10 Best Taiwanese Restaurants In Los Angeles

Oyster vermicelli at Cafe Fusion
Oyster vermicelli at Cafe Fusion
Clarissa Wei

Honest talk: On paper, Taiwanese food doesn’t sound all that appetizing. It’s droopy oyster pancakes blanketed with chile sauce, hardened sweet sausages served with thin slices of raw garlic and blocks of fried tofu that smell like dirty feet.

But if you make the effort, there will be rewards. You’ll find that oysters are lovely when wrapped in potato starch, sausage shines when paired with garlic and rice wine, and tofu that reeks of feet tastes a whole lot better than it smells.

In Taiwan, all of these dishes can be found in the alleys, served on paper plates or in cheap plastic bags and designed to be eaten on the go. Convenience and comfort are the heart and soul of Taiwanese food.

Los Angeles is lucky. The San Gabriel Valley is a Taiwanese food mecca, thanks to an immigration wave in the 1970s that drew in highly skilled Formosan immigrants. In the mid 1980s, the number of mainland Chinese immigrants surpassed the number of Taiwanese, but the Taiwanese still dominate the business sector, especially in cities like Monterey Park. Taiwanese money paved the way for the restaurants that cater to the immigrants — and these days the options are seemingly endless.

Los Angeles County is home to Taiwanese beer bars and cafes that center on beef noodle soup. Bento-like lunch trays filled with fried pork chops are ubiquitous. You’ll even find on various menus around town some regional Hakka specialties like intestines sautéed with ginger. Here is your guide for exploring Taiwanese cuisine in Los Angeles.

Red grain pork over rice at Monja TaikerEXPAND
Red grain pork over rice at Monja Taiker
Clarissa Wei

10. Monja Taiker

Inspired by a popular restaurant in the Monja district of Taiwan, Monja Taiker serves fast-casual Taiwanese food. The red grain pork is Monja’s main draw — a sweet barbecued pork with crisp dyed edges, sliced across the grain into thin, manageable pieces. It’s the Taiwanese rendition of charsiu, but drier and sweeter than Cantonese or Japanese varieties. The pork is commonly ordered over rice, but dry noodles are another option. 8150 Garvey Ave., Rosemead; (626) 307-7330.

Beef noodle soup at Golden LeafEXPAND
Beef noodle soup at Golden Leaf
Clarissa Wei

9. Golden Leaf

This small café with a small menu opened in December of last year, and it’s the perfect place to go if you want an introduction to Taiwanese food without being overwhelmed by hundreds of dish options. We’ll simplify it even more for you: Oyster pancakes and beef noodle soup is all you need here. The oyster pancake is not too gloopy, and the oysters are plump. Pair with a side of stinky tofu, because a primer to Taiwanese food is incomplete without it. 717 W Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel; (626) 289-8377.

Beef noodle soup at Pine & CraneEXPAND
Beef noodle soup at Pine & Crane
Clarissa Wei

8. Pine & Crane

A solid Taiwanese restaurant in Silver Lake, Pine & Crane specializes in noodle soups. Beef with noodles in broth is the main draw, and the fact that the restaurant sources its vegetables from their family farm makes it all the more trendy. If beef isn’t your thing, they do dan dan noodles, noodles with zha jiang (fermented bean paste) and wontons. There’s also a lovely rotation of appetizers including beef rolls and sweet potato fries. 1521 Griffith Park Blvd., Silver Lake; (323) 668-1128.

Stinky tofu at Tofu KingEXPAND
Stinky tofu at Tofu King
Clarissa Wei

7. Tofu King

Come here for two things and two things only: the fatty pork over rice and the stinky tofu. The tofu is served in thick chunks and scored slightly so that the aroma wafts out. It’s a lovely dish (if you like stinky tofu, that is) served with pickled cabbage, and it pairs well with the pork over rice. In all honesty, that dish is mostly fat over rice. The pork fat that carries the flavor and allows the juices to seep deep into the rice. Just like in Taiwan. 18414 Colima Road, Rowland Heights; (626) 964-6250.

Beef noodle soup at Bull Demon KingEXPAND
Beef noodle soup at Bull Demon King
Clarissa Wei

6. Bull Demon King

Beef noodle soup is to Taiwan what ramen is to Japan. Beef shanks are braised for hours, then served in an earthy broth that takes a grand 12 hours to perfect. A handful of pickled mustard greens are dropped in for contrast. While beef noodle soup can be found in most Taiwanese eateries in town, BDK’s rendition is darker and sultrier than most. There’s a lot of spice involved. Fun challenge: Finish a bowl of their gigantic spicy beef noodle soup within 30 minutes and your lunch is free. 5953 Temple City Blvd., Temple City; (626) 286-4788.

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