Testing Out Taiwanese Street Eats With DJ/Producer Josh Pan
Josh Pan isn’t your conventional DJ/producer. Don’t believe us? Just check out his latest single with duo X&G, “Wait For Me”—a fantastic production that would make hardcore rockers proud. This month also sees the debut of his beyond amazing Diplo & Friends mix that takes you on a journey of feels ranging from chill to lit (that remix of Piero Umiliani’s “Crepuscolo Sul Mare (Twilight On the Sea)” is a nice touch). Signing to Skrillex’s OWSLA label in 2015, Pan has continued his takeover to the joy of his growing fanbase—us included.
In addition to completely owning the scene as a distinctive producer, Pan is also quite the foodie. Here, the music maverick gives us the lowdown on where to eat some of the tastiest Taiwanese street food LA has to offer. Bon appetit! “My roommate, Roger, and fellow producer Gill Chang (check out our sample pack series “childhood” on Splice!) decided to try Bon Appetea, a small Taiwanese cafe located in Alhambra. I’ve had my fair share of amazing street food during the 18 years I spent in Taiwan—everything from stinky tofu to chicken feet to ice cream cilantro burritos. The three of us all grew up in Taiwan and luckily enough we live close to the capital of southern Californian Asian food—the San Gabriel Valley.”
“The menu here seemed to have all the basic items you can usually find at a Taiwanese joint—fish balls, fish cakes, fried tofu, popcorn chicken and sausage. We placed our order for a plethora of different food and drinks and sat down, listening to Frank Sinatra playing in the background.”“This is my go-to drink to order at any boba joint: matcha milk tea. I’ve become so accustomed to real boba milk tea from Taiwan that I no longer drink it in any other country. I usually ask for 25 percent sugar and less ice. I like things less sweet.” “The waitress told us fish cakes were sold out, so we opted to try the bursting fish balls. This is something you can usually find on the menu or buffet line at a hot pot place—fish balls filled with fish roe. I don’t think I’ve had them fried like this, but they were surprisingly good. I expected the insides of the balls to burn me, but they didn’t.”“Gill ordered a popcorn chicken rice plate for us to share. These popcorn chicken bites are a staple at every night market in Taiwan and can be found at random street-side vendors pretty much everywhere. This cafe actually makes them pretty well—there’s flavor, but it’s not too oily. I usually dislike ordering this because of the amount of batter on the chicken, but these were great.” “This dish is called 紅油抄手 or wontons in red oil. These were actually super amazing! If you’ve had wontons before, you probably have a preference when it comes to thickness of the wonton skins and the texture of the wonton’s contents. The shrimp and pork mixture inside was chewy and flavorful and the skin was just the right thickness. The ratio of the oil/vinegar mixture for this dish also made a huge difference. I approve!”“This is fried tofu. I never enjoyed tofu prepared like this that much, but I actually ate a few of these. They weren’t too oily, had a good amount of flavor and the portion was a good size for a small snack or to share with friends.”
“To sum up this little food trip, I honestly wasn’t expecting to find such an authentic Taiwanese street food experience at a cute little cafe like this. Friends have taken me to boba spots and so-called ‘Taiwanese eateries’ all over the states that could never fully capture that taste of home, but this spot did. What I’ve come to realize is that sometimes the simplest dishes mean so much more to me than the fine dining experiences I’ve had in my life. If you ever have the chance to visit the hidden gem that is Taiwan, please try all the street food, regardless of how foreign the names sound and how the food looks. It took me years to get the courage to try all of it myself. If you don’t have the chance to visit, there’s always different spots to try in the San Gabriel Valley.”
Featured image courtesy of Julian Cassady
Stay tuned to Milk for more street eats.