Penne Cole's thoughts on food, travel and more
I’ve been on a quest to eat at every one of the SMH Good Food Guide’s top 50 Cheap Eats in Sydney. So far, I’ve been to just under half of the restaurants. Some of them have been absolute gems – lovely little hole in the wall places with amazing food; others have been less impressive. Happily, Taipei Chef definitely belongs in the former category.
We are on our way back from a beautiful hike in the Northern Beaches when we impulsively decided to stop by Artarmon to check out another Cheap Eats recommendation. Taipei Chef is tucked up a side street, just off the main strip in Artarmon. We arrive early – only one other table is occupied – but the restaurant quickly fills up with both Asians looking for a taste of home, and Caucasians who know good food when they eat it.
The Taiwan-style smoked chicken is the SMH’s go-to dish, so that’s automatically part of the order. It’s listed as an entree, but is more than enough to be a big meal for one. At just $12, it’s definitely cheap eats. The first bite is divine; it is salty, smoky, juicy, and tender all at once, almost like eating an incredible ham. This is definitely the star of the night.
We also order another Taiwanese specialty, a slow-cooked pork belly in soy aniseed, garlic and chilli. The so-called “three layer meat” (named after the layers of fat and meat) leans heavily to the fat side of the equation and would make my doctor faint. But this too is delicious, though it could do with a bit more chilli.
We round out the meal with some long beans stir fried with chicken mince, garlic and chilli. Normally, vegetables are something you order because you know you should get your five a day. But this was an unexpected hit, with massive flavour in the mince and chilli.
As usual, our eyes our bigger than our stomach, and we end up going home with a takeaway container. But no worries – it just made it into our next version of kimchi fried rice, and it was just as delicious the second time around.
Taipei Chef Restaurant
1A Broughton Road, Artarmon
Open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Sunday
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