I remember walking by Taiwan Bento in the Uptown District of Oakland with a coworker many months ago. The restaurant was not open at the time and there was a sign at the door indicating they were having soft openings. I peaked through the window to check out their menu board. It was a very small menu and it didn’t sound too interesting to me.
I pretty much forgot about Taiwan Bento until I read Eddie Huang’s “Fresh off the Boat.” He kept talking about the foods he grew up with and I felt like I wanted to experience that. I don’t yet have immediate plans to visit New York City to try his restaurant Baohaus. For the time being, I had to try something more local. Taiwan Bento!
I went with a few coworkers to give this lunchtime spot a try. We each ordered our own bento box, but we shared. The bento boxes come with rice, pickled vegetables, edamame, and a tea egg. As I mentioned before, their menu is a bit limited. Each day of the week, Taiwan Bento features a daily bento lunch special which is slightly discounted.
Monday’s special is the roasted chicken bento. I liked the crispiness of the skin and the tossed sesame seeds.
The braised pork bento is Tuesday’s special. From reading Huang’s biography, it sounded like this is one of the most popular dishes in Taiwan and one his grandma makes best.
The fried pork chop is Friday’s special. The pork chop is battered and deep fried to a crisp.
Taiwanese sausage is Wednesday’s special. My friend ordered a side of the sausage. Leaner than the Chinese sausage that I am used to, it was really tasty. The generous amount of green onions and the gravy added a lot of good flavor.
Although not a bento, Taiwan Bento serves beef noodle soup, another popular Taiwanese dish. I found this dish to be very familiar tasting because it’s common in Cantonese cuisine. The star anise is prevalent.
We also tried some hand made pork buns. The soft bun and the tender pork filling makes this melt in your mouth. In my opinion, this is the healthier version of the BBQ pork bun.
Taiwan Bento is simple food, but different. I enjoy the concept of a bento box. In addition to your main course, you get a few fun bonus items. I imagine myself eating similarly to the millions of people in Taiwan. I think Taiwan Bento provides a good glimpse into Taiwanese lunchtime food.