A relative newcomer to the Taiwanese dining scene on the Westside (Sawtelle Japantown, to be exact), Popcorn Chicken is serving up some surprisingly great eats these days. With other locations in Irvine and Riverside, Popcorn Chicken is very apparently trying to please a mostly (UC) student clientele. I went on two separate occasions, and found consistency in the quality of their offerings.
Enough talk - Onto the chow!!!
Beef noodle soup… OK this is wrong. Westside Taiwanese food is not supposed to taste this good. This is pretty much a perfect bowl of Taiwanese niu rou mien - well, at least as good as can be found outside Taiwan. First off, the broth is magical, on par with Dai Ho’s, and even better than Bull Demon King’s broth - A hint of anise, with depth rarely found in many other places SoCal places serving beef noodle soup. The noodles themselves, while not hand-made, nonetheless have that great “Q”. The beef is tender and flavorful, and the restaurant doles out plenty of it to the customer. Spice level is a few notches below “mala” - Just right for enjoyment of all the elements in this creation. The only thing I’d ask them to improve on is the addition of some beef tendon. GET THIS BOWL.
I also ordered an appetizer of fried “tempura” (actually in Taiwan, the term “tempura” holds a different meaning than in Japanese - Taiwanese “tian bu lah” is actually made of fish cakes). I enjoyed it, though more for sentimental reasons than actual awesomeness of taste.
On a follow-up visit, I tried the braised pork rice combo. This was really tasty as well, with gorgeously rich braised pork on fluffy rice, served with a half tea egg. The combo also came with a nice clear seaweed dashi broth, pickled cabbage, and corn.
The stir-fried shrimp and eggs (AKA ‘The @CiaoBob Special’), was nice. Portioning was very generous.
The appetizer chicken wings were quite delicious, with this densely-peppered marinade, which made the whole dish quite addictive.
Desserts: Buttercream brick toast was decent, as were the sesame balls.
Beverages: The milk teas I had were legit. But honestly Volcano down the street is a better bet for straight-up Taiwanese drinks.
'Dat beef noodle soup, tho…
2224 Sawtelle Bl.
Los Angeles, CA 90064