Melbourne Restaurant Reviews: The Very Very Hungry Caterpillar

YES, this is yet another Melbourne food blog!

Taiwan Café

273 Swanston Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 3 9663 6663

I am currently on mid-semester break which means less homework, more blog posts and more time for Breaking Bad (I’m a laggard, having only just started the second season). In theory, it should also mean more leisurely reading time and more gym sessions but we all know that in reality, it just means more time to eat out at places such as Taiwan Café.

This place has been around for about a year now, but my first time here was actually a few weeks ago with Damien. If the queues to this place weren’t so long, especially during the first few months of opening, I probably would have got there a lot sooner. Still, better late than never and so we decided to go early one Saturday afternoon before it got too busy.

shared a few dishes. The first of those dishes was the Taiwanese-style popcorn chicken ($7.50), a single narrow plate of chicken fillet pieces coated in a very salty five-spice based powder, fried to golden perfection. They would have been good, if they weren’t so ridiculously salty.

Next, we had the pan-fried pork dumplings (six for $5.50). They were certainly not the best dumplings despite claims that they were a ‘house speciality!’ They were okay enough, but their skins were too thin and oily, and barely crispy enough. The pork filling was only just okay. That said, I did like that you could order twelve dumplings but if you just wanted a taste, a plate of six was available.

We both then had a Taiwanese beef noodle soup ($9.50), seeing as though everyone else around us seemed to be having that. For an extra $1, I also got half a soy egg in mine. The noodle soup wasn’t bad; I liked the generous serving of noodles and the way the braised beef was cut oh-so neatly and arranged prettily on top of the noodles. I also liked the slightly sour dimension that the mustard greens gave to the dish. The only problem – and the main one at that – was that the broth lacked depth and made what could have been a decent soup to one that was just better than average.

We also ordered some bubble teas to go with our meals. I had the coconut milk tea, while Damien had an apple one. He chose not to have pearls while I said yes because pfft, like anyone could drink bubble tea without pearls. Anyway, the waiter got my order wrong so it came sans pearls. However, I couldn’t be bothered asking for a replacement (nor was I charged for the pearls anyway). It didn’t matter anyway for the tea was the blandest I’ve ever had (and usually, they’re so sweet).

We thought our meal at Taiwan Café was okay, but not fantastic. Given that there are so many better Taiwanese restaurants in Box Hill, I will struggle to find a reason to go here again. Damien did enjoy the food though (then again, the guy eats anything), and said that the reason why it’s so popular with the international student population is because it’s the only conveniently located Taiwanese restaurant in the city and Box Hill is long way to travel for most. Fair enough.

In the meantime, I will be getting my Taiwanese noodle soups from The Booth in Box Hill, dumplings from actual dumpling restaurants and bubble tea from Chatime a few shops down.

Taiwan Cafe on Urbanspoon

22 Comments on Taiwan Café

  1. leaf (the indolent cook)
    September 13, 2012 at 22:02 (2 years ago)

    I walk past this place like twice a week. Still haven’t tried it, sounds like it may not be worth the bother. I think I remember eating at The Booth when I used to live out in the suburbs, years ago, and from memory it was a pretty cute little place, nice to know it’s still around!

    Reply
  2. Neeno
    September 13, 2012 at 22:17 (2 years ago)

    Oooh. I dodged a bullet with this one! SixInchHeel (http://porkchopsnest.blogspot.com.au/) has mentioned this place to me and suggested for us to go there for lunch and my colleagues also suggested it but I declined because I had Taiwan food at Taiwan Canteen (next to 65 Degrees on Exhibition St) and I was very disappointed. Phew, lucky I didn’t go here. I hate being disappointed with food. Wasted calories :D

    Reply
    • libishski
      September 14, 2012 at 18:24 (2 years ago)

      Haha ‘wasted calories’ – I like the way you think, Miss!

      Reply
  3. theragingcook
    September 13, 2012 at 23:08 (2 years ago)

    Taiwan Cafe is aight, doesn’t quite match the hype, and yes I prefer Booth!!!

    Reply
  4. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef
    September 13, 2012 at 23:48 (2 years ago)

    I was expecting to feel really hungry after reading your blog but now I can go to bed feeling righteous. :) Nothing makes me more disgusted than oversalted food – seriously it’s not that damn difficult to taste it before adding all the salt.

    Reply
  5. Choc Chip Uru
    September 14, 2012 at 05:45 (2 years ago)

    This place does appear to be very nice but after reading your review, I’m afraid my see saw fell the other way ;)
    But it’s all so true!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    Reply
  6. CheezyK
    September 14, 2012 at 10:44 (2 years ago)

    I have become slightly addicted to dumplings lately, is there anywhere in particular in Box Hill that you would recommend?

    Reply
    • libishski
      September 14, 2012 at 18:23 (2 years ago)

      I didn’t have a good experience at Lu Yang (the big one on Whitehorse Road) so I am reluctant to recommend them to you. However, a few of my friends like that place and it seems like the restaurant has improved since then – maybe it’s worth going back now?

      Apart from that, tried and true favourites such as David and Camy’s do the trick when you’re feeling like dumplings and you happen to be in the area :)

      Reply
  7. Catherine
    September 14, 2012 at 11:03 (2 years ago)

    What a shame but I’ve heard Peko Peko in Sth Melb is good, yet to try though! I love chatime, only just discovered it a few weeks ago but I’m hooked!! What’s your fav order? I’m boring and always get green tea matcha latte with pearls.

    Reply
    • libishski
      September 14, 2012 at 18:22 (2 years ago)

      I’ve heard Peko Peko is good too. I’ll give it a go somtime :)

      Haha yeah, Chatime is my favourite bubble tea place, even though one cup is a lot more expensive than Bubble Cup, Lucky Cup etc.

      So far, my favourite is their coconut milk tea but I also like their taro milk tea, green apple green tea and their lychee milk tea – all with pearls, of course. I will try the green tea matche latte with pearls next time :)

      Reply
  8. The Squishy Monster
    September 14, 2012 at 13:48 (2 years ago)

    You seriously go to some delicious places! I think bubble tea is a great idea… =D

    Reply
    • libishski
      September 14, 2012 at 18:00 (2 years ago)

      I’ve been having them a bit too much lately (and I’m not usually a big sweets person, let along a sweet beverage person!)…

      Reply
  9. Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake
    September 14, 2012 at 16:13 (2 years ago)

    There are so many Taiwanese restaurants/cafes opening up everywhere! I must say I really like Taiwanese food, although I’ve never tried this place before. The noodles looks quite nice, it’s a shame the taste didn’t live up to expectations…

    Reply
    • libishski
      September 14, 2012 at 18:00 (2 years ago)

      Yeah, a bit of a shame. On the other hand, I do like that there are more and more Taiwanese restaurants opening up in Melbourne. Hopefully there will be one that’s super awesome :)

      Reply
  10. Ames
    September 14, 2012 at 20:42 (2 years ago)

    Hmmm can’t seem to picture where this place is on Swanston St but I don’t feel that this is a place I would try given the hit and misses with those dishes… so many better places to try :P

    Reply
    • libishski
      September 15, 2012 at 19:26 (2 years ago)

      It’s next to the McDonalds on the corner of Lonsdale and Swanston Streets :)

      Reply
  11. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    September 14, 2012 at 22:44 (2 years ago)

    Oh what a shame that it wasn’t as good as you’d hope. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with Breaking Bad though-it’s awesome! :D

    Reply
    • libishski
      September 15, 2012 at 19:26 (2 years ago)

      Yep, loving it so far. Not loving that Tuco character though – what a psycho!

      Reply
  12. hotlyspiced
    September 17, 2012 at 12:53 (2 years ago)

    How disappointing. I haven’t had much Taiwanese food before. I don’t know of many Taiwanese restaurants in Sydney xx

    Reply
  13. threehanns78
    September 17, 2012 at 23:01 (2 years ago)

    Yes, Breaking Bad is MADD! get onto season three and four now!! and chattime-love pearl tea. i dont like that there in the middle of the walk way, what ever happen to the popup book place?

    Reply

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