Taiwan Cafe in Boston’s Chinatown

Pork Chop Rice

Trip Taken: 2010

Taiwan Cafe

After a week on the road without any kind of rice, I was ready for some Asian food. Any Asian food. It was a good thing that the couple that my brother is renting from had a good recommendation in Chinatown. It was in Boston’s Chinatown area. It was called Taiwan Cafe and supposed to be run by Taiwanese people. So we got on the red line from Davis Square and got off at Downtown. We walked from the Boston Commons area to Chinatown, which is basically just down Washington Street.

The restaurant looked like an old established place. It wasn’t new like the Taiwanese places in the Los Angeles area. It looked like a restaurant that has seen lots of traffic over the years and the wear and tear shows in it seats, tables, and walls. The waitresses all spoke Chinese, which was a good sign, and the clientele was a mix of the cross-culture of Boston. You can hear the owners speaking Chinese with a Taiwanese accent. It was a good omen of what to expect.

I ordered the house pork chop rice and my brother ordered the chicken filet rice. Both dishes came with an egg stewed in soy sauce, stewed pork rice, stir-fried napa cabbage, and pickled lettuce. This was very characteristic of a Taiwanese rice plate. But before that came, we also had appetizers of boiled intestines with dipping sauce and fish cakes. They were both pretty good. The intestines, in particular, were plentiful for the price point. The fish cakes could have been more varied and I wished they were boiled instead of fried.

I liked my pork chop dish way more than more brother’s chicken filet dish. The batter was crispy and sweet. The pork chop was as tender as it could be. The chicken on the other hand was too thin and was more batter than meat. I will say that both dishes had really good stewed pork rice.

Beach Street and the Gate

Chinatown gate

After dinner, we walked around Chinatown for a bit. It wasn’t particularly big and much smaller than San Francisco’s Chinatown, but it did look and smell like Chinatown. It was dirty and had a smell that was a mixture of hot foods, garbage, and steam. The Chinatown here seemed to be divided among the Vietnamese, Cantonese, and Taiwanese.

The main vein of Chinatown is Beach Street. It seemed like the south side of Chinatown is more Chinese (Cantonese/Taiwanese mix) and the north side of Chinatown is more Vietnamese. The gate is where the more Chinese section was. There is night time neighborhood watch and there were old women playing cards. It felt like Hong Kong to me. Old people playing games and fanning themselves to find relief from the heat.

Search for Tapioca Milk Tea

One of the things my brother really wanted was Tapioca Milk Tea. I am guessing it’s not just for a cold refreshment, but to know if there is a place he can be a regular at. He is going to be a resident in Boston for another two years. It is important to know for a person who likes Chinese food.

We asked the owner of Taiwan Cafe but he kind of pointed us in the wrong direction. We walked around for a bit and found several bakeries. There were pretty empty at this time of the night except for one. It was a bakery run by Cantonese people and it was filled with hungry customers asking for barbecue buns. They also had a drink bar, which my brother got a watermelon juice from. It wasn’t exactly tapioca milk tea, but it was a start.

Parting Words

Walking around Chinatown, you see lots of reasonably priced restaurants. They all seemed to brimming with customers. Some even had people waiting outside for a table. Nothing crazy like you would see for a dim sum restaurant during the weekend. But I don’t think I would hesitate to eat at any one restaurant filled with people. The food looked good and it sure tasted good as well.

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About the Author

John is always trying to find his way back to the road. He has an affinity for Germany due to his three years studying German at Cal, and a year working as an intern in the Stuttgart area. He also likes chocolate cake and good cheese.