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Monday, August 11, 2014

Aruba, Taiwanese Street Food in the Sunset

Posted By on Mon, Aug 11, 2014 at 8:48 AM

click to enlarge Oyster mushrooms, chicken wings, pig ear and fish balls. - PETE KANE
  • Pete Kane
  • Oyster mushrooms, chicken wings, pig ear and fish balls.

The atomization of Chinese food continues at Aruba, a living-room-sized Taiwanese restaurant in the Sunset that adds to San Francisco’s galaxy of niche Asian fare. At this rate, in a couple of years, simply calling food “Chinese” will seem hopelessly vague, as the explosion of regional variations renders the descriptor all but meaningless.

click to enlarge PETE KANE
  • Pete Kane
Aruba is unusual not so much for its menu, but for its presentation. The two-items-for-$3 opening special sounds like a steal, but if you order, say, four things, they are all going to arrive in the same plastic bowl, served in the same dark broth. At the risk of mixing East Asian culinary metaphors, it’s certainly umami-forward, although if you’re feeling adventurous you might still be underwhelmed by the sepia palette and micro-portions. It’s street food, so the single bowl makes sense in retrospect, but diners who may not want chicken wings in liquid along with the (delicious) fish balls should choose with care. However, there are daily specials to look out for, including knife-cut and udon noodles. And a cup of winter melon iced tea, while very sweet, had a nice, honeyed finish.

Aruba, which is sited between two halves of boba parlor Tea Way, is more a take-out place than a sit-down restaurant (although there does not appear to be a phone number). There are two tables and a ledge, a flatscreen cycling through pics of the food, and not much else. As for the name, Aruba is not a reference to the Dutch West Indies, but a bawdy joke that English speakers aren’t going to get and which the invaluable blog Full Noodle Frontity explained via Wikipedia. You can never have too many subcultures vying for your attention, and this taste of Taipei adds one more.

Aruba Taiwanese Restaurant, 2146 Irving

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About The Author

Pete Kane

Pete Kane

Pete Kane is a total gaylord who is trying to get to every national park before age 40

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