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COMPASS MAGAZINE > November 2011

Exotic, authentic Southeast Asian flavors in Taichung--Akui Rumah Makan Indonesia, New Wan Li Bak Kut Teh Restaurant, Pei Vietnamese Pho, Ilonggo Grill

By Niang Chen
Translated by Angel Pu

Akui Rumah Makan Indonesia

Akui Rumah Makan Indonesia

3, Lane 175, LuChuan W St, Central District
(04) 2226-7945
Hours: 9 am-9 pm
No service charge.
Credit cards not accepted.

For both Taiwanese and Western diners, the dish names on the menu here are probably very strange and unfamiliar, as are ingredients like Daun Singkong (cassava leaves) and Nangka (jackfruit). The "salad" here is made with hand-shaped steamed rice cut into chunks and placed in the fridge for three days. These authentic Indonesian dishes are cures for homesick Indonesians and new exotic dining options for Taiwanese.

A: This eatery is run by Huang Xin-gui, a third-generation Chinese-Indonesian with a Taiwanese wife. Deep-Fried Chicken Leg with Rice (NT$100) is made with chicken marinated in lemongrass and galangal ginger. The Gado-Gado (NT$80) Indonesian rice salad contains Tempeh (a traditional Indonesian soy product), deep-fried tofu and peanut butter. Sate Kambing (mutton satay, NT$20 per skewer) is only available on weekends.

B: This cafeteria/grocery store prepares over 20 authentic Indonesian dishes.

C: Various home-style side dishes such as Daun Singkong, Stir-Fried Nangka with Dried Fish, and Stir-Fried Tempeh with Peanuts are available for about NT$20 each. Daun Singkong is made of dried cassava leaves and has a refreshing flavor. Stir-Fried Nangka with Dried Fish contains the peanut-like nutlets of jackfruit. Tempeh is actually a shredded large bean curd and can be deep-fried, made into a salad or stir-fried with vegetables. Other meat dishes include Rendang (beef; NT$30), Gulai Kambing (mutton; NT$60) and Babat Sapi (beef offal; NT$30), all made with a spicy curry flavor.

Akui Rumah Makan Indonesia Akui Rumah Makan Indonesia


New Wan Li Bak Kut Teh Restaurant

New Wan Li Bak Kut Teh Restaurant

38, DaYe Rd, West Distrct
(04) 2327-6666
Hours: 11 am-2:30 pm, 5-10 pm
Credit cards not accepted.
No service charge.

After a hard day's work, Chinese-Malaysians often mix common Chinese herbs like angelica, Chinese wolfberries, Japanese star anise, cinnamon, garlic and black pepper with spare ribs and stew them in a pot of soup, known as Bak Kut Teh. This very common home-style dish contains tender, flavory meat and a thick broth that can be mixed with steamed rice, and Chinese-Malaysians often consume it as a healthy-tonic main dish. Its exotic aromas can conjure up a classic Chinese ambiance for diners.

A: New Wan Li, a 40-year-old restaurant from Malaysia, has opened a new branch in Taichung.

B: Signature Bak Kuh Teh (NT$180) contains spare ribs, pork stomach, pork knuckle, pork intestines and streaky pork. Royal Bak Kuh Teh is NT$420 and can be shared by two or three diners. The bone-in pork chops in this entree are stewed for an hour with ingredients such as golden needle mushrooms, deep-fried tofu and "you tiao" Chinese fried bread sticks. Its strong flavors come from the garlic bulbs that make it even more delicious. Malaysia Scenery (NT$120) is actually stir-fried water spinach with shrimp sauce, dried shrimp and fresh shrimp.

C: The chicken in the Hainanese Chicken Rice set (NT$150) is cooked at low temperature, cooled and sliced. Before serving, a mixed sauce of sesame oil, soy sauce and chicken oil is sprinkled on top. Steamed rice can be eaten with Malaysian black soy sauce with young ginger, minced garlic with orange juice and uncooked minced chilis. A set includes sour and spicy side dishes, black tea and a salad. Other drinks include Malaysian White Coffee (NT$70). Curry Chicken Noodles (NT$160) is another very classic Malaysian dish. Its ingredients include curry paste, curry powder, curry leaves and coconut milk and its soup is thick and spicy with a rich coconut flavor.

New Wan Li Bak Kut Teh Restaurant New Wan Li Bak Kut Teh Restaurant


Pei Vietnamese Pho

Pei Vietnamese Pho

165-1, JingWu Rd, East District
(04) 2211-9575
Hours: 11 am-8:30 pm (closed Mondays)
Credit cards not accepted.
No service charge.

Diners often feel like they're in Vietnam as soon as they enter this restaurant because its atmosphere, aromas and food are so authentic. Its Vietnamese fish sauce is a flexible condiment that can be mixed with lemon juice, lemongrass, garlic and chili to become a salad dressing, seasoning and dipping sauce. Every dish is made by Vietnamese owner Pei Jin-xue, who ensures everything in this eatery is authentic. On holiday evenings, the restaurant usually closes earlier because of the limited amounts of ingredients prepared beforehand.

A: This quiet scene can only be seen during non-dining hours, as Pei is packed with diners at mealtimes.

B: Vietnamese Omelet (NT$70) and Stir-Fried Assorted Vegetables with Squid (NT$100). For the omelet, stir-fried shrimp and pork first go into a wok before being covered with a batter. Before completion, it is also sprinkled with a handful of bean sprouts. The omelet is best either dipped into or covered with fish sauce, and Chinese basil and green lettuce add a refreshing touch. The fresh squid are stir-fried with cucumbers, celery, pineapple and tomatoes with fish sauce and peppers for a tender, deliciously chewy final result.

C: Pork Chop with Chinese Vermicelli (NT$50) and Tamarind Shrimp (NT$150) are two other great dishes here. This former is very appetizing as it contains sweet, sour and spicy fish sauce with shredded cucumbers, peanuts and chilis. For the latter, fresh shrimp are cooked with tamarinds and chilis, with the natural sourness of tamarind underlining the fresh shrimp and making it more delicious.

Pei Vietnamese Pho Pei Vietnamese Pho


Ilonggo Grill

Ilonggo Grill

135, LuChuan W St, Central District (3F of First Square)
Hours: 9 am-10 pm (Sundays only)
No service charge.
Credit cards not accepted.

Ilonggo Grill is a Philippine restaurant only open on Sundays. At the first glance, the ingredients look very ordinary--including pork, pork offal, chicken, green beans, pumpkins and eggplant. However, after being cooked with tamarind and vinegar, these are transformed into a variety of delicious and unique Philippine entrees. This is a buffet restaurant and the average price per person is NT$70 to NT$100.

A: Filipino men and women visit First Square shopping complex in great numbers on holidays, and Ilonggo Grill is one of their top choices when they're seeking some home-style dining.

B: Philippine Tapang Bangus (dry-fried milkfish), Deep-Fried Streaky Pork and Deep-Fried Chicken Skin are three options here. According to owner Fe Lin, Filipinos love to enjoy some dry-fried or deep-fries dishes with beer. The streaky pork with skin is chewy and flavorful, while the fried chicken skin is crunchy and delicious.

C: Dinuguan (stew pig blood jelly with pig offal), Pakbet (stewed vegetables), Adobong Baboy (stewed pork) and Igado Na Baboy (stewed liver with pork) are pictured here. Dinuguan contains pork tongue, pork intestines, pork belly and pork blood jelly with rice vinegar. The color of this dish is dark and it has a sour flavor. Pakbet is a daily vegetarian dish in the Philippines and contains common seasonal vegetables like green beans, pumpkin, balsam pears, eggplant and okra. Adobong Baboy is much like Taiwanese braised pork, but has a more sour taste. Igado Na Baboy is made of fresh chicken livers and lean pork and is a very common family dish in the Philippines.

Ilonggo Grill Ilonggo Grill


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