While exploring the many restaurants surrounding my office, I stopped in to check out Formosan Cafe. It’s a small restaurant sitting unassumingly in the back of a small shopping center. Taiwanese newspapers are available for reading while you suck back a boba drink, and the staff automatically speaks to you in Chinese, which always makes me feel like I’m in the wrong place.
There is, however, a familiarity that comes through when the food comes out. The food absolutely reminds of me Garden Cafe*, but without all the drunk, after-hours club hoppers. They serve the same shitty salad with a mayo ketchup dressing. That’s right. It’s like crappy thousand island dressing. Their chowder has a taste that is so familiar to me from my times at Garden. Water mixed with flour with a little bit of salt tossed in the mix. That actually made me a little happy.
They serve popcorn chicken here too. I can’t say I’ve eaten enough of this stuff to know whether there is a ranking hierarchy for whose popcorn chicken in the best. It’s salty, sweet, fried. Pretty much all the things you need in order to eat something.
Black pepper short ribs came out on a sizzling platter with an egg and some peas and carrots, which undoubtedly came from a frozen bag. I wouldn’t tell anyone to head out to check this place out, probably not even if they were down the block. With so many other options around, there’s better, but there’s something so nostalgic about these flavors that draws me in to delicious mediocrity. I’ll probably come back.
*I haven’t been to Garden Cafe in years but I spent a lot of time there growing up, because my parents’ church was nearby. Man, I loved me some non-Chinese, Chinese food.