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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Taiwan Ganbei, Haymarket Chinatown

Salt and pepper crispy pork intestine at Taiwan Ganbei, Haymarket Chinatown

Deep fry it and they will come. The deep golden hue and promise of crunch lures almost everyone in. It's how I managed to convince most of my dining companions to try this dish, slices of pork stuffed with baby leeks and coated in a salt and pepper crumb. Slices of pork intestine, that is, at Taiwan Ganbei in Sydney's Chinatown.

Diners at Taiwan Ganbei, Haymarket Chinatown

Taiwan Ganbei is slick and modern if a little sterile with its black tiles and tables and perimeter mirrors. The surprisingly extensive menu yields more than 100 dishes covering a full range of Taiwanese homestyle cooking. Prices are budget friendly too, starting at $4.50 for eggplant with garlic sauce and maxing out at $18.80 for stir fried pipis with basil.

Dining room inside at Taiwan Ganbei, Haymarket Chinatown

Menu photos give some clues on what to expect, but the speed at which our waitress came to take our order indicates that most patrons are Taiwanese regulars who immediately know what they want to order.

Taiwanese stewed pork mince at Taiwan Ganbei, Haymarket Chinatown
Taiwanese stewed pork mince rice $5.50 small

The Taiwanese classic, stewed pork mince rice, seems like an obvious place to start. Lu rou fan is a hugely popular comfort food, a simple but satisfying dish of pork mince cooked in soy and rice wine served over rice. This version isn't as saucy as we expect, but there's an intense umami flavour to the dish.

Three cup chicken at Taiwan Ganbei, Haymarket Chinatown
Three cup chicken $12.80

Three cup chicken is another Taiwanese staple, even though the dish originated in Jiangxi in southern China. The name is said signify the recipe, one that calls for a cup each of soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil.

There's a gentler flavour to this dish than, say, honey soy chicken. The small pieces on the bone can be a little too fiddly for the impatient, even if the reward is juicier flesh.

Three cup chicken combo at Taiwan Ganbei, Haymarket Chinatown
Three cup chicken combo $15.50
with stewed pork mince rice and a drink

You can order the three cup chicken as part of a combo meal too, adding on the stewed pork mince rice and a drink for $2.70. Drinks include a whole rainbow of flavours including kumquat honey, passionfruit yakult, papaya and black sesame.

Deep fried basil chicken at Taiwan Ganbei, Haymarket Chinatown
Taiwan deep fried basil chicken $8.50

But where's all the fried? Oh hello deep fried basil chicken. Taiwanese fried chicken recipes tend to use sweet potato starch, creating a sandy crumb that gives it a more textural crunch. You score a bounty of fried chicken here for only $8.50 although it starts to feel a little oily and salty a third of the way through. The Taiwanese love of deep fried basil leaves sits well with me though - those crisp leaves are super addictive.

Salt and pepper crispy pork intestine at Taiwan Ganbei, Haymarket
Salt and pepper crispy pork intestine $12.80

The crispy pork intestines are an impressive feat too, packed with baby leeks, deep fried and then sliced on the diagonal and draped with shallot curls. The intestines have been cleaned well, and the leek adds a freshness to a notoriously "fragrant" offal.

There's a great crunch of batter with a distinctive slightly tacky chew from the intestine itself. You should probably share this dish between at least two or three people due to its richness.

Deep fried pork rice cake at Taiwan Ganbei, Haymarket Chinatown
Deep fried pork rice cake $8.80

I'm all over the deep fried pork rice cake too. You need to read between the lines to realise these are actually cubes of pork blood mixed with glutinous rice. Dredged with sweet potato starch, they don't look quite so ominous on the plate.

You can't really taste the pigs blood. It's more about the sticky rice, fortified with iron, and then floured and plunged into a vat of oil. There's a generous amount of salt on these that would make them perfect with a beer. If you really want to go wild, the restaurant has just started served Taiwanese fruit beers including mango, pineapple and grape. Ganbei!

Taiwan Ganbei, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney

Taiwan Ganbei on Urbanspoon

Taiwan Ganbei
52 Dixon Street, Haymarket, Chinatown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9212 2220

Opening hours:
Sunday to Thursday 11.30am-10pm
Friday and Saturday 11.30am-12 midnight

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11 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 3/11/2015 12:17:00 am


  • At 3/11/2015 1:31 am, Anonymous Lee Tran Lam said…

    You had me at $4.50 eggplant with garlic sauce!

  • At 3/11/2015 8:13 am, Anonymous john | heneedsfood said…

    The three cup chicken looks and sounds great. As for the intestine, I'd be approaching that with trepidation. My last experience eating it wasn't a favourable one. Or perhaps I'm was a little fussy in thinking that no food should taste of faeces.

  • At 3/11/2015 4:48 pm, Blogger Milktea Eats said…

    you can never go wrong with basil chicken and pork mince rice! so damn tasty!

  • At 3/11/2015 4:48 pm, Blogger Milktea Eats said…

    you can never go wrong with basil chicken and pork mince rice! so damn tasty!

  • At 3/11/2015 6:48 pm, Blogger Fionism said…

    These photos reminded me of my Taiwan trip. I miss all the Taiwan food!!!

    Peace and love,

  • At 3/12/2015 1:16 pm, Anonymous Hotly Spiced said…

    It's so true that if deep-fried food always draws a crowd. I did some exercise this morning then felt I deserved a reward. Went straight to a Chinese shop and ordered the salt and pepper chicken! I do think though, that I would have preferred the deep-fried basil chicken seen here xx

  • At 3/12/2015 5:36 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    wow Im not even a fan of anything intestine and that picture of the salt and pepper crumb intestines has got me seriously considering it :9

  • At 3/14/2015 7:12 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Love three cup chicken! It goes so well with plain white rice. Thinking about it gets me hungry already :D

  • At 3/14/2015 11:18 pm, Anonymous Sara | Belly Rumbles said…

    I want to to try the 3 cup chicken, a whole cup of sesame oil fascinates me.

  • At 3/15/2015 7:14 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    I love Taiwanese food and this place looks great!

    I would eat ALL of the Deep Fried.

  • At 3/18/2015 9:56 am, Anonymous Berny @ I Only Eat Desserts said…

    Mmm those crispy pork intestines sound so interesting and delicious. I've only eaten intestines at yumcha or in my pho - so this is quite different to what I'm used to :)


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