The Island of Taiwan Restaurant Review: Island of Taiwan restaurant

The Island of Taiwan Restaurant Review: Island of Taiwan restaurant

Sometimes the dissonance between my blogging self and my real life self reverberates and echoes so loudly and far, that I feel very much like a poser. It’s difficult to really express about food in real life the way one could if one has pictures and time to put thoughts together. I suppose that’s the genius of someone like Anthony Bourdain, who can do it on TV, and consistently deliver week after week. Most of the time, the enjoyment occurs silently and the message conveyed to others is muted. Even though the world we occupy is more about the gradients than the black-n-whites, it’s easier for me to divide the world in one big stroke for the sake of this blog. I think the world is divided into three camps of eaters. One is the Giadas. This is named after Giada from the food network. Each bite for her is a porno sound track fitting only if you orgasm anytime something touches your tongue. How her clit ended up in her mouth is a mystery to me. Those are the lucky ones. On the opposite end of the spectrum you have folks like me. We’ll call this group The Creepy Pubescent Teenage boy group. For folks like me, eating for pleasure can be compared to reading a Playboy for the first time. Initially there’s shock at how good it is, and then there’s quiet enjoyment for the fear that there would be a knock-less intruder at your door, catching you at a very compromising (and embarrassing moment). The third group involves people somewhere in the middle. Maybe you’re in that middle group, but I’m firmly in the quiet enjoyment group. My most recent food trip to Island of Taiwan probably was one of the most enjoyable meals in a while.

I first heard about Island of Taiwan on Village Voice. Taiwanese restaurants are hard to come by, unless you visit Flushing like Robyn did with her friends. Now I can’t really compare Taiwanese food to Playboy because then it would give the connotation that it’s easily enjoyable for people not from Taiwan. Some of this stuff is really about nostalgia and quite frankly not everyone will purely enjoy the food for what it is. So instead of Playboy, think of it as… nude pictures of giraffes. All I can say is… these were some fine giraffes [note: they don’t actually serve giraffes here].

We went with a plan of attack that featured many appetizers. We started off with crispy pork intestines. Now if you like intestines, you know that sometimes the fat is super super chewy. This makes for nasty eating. They crispiness comes from deep frying the suckers, and the outside is generally crispy no matter where you go. The skill comes in being able to swallow the damn thing. These were exceptional. They stuffed some scallions inside the intestines and it was just delicious. Maybe intestines aren’t your thing, but they’re mine. Remember, giraffes.

Another plate that most folks won’t enjoy was the stinky fried tofu. This also was deep fried, and it’s fermented tofu chunks. Usually you find that tofu has no discernible smell or taste but these do! These orbs of awesome come with some pickled vegetables on the side and a dark sauce at the bottom. Definitely get some sauce on that mother. It’s really not crazy tasting even though it’s called stinky tofu.

Being a Taiwanese restaurant, Island of Taiwan of course had oyster pancakes/omelets. This version was light on the eggs and heavier on the oysters and the starch. They were able to get the edges crispy so I give them props for that too. I liked this version but by itself, it’s not a destination dish that you would travel for.

You also can’t go to a Taiwanese restaurant without trying Three Cup Chicken. This dish features equal part soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil. Then there’s some thai basil and scallions and ginger. I prefer mine with a heavier ginger and basil flavor. Maybe the traditional way doesn’t call for a heavy hand for those ingredients, but I like it when a chef is generous with those two things. Here, it was a more balanced taste and it’s very good. It still could use an extra sprig of basil or so. This is probably the dish that most people would enjoy, even non-Taiwanese.

We also got this soup that’s called ‘pork gen thick soup’ on the menu. No joke. That’s verbatim. This was actually a very Taiwanese dish that you probably don’t see else where. First imagine fish cake, which is made with some fish paste. Then substitute fish for pork and you get this. The soup has a vinegary kick to it and again, if you ain’t Taiwanese, it’s going to be hard for you to really like this one. The meat sticks just scream mystery meat, but I love it. My mom’s version of the meat sticks have a higher Q-rating, but I was just happy to taste this.

We also sampled a bowl of spicy beef noodle soup. If you go to hand-pulled noodle places, most of the time the broth is clear. Here the broth is a deep brown and it taste just like homeland. The beef chunks were soft and delicious. I thought the noodles were a little too soft. It’s a perfectly fine dish that probably doesn’t compare to hand-pulled noodle places, but I just loved it nonetheless.

Last but not least, we got an order of pork buns. Traditional buns like this contain cilantro and peanut powder. These lived up to expectations. The meat was a little dry but again, I didn’t give a fuck. I loved it.

I think sometimes it’s hard to convey personal enjoyment in a way that’s understandable for other people to understand. If you’re not a native New Yorker, you most likely could still find SOMETHING that resembles the food of your past. Maybe you’re from the South or the west coast. Or maybe you’re from some Asian country like Japan or Korea. But if you’re from Kyrgyzstan, you’re probably shit outta luck. Taiwanese food is hard to find and to find a delicious Taiwanese restaurant is even harder. I’m just going to enjoy my giraffe porn quietly in the future.

The Island of Taiwan Restaurant6817 8th Ave.Brooklyn, NY 11220718-680-0033