After spending around eight weeks constantly going hungry between meals as a result of the tiny local portion sizes in Taiwan (and Japan), I was really looking forward to the larger, more satisfying portion sizes of North America. Strangely, after such a short time away, I was also really missing North American food.
Since Earls is the go-to restaurant serving North American style food for my wife, kids, and I, we decided to make it the first non-breakfast restaurant (the time difference basically made breakfast places and 24-hour joints our only options for meals in the middle of the night) visit back in town.
My family and I have visited Earls enough times that we have basically tried most items on their menu and each found our personal favorites that we order again and again. My wife and daughter both like their pizzas, and they both ordered their usuals: my daughter favors the Margherita while my wife likes the Italia.
The last time we were at the restaurant, my wife complained that the Italia pizza she received was not as tasty as usual. This time, she said that the usual flavours and textures returned and that it was mighty tasty.
I had a slice of it and confirmed that it tasted as it always has.
We also had an order of buffalo wings (hot wings) since my wife and I are buffalo wing addicts.
We were very satisfied by the wings that we were served. They had the classic buffalo sauce/Frank’s Red Hot flavouring and were well-fried. The wings themselves were not that meaty, but they were definitely meatier than the puny chickie-wings I had at the Chili’s outpost in Taipei two days before I came back.
I usually order the fish tacos supplemented by some fried calamari as my main courses at Earls, but I was craving a burger/sandwich. I explored the sandwich and burger sections of their menu a bit and found a menu item that I have not seen before (either because it’s new or because I’ve never noticed it): the southern fried chicken sandwich.
The chicken burger was surprisingly good. The chicken was moist and the buns weren’t soggy. I was able to fit all of the ingredients into my mouth in one bite and everything tasted good together. The tomatoes weren’t too thick; the lettuce was fresh and juicy; the cheese was solid and bitey; and the coleslaw/cabbage strings were crunchy. The mayo-based sauce was slightly sweet and tasted Japanese. I couldn’t pinpoint it, but there was something in the mayo – it might be some sort of dashi/kombu infusion – that made the burger feel like it came out of Japan. Of course, if this chicken sandwich did come out of a restaurant in Japan, it would probably be portioned for 3 due to it’s North American portion size.
The burger usually comes with fries, but I substituted it for a Caesar salad because, frankly, all Caesar salads I’ve had during my past eight weeks in Taiwan sucks @$$ and I needed a real (North American) Caesar to restore my confidence in the dish.
Confidence restored. Typical North American Caesar. I don’t think I need to describe the flavours and textures of Earls Caesar because most of you are probably familiar with what it tastes like.
I never realized that I liked North American food as much as I do until spending the past eight weeks away from North America. I didn’t even miss it that much when I spent an entire year in Taiwan two years ago. I guess it has to do with the quality of food and restaurants available in the city I lived in prior to going to Taiwan. As I have mentioned in my other posts, I think that the quality of food at local chain restaurants is much better than every other city I’ve lived in in North America. I actually like Earls and Cactus Club Cafe; I don’t even think that Milestones is all that bad! Before spending the year in Taiwan, I was living in Irvine, California, where Chili’s, Claim Jumper, Marie Calendar’s (spelling?), and the Cheesecake Factory dominated the local chain restaurant scene. I wasn’t a fan of the food at any of those restaurants so, needless to say, I didn’t miss the food that much.
You know what I also missed when I was in Taiwan? Korean food. I’m predicting that there will be a ton of Korean restaurant posts in the coming weeks.