Fri, Sep 04, 2009 - Page 14 News List

RESTAURANTS : Hohomei’s 好好味

BY Catherine Shu  /  STAFF REPORTER


O n any given evening, no matter how humid or muggy the weather is, browsers in Shida night market are sure to see a line in front of Hohomei’s (好好味) take-out window. Customers gaze intently at a window filled with fresh buluo bao (菠蘿包) and a bright yellow menu with Hohomei’s mascot, a smiling bun with a melting pat of butter sticking out of its noggin.

From the outside, the buluo bao, which is basically a butter sandwich that originated in Hong Kong, looks too ordinary to be worthy of such cult-like devotion. But don’t let yourself be deceived by its unremarkable appearance. The delicately crunchy top layer resembles a crystalline sugar cookie; it melts as soon as you bite into it. The bottom half is warm, fluffy bread enrobed by a thin, flaky crust. These different textures provide a counterpoint to the decadently thick pat of chilled sweet butter in the middle.

When you bite into your warm buluo bao, your teeth meet at the butter, which feels cool against your tongue but immediately begins to melt, soaking the bread and bathing your taste buds in creamy delight. The name of Hohomei’s signature buluo bao is binghuo (冰火), which literally means “ice fire.” The name presumably refers to the warmth of the bun against the cool butter slice, but the “fire” could just as well refer to the burning longing you will have in your heart for buluo baos after your first one — as well as the heartburn you might also have if you overindulge in the fatty treats.

Speaking of heartburn, Hohomei also serves up very rich Hong Kong dishes in its two-story restaurant. The restaurant’s signature noodles come laden with a farm’s worth of meat products. Take, for example, the silver medal cart noodles (銀牌車仔麵, NT$120), so-called because they used to be sold by street vendors. This smorgasbord is topped with pork meatballs, fish balls, sweet red sausage, pork intestines slices, grilled pork, gelatinized duck blood, a chicken wing and a fried egg (some veggies are also tossed in for a bit of crunch). The gelatinized duck blood (鴨血 ) might not sound very appetizing, but it is the best part of the dish. The tender pieces have a taste reminiscent of black pudding (minus the filler) and a soft but appealingly firm texture. I chose mild mala (麻辣) broth, but curry and clear broths are also available. A variation on the dish is the premium mixed meat cart noodles (超級雜碎車仔麵 , NT$100), smothered in fish balls, asparagus, pork rinds, squid, gelatinized duck blood, sliced pork intestines, a chicken wing and a fried egg.

Hohomei’s 好好味

Address: 51, Ln 26, Taishun St, Taipei City (台北市泰順街26巷51號)

Telephone: (02) 2368-8898 Average meal: NT$110

Open: Mondays to Fridays noon to 11pm; closes at midnight on Saturdays and Sundays

Details: Chinese menu; credit cards not accepted On the Net:

For an alternative to the noodles dishes, try the pork-covered white rice (食神港式豬扒飯, NT$100). The pork is cooked just right and very rich in flavor. The dish is a lot more basic than the cart noodles, but just as filling and a little less overwhelming.

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