Tucked away at the end of a lane in the FFC, you would never stumble upon Taiwanese restaurant Okaeri on your own. Even with the address and a reservation, you’d be reluctant to ring the doorbell to the dimly lit house. But that would be a mistake.
At 7pm, the space was lit mostly with candles. A few couples and a group of friends were gathered at tables, electronic jazz streaming through the speakers. We were invited to sit at the bar and were handed two paper menus with items hand-written in Chinese.
Noticing we were struggling with the menu, the woman behind the bar made some recommendations. We started with a typical Taiwanese appetizer luwei (RMB58), which consisted of marinated firm tofu, savory mushrooms and tender beef, served cold with a side of chilies and thick soy sauce. We also got the xiangchang (RMB38), a sausage traditionally served with raw garlic. Both dishes were fantastic, but the juicy, savory and slightly sweet sausage was a standout.
Next, we got a generous bowl of pork liver noodles (RMB48). The noodles had a great gummy texture, but were surprisingly bland, after the flavorful starters. The direnye (RMB38), on the other hand, was just plain addictive - crunchy, garlicky and perfectly sautéed sweet potato leaves.
We ended the meal with chafudan (RMB38), a fluffy, egg dish, reminiscent of a perfectly cooked frittata. Cured vegetables gave it that kind of savory flavor you just keep coming back for.
Our only complaint: no desserts. In a Taiwanese restaurant that is downright blasphemy. Fortunately, the owners reassure us that they have a few in the works, so stay tuned for those. If the savories are anything to go on, the sweets should be delicious.
With a solid selection of Taiwanese eats, a cool atmosphere and the promise of some sweet treats, Okaeri is officially on our shortlist of go-to restaurants.
Where: No. 18, 232 Shaanxi Nan Lu (near Xinle Lu)
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