In the past couple of months we had quite a bit of attention put on Hong Kong Style Cafes, Malaysian Cuisine and Filipino Cuisine. I think I had neglected Chinese Cuisine somewhat but I think it will pick up again next month when I set my focus on getting the 8GTCC project going again.
But there is one cuisine I am not very familiar with and it is the Taiwanese cuisine. This is despite that we had 41 dine out posts categorized under the Taiwanese keyword. Quite a lot isn’t it?
My curiosity was piqued last weekend when Suanne blogged about a dish she learned from the Richmond Community Kitchen called Ba Wan (link here). I had never heard of that dish before – not even after blogging on 41 Taiwanese restaurant. What caught me by surprised is the reactions from readers on that post.
We often get dozens of comments for restaurant posts but recipe posts doesn’t draw nearly as many comments. On a very good day, it will draw about 5 comments but the post on Ba Wan drew 20 comments. So I guess this particular dish does resonate well with a lot of the readers.
[Yeah, recipe posts are very different from restaurant posts. While restaurant posts have a lot of reactions, the comments will die down very quickly within a week of two. However, recipe posts have the greatest staying power as it provides a steady trickle of readers, mostly from Google. That is why recipe posts have the highest hits by far. Just that is draws very little reactions].
So I was really keen to learn more about Ba Wan and what the whole deal is with that simple dish. Crispy alerted us that this dish had actually been reviewed before on 604foodtography.
We went to the restaurant that Kevin blogged about. It is Yuen-Yuen Cafe and is located on Cambie and 41st in Vancouver. They are actually located just next door to Samurai Sushi … and that is an important point to note!
You know my boys right? They have this thing about driving across bridges. But at the mere mention of the name Samurai Sushi, they have no issues. They love their ridiculously House Roll. Have you seen how big they are? See this! It is so big you have to eat this resting on your palms.
Yuen-Yuen is basically a bubble-tea house. It is small, clean and neat like most Taiwanese restaurants. Yeah, I noticed that Taiwanese restaurants are generally much well-designed and modern than HK Style Cafes for instance.
They have a funky seating arrangement with a unique wavy table. It is sort of like forcing people to look at the sample photos taken by someone with a photography business. Maybe the owner of Yuen-Yuen also has another wedding photography business or something.
It is self-service. You order the drinks (and food) from the counter, pay for it and when it is ready they will call you over to pick it up. Business was quite empty during that Saturday afternoon. There is an occasional customer who comes in to get bubble tea but no one stays for long. We felt kind of odd coming here for a family meal … to eat and not to drink.
They have limited food available but of course they have Ba Wan. Because of the small selection (which had pictures posted on the wall next to the counter), we practically ordered every food item they have. The prices are quite cheap too but they are mostly snack food rather than full meals.
Oh, cash only also.
Nanzaro and Arkensen does not fancy bubble tea. They prefer Coke (and water!) over bubble tea. Neither does Suanne, strangely for someone with a sweet tooth.
But we still ordered one to share just because this is a bubble tea house. We got the Mocha Milk Tea with bubble ($4.75).
This is the reason we are in Yuen-Yuen – the Ba Wan. Their English translation for this is … Meat Ball in Rice Wrap and is $3.50.
This is served in a combination of sweetish sauce.
It is basically a glutinous rice ball wrapped with fillings of pork, mushrooms and bamboo shoots. The wrap is thick and chewy and the sauce does do a lot to the flavour profile. But by and large, it wasn’t really fantastic personally to me.
Maybe it is the way it is made here. I read somewhere that this street food is steamed first and they poach it in oil to keep it warm on the cart. Maybe it will be much better seeing it served that way.
The Minced Pork with Rice and Meat Balls in Soup Combo ($6.75) was more of my kind of food … you know, “jhup and rice”. This is a good combo for the price. For that, you get half a marinated egg and four meatballs.
The portion is small as such dish usually are. Minced Pork with Rice is one of the dishes I would have for lunches during workdays. It is delicious and light. But best of all, I can usually get this for $5 or less. This one costs more because it’s a combo with meat balls on the side.
I like the meatballs – two each of beef and chicken. They are bouncy but I am not surprised that it is from T&T or something.
For less than $5, the Minced Pork with Bean Thread in Soup is more than good. You can’t pick on food at this price expecting this to be gourmet but it is more than decent.
It is served with tofu puff and 1/2 a marinated egg. What I like is the loads of shallots which makes the soup so fragrant.
The noodles are bean thread noodle or glass noodle.
We are so sorry we ordered the Popcorn Chicken ($4.75). LOL!
No good and not crispy. It looked like the cheap ones we buy from supermarkets to bake or microwave at home. And the ketchup too … enough said.
But at least the Taiwanese Style Tempura ($3.50) was pretty good and again I am not surprised this came from the supermarket. I don’t know why they call this “tempura”. Should it instead be called oden?
Anyway, it has fish ball, tofu, fish cakes and daikon.
The sauce is similar to the Ba Wan. I am not sure what it is but it looked like some sweet and chili sauce mixture.
The Baked Egg Pudding was $3. The texture was firm but other than that it was just that … baked pudding on caramel.
After the meal, we went next door to Samurai Sushi. It was a long wait because it was lunch time and there are many people ordering to take away. The boys didn’t mind having to wait for 20 minutes. I wished we could go, but a promise is a promise.
No, they did not get the big House Roll because they were full already.
So there … I know what Ba Wan is now … tried it … been there, done that.
Guess where we went next. We went looking for more Ba Wan. This time we went to a store to get some so that we can also make it at home. More in the next post …