I remember the hype of Jo Jo Taipei when it first opened. Word of mouth about the restaurant spread like wildfire throughout the Chinese community – especially among the Taiwanese – and crowds of people frequently lined up trying to get into the restaurant.
I think the hype has died somewhat, maybe partly due to the recession. At 6:30pm on a Monday night recently, only two of the tables were filled. By 8pm, however, the place was about half full, completely with Asians. Last night I visited with my Taiwanese friend. After seeing the menu, we went a little berserk and ordered three dishes plus the infamous shaved ice dessert. Needless to say, we were stuffed.
Over all, JoJo Taipei is definitely one of the best Taiwanese restaurants in Boston. The menu has a lot of uniquely Taiwanese dishes, such as 3-cup chicken, stinky tofu, duck tongue, and ba genh (pork, bamboo, and mushroom soup). They also have several Sichuan dishes such as spicy bean vermicelli with ground pork (ant up a tree) and mapo tofu. What really sets them apart, however, is their awesome dessert menu. The shaved ice is phenomenal and better than any I’ve had in Boston. More on that below!
3-cup Eggplant ($9.99) Similar to its more famous cousin, the 3-cup chicken, this dish is also made with the namesake sauce that consists of 1 cup soy sauce, 1 cup sesame oil, and 1 cup rice wine stewed together with tons of garlic, ginger, and glorious amounts of basil. This magical combination of ingredients creates spectacular flavors, and this dish was no exception. It was flavorful, fragrant, and delicious. The eggplant pieces were also tender, moist, and full of flavor.
Salted Crispy Chicken ($6.99). This is a very typically Taiwanese “snack” – crispy fried chicken with hot peppers and basil. The flavors were good -(love that salty mix of hot peppers and basil – YUM!) though the dish is a bit greasy. Careful! The chicken pieces include bones!
The mapo bean curd is actually a Sichuan dish, but I thought they did a good job on it. The dish was quite spicy and had the unmistakable flowery and numbing notes of Sichuan peppercorn powder (which I LOVE!). The dish leans on the salty side, so I would definitely eat it with a lot of rice. Other than that though, the flavors were fantastic and I actually couldn’t stop eating this one.
Small Bow bin ($4.95) This is truly the BEST part about this restaurant – the desserts! I absolutely love, love, love their “bow bin,” a massive shaved ice dessert. Essentially, you get this huge bowl of shaved ice sweetened with condensed milk and topped with a generous array of condiments such as boba (tapioca balls), mung beans, red beans (azuki), sweet boiled peanuts, mochi balls, and gelatin. The mix of textures and flavors is incredible. You crunch on the ice, chew on the bobas, munch on the sweet beans, and slurp the slush. So satisfying. This is super refreshing on a hot summer day, though honestly, I could eat it any day. It’s so good and it’s so Taiwanese – sigh – reminds me of the amazing shaved ice I had in Taiwan.
But I digress . . .
Definitely try this place out, if nothing else at least try the shaved ice!!! Mmmmmmm . . . .
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