While fireworks were hours away from being launched this past Independence Day, co-owners Kiki Lo and Monica Wu observed a rather understated grand opening for their Taiwanese-focused restaurant BeBe Fusion. Rather than purchase ads in local Chinese newspapers or cable television, the co-owners decided instead to rely on word-of-mouth to spread news of its arrival. And the plan has panned out thus far. Most of the tables were either occupied or reserved on a recent visit.
A nostalgic amalgam of Taiwanese favorites from homestyle to street eats, the extensive menu reads like a greatest hits discography. An aromatic braising style known as "three cups" -- equal parts sesame oil, rice wine and soy sauce, with whole garlic cloves and basil -- is typically used with chicken. Here there are eight different versions, including fish head, cuttlefish and tofu.
The night market-initiated will find chitterlings stuffed with seasoned sticky rice, oyster omelette and stinky tofu two ways. Among appetizers there's a Sichuan cold starter of various braised offal served steeped in red chile oil and mountain yam topped with bonito flakes, a Japanese influence. There is a fundamental aim to please Taiwanese appetites across sociopolitcal affiliations.
It's not that the women have written off appealing to a wider range of palates. The lunch menu features a handful of selections more familiar to dishes popularized in Chinese American cuisine with orange chicken, kung pao chicken and broccoli beef.
Not every dish falls in line with modern culinary traditions hailing from the island. There's the curiously-named brown rice shrimp, coated in finely crumbled yolks of salt-preserved duck eggs, then deep-fried and sprinkled with a smattering of black sesame seeds. It's a fine creation that speaks more to the history of the chef than a particular cuisine.
There were other iterations of BeBe Fusion in the recent past: a smaller bistro on Garvey, then a version that appeared in Arcadia for a brief period. At its current location near a somewhat forlorn shopping plaza off of Main Street, the latest BeBe Fusion sits to the side of a karaoke lounge; the restaurant previously housed Crazy Sushi.
The restaurant is now open seven days a week for lunch, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
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