For some reason, I feel more lost in a Taiwanese restaurant than in any other Asian restaurant. I’m never sure of what to order and purposeful or not, I find that Taiwanese places are more prone to Chinese only menus. It is not uncommon to see some special of the day written completely in Chinese. In fact, I know that is what happens at the Tea Station. It’s been better these days since my sister-in-law, Triple T, is Taiwanese, but if she’s not around, there is no one around who can translate, so it’s a shot in the dark.
Seeing as there are a fair number of Taiwanese places in the South Bay area, Pdho and I have ventured around. One place, Mama Chen, is a small, randomly located little restaurant in Santa Clara. We didn’t know what to order, so we started off of with what we know best… onion pancakes. It’s hard to go wrong with deep-fried anything, but that fact aside, it was still pretty tasty. It’s a little bit thinner than the version at A&J Restaurant, which I think is another Taiwanese restaurant in Cupertino Village, but it still has the same layers (albeit fewer layers) of flaky dough instilled with a nice green onion flavor.
Another dish that sounded interesting was the Rice Cake with Pork and Vegetables. The rice cake was pretty well cooked. It was slightly doughy without being too chewy. I kind of prefer it sliced thin like this as opposed to the cylindrical shape of the Korean version of rice cake, duk, because it’s easier to eat. Although I liked the rice cake, I could have used a little more pork and vegetables in the dish. It was a little too heavy on the carbs.
I was a little bit disappointed by this dish, because if there is one thing I constantly associate with Taiwanese food and drink (aside from my beloved Milk Green Tea), it’s the infamous Fried Pork Chop with rice. I expected a deep-fried pork chop served on a bed of rice, but instead I ended up with a saucy grilled pork chop. It was served with a boiled egg and some pickled mustard greens and vegetables which you commonly find in many Taiwanese rice plates. Truthfully, I wasn’t disappointed in the actual taste of the pork chop. It was pretty well-flavored and quite tender to the chew. I don’t think it needed the ground pork mixture on top, but it was fine. I was just really hoping for some deep-fried pork chop!
Overall, the food was pretty decent and best part was the how very inexpensive the total check ended up being. I think it was around $15. It would definitely be worth the return to explore some more Taiwanese dishes.
5075 Stevens Creek Blvd #10
Santa Clara, CA 95051
PAFO Ratings for Mama Chen:
Price 1½ stars
Ambiance 2 stars
Food 3 stars
Overall rating 3½ stars