I remember taking a week-long tour trip around Taiwan with my parents as a teenager. To be honest, all I wanted to do was watch entertainment programmes on TV – you ain’t seen manufactured boybands till you’ve seen Asian boy bands in all their metrosexual glory.
But that single-minded tunnel vision that only teenagers have made me miss out on Taiwanese food, and I’ve been chasing it ever since.
Bao Dao – a popular Taiwanese eatery in Chatswood – has recently opened a branch in Eastwood, so we went over to give it a shot.
There are a couple of classic Taiwanese dishes that I’ve always loved: chai po neng – an omelette that’s been made with salted radish – and the beef noodle soup.
I’ve never been much of a noodle soup person – I’ve always preferred the punchier flavours of dry noodle dishes – but Taiwanese beef noodle soup features a rich broth with slices of tender beef brisket, wheat noodles, and pickled mustard greens, giving me plenty of flavour and texture to enjoy.
If noodle soups still aren’t your thing, the Pork Mince on Rice might be an option. Pork mince is cooked in a soy based sauce, and served over rice with a braised egg and pickled mustard greens. Every Asian family I know has a version of this, and it is just such a signal of comfort, especially if we’re eating away from home.
For the fried chicken lovers, you have gotta try a Taiwanese Fried Chicken. More heavily spiced than the Korean or Kentucky varieties, these chicken pieces come in more a popcorn-chicken type bite, and always comes with deep fried herbs. To flavour or to assuage your guilt for eating fried chicken? I don’t know.
And because I simply cannot help myself, a side of beef tripe. White pieces of tripe are cooked till tender and served up with chilli oil to season, providing a decadent side to go on your rice.
In my experience, Bao Dao provides a convenience option to get your hands on some Taiwanese home style comfort food. Not quite the best I’ve had, but good enough to keep me craving more. Portions are also relatively ample – the pork mince might not seem like it’s enough to go with the rice, but digging deeper showed me a pool of sauce at the bottom of the bowl, and the beef noodle soup was more than I could finish. The service was also quite helpful – besides that card payments incurred a surcharge – I was looking to order a cold version of a particular drink that they serve warm, and they advised me that if they were to try and put it on ice to cool it, it would dilute my drink past the point of enjoyment, which is pretty cool of them to do, I thought.
Now just to find my salted radish omelette.