What’s the difference between Chinese food and Taiwanese food? I’m not really too sure, but I’m still learning. Peg and I recently joined granddaughter Vanessa and her friend William for lunch at Dim Tai Fung in the South Center Mall (thesubtimes.com/2018/02/15/year-of-the-taiwanese-dog-excellent-asian-food/). William was born on Taiwan. They were eager to share their favorites with us. We enjoyed the Taiwanese offerings. As soon as Peg and I arrived back home, I did a Google search for Taiwanese restaurants in the Tacoma area. Heading the list was the Fortune Cookie in DuPont.
My friend Jim and I have lunch together at least once a month. Jim drives and I choose the restaurant. As good friends we laugh at each other, share stories, and enjoy a good meal together. Our target for the day, was the Fortune Cookie. The entire “downtown business district” of DuPont can be seen from I-5. It’s new and expanding. Parking is already a problem. Jim and I drove through two parking areas, before finding a spot. When we walked in the door it was 11:40 a.m. and was later than I had hoped. Being just across the freeway from JBLM and adjacent to the North Fort the dominant mode of dress is camo. We were in luck there was only a small table for two open and a four-top that hadn’t been cleared, yet. We waited for the four-top.
The soups of the day were egg drop and sweet/sour. Jim chose the egg drop. They were both excellent. The soups come with the basic lunch order which includes the entrée, fried rice, an egg roll, and a tasty fried won-ton. There was a slight language barrier, but nothing serious. I asked the man who cleaned off the table and delivered our menus, “Which selections are good examples of Taiwanese cooking?” He suggested the Kung Po (shrimp, beef, or chicken) and the Orange Chicken. Each of these showed a little chili pepper beside each entry. Neither dish was spicy, but can be ordered so according to your comfort and taste levels.
Most lunch orders cost $7.95. Jim ordered the Kung Po shrimp. Kung Po, is a spicy stir-fry Chinese dish made with chicken, peanuts, vegetables, and chili peppers. Generally, Kung Po or Kung Poa has chunks of vegetables. If you are used to American Chinese cooking, you would expect the sauce to be the red corn-starchy syrup variety, but no the sauce at the Fortune Cookies is thinner and looks more like a brown broth with a little maple syrup added. The shrimp were not over-done. They were moist and went perfectly with the peanuts and rice.
I chose the Orange Chicken. The pieces of chunky white meat were about three times the size of Chicken McNuggets. I used my spoon Chinese-style as a knife to cut the meat. There was no pretense at the Fortune Cookie. I never saw any chop sticks. As we waited for our food we had a chance to observe the two people near us. He was in camo with a full plastic boot protecting his lower left leg. He was eatubg sweet and sour chicken. I wanted it and could barely wait. My Orange Chicken had the same perfectly fried chunks, so I was pleased. I didn’t see what his companion, also in camo, was eating . . . I hate to stare. Jim didn’t report on her dish, but remarked later that she was a major with jump wings, parachutist.
I searched for more information about Taiwanese cooking and am still a little confused. My friend Clay, also from Taiwan, suggests some restaurants in Bellevue for further study, but there is another Lakewood restaurant that serves Taiwanese food, also. I did find a comment I liked that helped me understand a little bit more, “Basically, Taiwanese food doesn’t use a lot of seasoning and spices. The flavor comes from the veggies, proteins, and fat. About the only spices Taiwanese use on the daily basis are garlic, basil, and green onions.” All I know is that I will be returning to the Fortune Cookie with my wife Peg . . . and I would bet we enjoy a very nice dinner of great flavors and textures . . . at very affordable prices.