Show 48, November 16, 2013: Linda Burum, food journalist & contributor to Los Angeles Magazine and L.A. Weekly

Linda BurumThe current issue (November) of Los Angeles Magazine is a special issue highlighting foods from around the world that are available in Los Angeles. Linda three articles are “Dumplings around the world,” Fried chicken around the world,” and “Skewers around the world.”
Linda is just back from a trip to Taipei, Taiwan where she conducted some intensive restaurant research.

Linda reports on her dining adventures there and mentions where you can get some of these same signature dishes locally.

Correction: “Lou rou fan” is braised pork over rice. In Linda’s commentary she mistakenly defined them as “Slack Season noodles.”

Din Tai Fung, known for outrageous Shanghai soup dumplings, is very popular in Taiwan. They have a well-established branch in Arcadia. They just opened at The Americana at Brand in Glendale and a restaurant in South Coast Plaza will debut in the near future.

Linda’s Notes :

“While every tourist to Taipei will hear about all the wonderful night markets (especially the unusual offerings such as blood cake, braised pig intestines and stinky tofu) so popular with T.V. hosts for their play value, I have decided to expand the idea of great food locations in Taipei. Some visitors want to sit down to eat, have a drink and relax.)

Many of the countries iconic dishes like danzai noodles, lou rou fan, braised pork over rice and three cup chicken can be found in dedicated specialty restaurants.

Just a brief mention of why Taipei has such a diverse supply of regional Chinese restaurants that have influenced the Island’s cuisine.

Early on, waves of Mainland Chinese immigrants settled there especially Funnanese and Hakka’s from southern China. But one of the biggest influences came after WWII when over a million mainlanders from all over fled during the post war revolution

Throughout the war many leaders hid out in remote spots like the Sichuan and Hunan mountains. They brought their chefs with them when they escaped to Taiwan. All this left its mark on the food and restaurants you find today and why Taiwan is known for its diversity of regional Chinese restaurants.

1) I stopped by two places that serve perhaps the most beloved dish in Taiwan: braised pork over rice (lurou fan) the first and most famous Jin Feng lu rou fan always has a line so my friends sometimes go to Ji Shan restaurant which is only 4 minute walk for Youngchun station near the famed 101 Building (more about that later) which they say is equally good. (So I talk about why dish is fabulous, what’s in it etc.)

2) Tu Hsiao Yueh restaurant: Danzai (or Tan Tsai) noodles (slack season noodles) and other southern Taiwanese specialties. Some think the noodle dish is so great that criminals on the lam would sneak into town at the risk of getting caught just to get a bowl. The restaurant is now run by 4th generation; more facts about dish and family

3) Tripod King hot pot restaurants
For years Taipei residents had to travel to the city of Taichung to taste the Dongbei (northeastern China) flavor of Tripod King’s hotpot. Now there are several branches in Taipei. The broth is so good people bring jars of it home (and take leftover broth from their dinner) to make more hot pot.

4) Northsea Fishing Village Seafood
Specializes in fish and seafood from around the Penghu archipelago which lies between Taiwan and mainland China. Very fresh fish, sea urchin, rock lobster from that region.—English menu.

5) Hakka-style Chinese restaurant called Chiachia. What is Hakka food like?—this place has color photos on the walls and outside to show you—yet extremely casual and inexpensive.

6) Next I’ll discuss three classic Taiwanese restaurants of different price levels and what comprises Taiwanese cuisine.

  • Sit-fun: neighborhood style
  • Shen Yeh Chain of semi-formal
  • Shen Yeh Ambiences –which as sort of semi molecular gastronomy style Taiwanese

7) Then: Badasan Aboriginal Restaurant. These people preceded the Chinese. They serve things like wild boar and pigeon and food cooked wrapped in leaves, etc.

8) If you had only one day in Taipei where would you go? (I’ll tell why the 101 Building is a foodie must). Among other things it has a Din Tai Fung which is now so famous here . (I ate the truffle dumplings there and black pork dumplings which are not served here on the regular menu.)

And of course we know they have opened in Glendale and pretty soon in South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa.

Here in L.A. we have lots of Taiwanese spots.

The newest homestyle place is BEBE Fusion in Alhambra.”