A taste of Taiwan
I am of Asian descent and naturally, I tend to enjoy the Asian cuisine. Unfortunately, in a country that is foreign to my ancestral roots, it is sometimes difficult to stumble across an authentic restaurant that serves, well, authentic food. If you ever drive down Colima Road when the sun begins to set and fade into the night, there will be a yellow wineglass wearing a pair of black sunglasses that radiates over the quaint looking plaza.
Simbala takes a more simplistic approach to its design, utilizing soft and fuzzy yellow lights, crisp and clean wooden tables and typical, cutesy Asian figures to create a welcoming and hospitable environment. Upon entering, I was quickly shown to my table that nad a menu already placed. It may appear intimidating to non-Chinese speakers, as there was a questionable English translation — for example, there was an appetizer that goes by no other name than “Bitter.”
Deciding to go for a traditional route, I decided to order an all-time favorite: Spicy Beef Noodle Soup. Served in an ordinary black bowl, the dark brown and richly flavored broth contained a unique Chinese condiment called Suan Cai or literally “sour vegetable.” Its spicy yet sour taste complimented the overall pungent flavor of the soup, in addition to its specially crafted and freshly made noodles. The petite cuts of marinated beef were broiled to perfection, minus the tendons that occasionally interrupted my indulgence. Simbala’s slowly boiled soup had a perfect blend of spice that delivered just the right amount of zing and a rich taste of meaty goodness that satisfied me.
Just as I finished eating my main meal, I started to crave for something sweet. I again leaned more towards the traditional side of the food spectrum. Out of the two choices of shaved ice offered by Simbala, I chose the create-your-own shaved ice. The shaved ice only allowed for four toppings, so I selected miniature sweet red beans, white shelled peanuts and two orders of Tang Yuan (glutinous rice flour) all drizzled with condensed milk and complimentary black sugar. It was interesting to me that the Tang Yuan were presoaked in molasses but still maintained the consistency and texture of chewy boba. I believe I made a great choice, since this was great for balancing the hot meal. The combination of all the ingredients left not only a sweet aftertaste in my mouth but also an impressionable memory that I still remember to this day.
If you are searching for the ultimate hipster place, this place isn’t it. However, from the initial entrance into its ambient, oriental world and to the last swish of the door, I strolled out with a satisfied grin on my face. Simbala is open to all and is especially welcoming to those who seek a refreshing yet traditional taste of Taiwan.
By Jonathan Liu, Staff writer