Taiwanese street food seems to be all the rage in the CBD at the moment. But before I make my way around to all the bao places that are bound to start popping up (in the same pervasive fashion as tacos)….
1. Taiwan Cafe
Taiwan Cafe is a good option for a tasty cheap eat if you know what to order. The menu is extensive and includes a range of popular street snacks and traditional dishes. Expect lines around meal times but the turnover is pretty quick.
Traditional beef noodle soup is a comforting bowl of thin noodles in a herbal broth, topped with thin, tender beef slices, spring onion and a soya sauce braised egg for an extra $1.
I wouldn’t really recommend any of the other larger dishes (many are either too salty or too oily). The snacks are definitely the way to go. One of my favourite items is the braised beef wrapped in spring onion pancake; the pancake is flaky and crunchy around the edges and it basically tastes like a peking duck pancake on steroids, courtesy of the hoisin sauce.
Then, there is the ubiquitous bao (aka the pork bun made famous by David Chang); a fluffy, sweet, steamed flat bun filled with a slab of tender, braised pork belly and pickled cabbage, sprinkled with sesame and sugar. It’s impossible not to enjoy this genius combination of sweet and savory.
Fans of fried chicken must try the Taiwanese XL Fried Chicken; a chicken steak coated with an addictive salt, pepper, garlic and spice crumb.
Drinks range from pearl milk tea, ‘yuan yang’ tea-coffee concoctions and iced red bean to sweet soya bean drinks. Soya milk with grass jelly is quite refreshing.
2. Meet Fresh
Specialising in Taiwanese desserts, Meet Fresh was one of our favourite hang outs back in Sydney and it has now made its way to Melbourne. Desserts are light and refreshing (quite healthy if you ignore the sugar content) and customers have the option to choose their preferred combinations of glutinous taro balls, chewy tapioca pearls, peanuts, honey beans, sweet taro mash, tofu pudding, sweet red beans and herbal jelly, served hot or cold.
Have to say that I haven’t been very often since Dessert Story has opened though (post to come soon).
3. Chinatown Night Market
Held on the third Friday of every month on Heffernan Lane off Little Bourke Street, the Chinatown Night Market is the place to go for street food if you can handle the crowds. Right at the end, there are a couple of Taiwanese stalls that I tend to default to.
On our last visit, J and I decided to skip the popcorn chicken and stopped off for bao and spring onion pancakes. Chinese donuts wrapped in spring onion pancakes are a dieter’s disaster but so delicious when freshly made. You can also get added egg or pork floss.
Another version of the steamed pork bun; filled with fatty pork belly, pickles, peanut satay and sweet sauce. Yum.