Unlike most of the countries I’ve written about so far for this blog, I’ve actually been to Taiwan. While I was there, one of the dishes I was looking forward to trying was minced pork rice. But when I got to the restaurant, it was packed, there was a surly-looking man behind the counter and a total lack of any pictures for me to point to. I wound up loitering for a couple of minutes before finally losing my nerve and leaving sad and pork-and-rice-less. Yes, trying to order food when you don’t speak a word of the language can be a challenge.
And now I’m sad all over again, because the version of this dish at Mama Bear Taiwanese Cuisine was pretty damn good — so I can only imagine how good the real deal in Taiwan must have been.
It doesn’t look like much, but with a surfeit of tender, perfectly cooked fatty pork in a richly flavourful, sweet sauce (served on a heaping mound of rice), it’s easy enough to see why it’s such a treasured dish in Taiwan.
We also ordered the Taiwanese-style popcorn chicken, which was crispy, juicy and well seasoned, and easily on par with the fried chicken I had in that country.
The oyster omelette, sadly, was like it came from a different kitchen altogether.
This was another dish that I tried in Taiwan, and the one I had there was almost transcendentally good, with super fresh, perfectly cooked oysters melding with the eggs in a way that was downright magical. Those eggs, which were lightly crispy on the outside (thanks to a judicious amount of starch mixed in) and soft and creamy on the inside, were among the best I’ve ever had. Served with some sweet sauce on the side to cut the briny richness of the oysters and the eggs, it was pretty much perfect.
I knew this omelette wasn’t going to be as good as that one, but man was it bad.
More starch than egg, the omelette was chewy, gummy, and crammed with overcooked oysters that tasted fishy and canned. And it was absolutely doused in a gloppy sauce — though in this case, the abundance of sauce was probably necessary to disguise the off taste of those oysters.