There is something special about Pacific East Mall. It’s a big Asian mall in the middle of a big Taiwanese community; all sorts of little Taiwanese and other Chinese goodies are scattered throughout the mall.
The most impressive shop in the whole place is Tw Bestway Foods, says rworange. It’s an insanely cool snack shop—where snack includes Taiwanese preserved fruits, pork jerky, and hot jelly drinks. There are a dozen kinds of preserved plums: licorice plums, oolong plums, mint plums, cherry plums, wine plums. There is plum-flavored star fruit, honey sweet potatoes, and licorice lemon with mint. There is bright green sweet and sour mango that’s sticky and crunchy and tangy. There is also beautiful cold plum jelly. It is a sensuous delight—juicy, delicate, and soft. It’s salty, it’s sweet, and it’s a little smoky. It’s jarring, but appealing.
There are bagged flower teas. They also make milk teas with those flower teas—sometimes with hot grass jelly. And it all looks stellarly fresh. Some of it is seriously weird, but if you’re brave and willing, go for it. Some of this stuff is extremely tangy, or bitter, or salty. You might love it. You might retch. Who knows? They’ll let you mix lots of different teas in one bag. Be a palate adventurer.
J&S Coffee & Tea House is the hippest place in the mall, and it sells very good boba drinks, says Sophia C. It’s got the yummiest milk tea, and boasts the most satisfyingly chewy boba. Coconut-pandan-sesame waffles and egg puffs are way yummy, says lj2899. Banh mi, on the other hand, aren’t so good. Neither are the spring rolls, or the sushi.
Sheng Kee Bakery has very good banh mi sandwiches, in all the usual varieties. Its boba tea is good, but the boba itself is less satisfyingly chewy than J&S’s.
Restaurant 168 is definitely a Taiwanese place. Avoid xiao long bau and other non-Taiwanese dishes. Go for stuff like salt crispy chicken with basil, turnip cakes, pot stickers, smoked chicken, three cup chicken, dan dan noodles, seaweed salad, stinky tofu, and single-serving “healthy” soups—they’re all fairly good, says OnceUponABite.
There is an excellent Chinese chestnut cart. Right now is peak season for these, so get them. They are tiny, hazelnut-size chestnuts, imported from China. They are good hot or cold, but you get more flavor nuances cold.
Pacific East Mall [East Bay]
3288 Pierce Street, Richmond
Richmond – Pacific East Mall–Tw Bestway Foods – Saving the best for last … Taiwanese preserved fruit, pork jerky, hot jelly drinks
Richmond – Pacific East Mall–168 Restaurant, stinky tofu & Taiwanese buns
Richmond – Pacific East Mall–J & S Coffee & Tea House – Ham, pork ear & pork patty sandwich
Richmond–Pacific East Mall–Chinese chestnut cart