Taiwan Bento, Oakland

Even though it has been open for a year, an initial negative report by a friend kept me away, but last week that friend decided it was time to return to sample more. The friend and I are both Taiwanese so that could make us a little more critical or picky, since we have our childhood food as a high benchmark.

Fried chicken: good, not oily, crispy, this was not an item I ate during my childhood and I can’t say I like Taiwanese FC better than Korean FC or Japanese FC. Definitely prefer Bakesale Betty and Miss Ollie’s and Ad Hoc over this version.

Braised pork bento: came with half an egg (perfect), pickled veggies (refreshing), edemame (generic), rice, and a chopped pork braise that was close enough to what I can make at home (mine is better). I use ground pork at home and they use pork belly. I don’t think it makes a big difference taste wise but it seems like ground pork is a little healthier. Egg was fully cooked, as it should be in order to flake the dried yolk into the rice.

Gua bao: friend reported it was a little oily but otherwise no complaints.

Milk tea with boba: tea was dark, not too sweet, flavorful. Boba was too soft and too small a portion for $3.50.

Overall I thought the food was solid and the prices were fine/good. I still miss the place in SF near Mission and 2nd, it was a little more authentic in my opinion. Still, I think that most people who didn’t grow up eating Taiwanese food would really like Taiwan Bento.

I’ve been a couple of times myself. More often though my wife picks up some takeout on her way home.

Ground pork rice: Had this once and thought it was good- though like you I think mine is better. I actually like this dish at Richmond 168 the best.

Pork chop rice: really good pork chop, one of the best in the area. Fresh tasting for a fried thing.

Beef noodle soup: one of the best in the area, possibly the best if you don’t want the spicy version at Dragon Gate. It’s got a hint of spice possibly from the use of a broad bean chili paste and good soy depth. I like their meat selection- pieces of shank, always my favorite for this dish. Noodles are thick wheat noodles and in contrast to most places not cooked super soft (except for once or twice in the beginning).

Popcorn chicken- good. My favorite Taiwanese fried chicken right now is Chick N Tea at Telegraph and 40th- just really fresh well seasoned chicken- “ji pai” boneless thigh cutlet is the thing but lately he’s been offering necks and drumsticks too. I wouldn’t compare directly Korean FC or any Western version to these- it’s a different craving for me.

Gua bao- I’m not a connossieur and haven’t had The Chairman but this was as good a gua bao as I’ve had around here.

Za jiang men. I had this reheated after two days in the fridge and it was still good. It’s not a thick black sauce like a Korean or other chinese version. It’s closer to the ground pork braise but spicier and with a little more meatiness.

I miss the place on Mission St. too (I think it was called Tea Garden), particularly for the “railroad” bento which I would sometimes pick up for dinner on my way home from work . I wonder what happened to the family who ran it.

Maybe I’ll have to give it another try. I was unimpressed with their beef noodle soup the first time I was there, which must be not long after they opened. (I did have two soy milks, though!)

I also miss Tea Garden. I wonder if the owners have popped up anywhere else.

Semii-off topic, but if we are talking fried chicken, I recommend trying Abura-Ya in downtown Oakland. Popup on 15th St that switches locations from lunch to dinner. Best bet is to follow them for menu and hours… https://twitter.com/aburayaoakland

yeay hungry onion!

Abura-Ya has been at its 380 15th St. Oakland address doing dinner pop-ups for a while now. Easy parking in evening except on Fri/Sat when the bars do a lot of business on that street.

Thank you! I’m eating their pork chop rice right now based on your recommendation and it is awesome. Well fried, enough fatty bits, good flavor, juicy, tender.

Their zha jiang mian is one of my favorites. It’s less greasy than other versions, but still full of flavor. Plus, I like the added texture the organ meat brings to it. I also enjoyed the winter melon drink and the spicy popcorn chicken. My last batch of popcorn chicken was well marinated and crispy.

I wish Taiwan Bento was open on Saturdays!

I miss Tea Garden too.

I didn’t notice any organ meats in the ZJM a couple months back. What did they put in?

Not sure, but probably kidney. Definitely not liver. It was springy and cut in a fine dice, so you have to pick at the sauce a bit to isolate it.

Hmm, will need to re-try that. I thought the springy diced stuff in my bowl was firm tofu :neutral_face: but it was months ago.

I did like that the sauce was mildly spicy and the noodles had a nice chew to them.

Pressed tofu would make sense, too. Well, this gives me a good excuse to go back again. :wink: I’ll ask.

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