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Today, I want to discuss junk food ... Taiwanese junk food to be exact.

It was a celebratory occasion this past weekend, so my friends decided to take me out for some good eatin’ and drinkin’.

Where did we go, you ask? Spago? Bastide? Grace? Maybe Pink’s????

Nope. No such luck.

Went to the next best thing … 85° CELSIUS TEA HOUSE.

And, what did we get? Junk food of course. Taiwanese style.

Let me digress a bit here. 85° Celsius Teahouse doesn’t really specialize in traditional Taiwanese pub food – i.e., oyster omelets, tsong-tzi, stinky tofu, mi-feng, etc.

No, the stuff here is updated Taiwanese food, sort of like “Taiwanese Food Version 2.0.” The clientele is also not what you’d necessarily find at a more traditional Taiwanese restaurant (e.g. SinBaLa or Old Country Café). Folks here are a bit younger, the cell phone of choice is JDM, the ride more likely to be a spec’d out S2000 than a Honda Odyssey or a Mercedes G-class, etc.

You get the idea. I, of course, stuck out like a sore thumb. I still remember Ronald Reagan ... the actor; still using my Apple Newton; and my ride of choice is a push-rod ’76 Camaro.

Back to the grub. Here’s what we ordered.

Brick Toast Sweet Butter. Ever wonder what a crème puff would be like if it wasn’t a “puff”? Well, this is the answer. It’s basically a thick slice of white bread, coated with butter, sweet condensed milk and coconut crème, and then some more butter and a sprinkle of powdered sugar for good measure. Then it’s popped into the toaster oven and served piping warm. Better than a donut, and just as sinful on the teeth and waistline.

Squid Jerky. No, this isn’t like Oberto’s beef jerky – hard and dry, and about as chewy as drywall. Nor is it like the bags of dried cuttlefish you can find at any Asian supermarket. This, this evil addictive concoction, is squid that’s been deep fried and then coated with a sweet sugary sauce of some sort. If you told me it was coated with opium, I’d be hard pressed to disagree.

Plum Coke. Da bomb! Think Coke made with sweet and savory plum juice. Sure, it’s an acquired taste, but so is beer and port in my opinion.

I really need to get back to Taipei for some good grub. Replenish the soul, as they say.

But first things first, I’ve got to find my Lipitor …

Cheers.

85° Celsius Tea House
425 West Valley Blvd., Ste. 101
San Gabriel
626-282-8688

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  1. I've had squid jerky like the one you describe- the sweet sauce is a bit hard to get used to at first. Wish I lived closer to SGV! We don't seem to get food like that out on the Westside (north of 10, west of 405, south of Sunset). Good eating!

    6 Replies
    1. re: PrettyPlaty

      We don't seem to get any decent Chinese/Taiwanese food on the Westside at all...

      1. re: fdb

        No kidding. There was the Little Hong Kong Cafe on Sawtelle that closed that was passable but I have yet to find anything else in my 3 years out here. Don't even get me started on that sad dim sum place on Wilshire, ...

        1. re: PrettyPlaty

          OMG Little Hong Kong Cafe is closed??! That was like the one place that you can go get some comfort food without driving to SGV...

          1. re: TravelJack

            I know- SAD. It closed a few months ago- the name is still up though. I was hoping it was temporary but it hasn't come back.

            1. re: TravelJack

              Actually- I have to correct myself- apparently LHKC was closed for remodeling- I drove by two days ago and it looks like it is still open. Haven't been back in yet though.

              1. re: PrettyPlaty

                It is definitely open, but I have not been in post-remodel.

      2. Oooh it's been a while since I had Brick Toast /w Sweet Butter -- heck, throw in some "boba fried chicken" and I'd have a meal (Ok, not particularly balanced or healthful, but filling enough!)

        ~H.C.
        http://la-oc-foodie.blogspot.com

        1. I pass by this place all the time and wonder what it's like..... now I feel like I have a pretty good idea. It's a culinary crackhouse.

          1 Reply
          1. re: snooze button

            "It's a culinary crackhouse."

            Indeed it is. And it's probably why the place is open until 1 a.m. LOL.

          2. Stop it, I'm drooling. I'm regretting promising to cook my husband a fancy dinner this weekend!