We were dining several months back and asked our waiter where he liked to eat when he wasn’t working. One of his answers surprised me – Ah Ma’s Taiwanese Kitchen, in Midtown. I wrote down the name (and hid it in my heart). I had seen it before, but it had never really registered.
Located in the Trader Joe’s parking lot, at the corner of Monroe and Virginia, the first thing we knew was parking would be a challenge. Because parking is always a challenge in that parking lot. The decor is very clean and modern, and over each of the tables along the wall are these metal shades which the owner had custom ordered with phrases he had chosen on them.
I started with a cold noodle dish, full of cilantro and shredded chicken. My beloved does not care for cold noodle dishes, so I had this one to myself. I noticed the large amount of cilantro on top, and set that aside for the other side of the table – she really likes cilantro. I really don’t. The dish was good, but I wouldn’t order it on a return visit. Note: if you want a fork, you need to ask as the standard table ware is chopsticks. Our other starter was salt and pepper chicken – Taiwanese chicken nuggets, fried with five spice.
These were good, not spicy-hot at all, but spicy-good. The concept is Taiwanese street food, served as small plates. Dishes come out as they are finished, not necessarily in the traditional meal “order”. Taiwanese food is like a cross of Chinese and Japanese cuisines.
Next came the sandwiches (baos). I’ve always thought of baos as Asian, but never as, particularly, Chinese. But I found that in Chinese, “bao” generally refers to baozi – a steamed or baked bun filled with (most often) meat. I had a beef shank bao, with chili hoisin sauce.
This was like an Asian barbecue sandwich, on a semi-sweet bun. It was good, but I should have ordered the pork belly – I don’t know why I didn’t. My beloved ordered the veggie bao – fried tofu, with portobello mushroom, carrot and cilantro.
The tofu was breaded and fried like a chicken cutlet. She enjoyed this dish thoroughly. We also ordered the garlic dumplings. These were one of the things that the server recommended as a “favorite”.
Oddly, this “recommendation” was one of the dishes that we enjoyed the least. The last dish to arrive was the hot noodle dish, which was filled with mushrooms.
We ended up with a table full of food and enjoyed the meal immensely.