This restaurant is located on Hwy 17-92 in the Sanford Plaza Shopping Center. It shares the plaza with Bravo Supermarket. On the night that I visited the plaza was completely desolated. However, there were a few tables in the restaurant.
At first glance this is a non descript regular Chinese take out restaurant in a strip mall in Anywhere, USA. Hang on. Forget the surrounds. As one enters the restaurant there is a modest feel of a few tables and a couple of booths, brightly lit and very clean. Then a voice welcomed us. A server? Yes there was a server. Surprise? There is more.
The server approached in a very friendly and personable manner with menus in hand. He welcomed and informed us that there are traditional American Chinese food and authentic Taiwanese offerings. They actually serve authentic Taiwanese food. The authentic menu is translated to English. After seating, out came another gentleman and welcomed us to the restaurant. He started to explain the menu. Then he came back with the most amazing little palate openers.
Seaweed Salad—cold seaweed.
A marvelous little opener with sharp acidic flavor and silky texture. The seaweed was crisp, cold, with the perfect crunch. Flavors of soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar were prevalent.
Peanut and Bean Curd Salad—peanut, bean curd, scallions, anchovy.
Little morsels of pure palate teasers. The salty anchovy worked wonders on this little combination.
Taiwanese Pork Soup—strips of pork, napa cabbage, enoki mushroom, shitake mushroom, scallion, carrot, cilantro, egg, dried red onions.
Simple beauty. The strips of pork was marinated and coated with corn starch to give a light crust. Sautéed vegetables and pork were tossed together and broth added. A little corn starch thickener and sprinkling of dried red onions and a traditional Taiwanese soup was recreated. The dried red onions added a whole different flavor profile to this seemingly simple soup.
Stir Fried Bok Choy—bok choy
Steamed then flash fried, this bok choy was drizzled with dried red onions after being taken out of the wok. The residual heat toasted the dried red onion flakes to release its pungent aromas. Perfect crunchy texture and big bold onion flavor.
Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs—pork with single bone in coated with sweet tangy sauce.
Strips of pork with a little piece of bone tip coated in corn starch and deep fried, then tossed in a ketchup, soy, sugar, and vinegar sauce. Bone in, is the way this dish is prepared in Taiwan since the bone flavors add another dimension to the dish. Perfectly fried, not soggy, beautiful balance of sweetness and acidity, perfectly succulent pork.
The portions in this restaurant are huge, probably meant for sharing family style. This is the traditional Taiwanese way of eating. Everyone sits at the table and pass food around family style. Like Thanksgiving. All the flavors in these dishes are vibrant and pronounced. The ingredients are fresh and the preparation authentic. Of course, the staple all American Chinese menu is available and I am sure if the chef can produce this quality for authentic Taiwanese I can’t wait to taste his American Chinese and more authentic Taiwanese dishes. This restaurant is a month old, but their food and service is on point. They are yet to add beer and wine. Overall good food, good service, modest surroundings, well worth the drive.