A few weeks back, I met Mr Noodles and Rahul to eat Taiwanese food at Rahul’s local – Taiwan Village in Fulham. I have no idea why two of London’s foremost Taiwanese restaurants are located in Fulham (the other being Formosa) but hey, as a west London girl, I can’t complain. The chef here at Taiwan Village used to cook at Hunan in Pimlico, well known for only serving up a tasting menu of sorts, and this might explain the existence of a Leave it to Us set menu for a fixed price. Of course, we went for that – we’d be fed…but we had no idea what was coming. We did have one choice though – to go with a more Chinese menu or a more western-Chinese menu. The former, of course.
Things started swiftly. A tangy pork broth with a soft meatball was served in a bamboo cup. It was a gorgeous broth that had a surprising slight acidity to it. We slurped it down and felt like we were in good hands, food-wise.
San choi bau, lettuce wraps with a filling of seafood with chopped vegetables, arrived next. Though the dishes came quite quickly, we never felt rushed.
Steamed meat dumplings had delicate skins and a tasty filling and made for a comforting mouthful.
A trio of delicious deep fried morsels then were placed on our table. Taiwanese fried chicken was beautifully crisp and dry and dusted with five spice – I could have hoovered the entire portion for all three of us. Crispy Tiger Prawns were served with salad cream which always weirds me out a bit but then I end up enjoying it.
The Deep Fried French Beans were nothing short of amazing. They had been lightly battered, fried and then tossed with fried chillies, garlic and spring onions; they were incredibly moreish.
We had a short break after these starters while our plates were cleared before a shredded quarter of a Crispy Aromatic Szechuan Duck was brought out. To my surprise, the excellent pancakes that came out with them were homemade and the hoisin sauce was also tastier than that usually found elsewhere. That said, though it was very good crispy duck, it was still the low point of our meal.
It was then time for the main courses and again, another surprise, these were served with Egg Fried Rice. Banish any thoughts of any egg fried rice you’ve had before – this was what all egg fried rices which they could be when they grow up. It was full of fluffy egg threads, seasoned perfectly and not at all greasy.
A Dry Tofu with Sliced Pork had been cooked with dried orange peel and was fragrant and full of different textures.
Ma Po Tofu and Mince in Hot Sauce was Rahul’s usual takeaway order and I could see why. It was spicy and fragrant from a light dusting of Sichuan peppercorns and the sauce was thick and meaty.
The Beef in Sha-Cha (spicy barbeque sauce) was delicious and made me question my lack of sha cha intake in the past.
The classic Taiwanese Three-Cup Chicken with Sweet Basil was good but needed more basil.
A dishful of clams also arrived in a thick, slightly acidic sauce (does acidity feature strongly in Taiwanese food?). Sadly, most of the clams were closed but the sauce was lovely on the rice.
A small portion of Hakka style Braised Pork Belly also arrived and was just as rich and delicious as it looked.
These were all placed in the middle of the table and we feasted. When our egg fried rice bowl was perilously close to being empty, they brought out a whole new freshly fried bowl full.
By this point, we were pretty full but I was still pretty gutted that the set menu didn’t include dessert. From the very short dessert menu, we ordered and split two of the Special set dessert – caramelised bananas and Haagen Daz vanilla ice cream and an Azuki pancake (a traditional red bean paste pancake).
Both desserts were outstanding. The chunks of banana were fried in batter and then coated with a thin crisp layer of caramel. The pancake was thin, filled with red bean paste, and topped with sugar, crushed peanuts and the biggest surprise that night – chopped coriander! And to all the doubters out there, it really worked. We asked the owner about this herbal addition and she only smiled and laughed that this was the chef’s innovation.
My part of the bill came to about £35 – that’s for the set menu, dessert and one grass jelly drink. Service was extremely friendly and jolly and we truly did feel very welcome and the restaurant was surprisingly smart with an impressively huge wood carving in the front. Thanks so much for introducing the place to us, Rahul! I hope to return soon to try the dishes from their Taiwanese Specialities part of the menu.
85 Lillie Road
London SW6 1UD