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TAIWAN Restaurant - Berkeley

Han Aug 14, 2007 11:20 AM

After long hiatus, revisit this for the weekend specials and they are as good as ever. I ordered some old faves and some items I have not tried:

Oyster omellette is stellar. The eggs were perfectly executed and the oysters were the right sizes. The sauce is tomato based and slightly sweet. Additions of few slivers of what look like spinach were great.

South Taiwan style noodle soup (both fun and egg noodle version) and still very good

Also ordered the other noodle soup style with the dark/black soup. It is also pretty good

The pork roll (ngo hiang) infused with 5 spice is delicious. The pickles are missing though. Much better than the last time I tried it. The tofu skin roll is deep fried. Very good indeed

Ordered the 5 spice beef and they were very good. The beef were infused with the spices thoroughly and they were moist.

What a fabulous place !!

The weekend specials are only during late breakfast/lunch hours only.Doo not expect to get them at other times.

  1. yimster Aug 14, 2007 08:30 PM

    A great place, glad this group of chefs are good. In the past this old Berkeley eatry would hire chefs for Taiwan to come and work for three or fours years at time and when their contract was up they could leave for green pastures. So in the past they have been great and sometimes not so great. Need to revisit soon.

    13 Replies
    1. re: yimster
      Han Aug 14, 2007 10:49 PM

      I noticed that the food did vary somewhat over the years. Some years I like it much better. This place is still one of my great restaurant.

      1. re: Han
        Gary Soup Aug 14, 2007 11:44 PM

        Too bad they don't share the wealth. The SF Clement St. branch never got more than lukewarm reviews, and of course the North Beach Branch never made a go of it.

        1. re: Gary Soup
          K K Aug 15, 2007 08:21 AM

          The only great thing I would say about the SF clement branch is seeing the chef by the window deep fry the crullers/yoh tieo (and getting them fresh to go on weekends when I did pass by 10+ years ago) in addition to the pastry that by translation resembles a "cow's tongue" but in reality looks ilke a huge set of lips (sugary). This cow tongue puff (very chewy at that) I last saw in Hong Kong during the 80s from the street vendors. Didn't know that was a Northern staple as well?

          1. re: K K
            Gary Soup Aug 15, 2007 09:56 AM

            The "cow's tongue" sounds something like the pastry my step-daughter recognized and liked at the SF Taiwan when she was an FOB teen from Shanghai. It had a crumbly, buttermilk donut-like consistency, was slightly sweet. She called it a "smiling face cake" because it had a split on top that looked like a mouth.

            1. re: Gary Soup
              K K Aug 15, 2007 11:09 AM

              That's exactly the description of visual and taste/texture. It was a bit heavier overall than what I remember in HK. Not a superb rendition, but at least they have it. This would be a counterpoint to the more savory yoh tieoh. I do recall at the HK street vendor stalls that there was a third deep fried dough/bread, something like "Hahm Dzeen Beng" or salted fried breadcake, though my memory is fading. Not much recollection of it, but it was also sold at street stalls (no longer around these days) along with yoh tieo/crullers and the ox tongue puff.

              But nonetheless it seems that SF Clement Taiwan Restaurant is only place in the whole Bay Area that serves (or served, not sure about now) this rare piece of lippy donut. Add a tongue sticking out and it will be a bit Rolling Stones-esque.

              1. re: K K
                tanspace Aug 15, 2007 01:16 PM

                Cow's tongue cake (Niu Shi Bing) is a popular dessert snack in Taiwan, though it is most often packaged instead of served fresh at a restaurant. I'm surprised any restaurant would actually serve it here. Was it actually handmade?

                There are snack bags of this being sold at the Chinese supermarkets but definitely nothing like a fresh one.


                1. re: K K
                  Melanie Wong Aug 15, 2007 04:41 PM

                  Gold Medal in Oakland had the cow tongue fried dough at the old place. Wonder if it does at its new location? I've also seen this in a window on Stockton Street in SF Chinatown, maybe at Wing Sing, not sure.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong
                    PorkButt Aug 15, 2007 05:13 PM

                    Hing Lung on Broadway has a deep fryer next to the front window where you can watch the cook make ngau li so (cow tongue [?])

                    1. re: PorkButt
                      Gary Soup Aug 15, 2007 11:50 PM

                      If cow's tongue pastry is the same as what Shanghainese call "smiling face cake" as KK seems to think, it's not the same thing as what Hing Lung makes, which is something I know as "tang gao."

                      1. re: Gary Soup
                        Gary Soup Aug 16, 2007 08:41 AM

                        Let me retreat from that statement and wonder it they might be the same thing after all, just a difference in the nomenclature used by Mrs. Soup and by the Soup Princess. (I tend to avoid anything sweet, so I haven't paid that close attention.) Here's a snapshot of goodies in the window at Taiwan (SF) yesterday; I'll try and get a closer look at Hing Lung's "tang gao" and at what's in Wing Sing's window today.


                        1. re: Gary Soup
                          PorkButt Aug 16, 2007 02:25 PM

                          I've asked for "ngau li so" at Hing Lung and got what I expected: the football shaped pastry that looks like sugary lips as KK described or ahem another anatomical part.

                          Your photo of Taiwan's pastry looks a bit round but that may be due to the camera's perspective.

                          It could be that the cow tongue name is just Cantonese slang akin to calling you tiao an oil fried demon.

                    2. re: Melanie Wong
                      yimster Aug 15, 2007 09:37 PM

                      Yes, the new eatry has the cow tongue cake. Saw them in the window but have not gotten yet.

                      1. re: yimster
                        Melanie Wong Aug 15, 2007 10:19 PM

                        Thank you, I really liked Gold Medal's version and am glad I'll get to have it again. "margret" turned me on to it.

        2. K K Aug 15, 2007 08:18 AM

          Han, have you been to Ay Chung Noodle in Milpitas? I'd say that place has the best oyster pancake in the South Bay (though the version at Won Stew House next to the Lion Plaza in SJ off 280 and Sarataga Ave is a distant 2nd). A Taiwanese Er-Ah-Jien should use baby oysters (not bigger ones), and a good textured potato starch. The veg can vary, but the one at Ay Chung usually uses Taiwan bak choy/bai cai which you can usually get at 99 Ranch or Marina Foods. They don't have the Tainan style peddler noodles/rice noodles I don't think (and definitely no brunch starch items + soy milk on weekends, this is strictly a fast food place serving street snacks, with a lot of variety).

          1 Reply
          1. re: K K
            Han Aug 15, 2007 01:40 PM

            Yes, been to Ay Chung at least couple times albeit it was at least a year since my last visit. And I did try their oyster omelette as well - not remember in great detail anymore. But the Taiwan version is one of the best I tried. I probably tried 8-10 places in the Bay Area that made this dish and Taiwan is ranked up there with the best at least the one I tried last week.

            I admired everything about the dish. From the egg texture, appearance, oyster, the gloopy factor, the sauce colour, texture and taste. It was perfect in everyway that I can think of.

          2. k
            Kenji Aug 15, 2007 08:37 AM

            I loved Taiwan Restaurant so much when I lived in that area. I went there almost every day. One could get a delicious, fortifying meal there for $10.00. My favorites included the (incredible, big, juicy, delicious) steamed dumplings, Country Favorite Chicken, crispy roast duck noodle soup, pork chop noodle soup, shrimp in ketchup sauce. I wish had tried more of the menu, but I quickly became enamored with these items and had to have them every time.

            I also enjoyed the South Taiwan noodle soup on weekends.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Kenji
              joe_can_bike Aug 15, 2007 04:59 PM

              Not a frequent poster, but avid reader here....just want to echo that the dumplings at Taiwan on Clement are fantastic. Now I can't speak to authenticity, but the boiled dumplings are juicy and feel very homemade and the potstickers are plump, tasty and crisp on one side. Service is extremely friendly to us and the prices are very affordable. We are dumpling-addicted and get our fix at least twice a month.

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