If you’re visiting Taipei, you can’t leave without trying one of the most simple yet delicious Taiwanese comfort dishes, Lu Rou Fan (滷肉飯). This beloved dish is simply braised pork over rice.
You can find lu rou fan at restaurants and street food stalls all across Taipei and Taiwan. One of my favorite places to sample the dish is at Tian Tian Li (天天利美食坊) in the Ximending neighborhood of Taipei, Taiwan.
If you are looking for more information about Taipei, I highly recommend you pick up a guidebook such as Lonely Planet Pocket Taipei
Tian Tian Li was located off Hanzhong Street, the main thoroughfare of Ximending. The place was hard to miss. Out front of the restaurant was an open-air kitchen. It was quite a scene to watch the staff tending to the boiling pots of stews, rice cookers, and the circular flat top grill complete with a hood.
Just past the open-air kitchen was a small cramped dining room packed with locals and tourists. The room was basic and bright with white tile walls. The interior was filled with long, counter-style tables with small circular stools. The restaurant could have been cleaner, but I just kept telling myself it was all part of the experience.
Tian Tian Li seemed to be a popular restaurant. You might need to wait for a seat to open, such as I did, but the wait was never long as people seemed to eat quickly and move on.
Lu Rou Fan
As soon as I ordered the Lu Rou Fan (25 TWD or about $0.84), it was placed in front of me. It was the fastest I have ever received food after placing an order.
For something so simple, and cheap, I was surprised just how delicious the braised pork was.
The generous amount of dark brown pork was incredibly tender. The fatty pieces of meat, which melted in my mouth, just seemed to melt into the rice below.
The pork had a sweet flavor to it, most likely from being seasoned with star anise.
Mixed in with the pork was a salty sauce, which might have been just soy sauce. The combination of the braised pork and sauce was a perfect balance of sweet and savory.
I enjoyed mixing each grain of white rice with the fatty pork and sauce. So simple and delicious without breaking the bank.
Lu Rou Fan with Fried Egg
You can also order Lu Rou Fan topped with a Fried Egg (35 TWD or about $1.18).
The fried egg took the already delicious dish to a whole new level of flavor.
The runny yolk at the center of the egg added a richness to each bite. When the yolk mixed with the pork, sauce, and rice, it was just an explosion of flavors in my mouth.
While there was a slight language barrier, the workers at Tian Tian Li seemed experienced with visitors from other countries. They knew enough English to allow me to order successfully.
I also have to comment once again how fast my food arrived. By the time I was done paying, a bowl of lu rou fan was sitting in front of me.
My only complaint was with the cleanliness of the restaurant. It could have been a little cleaner.
While traveling around the world, I’ve come to realize that some of the most simple dishes often end up tasting the best. Lu rou fan was one of the dishes.
Braised pork, a sweet and salty sauce, rice, and a fried egg if you wish. This simple combination of ingredients led to an explosion of flavors. Nothing had to be changed.
Does Tian Tian Li serve the best lu rou fan in Taipei? You will have to try it out and decide for yourself. All I can say was the braised pork rice served here was exactly what I wanted, simple, delicious, and cheap.
Tuesday-Sunday: 9:30 AM - 10:00 PM
No.1, Lane 32, Hanzhong Street, Wanhua District, Taipei, Taiwan
GPS Coordinates: 25.045011,121.507568