Cafe Taiwan, Milpitas report (w/ pics)
I tried Cafe Taiwan for lunch today after reading KK's review and thought it was pretty good. Small place, modern looking, and clean (but didn't check out the bathroom.)
Cash Only place!!
I ordered for two hungry ppl:
Mi Tai Mu (under Hakka special) $3.95-like Japanese udon with some stuff in it and tea egg. You can get it with or without soup. Friend really liked it, I thought it was good. I never had Hakka food so can't compare.
Simmered tofu (under appetizer) $3.50-good size tofu cut up, why is it brown?-had a weird taste. Won't get again.
green onion pan cake $3.50-not flaky enough for me, too dense. served hot. Just ok.
ground pork w/ rice $3.50-I liked it the most. Good size amount of rice w/ lots of ground pork, tea egg, cilantro. It was tasty.
I wanted the Hakka ginger chicken $8.95 but waitress didn't write it down so didn't get it. oh well.
Waitress said most popular dish is Five Spiced Roll (under side dish) $4.95 but I don't eat fried food and didn't order it.
I might go back, but have to bring Cash!! Total with tip/tax $18.
181 W. Calaveras Blvd (in the Save Mart shopping Center-behind Burger King)
hrs: 11a-9p. Take-out menu said open 7 days but someone posted closed Wed. Call first.
KK's review: http://www.chowhound.com/california/boards/sanfrancisco/messages/196071.html
Thanks for linking my review. Turns out there was a reply dated June 8 that I would have never seen since I wrote the review a month ago, by bunnyside, who linked a blog on the restaurant by "Vitanomin" (linked below but in Chinese and with photos), which gave some interesting insight. She apparently ordered mostly or all Hakka Taiwanese dishes.
Cafe Taiwan's Mi Tai Mu, while having an udon like texture, you can really taste the rice flavor in it (vs udon made of flour). I had it without soup the first time, and liked the flavor. It is just simple food, small dish. I too have nothing to compare it to. I'm sure the real deal in Taiwan is way better, but where else in the Bay Area can you get this?
Anyone who goes next time should really try their signature dish (mahn luan ju jiao) or mahn luan pig feet (MLPF) and I will too. The only other place that serves this as mentioned before is Won's Stew House, but their version seems to have less meat (more boney of a foot), less collagen (the part of the skin and underneath it, the tastiest bit, like a good German Pigs Knuckles with the tendons intact).
From the blog, Vitanomin apparently has Hakka Taiwanese parents who are pig feet purists (especially her mom who is from the region where Mahn Luan is). MLPF is a process where the pig feet is marinated for a long time, cooked, cut up into bite sized pieces and served with dipping sauce (Won's leaves out that last step as it is already marinated in the deli, sold by the pound or foot for to go). Apparently much more delicious than the regular pig feet (which I had the first time with the thin noodle).
The blog shows pictures of what is supposed to be the Hakkanese vegetable bun (bun skin is mochi). However a comment was made about the contents, the preserved veg didn't quite taste the same as the ones in Taiwan. But this might be worth trying for those adventurous hounds. Hopefully better than the pure vegan version at Sogo Tofu.
Next pic is a stir fried Taiwanese cabbage and what looks to be mi tai mu in soup (also called Hakka Bahn Tieow). Last two pics are of the restaurant's zhongzi which I'm not a fan of in general for them but it should be an interesting variation.
Sounds like this place has plenty of potential and repeat visit value.