Formosa Chang, Taipei

Formosa Chang was the other heavyweight purveyor of Taiwanese braised pork rice (or "lu3 rou4 fan4"). But unlike the no-frills coffeeshop setup at Jin Feng, Formosa Chang is a little more frilled, and a lot more commercialised, with several branches littered throughout the city. So commercialised, in fact, it almost looks like a fast food chain at first blush.

But don't let that cleaned-up, production-line construct fool you, the food here was down-to-earth and homespun. Similar comforting flavours as Jin Feng, but with air-conditioning and spiffier seating.

For those wanting to bring a taste of Formosa back home, the eatery hawks ready-to-cook pastes for idiot-proof replication at home. Even if you've no time to swing by a Formosa outlet, their instant-mixes are readily available at supermarkets and even at the airport.

The Lu3 Rou4 Fan4 (NT$37) at Formosa Chang was richer, headier with herbal undertones, tinged with a little sweetness from the onions, and slightly thicker than the watery sauce at Jin Feng. This was sumptuous, but if I had to choose, Jin Feng would edge out Formosa Chang by the smallest of margins.

The Stewed Cabbage (NT$50) may appear deceptively unappealing but it tasted anything but. A hodgepodge of carrots, beancurd skin, Beijing cabbage and black fungus, simmered in a shrimp-infused stock, was redolent with garlicky and sweet notes. Excellent paired with the braised pork rice.

The Braised Soy Egg (NT$18 ea) was better than the one at Jin Feng, the marinade having been allowed to steep well through the egg.

A recommendation by the staff here when queried about the bestsellers, the Boiled Pork Loin (NT$65) was fantastic. Paper-thin slices of pork loin was poached, set on raw shredded cabbage, slathered in a scrumptious sesame-peanut sauce, and finished with a shower of ginger strips for a subtle heat. Light and refreshing.

The shop front for reference. A good thing about Formosa Chang being so commercial: no queues! We were in-and-out of the restaurant in under 30 minutes. 

Formosa Chang
No. 24 Section 4, Xinyi Road, Da'an District
Taipei city, Taiwan 106
Open daily from 10am to 11pm
Tel: +886 2 2704 1489
Website (note: it's in Chinese)

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