Taiwan Yoichi 101
Hatchobori: Taiwanese
Taiwan Yoichi 101 (Hatchobori: Taiwanese)
Taiwan Yoichi 101
Open 5-10pm (LO). Closed weekends.

It feels just like a Taiwanese night market during the Lantern festival at Taiwan Yoichi 101, but fortunately without the pungent aroma of the stinky tofu stalls. Colorful lanterns, check. Friendly staff, check. Odd tables and plastic stools, check. Delicious small plates at reasonable prices, check. Taiwan beer and cocktails, check!

For a tiny place that seats about thirty people, it's surprisingly quirky. The tables on the terrace allow pets, the counter accommodates solo diners who just come in for a drink and a couple of plates, and a small nook and back room accept larger, more boisterous parties of up to eight. The plastic curtain over the front keeps everyone cosy even in the depths of winter. Smoking is permitted.

The signature dishes include Taiwanese and mainland Chinese classics. Most customers go for the La Zi Ji or dry chili chicken to start. Five meaty chicken wings are stir-fried with chilis, Szechuan peppers, miso, garlic and leeks. They are the perfect amuse bouche to enjoy with a beer while contemplating the menu.

The classic Taiwanese dish Lo Bah Png, or pork rice, is another favorite. A generous heap of fatty pork marinated in soy sauce is loaded on a bed of rice and served with pickles and a boiled egg. Unlike in other places, the chef here uses large chunks of pork rather than minced meat for a superior version of this ubiquitous dish. In Taiwan, it's served for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

On a recent visit, we had to try several of the specials. The deep-fried spring rolls were hand-made to order and combined sweet cabbage with salty whitebait. The mysteriously named "steamed item" combined succulent chicken pieces with wilted cabbage leaves dressed in a Szechuan sauce.

Night markets are famed for their omelets and this place offers several varieties. The shrimp omelet is perfectly cooked with a couple of plump shrimp in the mix, but the kikurage omelet is even better. The dark wood-ear mushrooms are meaty and chewy amongst the soft messy, slightly salty eggs.

Another classic, Century Egg Tofu, comes with creamy preserved eggs on top of silky tofu with a vinegary sauce. The Szechuan classic Yodare (mouth-watering) Chicken lives up to its name with a succulent chicken breast drenched in a chili-and-mountain-pepper sauce topped with coriander and onions.

There are several Taiwanese special drinks on offer. Taiwan beer is a light lager that suits hot summer nights, but they also have several fruit beers flavored with pineapple, mango and lychee for the adventurous. The Taiwan Black Tea High is a refreshing highball, along with the Coriander Lemon Sour, and both come in frozen glasses.

Budget around 2,000 to 3,000 yen for dinner with drinks. Pets are allowed on the terrace.

by Richard Jeffery

Chuo-ku, Hatchobori 2-30-16.

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Venue listing from Bento.com4 Star Rating: recommended