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Aug 1, 2014 06:24 PM

Aruba Taiwanese Street Food on Irving (SF)

I noticed this place a couple of weeks ago. A lot of grilled stuff on skewers. Smelled good and prices seem good - 2 items for $3. I didn't try anything - it's not my taste, but I thought I'd post it to the board.

And here's their Facebook page (!/p...) I wouldn't exactly call it a restaurant - don't go there expecting to have a sit-down meal.

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  1. sticks BBQ (2138 irving) recently closed. previous eatery at this spot also sold skewers. coincidence or the same people?

    1. Aruba appears to specialize in a Taiwan street food genre known as 滷味, translated by them as "Taiwanese Marinated Food." It consists of an assortment of offal-centric meats, veggies, and tofu cooked in a five spice flavored soy sauce broth. I'm told that the ingredients of your choice are typically just served in a cup with a spring onion garnish but they had knife-cut noodles on a "specials" board so I ordered those with chicken hearts and "QQ Tofu" as toppings.

      I don't know if the noodles were made in-house (if they were, they were made in advance) but they were acceptably robust and chewy and I liked both the thinly sliced chicken hearts and the firm tofu. The broth was similar to a Taiwanese beef noodle soup broth, a bit on the sweet side, and benefited from a few squirts of sriracha.

      They also offer skewers and, according to their website, pork rice. They promise a rotation of specials, worth keeping an eye out for.

      1. I was in the neighborhood today and had the combo noodle. Two counter and a table for eat in customers. But these types of noodle dishes travel well. May even be yummier later dive noodles have been soaked with the sauce they use. Three types of noodles to choose from and I picked ramen. The final product is a wet bowl of noodles because they mix all the goodies with a delicious sauce. I visited Taipei about 12 years ago and seriously considered moving there for the food and culture scene. Today, eating at this noodle place brought back some amazing memories of Taipei. I HAVE NOT HAD SOMETHING SO DELICIOUS IN A LONG TIME!
        I need to find a way to return to this place to try other combination. I'm thinking the duck wings or

        1 Reply
        1. re: ShinFeng

          They have a nice deal on drinks now between 8-11pm (BOGO, apparently without the usual "equal or lesser value" provision). They claim they fresh-brew all their teas as well - any boba experts out there who can speak to quality?

        2. Went by yesterday to find windows papered over. Too bad. Tried combos previously. Good for the $.

          11 Replies
          1. re: acvr5

            Not closed permanently-they are just doing some painting inside. Confirmed when I walked by a few minutes ago. They should reopen in a week or two.

            1. re: bigwheel042

              Not sure what's going on here now - they're still closed as of about a week ago, along with the three adjacent storefronts, which used to be two TeaWays and the TeaWay affiliated Let's Roll. (Also, the Quickly "Q-Moffle" on this block is again closed, which makes the block seem pretty empty. Funny how this is like the third or fourth time Quickly has opened a new concept in this space only to shut it after several months.)

              Last week I ran into a former employee who, as it turned out, landed at another Taiwanese tea place in SF. She mentioned Aruba was "closed for renovations" and would reopen, for what it's worth.

              1. re: bigwheel042

                Amazed to hear of all those closures. Has boba culture jumped the shark, or was that area just ovesaturated? (New boba/dessert joints continue to open in other areas of the city.)

                "Closed for renovation" can mean many things, of course. Anna Bakery in CHinatown is "closed for renovation" but we all know it will reopen as Son of Sam Wo.

                1. re: soupçon

                  Could be multifactorial in this case. Competition from T-pumps down the block may have made it untenable to have THREE TeaWays within 1.5 blocks of one another (I think the TeaWay on 24th and Irving is still open, though haven't looked specifically for it).

                  Q-moffle didn't serve boba I don't think, just mochi waffles anad ice cream. My pet theory is that Quickly uses that space as a lab to test the viability of its new concepts in the US, as it seems like everything it has opened in that location closes within months, almost like the closure was planned all along, while the regular Quickly next door keeps on humming.

                2. re: bigwheel042

                  Welp, everyone lied. Aruba is gone, replaced by a different snacky-type place with different owners (name escapes me at the moment).

                  Let's Roll is now the potato-themed CheeSpud, which turned out to be better than I guessed it would be. I felt dumb paying $7 for a glorified baked potato, but the croquettes are nicely fried and they give you a ton of toppings, most of which are tasty. You could definitely make a meal out of this.

                  One TeaWay is now an iTea and the other Teaway's space on this block is still vacant.

                  1. re: bigwheel042

                    Aruba is a banh mi joint now, Que Huong

                    1. re: soupçon

                      Nope, Que Huong is in the space next door - you've got it backwards. Aruba went into the space that Irving Cafe and Deli was in (2146 Irving) before the latter moved one space down (to 2138 Irving) and changed its name to Que Huong. The new place in the Irving Cafe & Deli/Aruba space serves marinated grilled meats, I think - I remember seeing a number of bulgogi items, but I think it's supposed to be more fusion/trendy than authentic Korean.

                      BTW, I'm rather annoyed that Que Huong raised their prices yet again - their banh mi are now reaching the $4.50-5 range. They are chalking it up, as they did with the last increase about a year ago, to the "increased price of raw materials," but I have to imagine the real cause is more likely to be a landlord who is putting the screws to them. That might explain why nearly nearly everyone else in this building has gone out of business recently.

                      1. re: bigwheel042

                        You are right, now that I think about it. I Googled the address and Que Hong popped up at the top for some reason.

                        I used to refer to that stretch as Boba Central, but it's really more like "Musical Chairs Central."

                        Didn't another grilled meats/skewers type place fail in that space or the one next door recently?

                    2. re: bigwheel042

                      The snacky place that replaced Aruba is called Hungry Hunter and it serves Asian nori-wrapped burritos, bao stuffed with the same proteins as the burritos, and rice bowls - again, same proteins as above. Also yogurt drinks.

                      I stopped in and tried a "Thai style pork" burrito. Not bad for $6.50, decent portion of rice and meat. Not much identifiably Thai about the finely chopped pork bits inside it other than the hint of fried shallot in the mix and the shape of the bits possibly resembling what goes into larb. Reasonably tasty anyway after making liberal use of the wasabi mayo that was available.

                      Still, kind of a bummer that a real Taiwanese spot barely lasted 6 months in this neighborhood.

                      While I was on Irving, I noticed that the Korean place Tofu Village a couple blocks down is now a Sichuan-ish restaurant (the new owners kept the name and changed just about everything else). A server saw me studying the posted menu and came out and thrust a takeout menu into my hands. According to her, the chef is from Chengdu.

                      1. re: bigwheel042

                        I've tried that place. It was ok, not worth going back.

                        1. re: bigwheel042

                          The Sichuan Tofu Village kind of surprised me with how ok it was, given that there hasn't been a decent sichuan option on that stretch of the inner sunset in forever.

                          I had a $7.95 lunch special there. Bowl of hot and sour soup (could have used more stuff, but it was a lunch plate), bowl of white rice, two small side dishes (cold shredded potatoes and a tart cabbage/turnip stir fry garnished with sichuan peppercorns). My main dish was a surprisingly authentic mapo tofu with lots of tofu and a little meat with a scattering of leeks (not green onion) which was served in a separate dish.