Allston has a tremendous wealth of international restaurants and JoJo TaiPei has a great reputation for its classical standards from Taiwan. So it’s off for 台湾菜 (Táiwān cài) Taiwan Cuisine on Day 26 of the 30 day ethnic food challenge to eat my way round the edible globe as found in greater Boston, making friends and influencing people (to join in).
Trying not to arrive too hungry didn’t work out. Cold sesame noodle came quicker than you can say excellent matchstick knifework on the cucumbers and tangy sauce with a nice spicy kick. City beer all around cause byob is still basically b.y.o.beyond our commonwealth. Tea is also not free and a bubble tea was a coconut watery version. Taiwanese style stir-fried noodle with pork happened to be tasty but the version without the high heat wok scorch, a tad too much oil and broken noodles caused some longing for the old lion in Chinatown. Pea pod shoots with garlic were bright green, garlic imbued and spot on. Crunchy fluffy scallion shot pancake roll with 5 spice roast beef was perhaps the best in town we’ve sampled. Taiwanese style fried dumplings were substantial with light cabbagey interiors but the lead on this item is the sauce, a complex soy elixir with spices shining thru. In fact all the dipping sauces including the black vinegar with ginger shards and bright red La Yu (辣油) hot oil are handled with tremendous care and designed to please many senses including the ears as the table conversation dims and those at hand tuck in.
JoJo minibuns are soup dumplings borrowed from Shanghai but these xiao long bao may be some of the best in town at least in the opinion of this longtime xialongbaohound. Rich delicate fillings with a flavorful yet not a greasy broth were steamed on banana leaf and there were no duds. I am pretty sure someone got one of mine.
Taiwanese 3 Cup Cuttlefish is the headline here; “Man bites Cuttlefish”. Never had the old Hakka dish perhaps better know as a Taiwanese signature. The “3 cup recipes” are simmerings of equal portions of Xiaoxing wine, dark soy and toasted sesame oil. Basil, ginger, garlic, scallion and chili are also involved. The cuttlefish bodies complete with internal cartilage and an inky taste of the sea (close to shore) were delicious with the concentrated low notes and bright Thai basil.
JoJo Taipei offers lots of dessert choices much to the thrill of the many families dining with small children. Mango Sa-Sa Bin sounded like the Ice Kachang of Singapore or the Cholado of Bogota, yet turned out more like fruit cup on snow cone with a little sorbet buried underneath. Daily specials and Taiwanese brunch with the twin crullers (豆漿+ 油條/doujiang youtiao) of Tai Pei are some great things to come back for, with a bigger crowd for more of this famous menu from Formosa.
JoJo Tai Pei Restaurant
103 Brighton Ave, Boston, MA 02134