3rd Arcadia location. 

All this development has not been limited to big Chinese or Taiwanese chain restaurants. Late last year Westfield Santa Anita opened “Food Alley”, a food court of sorts between the Nordstrom and Din Tai Fung that doesn’t have your typical Panda Express or Sbarro mall food court options. To be clear, there still is a regular food court at Westfield Santa Anita on the first floor near JC Penney’s for all your McDonald’s and Sarku Japan cravings. However, Food Alley contains some out of the box, Asian oriented stores with food that I have never seen in any American mall.

Thus, I had to try out these eateries and see how they matched to all the great restaurants that dot the strip malls elsewhere in the San Gabriel Valley. Since it would be very difficult to try them all by myself, I asked a friend if she would be interested in joining me and she thankfully said yes. These are the dishes and places we tried:

Hainanese Chicken Rice at Side Chick

Hainanese Chicken Rice at Side Chick

  • Hainanese Chicken Rice at Side Chick – Our first stop was at Side Chick, where the star dish is the Hainanese Chicken Rice. The chicken was moist and flavorful while the rice was a little dryer than I like (though saved a little by the church of the fried garlic). I loved the ginger scallion, sambal, and vinegary soy sauces that accompanied the chicken. While the rice is not as good as Savoy, the vaunted Hainanese Chicken Rice slinger in Alhambra, I think Side Chick has the edge as my favorite Southern Californian chicken rice spot for the chicken.
Spicy Niku Udon at Tsurumaru Udon Honpo

Spicy Niku Udon at Tsurumaru Udon Honpo

  • Spicy Niku Udon at Tsurumaru Udon Honpo – While I would have wanted to try more bowls of udon, we were starting to get full from the Hainanese Chicken Rice. We settled on the spicy niku udon. I liked the chewy udon and tender beef slices, but wasn’t really feeling the thicker, kimchi laden broth. While I wouldn’t get the spicy niku udon, the udon and beef were definitely good enough that I am eager to try other bowls of udon the next time I am there.
Pork Soup Dumplings at Din Tai Fung in Westfield Santa Anita

Pork Soup Dumplings at Din Tai Fung in Westfield Santa Anita

  • Pork Soup Dumplings at Din Tai Fung – Since the new Din Tai Fung was around the corner, I just had to try some soup dumplings. I ordered a half order of 5 soup dumplings. While none of them broke (making them better than the Glendale and South Coast locations), there were a couple with dumpling skin tops that were a little thick and chewy. They were certainly good but not up to the standard of the original Din Tai Fung in Taiwan.
Japanese cheesecake at Uncle Tetsu

Japanese cheesecake at Uncle Tetsu

  • Japanese Cheesecake at Uncle Tetsu – For dessert we had the Japanese cheesecake at Uncle Tetsu. The several slices were, in a word, sublime. It was like a creamier sponge cake that was light and fluffy and just a touch sweet. Honestly, if I didn’t have as much self control that night, I might have eaten an entire cake.

All in all, Food Alley blew away my expectations and definitely was the tastiest mall food court I have eaten at this side of the Pacific. And yet, I didn’t even try any ramen or skewers at the Backhouse nor any drinks at Matcha Matcha. If this is what new, modern mall food courts will be like from now on, I guess I’ll be spending more money shopping at Nordstrom and slurping noodles across the country.

 

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85c Bakery Cafe

Multiple Locations in Southern & Northern California

Over the last few years it has become trendy for chains originating in Asia to open locations in the United States, mainly in California. These expansions have predominantly come from restaurants, most notably Din Tai Fung from Taiwan, Hai Di Lao from China, Gyu-Kaku from Japan, and Crystal Jade from Singapore. For the most part these ventures have been very successful, especially Din Tai Fung where their locations can experience 1+ hour long wait times to this day (Crystal Jade being a notable exception with near universal derision from food critics).

Restaurants aren’t the only ones riding this wave of American expansion, though. Popular bakeries have expanded their operations across the Pacific too. While Asian bakeries in the United States are not new (Hong Kong based Kee Wah Bakery has operated in the US since 1985), there has been a proliferation of bakeries from Asia more recently including South Korea based Paris Baguette and soon to open Duke Bakery in both Rowland Heights and Arcadia. None of them, however, have come near the hype and popularity of Taiwan based 85c Bakery Cafe.

85c opened their first location in Irvine near the end of 2008 when I was a senior in college at nearby UC Irvine. From day one the lines were long and each successive branch they have opened in the US since has had lines out the door and down the block. For those who are new to 85c it’s hard to understand why there are such long lines for what appears to be just a random bakery.

The appeal, however, is both in the freshness of the baked goods as well as the relatively universal appeal of the buns and other items as well. Unlike many bakeries in the US, especially supermarket bakeries, who bake things in the morning and just let products sit out on the shelves for the rest of the day, 85c constantly bakes their bread fresh throughout the day (though now most locations are supplied by a central kitchen where the products are put to a final, finishing bake on site). You can even see employees bring out newly baked items every few minutes shouting “fresh bread” as they load the constantly depleting shelves with new items.

Pastries at 85c Bakery Cafe

Pastries at 85c Bakery Cafe

Of course, even if you baked everything fresh but the food was just mediocre or bland, you likely wouldn’t see the huge lines that appear at almost every time of the day outside any branch of 85c. The second key to their continued fortune are their Taiwanese style pastries. Given the colonial history of Taiwan, these pastries are a blend of both Chinese and Japanese influence. In turn, Japanese pastries are heavily influenced from Portugal. Thus, like the baked buns of Hong Kong, Taiwanese pastries have a blend of European, East Asian, and local influences which you can see in a number of items at 85c like the Calamari Stick (a bun filled with cheese and dipped in squid ink). Arguably it’s this sense of familiarity yet also foreignness that makes pastries also very popular with both non-Chinese and Chinese people alike in the US.

However, I wouldn’t be blogging about a place if I didn’t have reflections or recommendations on my own so here are my thoughts on a select number of their pastries:

  • Premium Milk Bun – This is probably my favorite bun to get at 85c. It’s a fairly simple combination of rich, light white chocolate cream filled inside a nice baked bun. The pièce de résistance, though is the sweet glaze and powdered sugar on top which gives the bun a rich and sweet taste that I love.
  • Coffee Bread – This gigantic coffee flavored bun is filled with mochi and red bean paste giving a nice sweet yet hearty feel. I personally feel that this bun is a bit too big, but there are many who really love this item.
  • Mochi Egg Tart – While this is a perfectly fine egg tart, to be honest I was just okay with it. The problem, I feel, is that unlike the breads, normally the egg tarts are tepid in temperature when you pick one. The mochi gives the egg tart a somewhat creamier taste and the crust is decently flaky, but I find the Portuguese style egg tarts at Kee Wah or even the Bacchanal Buffet in Las Vegas better.
  • Matcha Red Bean Roll – These are pretty good with the roll’s consistency being perfectly balanced, not too light but not too dense. The cream filling in the roll and the matcha flavoring gives it a nice lightly sweet taste
  • Chocolate Chip Bowl – This light and fluffy bread is dotted with bits of chocolate chip. It’s nice but I feel it’s fairly plain compared to their other offerings

These are just 5 of there dozens of offerings and I didn’t even include their multitude of cakes, tart, and beloved panna cotta that’s also available to purchase when you pay for your pastry items.

Taiwan: Sea Salt Coffee by sstrieu: https://flic.kr/p/nDoVNk

Taiwan: Sea Salt Coffee by sstrieu: https://flic.kr/p/nDoVNk

At this point I should also mention one of their most popular items that you can even skip the bread line to order, since all 85c Bakeries have drink only lines. The sea salt coffee they make is beloved because it’s also delicious. It’s a mix of coffee, cream, and topped with sea salt. When they make the coffee it will be in layers so it is important to shake the drink and mix up all the ingredients before you poke the straw and drink. Otherwise you’ll make the mistake of drinking really dense, super sweet cream at the end. The irony of this popular drink is that the name 85c comes from the founder’s idea that 85c is the ideal temperature for hot coffee; the sea salt coffee only comes cold.

All in all, if you haven’t been to an 85c Bakery Cafe, I would say to go to one as soon as you can. It’s worth the wait and I always make 85c a stop on any trip I have in Southern California.

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Din Tai Fung, Glendale

Din Tai Fung
177 Caruso Ave.
Glendale, CA 91210

Din Tai Fung is an award winning chain of Taiwanese restaurants, known best for their xiaolongbao (juicy pork dumplings on their menu). It’s Shanghai location is listed as one of Time’s 10 things to do there. The same location in Shanghai was given a rave review by the New York Times as well. Forbes even titled an article they did on the chain “The World’s Greatest Dumpling” and the New York Times named the restaurant one of the ten best in the world 20 years ago. They expanded to America in the early 2000s and to this day you still have to endure at least one hour waits, even at off peak hours, to get a seat at any of their Los Angeles area locations (including 2 locations in Arcadia that are practically neighbors).

Given all of this, it’s no surprise that my first time at a Din Tai Fung made me anxious, nervous, excited, and content at the same time. While I had wanted to go to Din Tai Fung for years, I never quite managed to make it. Therefore, I seized the opportunity to have lunch there before I drove back to Albuquerque (via Phoenix) during my holiday break.

When I finally got to Din Tai Fung at their Americana at Brand location in Glendale it was about 3PM. The wait for a table of one at 3PM on a Monday? One hour. Luckily they have a small bar section and I decided to hop on the first seat available. After five minutes I got a seat and quickly ordered, especially since I had a six hour road trip ahead of me.

Din Tai Fung 1

Given my limited budget and inability to take leftovers on a long drive, I decided to order two items: a half order of the juicy pork dumplings (5 in an order instead of 10) and a bowl of beef noodle soup. Before the items arrived, the bartender gave me a small plate of finely slivered pieces of ginger and vinegar for the dumplings. Fairly soon after, my bowl of beef noodle soup arrived. The beef noodle soup had a nice broth that was spicy, but not overpowering. It was probably one of the better broths I have had. The noodles were thin wheat noodles that was a hair overcooked for my taste. The beef was well seasoned and had good flavor, but it was tougher and chewier than I would have liked.

Din Tai Fung 2

When the soup dumplings came, the real moment of truth arrived. My first dumpling was perfect. There was a slight chew to my first bit to let out the steam and the broth was clean and flavored well. The pork was very tender and flavorful as well. The second and third dumplings were just as good and I marveled at the ability to craft a dumpling that not only had a good balance of flavor, but skins that held its own as well. Unfortunately, my fourth dumpling was a little too flimsy and broke, letting a bit of the soup out. It was disappointing given the reputation the restaurant has of very well crafted dumplings, but it was still delicious.

Service, which they are also well known for after their experience expanding in Japan, was also top notch. The bartender was very helpful and attentive, even with drink orders occasionally pouring in from the restaurant side. While I did not need too much help, he also gave great recommendations to the party next to me and even engaged in very friendly banter. He also helped to calm a couple that was indignant about the hour long wait for a table and just needed food (which I understood given that it is 3PM, but shouldn’t they have known how long the lines were?).

All in all, my Din Tai Fung experience was very good, even if the food did not quite hit my admittedly very high and built up expectations. I do also want to applaud the restaurant for allowing half orders as well, making it nice and perfectly portioned for tables of one or two. The bill was pretty good too, coming to about $15 including a soft drink and sales tax, making Din Tai Fung very reasonable priced given the quality of food and service. Next time I hope to try some of their other well regarded items, like their soups and other small plates.

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A&J, Irvine

A&J Restaurant
14805 Jeffrey Road #D
Irvine, CA 92618

After my delicious Dim Sum adventure at Sea Harbour, I ventured down to Irvine where I went to college and my brother currently lives and work. There is plenty that I miss about Orange County, including the number of delicious Asian food establishments (which was supposed to be the original intent of the blog). For dinner, I decided to take my brother and sister to one of my old favorites in Irvine, A&J.

Despite the numerous Taiwanese restaurants around the Walnut and Jeffrey intersection in Irvine, parking is always difficult and there is almost always a line at A&J. Fortunately, I found parking near the end of the lot and got a table of three with just a 10 minute wait. We sat down and I promptly started marking the menu sheet of items. My brother mainly wanted noodles, so I decided to get a couple noodle dishes (beef noodle soup, noodle soup with pork and preserved vegetables), some small plates (scallion pancakes and wontons in hot chili oil), as well as a bowl of marinated minced pork and tea smoked egg on rice.

A&J

The food came out at a decent pace, with the scallion pancakes and rice bowl coming out first. All of us loved the scallion pancakes, but only I ate the rice bowl as my brother complained that the marinated pork didn’t look appetizing compared to the same dish at Guppy’s. Regardless of the look, the rice bowl was good, even if it lacked some of the refined flavor and texture across the street at Liang’s Kitchen or Yu’s Garden. The noodle soup bowls came next and, as usual, the beef noodle soup was a definite winner. The pork and preserved vegetable noodle soup was good too, but it’s lighter flavors and textures could not compare to the bold richness of the beef noodle soup. The wontons were a hit as well, with the hot chili oil matching perfectly with the beef filled wontons.

While the food was great, the service was lacking. This A&J typically only has 2 servers, and with such a constant demand and flow it is hard for them to do everything well and to focus on the customer experience. It took us flagging down a server twice before she gave us cups of ice water and it took forever til either the teapot or cups of water were refilled. The service here is noticeably worse than there locations in Annandale, VA and Rockville, MD which consistently have at least 3 servers who are very courteous.

However, it’s really hard to complain when you can feed 3 young people 5 dishes within $32, tax and tip included. Of course, it’s a cash only establishment, which means you should go to the ATM beforehand. I personally prefer the Rockville branch, but the Irvine location holds its own against fierce competition across the street.

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Budai, Albuquerque

Budai Gourmet Chinese
6300 San Mateo NE H-1
Albuquerque, NM 87109

Taiwanese food is my favorite Chinese regional cuisine after Cantonese. Granted, what many North Americans view as Taiwanese food is a slight misnomer given that what we mostly think of as Taiwanese food today is heavily influenced by Shanghainese and Fujianese cuisine, especially after the KMT’s move to the island in and after 1949. Oftentimes what is considered Taiwanese now overlaps with many other historic Chinese regional cuisines given the nature of war and settlement over several centuries.

Regardless of the historic influences of Taiwanese cuisine, Albuquerque is blessed with a restaurant that actually serves it and does so pretty authentically. Located in the Northeast Heights, it’s a bit of a drive from my house near Old Town, but it’s a godsend when I have cravings for non-Cantonese style Chinese food.

When I entered the restaurant earlier today I was promptly greeted by one of the owners and politely seated. The waiter was quick to get my drink order as I perused the menu, which is just big enough to offer a number of selections without being overwhelming (something many other Asian restaurants could be better at). Unfortunately, as usual it was slightly distressing to see that my settings only consisted of a fork and spoon, no chopsticks. However, given the clientele is overwhelmingly non-East Asian I can understand and at least appreciated that Budai is serving authentic Taiwanese food to them.

Budai1

I ordered a bowl of Taiwanese beef noodle soup, xiao long bao (Soup Dumplings, which you can learn about here), and scallion pancakes. This was more than enough for one person to eat, but three good staples to test out the quality and authenticity of a Taiwanese (by way of Shanghai) restaurant.

The scallion pancake came first, and they were a bit thicker than I am used to. However, even with the thickness, the scallion pancake had that dough flakiness that is just right and enough scallions to make it flavorful without overpowering. Next came the beef noodle soup in a gigantic bowl, served with a side garnish of pickled Chinese mustard greens. The broth was delicious, the noodles were cooked well, and the beef was braised just right with great tenderness and just enough spice. Honestly, the beef noodle soup could compete with any Taiwanese restaurant in the San Gabriel Valley.

Budai2

For the finale came the prized xiao long bao, which came atop some thin sponge like material to prevent the dumplings from sticking to the steamer (smart move). I picked one up and carefully placed one on my spoon, ate a little bit of the top to let the steam out and slurp the soup, and then devoured the filling and dumpling wrapper. It was delicious, though the broth perhaps slightly blander than what I’m used to. As the dumplings cooled down, the experience wasn’t as great as trying to bite the top part of the wrapper tore apart the dumpling.

After I ate a copious amount of food, with plenty left over to take in boxes, I payed the bill which came out to be around $28 (noodle soup – $10, xiao long bao [10] – $9, scallion pancakes – $5, tea – $1.50). It was a little bit more expensive than I was used to, and certainly at least twice as expensive as any bill I would get at A&J, but well worth it in my opinion. Albuquerque can be proud that is has an excellent place for Taiwanese food, and it’s good enough that there’s no need to fly to LA.

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Everyday Noodles, Pittsburgh

Everyday Noodles
5875 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15217

The first stop on my way from DC to Denver was the famous old steel town of Pittsburgh. I didn’t know what to expect from Pittsburgh in terms of Asian food, but I suspected it might be reasonably good and authentic given that some Asians had moved there with the Pittsburgh resurgence in high tech and biotech. I consulted renown Chinese food expert David Chan on his suggestions for good Chinese food in the area. He suggested I try Everyday Noodles, a restaurant he has wanted try but has not been to yet.

After I checked into my hotel I decided to venture to the Squirrel Hill neighborhood where Everyday Noodles was located. As I drove down Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill I realized there was an abundance of Asian restaurants on the street, including several ramen shops and Taiwanese style restaurants. I was hopeful that this experience would be great given the competition in the area seemed high.

Everyday Noodles 1

I entered the restaurant and was warmly greeted and seated. As I sat down I noticed how bright and modern the space is. The restaurant certainly embraces the open kitchen concept that has become trendy over the past decade. However, one flaw of this restaurant design is the heat that is trapped in the seating area. The combination of poor air conditioning circulation and hot air from the kitchen created a fairly warm interior that was not very pleasant after walking in hot and sticky weather.

All that aside, while I was looking at the menu after being seated, I was pleasantly delighted at the authenticity of the menu. It had all the hallmarks of a Taiwanese restaurant in California. Since Mr. Chan recommended that I try new, interesting menu items, I declined eating the beef noodle soup and instead order the Taiwanese Style Dan Tsu Noodle Soup and an appetizer plate of marinated tofu skin and wood ears.

Everyday Noodles 2

The tofu skin and wood ears initially were very tasty. However, I started to get sick of them after eating about half the plate. I don’t know exactly what it was, but I guess too much of the light vinegar marinade really did not agree with my palate. The Dan Tsu noodles were definitely better. While I have never had it before, the soup was a beef broth filled with chives filled with your choice of wide or thin wheat noodles and topped off with braised minced beef and a tea smoked egg. I liked the flavor of the broth, though it was a bit oily, the noodles were cooked well, and the minced beef definitely had a nice flavor. However, I felt like there was too little minced beef for such a large noodle soup bowl.

The service after I ordered was a bit slow and the waitress only offered to refill my water near the end of the meal. It also took a bit to get my check and process the credit card, which really should not have been that long given how close it was to closing time.

All in all, it certainly wasn’t a bad experience, but nothing to write home about. Given the competition in the area I think I will have to try other places before I get a sense of how decent the Chinese food is in Pittsburgh.

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