Anyone who attended the University of Washington has probably eaten some, if not many meals at restaurants along the Ave, a street parallel to the university’s campus that is mostly lined with homely joints offering large and cheap meals for college students. One of my favorites among these is Mee Sum Cafe, a Taiwanese spot. The place has a small selection of baked goods, and dispenses boba tea, and has shelves stocked with 90s shonen manga translated to Chinese.
The most popular order there and my favorite choice is the number 2, the Popcorn Chicken Meal. It’s got chunks of chicken thigh fried the Taiwanese way, with a heaping mound of rice, some delicate steamed cabbage, and dakuan (yellow pickled radish). On top of the rice is a little spoonful of braised pork. It’s a lot of food for how much it costs (15 bones), and the tapioca starch they bread the chicken with makes it really light and crispy. It seems like the perfect breading for the msg-laced seasoning they throw on it, and the bit of pork they ladle onto the rice gives every kernel texture and savory juiciness.
So I made my own. I braised some pork in the style of lu rou fan, and as sides I made a blanched yu choy with oyster sauce, as well as pan roasted green peppers with pork belly fried in garlic ginger and soy sauce. It was all very good but the pan roasted green peppers burned a hole through my tongue. And my stomach.
7.5 out of 10.