The Unvegan

Recent Posts

Street Food Spotlight: Oyster Noodle Soup
Living in Green Heaven
Street Food Spotlight: Taiwanese Sausage
Thai in ‘Nam at Tuk Tuk

‘Taiwanese’

Street Food Spotlight: Taiwanese Sausage

So full and thick.

I often find it amazing how universal sausage is. It seems like every culture has its own version of tube meat, like all humans have some sort of collective conscience that led us to grind up meat and stuff it inside of an intestine. And while you might think that Taiwanese sausage would basically be the same as Chinese Sausage, you would be wrong.

Street Food Spotlight: Taiwanese Chou Doufu

Toothpick it up.

You may recall that a few years back I paid a visit to Shanghai and had some of their stinky tofu (aka chou doufu in Mandarin). At that time it was pretty much the only variety of stinky tofu I really knew of because I had spent a year living in that city. Stinky tofu, however, seems to come in as many flavors as bread or pasta, with Taiwan claiming one of its own.

Flat Chicken at Hot Star

Object in photo is larger than it appears.

When I found out that a Taiwanese fried chicken place had opened next door to my office, I knew I had to stop by, especially because I would soon be paying a visit to Taiwan. It’s called Hot Star, and for some reason it specializes in flattening the fried chicken to make it look massive. I don’t know if this is meant to make it taste or look better, but I was ready to find out.

A Touch of Taiwan at Rose Tea Cafe

It always starts with sausage.
It always starts with sausage.

How do you know if an ethnic restaurant is authentic? You look inside and see if people resembling that ethnicity are inside. Or, better yet, you let one of them take you there. At least that’s how it went down for me when a Taiwanese friend of mine invited me to Rose Tea Cafe in Squirrel Hill (supposedly the Oakland location isn’t as good) to get some Taiwanese food. Rose Tea Cafe isn’t just some tea house, it’s a full-on restaurant with almost too many options to choose. So we turned to my friend to figure out what to get.

Getting Stinky at Yami Teahouse

Right in the stink.
Right in the stink.

If you’re a longtime reader, you may recall a post from a few years ago highlighting the illustrious Chinese street food called Chou Doufu. Literally translating to “stinky tofu,” this dish can be smelled from blocks away and the smell is the antithesis of fragrant. For a long time, I thought this dish was relegated to Asia, until I read about a place in Gardena called Yami Teahouse that claimed to have that stinky bean curd. To my delight, it wasn’t far from my office and I might my way there to perk up my olfactory memory.

Dumpling Time at Din Tai Fung

So steamy!
So steamy!

Once upon a time, some great people brought me to a place called Din Tai Fung. Although I was living in Shanghai at the time, I had no idea what to expect on this first visit to Xintiandi and my first introduction to Xiaolongbao (way before it was cool). Luckily, they taught me how to bite in without scalding the insides of my mouth, and I quickly fell in love. More than six years later, I finally made in back to Din Tai Fung, but this time it was in Arcadia, California. Despite the obvious distance between Arcadia and Shanghai, much of Arcadia looks like it was pulled directly out of China. The Din Tai Fung, though, looked little like its counterpart across the Pacific.