My wife is not easily impressed with restaurants. It takes an exceptional one to gain her accolades. So when she enthusiastically endorses a restaurant as having authentic Taiwanese taste (she herself hails from Taiwan), I have to respect the place for measuring up to her exacting standards. One of these rare places is the Southland Flavor Cafe in Cupertino, CA.
We sauntered in one afternoon and found business to be brisk as always.
We started off with a Taiwanese favorite: stinky tofu. My wife first introduced me to this pungent dish years ago while we were still dating. And although we have (well, mostly she has) eaten it many times since then, I still don't understand the appeal of this unusual dish.
Stinky tofu truly lives up to its name. Know anyone with stinky feet? I mean REALLY foul-smelling ones that cause you to choke, gag, retch, and cover your nose, mouth and other vulnerable body parts as you fall to the ground, convulsing in the fetal position? Well, that's pretty much what it smells like, except you didn't have to put that person's feet in your mouth (well, if you did, shame on you!)
Despite its "aroma", stinky tofu is one of the most popular snacks in Taiwan. So what does it taste like? It doesn't taste bad, actually. But I don't find anything really special about it, either. To me, once one gets past the smell, it doesn't really offer anything different than regular tofu.
However, my wife disagrees and gives Southland Flavor Cafe's stinky tofu two thumbs up. Well, all I can say is bon appetit my love, knock yourself out.
Fortunately, the other dishes we ordered justified my wife's praise for this place. Like the pork potage soup, which featured generous chunks of tender pork immersed in a refreshing broth, spiced up with a tinge of satay sauce.
We had a plateful of on choy - fresh and crunchy.
The sauteed beef special was also quite good.
It's these other dishes that explain to me why this place is one of my wife's favorites. It has also become one of mine, and I look forward to our next visit there. I just won't be going there to eat stinky tofu.
I'll leave that to my wife.