Finding Taiwan in Allston
Authentic fried steam buns, pineapple chicken, and more
103 Brighton Ave, Allston
Monday – Saturday 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m., Sunday 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.
I was really happy when I first heard that the Boston West Saferide had changed its route. It meant that it would be much easier to get to Allston, the liveliest hub of Asian restaurants in the area. Unlike Chinatown, where the majority of places serve Cantonese or Taiwanese cuisine, Allston is a true melting pot of various Asian cuisines. If you are craving Asian food but do not know exactly what you want, I suggest that you just hop on the Boston West and explore what Allston has to offer.
One of the most notable restaurants there is Jojo Taipei, which you may have heard of since it is a popular choice for on-campus catering. I went there on a Friday night, and the place was packed. I ended up waiting for about 40 minutes before being seated, but I was very impressed with how the staff handled the large crowd. I noticed that it was standard practice for parties waiting in line to place their orders so that they would get their dishes immediately when the table was ready. By the time I decided what dishes to order, the wait was almost over. It also helped that the restaurant had a warm and homey décor, and was small enough that I could see everyone as I stood by the counter.
Known for being one of the more authentic Taiwanese restaurants in Boston, Jojo Taipei offers a large selection of traditional dishes. Whether you are trying Taiwanese food for the first time, or longing for food your parents make at home, this place should be a safe choice.
For appetizers, I ordered fried steam buns and a pancake with scallions and roasted beef. Both were absolutely amazing. The steam buns were golden, layered, crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside. It was obvious that a lot of effort was put into making them. I was expecting a letdown after the steam buns, but the pancake was equally tasty, and much more than a standard scallion pancake.
A Chinese dinner rarely feels complete unless you have rice or noodles, so I also ordered wonton noodle soup and stewed minced pork over rice. I was struck by the strong taste of sesame oil in the noodle soup. Otherwise, the noodles and the wontons were good but not extraordinary. On the other hand, I loved the minced pork rice, which has enough flavor to eat by itself, but is also light enough to eat with heavier dishes.
Finally, I had Ma Po tofu and pineapple crispy chicken. The former is a popular spicy tofu dish. As someone who cannot handle extremely spicy food, I ordered the mild version and found it to be delicious. If you are used to challenging your taste buds, I recommend the normal version, which I hear is very spicy. In stark contrast to the tofu, the chicken was sweet and sour. Although I would say that “crispy” is a misnomer, I enjoyed the popcorn-sized pieces of chicken and the refreshing taste of pineapples.
All in all, Jojo Taipei offers a variety of very high-quality Taiwanese dishes. In particular, the fried steam buns and the pancake were some of the best appetizers I have had. Furthermore, although the wait can be long during peak hours, the waiters do not rush you through your dinner, so you can enjoy your time with friends. One last thing — they offer a 10 percent discount if you pay in cash. I did that and left with literally no money in my wallet, but no regrets.