There’s a new fanfare going on in Swanston Street right next to McDonalds. A casual & cheap eatery that serves Taiwanese food that requires you to obtain a raffle ticket to get a seat in their ALWAYS full restaurant.
Regardless of whether it is lunch hour or dinner time, there’s always a line queuing up waiting for a seat within their two story restaurant.
The first time I visited I was on my own, and having walked passed this eatery and eyeing on their Taiwanese Beef noodle soup I decided to settle down for lunch there. I walked up and told the door girl that I was alone, and maybe because of that I didn’t have to wait outside like the others.
I was presented a big bright red menu with lots and lots of photos (oo la la I love photos!), where I gawked at all the choices that were available for order. The menu somewhat made me stop and think whether I should order the Taiwanese Beef noodle soup or one of their bento boxes. However I stuck to my original planned and ordered their Taiwanese Beef Noodle soup plus a soya egg for an extra 50cents. (Soya eggs are eggs braised in soy sauce – really delicious)
The reason why I was so adamant in ordering a bowl of Taiwanese Beef Noodle soup is purely to see whether their quality matches up to my favourite Taiwanese beef noodle soup I have at Noodle House in the chinatown arcade area, – where their Taiwanese beef noodle soup has the most tender beef known to mankind. I reckon if I visit the place when I’m an old granny with no teeth I wouldn’t have trouble eating it because it’s that tender. I’d probably die from MSG overload though.
So did the beef noodles at Taiwan Cafe match up to my expectations? Well, their version is a bit different – it has a chinese herbal taste to it, and the meat isn’t as tender as Noodle House unfortunately.
However the dish overall wasn’t all too bad. I wouldn’t really recommend the dish to people who are not accustomed to Chinese herbs and medicine. Even for someone who is raised in a Chinese family, I found it a bit strange, but then again I was born and raised in Australia, so it does kind of make sense why sometimes I’m not accustomed to it.
As for the egg, did it justify the extra 50c? Probably not. It lacked the soya taste and felt like it wasn’t braised long enough.
Soya milk custard / Tofu pudding, which is also known as dou fu fa (豆腐花 – Literal translation: Tofu Flower), is a dessert one can eat hot or cold.
I’m used to eating it hot with sugar syrup and ginger.
I have had Mango Soya milk custard before in Box Hill and really enjoyed so I was keen to try it and was recommended by the waitress.
Unfortunately it it didn’t turn out good at all. Other than the pieces of mango it lacked taste and everything else was bland, until I reached the very bottom where it was extremely sugary!
**It was pretty hot that day with huge crowds so I didn’t bring my DSLR with me. So I used my iPhone4 to take the photos. So please excuse the quality of the photos**
On New Years Eve, Ci Ci and I arrived in the city pretty early so we decided to eat dinner before heading to the beach.
It was crazy hot and my brain was pretty much fried to even think where to eat out so we went to the closest eatery nearby. As Ci Ci hasn’t tried out Taiwan Cafe, we decided to go.
I’m really glad that I gave it another go as the food experience was a lot more pleasant than the other time I went.
Like mentioned above there was a queue, and we had to get a raffle ticket. Most people had to wait 10-15 minutes for 2 people, and up to half n hour for 4 people +.
Ci Ci ordered the Oyster Mee Sua - 蚵仔麵線 (Bottom Left corner), which is a popular Taiwanese dish. It’s pretty much noodles made out of wheat flour and salt, served with oyster in a soup. I tried a bit of it and it was actually quite nice, the soup wasn’t the watery type but a thickened type of soup, almost the same texture as hot and sour soup.
I ordered the Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken Bento box (Bottom Right Corner), which is pretty much deep fried chicken pieces fried and basil leaves; rice with mince pork served on top, fried egg with corn and peas, and some stir fried white cabbage.
There was nothing to complain about this Bento box, and I really liked the bit of mince pork served on top as it gave the rice a little bit extra flavour, and also because I found myself eating the popcorn chicken on its own haha.
We also ordered a plate of 5 pan fried dumplings which was a recommended dish in their big red menu book. It turned out to be quite pleasant, came out piping hot and the batter gave it that extra crunch!
We were extremely full once we finished all our food.
If you’re after a quick meal and don’t have time to wait I wouldn’t really recommend this place, but if you have time give it a go. They have a lot of different food to offer.
I might visit again to try out their Oyster Pancake which is coming soon. When is soon, I really don’t know :(