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Taiwanese/Hakka natives rejoice!

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Taiwanese/Hakka natives rejoice!

HLing | May 18, 2002 12:10 PM

One month and 2 days they've been open, the woman told me proudly, at Taiwan Village, 41-02 College Point Blvd. 718 321-7309. This is the restaurant I saw an ad for in the Chinese newspaper, where it's listed as Shian1 Yuen2(in Chinese), so now I know the English name.

They have in my opinion, the best Taiwanese meat ball(ba4 yuan2 in Taiwanese). It's called meat ball, but it's a gelatinous disk filled with meat and bamboo cubes, and black forest mushroom. The gelatinous part is very difficult to get right, as it has to have the right porportion of starches and has to be cooked properly. Most of the time it comes out either too much like glue, not enough what we call in Taiwanese, "Q", and has no taste. Next to fried cruller, I think it's the most challenging thing for the transplant Taiwanese moms to make in the USA. At Taiwan Village, I was overjoyed when I smelled the sauce already, but when I cut into the disk, I knew I had a winner. At least, this is how it was when I left Taiwan over 20 years ago. I don't think my dining companions(non-Taiwanese) were as excited as I was, even though they liked it.

The Fried Tso Tofu, yes, the fried stinky tofu was excellent. Finely chopped garlic and Asian basil sprinkled over the tofu added to the authenticity. Even the pickled cabbages on the side tasted right for the first time. I still would like the texture have more of the outer crunch, (which this really had) and less of the soft center, but this was the best on the account that all accompaniments were right.

The chef gave us a plate of house made sausage. It came with the slices of leeks. Right again.
The pickled green mango slices that the chef made as a after dinner snack was another hit with me. Again my dining companions have no idea what it meant to me to taste this, but wow, it's a great feeling to know that I haven't been remembering wrong. After so much disappointment from tasting the quasi-Taiwanese cuisine around here, I was starting to doubt my memory. Now I know.

There were other dishes we had. The "pua4 po1 zi4", literally "rag seeds" were not the kind I've had as a child, but it's still a new offering to Taiwanese restaurants here. I'll have to report back when I try more of the hakka dishes, and more of the snacks, and rice plates.

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