There's a lot of Taiwanese food in Los Angeles. It makes sense. Los Angeles is the home to the largest population of Taiwanese Americans in the States. Following the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, a large wave of Taiwanese immigrants made their way over to the San Gabriel Valley.
The varieties of Taiwanese restaurants are endless; there are places that specialize in stinky tofu and there are places that are known just for their desserts. We've rounded up four great options in the Los Angeles area:
Cafe Fusion is a high-end Taiwanese eatery, and their menu includes traditional items that are hard to find anywhere else. They have a baked milkfish --- simply seasoned with a squeeze of lemon and dash of salt and pepper. There's also a fantastic soup with bitter gourd, pork ribs, and pineapple. Both are dishes unique to Taiwan. Though, if your budget allows it, we do recommend the $100 lobster salad. Large chunks of lobster are cut up and tossed with a fruit salad and a heap of kewpie mayonnaise. 510 E Live Oak Ave, Arcadia, CA 91006.
2. Happy Garden
Happy Garden specializes in food from the Hakka, a nomad Chinese subculture that is thought to have originated in southern China. There's a sizable Hakka population in Taiwan and their food is heavy on preserved vegetables and offal. Happy Garden does a great pig intestine and liver dish tossed with soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar. We also recommend the fried rice. It's one of the best versions out there; the chef seasons it with soy sauce and adds in pork, shrimp, and assorted vegetables. 1277 E Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91801.
3. Tofu King
Come here for lunch. Everything is dirt cheap. While they're known for their stinky tofu, many people come for the fatty pork over rice. The dish is made with braised pork belly, cut into cubes and braised for hours until it's soft. The juices seep through the bowl of rice it's served over. We like to pair it with a side of their simply stir-fried "A" choy (a Taiwanese lettuce). 713 W Duarte Rd Ste C, 713 W Duarte Rd, Arcadia, CA 91007.
4. Pine and Crane
Finally -- a solid Taiwanese establishment outside of the San Gabriel Valley. Pine and Crane is owned by a family that has an Asian vegetable farm. Their menu rotates based on season, but they have pea shoots all year round. Owner Vivian Ku's grandfather used to own a noodle factory. We recommend the dan dan noodles and the beef noodle soup, which is appropriately topped off with the family's bok choy. 1521 Griffith Park Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026.