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Back to Asia with Taiwan Food Express

Basil of Chicken Street.

Aside from the deadly temperatures, one major thing I was worried about in moving to Phoenix was how I was going to get my Asian food fix. No, not sushi and orange chicken, but the real stuff. I heard about a place in Mesa called Mekong Plaza, which was supposed to have a bunch of good, real Asian restaurants and as luck would have it, it turned out to be between work and home. So, I paid a visit to Taiwan Food Express to see what they had to offer.

Now, I could understand that they had a lot of things you wouldn’t expect from a Taiwanese place. After all, while it’s good to have authentic food, you also have to know how to please the masses that believe PF Chang’s created Chinese food. Yet, they did have a House Special Basil Chicken that seemed right up my alley.

Chicken. Basil. Winner.

When I opened it up, I realized it was the same as Three Cup Chicken, a dish my buddy used to make for me that I loved. In addition to the basil, it’s also flavored with ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice wine and sugar. The result is an incredible sauce, that also happens to have some really tasty chicken mixed in. And, you know it’s authentic because the chicken has bones. You could probably pour the sauce on chicken shit and it would taste good, but it’s much better with the rest of the bird parts.

China, Taiwan, whatever.

I also got an order of the Taiwanese Sausage Fried Rice to split with my people. Unfortunately, this didn’t quite live up to my expectations of authenticity. Now, granted, my only experience with Taiwanese Sausage was at one place in Taipei, so there may be other varieties out there. Yet, this sausage tasted suspiciously like Chinese Sausage instead, being more dry and more sweet than the Taiwanese variety. And look, I get that it may be tough to get Taiwanese Sausage out here, so even Chinese is pretty damn good.

That said, Taiwan Food Express is a really solid place to get authentic Taiwanese food. The key is knowing the right things to order, or else you might just end up with some generic version of beef and broccoli – and ain’t nobody got time for that.