If you spend any time in Taiwan, you’ll quickly realize that one of the most simple and most locally loved dishes is lu rou fan (滷肉飯), the simple combination of rice topped with braised minced pork.
It can be served and eaten on its own as a complete dish, or it can be the base of a meal that includes a number of side dishes.
While lu rou fan (滷肉飯) is available at countless restaurants throughout Taipei, possibly the most famous restaurant that serves it is Jin Feng (金峰魯肉飯).
I wasn’t going to miss trying it when I was in Taipei.
Jin Feng Braised Pork Rice (金峰魯肉飯)
You can eat lu rou fan at almost any Taiwanese restaurant as a very standard Taiwanese staple, and I had it many times during my stay in Taiwan.
However, Jin Feng (金峰魯肉飯) Restaurant (also sometimes spelled Kinfen like on Foursquare) is known for specializing in it – not so much as just a bowl of rice topped with braised pork, but that being the heart and soul of any meal there.
Just like many other famous restaurants in Taipei, I think there’s always a crowd of people at the restaurant, especially during peak meal times.
We arrived just before the main peak lunch rush hour during a weekday, and luckily we got right in and found a table – although we had to share a table with someone else as she finished eating. Many of the customers were also ordering takeaway.
Although the environment was a little rushed and chaotic, the waitress that took our order spoke a few words of English and she was quite helpful and friendly.
Lu rou fan (滷肉飯) – Braised pork rice
Undoubtedly, Jin Feng (金峰魯肉飯) has earned its popularity from their braised pork rice, and that’s something anyone who goes to the restaurant doesn’t miss ordering.
Most people ordered their own individual bowl of braised pork rice and then ordered a few other side dishes to share with everyone at their table. So that’s what we did too.
There were, if I remember correctly, two or three different sized bowls of braised pork rice to order, and I went with the large bowl.
The bowl came full of rice, and a nice blanket of dark colored pork spread out on top. Along with the pork, there were a few slices of bitter melon on the side of the bowl as well.
Unlike a few other bowls of lu rou fan that I ate in Taiwan that were almost exclusively fat and oil and rice, the version at Jin Feng (金峰魯肉飯) was more meaty – not that it wasn’t fatty and oily – but it was more meaty than other versions I had.
The pork was incredibly tender and just melted into the rice below it, with a blast of soothing slow braised Chinese soy sauce flavor to it, and just a hint of star anise and cinnamon.
Each grain of rice came coated in the flavorful oily sauce, the top of the bowl being more rich with pork. Again, it was such a simple combination, but it was prepared so perfectly.
Braised pork rice bowl was delicious. My only regret is not getting a slab of braised pork belly on the side.
Winter melon soup
I was going to try to order the bitter melon or the pineapple soup that I had seen others order, but perhaps due to the language barrier on my side, our soup came and it ended up being what I think was winter melon.
Nevertheless, no need to complain about the winter melon soup, as it was also delicious.
The soup broth was actually remarkably plain and healthy tasting – it wasn’t even salty at all.
But it had a nice subtle flavor of the winter melon, which sort of has a slight zucchini flavor if I can compare it to anything. The soup also included slices of pig’s stomach.
What really made the soup taste good was eating it in-between bites of the oily lu rou fan, braised pork rice bowl.
The oiliness of the pork and rice followed by a chase of hot, very light flavored soup, was the flavor combination of the meal.
Pork soup #2
Ying saw the lady sitting across from us at the table at the restaurant and noticed she had a type of pork soup she was eating, and so we asked the waitress to give us one of those as well.
It turned out to be Ying’s favorite dish of our meal at Jin Feng (金峰魯肉飯).
It included a thickened soup, big chunks of pork ribs, and some shitake mushrooms in the recipe, which were all really flavorful.
Water morning glory
I always like to order a range of dishes at any restaurant I eat at, and when I see water morning glory (one of my favorite vegetables), there’s no way I’m going to pass up the opportunity.
Thanks to Jay in the comments section below who explained the water morning glory was prepared by blanching it in hot water, then mixing it with the sauce.
This cooking method ensured that the water morning glory remained crisp and fresh, yet wilted from the quick boil.
Eating bites of water morning glory with the moist pork flavored rice was superb.
Along with serving braised pork, another speciality at Jin Feng (金峰魯肉飯) restaurant are braised eggs, and to supplement the pork for some more protein, we got a duo of eggs.
Can you see those beads of perspiration on the eggs!
I took one of the eggs and broke it onto my rice and I could hardly believe the ratio of egg white to egg yolk – it was more yolk to white then I think I had ever seen in an egg, ever.
Similar to a Taiwanese tea egg, the yolk was really creamy and rich, while the egg white was bouncy and a little rubbery in texture (not with elasticity, but more of the bouncy rubber texture), and with a bit of chili vinegar and rice it was also delicious.
Moving on, finally we ordered a little side dish of braised tofu.
The tofu, perhaps braised within the same liquid as the eggs, had what seemed to me like a tea flavor – not sure though.
The tofu was extremely soft and juicy, and rather than being a silky textured tofu, it had a more crumbly texture like cottage cheese, but more refined.
I’m a lover of all sorts of tofu, and I really could have eaten a few plates of this braised tofu had we not been so rushed eating there. I didn’t want to order more food due to all the other customers waiting in line to get our seats when we were eating.
The total price for our meal for two came to 220 TWD ($6.75).
In a city like Taipei, though not an overly expensive city, yet not overly cheap either, this was quite a good price.
You can eat a big meal for under $5 per person.
If you have a few minutes, watch the full video of this meal below:
(Or watch it on YouTube here)
While eating through Taiwan, I started to notice (for myself at least), that much of the best Taiwanese food was simple (when I say simple I don’t mean easy).
For instance, soup dumplings or the pepper pork buns, both are pretty simple flavors and combinations of ingredients. But the way they were cooked, and the care put into them, is what made each dish so good.
Lu rou fan (滷肉飯), as well as the other dishes at Jin Feng (金峰魯肉飯) restaurant, were all pretty simple dishes, yet they all added up to be delicious, the sum of all the dishes equaling a very satisfying meal.
When my wife and I were in Taipei, we stayed at Homeyhouse hotel* – a really clean and comfortable place, with good service. Highly recommended.
Jin Feng Braised Pork Rice (金峰魯肉飯)
Address: No. 10, Section 1, Roosevelt Rd, 中正區台北市 Taiwan 100
Open hours: 8 am – 1 am daily
Prices: Prices are very reasonable, you can get a good meal for $3 – $5 per person. Our total bill came to just 220 TWD ($6.75) for two of us.
How to get there: Jin Feng Braised Pork Rice (金峰魯肉飯) is really easy to get to, as are most of the other restaurants I went to in Taipei. Take the MRT to Chiang Kai Shek station, Exit #2, and walk straight for about 50 meters and you’ll see the unique signs of the restaurants with the mountainous landscape background, and a crowd of people outside. That’s the spot.