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Recipe: Taiwanese Minced Pork (肉燥)

The times where I really miss home, I like to make myself a comforting bowl of Taiwanese minced pork. What’s great is that there is flexibility in what you serve it on (traditionally it’s on rice but I topped udon with it), and even what’s inside; for my minced pork, I’ve taken advantage of the incredible produce in SF and made it my own, and you can too!

Prep time: ~15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 30 min, mostly stewing so you’re not doing much
Commitment rating (time + money): Low


  • 1 pound, ground pork
  • 1 tsp of vegetable or grapeseed oil
  • 2 cup of carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup of onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup of mushrooms (can be of your choosing), sliced
  • 2 cup broth
  • 2 tbsp shaoxing wine
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce paste
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sugar or honey
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp five spice powder
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup scallion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of fried shallots


  1. In a medium-sized pot, add cooking oil and ground pork into high heat. Stir and break out the pork into small pieces.
  2. Quickly add the diced onion to briefly sauté with ground pork. The ground pork should start looking brown after a few minutes.
  3. Add in carrots, mushroom, broth, cooking wine, soy sauce paste, soy sauce, sugar/honey, black pepper, star anise, five spice powder, fried shallots (3/4 of the amount). Bring this mixture to a boil, and then turn the heat to low. Stir occasionally (every ~20-30 minutes).
  4. Prepare the rice or noodles
  5. To serve, fill a bowl with rice/noodles and top it with the minced pork, leftover fried shallots, scallions, and cilantro.

Enjoy, and hope your tummy feels as comforted as your heart!

Breakfast/ dinner/ lunch/ Taiwanese/ travels

Taiwan: Foodie Heaven Pt. 3 – Delicious Meals

If you haven’t noticed already, Taiwan is full of food and frankly I have too many pictures to show for it.  Because Taiwan is full of street stands, it’s hard to tell you where half of where these dishes are found.  Just know that this tiny island right next to China is truly a heaven for those who love food and want to be surrounded by it constantly.

And now…onto the food porn!

Typical breakfast – soy milk with fried culler.

Scallion pancake with egg. I really would like to eat this everyday for breakfast!

Tofu with cilantro and sauce. Light and tender.

Tomato beef noodle soup. Delicious…perfect for any occasion!

Minced pork with sauce noodles, right by Taiwan National University.  Very solid and hearty.

Hand-pulled pancake. It’s crispy and light, not oily, and perfect with some soup!

Oyster vermicelli noodles.

Rice ball stuffed with fried culler, pork, and pickled vegetables. SO good to eat in the mornings.

One of my most favorite noodles – yi mian. Every single time I go back, I MUST EAT THIS.

Taiwan has some nice pastries too!

Peanut milk shaved ice. It tastes like peanut butter!

Alright so I think I’ve made all of us hungry, but hopefully this just shows you how tasty Taiwan is so make sure you visit! If you do, let me know when you’re there so I can make some food recommendations!


dessert/ lunch/ Taiwanese/ travels

Taiwan: Foodie Heaven Pt. 2 – Honey Toast

One of the latest dessert crazes in Taipei right now would be for an item called honey toast.  It comes in different flavors and from my understanding, is made popular by Dazzling Cafe.  Located in one of the younger trendy areas in Taipei, it is fair to say that getting a table is hard, (try fighting through all those girls and claim a place on line for a table before opening time).  However, it’s worth trying it out and at least staying at this place for lunch if you’ve waited for a while on a line.

This is the pan-fried duck breast spaghetti served with a cream sauce.  As a pasta fiend, it was actually acceptable as a pasta; the spaghetti was al dente and the duck breast helped with providing a savory flavor to the dish.

I got the scallop and crab meat spaghetti with olive oil, which is light and refreshing.  I didn’t really taste too much seafood, sadly enough, but it was lightly tossed with olive oil, tomatoes, and broccoli.  Always good to get those greens in!

 And now…onto DESSERT!

Pictured is the inside of the banana chocolate honey toast.  You can see that they hollow out this large piece of toast and fill it with deliciousness: vanilla ice cream, chocolate, cashews, sugar coated fried pieces of toast, and topped with whipped cream.  Of course you can’t forget the banana pieces on the side as well.  It’s a box of sweet toast intensity.

Yup, a close-up of that vanilla bean ice cream with cashews.  Delicious.

It is worth a trip to this place if: (1) you’re a huge dessert fiend, (2) willing to wait (even before opening time), and (3) willing to spend above average amount for a meal / dessert.

Dazzling Cafe Pink

Chinese/ lunch/ Taiwanese/ travels

Taiwan: Foodie Heaven Pt. 1 – Minced Pork Rice

It’s been a while, but I am back and ready to blog about all these food journeys that I’ve gone through in the past 3 months!  I’ve been working on lots of food pictures so there will be more posts to come (woo hoo!).  Anyway, in December I went to Taiwan, one of the best places to eat-your-heart-out, and I felt like I was home; all I did was eat, shop, and eat some more.  You’ll see what I mean with my pictures.

One of the places I must talk about is 天然紅豆腐, where I ate one of the best minced pork rice (滷肉飯) in my life.  The rice glistened as it was topped with marinated minced pork belly.  Not only did it have the perfect ratio of meat to fat, but it was perfectly salty and the red bits on the side gave it a slightly sweet flavor.  I quickly gobbled up my bowl and wished I had some more. Delicious.

They are also known for their pork blood soup (豬血湯).  Texture-wise it is not like anything you can get in New York; the pig’s blood pieces were soft and tender, paired with a clear soup that was seasoned with scallion made the soup easy to finish.

For those who are thinking about taking a trip to Taiwan, this is definitely a place I would recommend you go to for minced pork rice and pork blood soup.  You will not be disappointed.  In fact, you will want to bring friends and spread the joy of minced pork!

Restaurant Name: 天然紅豆腐
Address: 台北市吉林路319號
Telephone: (02) 2586-2201
Hours: 10AM~10PM
Chinese/ dinner/ drinks/ nyc/ Taiwanese

YPX Gala: A Celebratory Night for Chinese Americans

I was invited to attend the YPX Gala held by the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) which celebrates Chinese American artists, chefs, and designers that are becoming America’s trendsetters. They had several honorees like Lucy Liu, Dave Liang of the Shanghai Restoration Project, and Chef Chris Cheung. There was only Chinese food served but no complaints here!

One of the highlights was that they were serving Taiwan Beer. Even though they didn’t have the Gold Label Taiwan Beer (my fav), it was still really great that they had this as an option. Right now only Xiao Ye serves this beer but hopefully more places will get on this.

Foie gras buns, made by Chef Chris Cheung of Lair Lounge and Restaurant, is an interesting take on chinese buns and a french delicacy. The starchy bun exterior helped tone down the richness of the foie gras. Being a person that doesn’t like foie gras, I was surprised how good this was, and easily would have eaten two more.

Another dish by Chef Chris Cheung’s Lair Lounge and Restaurant. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to see what this was, but it was very good. The outside was a thin fried roll and inside there was a light crab mixture. I took two and still wanted more.

Bite-sized dumplings paired some some vinegar and soy sauce. I felt these were very good but hard to grab them by the chopstick. It’s probably easier to eat them using a fork but no such utensil was in sight.

Kyotofu took care of the dessert that night and brought mini chocolate miso brownies. They were nicely dense and moist, and a perfect dessert to pop into your mouth.

Lastly, the mini yuzu tofu cheesecake. The yuzu added a nice citrus flavor to the cheesecake. Another easy dessert to eat and enjoy.

Great food, music, and drink. All in celebration of the achievements that Chinese Americans have made in American culture. Hopefully there will be more to come in the future!

Chinese/ dessert/ nyc/ Taiwanese

Ultimate Summer Dessert: Mango Shaved Ice

I LOVE mango shaved ice. Ever since I tasted the original version in Taiwan, I have yearned for good Taiwanese shaved ice in the city. I have tried several including the ones listed on a recent Serious Eats article, ranking best shaved ice spots around New York City. However, Just Sweet Dessert House is one place hasn’t been reviewed since it just opened. I noticed that this dessert spot has various versions of Asian shaved ice and desserts so it was instantly a MUST-TRY for me.

Naturally I picked the Mango Lover – Shaved ice topped with mango syrup, sliced bananas, mango, and sago. There’s supposed to be whipped cream on it but I guess they must have left it out. The mango slices were sweet and sago was nice and chewy (aka. “QQ). Banana slices are freshly cut so has great flavor. Very tropical and deliciously sweet. Of course it is not the same as Taiwan: no condensed milk, different texture of shaved ice; however I will gladly take a bowl of this any day in the summer.

If anyone wants to try the other shaved ice bowls, let me know!

Just Sweet Dessert House
83 3rd Avenue
New York, NY 10003

Chinese/ dinner/ Japanese/ Korean/ nyc/ snack/ Taiwanese/ Uncategorized

Lucky Rice’s Night Market – A Taste of Asian Street Food

On a beautiful comfortable Friday night on April 30th held Lucky Rice’s Night Market, hosted by David Chang. This night market event is based on popular nighttime markets throughout Asia, found in Taipei all the way to Kuala Lumpur. Typically speaking, these night markets feature various cheap street foods, shops, and fun games.

In its first year, Lucky Rice was able to secure 26 different restaurants for the Archway, where the main event was held, and eight alcoholic beverage vendors located in the Loft. Being a passionate Taiwanese foodie, I was very excited to see how this event would come into fruition. The Archway under the Manhattan Bridge provided the perfect awning for all vendors to place their stands and prepare their street foods for the masses. Traditional and non-traditional restaurants highlighted Asian street food in small portions. All the vendors provided free samples and optional foods for purchase ranging from $1 to $3. Some highlights of the night included:

Mantao’s Spicy Pork Sandwich was nicely marinated, and the mantou (aka. Chinese steam bread) with sesame seeds on top offset the saltiness of the meat. It is quintessentially an Asian mini burger. Mantao’s partnership with American Airlines provided discount coupons for flights and a fortune cookie.

I really liked Kuma Inn and Uni Nom’s “Adoba and Atchara” Pork Belly. These days it is pretty easy to find pork belly in a dish, but I found that they did a particularly good job in marinating the meat – soft, oily, and salty. They provided small amounts of fatty goodness, which made it a perfect amount for me to enjoy without feeling too overwhelmed with the oily portions.

The Setai’s (South Beach, Miami) Crisp Fried Pork Belly served with Kimchi and Island Creek Oyster was different than Kuma Inn’s but just as good. It was important to take a bite of the pork belly FIRST and then slurping your oyster afterward. The oyster refreshed my palette from the fattiness of the fried pork belly.

Of course I had to get Baohaus’s Stinky Tofu since stinky tofu is one of Taiwan’s traditional dishes. The constant reaction was, “Oh my gosh, that really smells”. However, in my mind I believe that the smellier the tofu, the better the taste. Even though it was not the best stinky tofu I have had, I was glad that Baohaus was serving it. The stinky tofu certainly brought me back to my memories eating this street food in Taiwanese night markets.

The Malaysian Pavilion, located in a small section right before the Archway, was open to the public and featured 11 restaurants where small samples of food were sold. I didn’t eat anything here though I am sure there were plenty of good eats. Yet, I did explore one particular stand – the free photo booth where you can dress yourself in traditional Asian accessories like a fan or red umbrella. You were provided with a free souvenir picture so my friends and I went twice.

There was definitely too much good food to mention all in one post. Lucky Rice did a great job encompassing what a night market truly is – good street food and drink mist bright lights enjoyed in pleasantly warm weather. The Night Market revealed the beauty of the Archway of the Manhattan Bridge decorated with lantern and night-lights. I am looking forward to next year’s night market, and prepared to eat my heart out.

And more food pictures of the night for your pleasure.

Baohaus – Baohaus Fries with Sesame Paste

Baohaus – Pork Bun

Baohaus Stand

Buddakan – Chilled Udon Noodle with Peanut Sauce

Kum Gang San – Royal Court Rice Cakes

Kum Gang San – Assorted Pancakes

Delicatessen – Foie Gras and Beef Short Rib Dumpling

My Brooklyn Kitchen – Small Cupcake

My Brooklyn Kitchen – Small Cupcake 2

Asiadog – The Ginny

An Choi – Tuan Bui

Tea Magic – Shaved Ice

Kampuchea – Pork Meatball Numpang

Chinese/ lunch/ Taiwanese

Chinese New Year: Hot Pot Basics

Happy Chinese New Year! This is the year of the Tiger and I am not sure what it means in Chinese astrology. What I do know is that this calls for the gathering of family and friends around a huge feast of various foods such as fish, noodles, oranges, etc. because these foods are supposed to bring good luck. And get this – for those born in the Tiger year, to ward off bad luck make sure to wear red underwear.

What better way to celebrate this holiday than by eating hot pot? “Uhhh…excuse me, what is that”, you may ask. Well, here’s my definition:

Hot Pot (Huo guo, 火鍋) – n. An Asian dish where a central pot is filled with either broth or water that continuously boils and people can cook raw ingredients (i.e. beef, fish balls, mushrooms, etc.). After it is sufficiently cooked in the pot, it’s dipped into a sauce. The sauce is often comprised of soy sauce, scallions, raw egg, and Asian barbeque sauce “sha cha jiang”, depending upon personal preferences.

Now that you have an idea what hot pot is, I welcome you to the Chen family’s version of hot pot! There are a number of hot pot varieties and every family might use different ingredients and mix different sauces, but the concept is more or less the same. The greatest part of hot pot is that it is REALLY easy to prepare and there is guaranteed satisfaction from all eaters. Let us start with the base – the pot itself or as I would put it – the main arena of food action.

First, my aunt cooks the onions and cabbage in a separate pot to get the sweetness of these vegetables into the base soup. She proceeds to add water and some soy sauce, and then transfers the base soup into the hot pot.
Note: Most families use a beef stock but because we are trying to be healthy, she uses water.

Next – your sauce. My personal preference is having hot pot with raw egg, the soy sauce base, hot sauce and Asian barbeque sauce “sha cha jiang”. I have had it this way since I was a little so I have stuck with this sauce combination. The soy sauce base is comprised of:
– soy sauce
– brown sugar
– sesame oil
– scallions
– cilantro

My aunt measures the perfect amounts of each and I pleasantly spoon the base sauce into my mixing bowl. Then I mix however much “sha cha jiang” and raw egg I want into the base. For those scared of salmonella poisoning, you don’t need to add the raw egg. No judgments passed.

Now, let us talk about the ingredients that go into the hot pot itself. Everything is thoroughly cleaned and nicely plated for presentation and grabbing ease. We have:

1. Seafood Cakes – These cakes can be made of a variety of seafood: shrimp, fish, fish roe, crab, etc.  They are little bites of salty, seafood delight that bring beautiful colors and flavors to the hot pot. After cooking them, I pop them into my mouth with pleasure.

2. Mushrooms – We include Enoki and Shiitake mushrooms in our hot pot. They soak up all the flavors of the soup and add onto their normal taste and texture. Personally, adding mushrooms to anything is a thumbs-up to me since I love eating them.

3. Beef (top) and Lamb (bottom) – I find meat essential to the hot pot experience because it provides the fat to the soup…and let’s face it, we love eating fat.  It is important that the meat is thinly sliced so that it cooks quickly.  Afterwards you dip it into your sauce, and you find that the combination of meat and sauce is meant to be. The sauce helps cut the fatty flavor and adds another layer of sweet, salty essence to the meat.
Note: If you want the soup less rich, remove the fat that accumulates on the side of the pot into a separate bowl.

4. “Variety” Plate – I am not sure what to label this plate so I’m calling it the “variety” plate. Clockwise starting from shrimp, there is fish, intestine, squid and tofu. Similar to meat, I recommend including shrimp because it adds a lot of seafood flavor to the entire hot pot. I enjoy eating all different things, including intestines. Just to let you know, intestine has no particular strong flavor. I douse it into my dipping sauce and find that the texture is the highlight – soft and chewy. In addition, the tofu is incredible because it is firm and soaks up the soup flavors. It is guaranteed that I end up eating a lot of tofu every single time.
The amount of food we have sufficiently feeds four people or at least enough for us to feel sufficiently satisfied.  However, there are other ingredients like glass noodles and leafy vegetables when you put at the end of cooking, so make sure to save your stomach!

I know not everyone has the desire to eat things like what I listed, and that is perfectly fine not to include in your hot pot. In fact you can put whatever you want.  This is the beauty of hot pot; it brings people together by sharing and cooking various foods in boiled soup while eating whatever you like. It is inexpensive, easy to prepare, cooks quickly, and is extremely gratifying.

More resources:
Wikipedia –
Twenty-Five Tips for Cooking Hot Pot –

dessert/ Japanese/ nyc/ snack/ Taiwanese/ travels

Mountains of Ice!

I know spring has only begun, but that doesn’t mean we can’t think and crave summer foods right? One particular ingredient pops into my mind: Shaved Ice. Ice is such a versatile ingredient when it comes to creating a delicious dessert, especially when consuming it under the hot, humid sun, nothing is quite like how ice just melts in your mouth to cool you off.

So what exactly do you add to shaved ice to make it so good? It’s all about the ingredients baby.

This is Ippudo’s shaved ice dessert. It has red bean, mochi, strawberries, condensed milk and topped with a cherry. I believe Larry and I devoured this dessert in minutes. Can you blame us?

However this dessert is most common in Asia, namely Taiwan. The tropical weather, humid and hot, is best suited for some delicious ice. Hot Weather + Shaved Ice = Immense Satisfaction. There are many different combinations for ice:

This is Azabu Sabo’s Black Sesame Ice with Soft Serve. Yes, that black stuff is the black sesame and not random goo. The black sesame is mildly sweet but in conjunction with the soft serve and condensed milk creates a perfect combination of nutty and sweet flavors.

This is a traditional Taiwanese shaved ice dessert. What’s awesome is that you can choose what ingredients you want. How much is this bowl? I believe it’s close to $2.00. Insane isn’t it?! I happily picked out my favorite things: red bean, QQ jelly, tong yuan, condensed milk, and tapioca. It’s a whole bowl of delicious chewiness…:drool drool:

Calling ALL mango lovers…my most favorite: MANGO ICE. This place called Ice Monster offers this in the summer, which mangoes are abundant and naturally sweet. Imagine this…mango + mango ice cream + ice + condensed milk. This cannot be denied. Devoured? Yes. Instantaneous.

In conclusion, shaved ice is the best kind of dessert you can have on a sunny, hot day. For now we can just think about it until summer comes…then scarf away on ice. That is if you can handle the brain freeze.

dessert/ dinner/ drinks/ Mexican/ snack/ Taiwanese/ travels

Worldly Travels: Acapulco, Mexico and Taipei, Taiwan

Okay, I know it’s been a while since I’ve last updated, but it’s because I’ve been traveling the world! That’s right, Taiwan during a random week in February and Mexico for Spring Break. Both trips were a lot of fun, especially since I can get out of the cold New York weather. As usual I took plenty of pictures during my international journeys but I’ve decided to highlight the beautiful dishes that I ate:

Feb. 13~23 – Taipei, Taiwan

This is a picture of the first bowl of noodles I had when I got to Taipei. It may mean nothing to you, but it was really good. It helped me forget about the 18-hour layover in Anchorage, Alaska…taking away from my already-short trip back.

I found this at a department store in the basement levels. If you don’t know about Asian department stores, their basement levels are always filled with food courts and supermarkets. Deliciousness~

This is how Pork Chop Rice works. They give you a yummy bowl of minced pork rice with your pork chops on the side. Damn, this was a good piece of pork chop. You can see the pepper flakes on the chop, which made it real yummy.

These are scallion pancakes done in a Shanghainese style. Yeah, they’re huge and luckily they were cut into 4 smaller pieces. Otherwise I probably would have eaten the whole thing by myself. hahaha. Not to mention, because my aunt is baller, we ate this at a high-class department store. (Yes, there are also restaurants in baller high-end department stores in Taiwan.)

This is also eaten at the New Sogo Department store in Taipei, which was baller as well. This is their eel roll with cucumber inside. It was as good as it looks.

If you couldn’t tell already, the Japanese have a huge influence over Taiwan. All that red bean, matcha goodness is attributed to them. hahaha. Trust me, sometimes pictures can’t even do it justice as to how delicious these desserts were…you’ll just have to go to Taiwan yourself and try them out!

I was definitely sad to leave Taiwan so soon because there were SO many foods that I didn’t get to eat, but I suppose this summer will be the time to go back…heh heh.

Mar. 08~14 – Acapulco, Mexico

Mexico was a combination of sweet fruit, nachos and salsa, and scrumptious seafood. I gotta say, I did start get irked by the excessive shouting of taxi drivers and men in general, but there were definitely good eats down there. Mexicans sure know how to make a mean salsa. Here are my pics:

This smooth is called “Oasis“. How fitting. Before I saw this huge drink, my mouth was like a desert. hahaha. This drink saved me, and the best part of it was that it was all natural! Might I add that the restaurant that served this drink was named 100% Natural, just in case you thought you were getting something unnatural. Ha.

They also gave us these muffins, and we almost thought they were complimentary. No, they’re not…and thank God we asked. Otherwise, we probably would have scrambled for those muffinsbecause they looked so tempting.

Quesabrosas anyone? Yes, also from 100% Natural (can you tell that we loved this place?), it was delicious. The best part of it was I didn’t feel like I was eating anything unhealthy…but I think it’s because of the restaurant name. Damn, but it was a hella good quesabrosa.

Tacos? This is a picture of a real Mexican taco, not the ones you see at Taco Bell, but from a place called Tacos Orientalex. That’s right, you read it correctly. Orientalex. Despite the deceiving name, these tacos were EXTREMELY good. Highly recommended to anyone who goes down there to try some.

Shrimp Tacos. They look more like spring rolls to me, but they were good too. Eaten at a place called Julio’s. They have some great seafood there as well.

Want to go for some swanky seafood? Linda Vista is the place to be. Has a great view of Acapulco and its marvelous lights in addition to its high-quality seafood. This is a picture of an appetizer which was shrimp covered in bacon and tartar sauce on the side. Yummm…

Can’t forget the bread there. This is just one of my numerous pictures of baked goods. I actually didn’t get to eat this, but it looks like it would taste like creamy heaven.

Chicken with Mole Sauce. Don’t even ask me what mole sauce is. I can’t even describe it well…I can tell you what it’s not. It’s not sweet, sour, salty, perhaps slightly bitter? However, I enjoyed it enough to finish a decent portion…

Ice cream anyone? Yup, lots of ice cream stores down there, since it’s so hot.

This is a picture of the ultimate Mexican burger – not only does this include hamburger meat, but hot dog, avocado, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and probably a few more items. It may not look like it’s huge to you, but trust me, this burger from the cart was one of my best meals there.

I love traveling. and eating. =]