The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

The Island of Taiwan Restaurant in Dyker Hights / Bay Ridge / Whatever That Neighborhood Is

Before I talk about food, I have a warning to give. If you haven't watched Lost but think now would be a good time to catch up since it's in its last season and every episode is on Hulu, I say NO, DON'T DO THIS, or your blog posting schedule will be reduced to once per week, and you may spent a few nights staying up until 3 a.m. watching back-to-back episodes, and since you're going to bed right after watching the show you might have some weird dreams involving being stranded on an island and being tortured by crazy people and things like that.

Admittedly, I like that I finally understand what my Lost-watching friends have been talking about all these years, but it comes at a price. I'm pretty much sleepy all the time, and considering it's nearly 1:30 a.m., I'm going to try to blaze through this entry so I can go to bed before 3 a.m. The food porn is the most engaging part anyway, right? That "prose" stuff just gets in the way.

But before you waggle your finger at me (as much as I deserve it), let me just say that I didn't watch any Lost this weekend; I just happened to be busy during pretty much all my waking hours. Not that I was doing anything crazy—ye know, mostly eating. I just finished season 4 of Lost and I don't want to watch any more episodes until I pump out more posts. BLOG FIRST, LOST LATER.

OKAY I CAN DO's a post about a meal I ate three weeks ago.

Island of Taiwan Restaurant
Orange and fluorescent green, together at last.

When I lived in Taipei from 1996 to 1998, I was an ignorant, America-loving tweenage lump of chubb who ignored the local Taiwanese cuisine, instead opting to grab seemingly half of my sustenance at the McDonald's around the corner from my apartment where no Chinese-speaking skills were needed. I almost always ordered the same thing—a McChicken Sandwich Value Meal and a Filet-O-Fish sandwich (don't ask me how I managed to eat that much food; maybe the intense humidity made me sweat out the calories)—but I could've eaten so much better! If only I knew! If onlyyyy! Oh how I rattle my fists in anger.

Thankfully, living in New York City affords me the opportunity to grasp at the meager strings that connect me to my heritage through the magic of food. So, with the help of my friend and former Taipei American School classmate Jamie and four of her friends, I got to stuff myself at The Island of Taiwan Restaurant in Brooklyn (upon Danny's recommendation) with some dishes I probably never ate in Taiwan.

Oyster pancake
Oysters inside.

Oyster pancake ($5.99): It's more of an omelet than a pancake, except the omelet is made of egg mixed with some starch instead of just straight-up egg, then stuffed with oysters. Lots of oysters. You'll get a squishy briny nub in every bite. If you like oysters and omelets, this dish is for you; if you're like me and sort of indifferent to oysters, this isn't going to change your mind. (Should I add "never having developed a taste for oysters" onto the list of reasons for why I fail at being Taiwanese?)

fried oysters
Mm, fried.

Fried oysters ($7.99): Of course, everything tastes good fried. This is so far my favorite oyster preparation: lightly battered (in panko, I'd guess) and dunked in hot oil. It's mostly tender oyster with just a bit of crunch. I don't like it when fried oysters are covered in a thick batter.

Spicy beef noodle soup

Spicy beef noodle soup ($5.99): Beef noodle soup is one of the few dishes I remember eating sort of frequently in Taipei. It made me happy, except when I got too many pieces of tendon in my bowl. I'm not sure I even knew it was tendon; I just called it "the clear, jiggly bits I don't like." (UPDATE: I like tendon now, depending on how it's prepared.) As this bowl wasn't full of clear, jiggly bits, I was quite happy with it.

Salted crispy chicken

Salted crispy chicken ($6.99): DING DING-A-LING, this was my favorite dish of the meal. Because I like fried things, especially the chicken-based ones. By this point, I don't really remember why I liked it so much, but methinks it must have fulfilled the "salted" and "crispy" parts of its name. And the fried garlic bits didn't hurt.

Crispy pig intestine
Mm, organs.

Crispy pig intestine ($6.99): The texture was pleasant—a little chewy with a thin layer of crispiness—but it had a twinge of that not-so-pleasant feral flavor that reminded you, "Yup, that's some bowels you're eating there." The green onion in the center of the intestine helped mute the flavor though. Maybe. I liked eating it once; not sure I'd have to eat it again.

Cumin lamb

Cumin lamb ($12.99): Tender, gamy lamb chunks with cumin. It's a good combo.

Sauteed snow pea shoots with garlic
Pea shoots!

Sauteed snow pea shoots with garlic ($9.99): Because we needed a vegetable and pea shoots are the best. For a good pea shoots primer, read Chichi's post about how to cook them. I love pea shoots because they're tender with just a bit of crunch (assuming you don't cook them to death) and have this fresh, slightly sweet flavor that reminds me of...well, peas. Although they taste great with garlic—a common preparation in Chinese restaurants—as Chichi says in her post, they're so flavorful they don't need garlic.

Three Cups Chicken
Cups x 3!

Three Cup Chicken ($10.99): The "Three Cup" name comes from the three cups of sauce the chicken is cooked with: soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil. The result is moist, flavorful chicken nubs further enhanced by being cooked with basil. Although this is a popular dish in Taiwan, I don't remember ever eating it. (Maybe I should ask my mom.)

Grilled Taiwanese sausage
Sausage bits.

Grilled Taiwanese sausage ($4.99): Your regular sweet and fatty Chinese pork sausage (or as I like to call it, "MY FAVORITE SAUSAGE, OH MAN, this is the best"). Good stuff, although not something you have to order in a restaurant.

[Note: It's now 2:45 a.m. This means it's sleepy time and that I'll have to proofread this later.]

[Note: And I'm back! It's 11:45 p.m. Jebus. Although I know going to bed at 2 a.m. and later isn't healthy, I don't know how people can get to bed so much earlier. To give you an idea of my day, I woke up at 9 a.m., left for work at 9:30 a.m., stayed at work until around 7:10 p.m., went to dinner with some coworkers, got home a little after 10 p.m., checked email and twitter, wrote some emails, checked a few work-related items, took a shower and brushed my teeth, checked more email and surfed the Internet a bit, and finally, HERE I AM to resume blogging. On the bright side, I will probably go to bed before 2 a.m. tonight.]

We were all set on having baobing (romanized as "bow bin" on the menu), aka shaved ice topped with various sweet goos, for dessert. But they didn't have it. Not sure if that meant they didn't have ice or their shaver wasn't working, but that was just one of a few dishes we tried to order that was unavailable (I forget what the others were). We had been looking forward to it for the whole meal. :( ! I guess I'd call in advance next time to see if they have it; I'd hate to trek out there just to find out they didn't have any ice to shave.

So aside from the lack of dessert, we had a great meal. I intend on going back sometime with a new set of eaters. Nicholas will make sure that I get the stinky tofu.


what the fuggin fug is this

I have an unofficial photography project called "Take Photos of Those Weird Kiddie Rides Featuring Limbless Long-Necked Creatures with Clown Noses." (Someday I hope to meet the person who came up with the original design and ask, "Why? Whyyyy?") This is the latest one found outside a convenience store near the restaurant. Here are previous findings:


In Flushing.

Pink!..a.dn veiny?

In Bensonhurst.

If you know of others in the city I should photograph, let me know!


6817 8th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11220 (map)


Dim Sum at East Harbor Seafood Palace in Sunset Park
Two Days of Flushing Fooding In One Huge-Ass Post
Another Flushing Food Tour: Dumplings, Crab, Shaved Ice, Stinky Tofu, Etc.


Danny / February 23, 2010 1:08 AM

Oooooooh yeaaaaaa! The fried chicken and oysters look good too. I might have to try that one in the future. It's so faaaar away though. It's ok that the fried intestines aren't your thing. I also think those things vary every time they cook it, unless they're turning over those babies real fast every day. ah... it's always great to see Taiwanese food represented out there!

Nicholas / February 23, 2010 2:51 AM

NO STINKY TOFU! I have to say that everything there seems like a steal, except for the snow pea shoots... $10 seems like overkill to sautee some greens no?

kim / February 23, 2010 8:36 AM

I love all Chinese greens, yet I find green pea shoots very 'spinachy' to me. Guess that tells you I don't like spinach that much. But garlic makes it all better. :)

Btw, if you like Taiwanese food, I heard Ay Chung
in Flushing is quite good. Do Tiawanese food offer vegetarian dishes? My mom loves the 3 cup chicken as well.

Pat / February 23, 2010 11:53 AM

Thanks girl..., for another great post! Food looks delish! I'll definitely have to try out Island of Taiwan on my next canto stop at 8th ave. I wish they would have more ethnic food like this on the other side of the water in the dirty Jerz!

Christina / February 23, 2010 1:57 PM

Oh, fried oysters! I would love a plate of those right now.

I know what you mean about Lost, except that once I spent most of a weekend hidden inside the living room watching multiple seasons of a TV show. When I finished, I felt like I was in a time warp and was dazed.

roboppy / February 23, 2010 3:14 PM

Danny: Not as far as Flushing, at least!

vince: I'll get there! Eventually.

Nicholas: $10 isn't bad compared to some other places. Or rather, it's pretty normal. I've thought the same thing though: why the hell do pea shoots cost so much more than other veggies? Sometimes they don't even have a price on menus; it's just market price. Last time I went to the Chinese supermarket, pea shoots were maybe $2/pound. Yeaaah. Um.

If anyone's curious, some examples of other pea shoot dish prices I found while searching on Menupages: $12.95, $12.95, $11.95, $13.95, $10.95, $8, $9.95. (I'm sure portion sizes vary from place to place, get the idea.)

Dumneazu: HAHA, good summary.

Kim: To me pea shoots taste pretty different from spinach. They don't taste bitter to me, at least. :) And they have a slightly more crisp texture. And I like the hollow stem. AND I JUST LOVE PEA SHOOTS SO MUCH.

And garlic makes em better. :)

I don't know much about Taiwanese veggie dishes, but they must exist!

FOODIEGRL: Pea shoots, not spinach. But yeah, it's way cheaper to cook yourself. Then again, I could say that about lots of stuff...except pea shoots are as easy to cook as boiling water. Anyhoo, as I mentioned to Nicholas up there, that's sort of the going price range.

Pat: Just about all the Chinese food I ate while living in NJ was from Chinese take out places. Mm..yeah not the same. ;)

Christina: I did something like that by watching all the seasons of "Weeds" too damn quickly. ;_; I didn't really watch TV when I was in high school and college; that was a good idea...

Nicholas / February 23, 2010 10:05 PM

I'm going to start a streetcart where all I cook are snow pea shoots. $5 a platter. I'll make an absolute killing. I think I'll park outside the SE office.

foodiegirl / February 23, 2010 11:43 PM

Once again...pea shoots cost $10!!!!????wtf? These chinese people are mad. The economy must be in the shitters if a handful of leaves cost more than a subway footlong and a medium domino' pizza! At least i can get full on the latter.

Jamie / February 24, 2010 4:05 PM

Hahah it looks like you're ripping the ear/handles off the last ride!
THe foods were DELICIOUS!!!
Still sad they didn't have bao bing :(
Thanks for showing us the place!!

arissy / February 25, 2010 1:54 AM

i eat at this restaurant and i love the three cup duck tongues. Try that next time! and have the rice topped with pork bits and preserved vegetables and a tea infused egg. soo yummy!

Shine / February 25, 2010 3:49 AM

Peashoots! That is the first food your blog inspired me to seek out and I quickly became addicted. Your blog has/continues to change our eating life...

I hear ya about Lost. My husband and I used to watch TV on television. Now we seem to discover shows and compulsively devour the entire seasons in a few super-size sittings. I can't imagine us going back to watching TV old school.

I was killing myself laughing at the armless rides. Also--maybe you wear dresses all the time and I just haven't noticed--but I thought you looked really nice!

Su-Lin / February 25, 2010 12:52 PM

omg, I used to loooove that Taiwanese sausage. Not sure where to get it here.

As an aside: I love your dress in the last photo!

David Koh / February 25, 2010 5:41 PM

Hey Robyn

Speaking of TAS and McDonald's, did you ever have the teriyaki burger (I think that was what it was called.) Breakfast sausage patty, teriyaki sauce, mayo (kewpie?) and lettuce. Used to have it all the time at the McDonald's in Tien Mu. One of the things I miss most about "Taiwanese" food.

roboppy / February 25, 2010 11:27 PM

Nicholas: I would eat at your cart ALL THE TIME.

Jamie: Glad you guys could come! I still want bao bin. ;_;

arissy: Oh man I love rice and pork bits and preserved vegetables..not as into duck tongues though. ;)

Shine: I'm watching Lost RIGHT NOW. ...Even though I said I wouldn't watch any this week. Oops. Well. I just wanna veg out. :P

Glad you like the dress! It's super comfy since it's just a long t-shirt. I mean, it's..a dress, but it's basically cut like a huge shirt. I got it at Uniqlo for maybe $10. Now I wish I had bought more of em.

Su-Lin: Thanks! The belt's from Uniqlo too, although it's for men. ;)

David: I think I tried the teriyaki burger at least once, but I'm not that into teriyaki so...MCCHICKEN ALL THE WAY! :)

josie / February 28, 2010 11:20 PM

Oh, wow. This post brings back so many memories. I also lived in Taiwan for 2.5 yrs, but a decade earlier than you, 87-89. Loved the night market, with the oyster pancakes. They'd cook them in those huge steel plates (almost like those used on hibachi). I also miss the 3 cup chicken, and have tried to cook that dish myself, although I use cilantro instead of basil. My sister even has a clay pot that she cooks that dish in. A couple of other popular dishes I miss are the drunken chicken (yummy!) and one other which we just call white chicken with scallions.

Kat / March 1, 2010 4:47 PM

As much as I love reading your blog, I'd say go ahead and finish watching Lost first because 1) It's AWESOME and 2) you can then obsess over the latest episode with the rest of us. Priorities, priorities...

roboppy / March 2, 2010 2:15 AM

Josie: I miss night markets! I never ate much in them, but there's nothing like them here. Ahhh assiaaa you're awesome.

Kat: Guess what I'm watching right now...LOST! Alas, it's 2:15 am. Um. Fail!

ML / March 3, 2010 11:24 AM

Pea shoots are totally worth the $$$. Tasty, very seasonal, did I say yummy? Pea tendrils are like micro greens: the farmer has to sow tons of seeds to get relatively little vegetable in return--I mean, he/she could like the plants grow and produce LOTS of snowpeas, but the shoots are a delicacy.

James / March 4, 2010 8:05 PM


(I'm saying this in the voice of the title floating towards the screen)

roboppy / March 4, 2010 11:37 PM

ML: Well, definitely worth the $$$ when you buy it at the supermarket. :) I'll probably still buy it at restaurants, so much better to cook yourself!

James: Guess what I'm watching right now...LOOOOOST!

Almost through season 5. Woot.

Amy / August 4, 2010 6:55 PM

Robyn, I live just down the block from this restaurant, and it is definitely in Bay Ridge, no matter what anyone else tells you! On another note, have you been to No 1 Ice Cream, on 8th Ave, between 64th/65th St? They have a nice variety--the black sesame and taro are creamy and well-flavored. And soft-serve on the weekends! They even make their durian with fresh fruit (as opposed to canned--I know the fruit comes frozen to the States). This isn't my uh favorite, but you should come and check out the rest!

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