This Taiwanese Braised Pork Rice Is All About the Fat

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Two takeout containers of lu rou fan, or Taiwanese braised pork rice, garnished with yellow daikon pickles and hard-boiled eggs.
Ashyan's Lu Rou Fan is delivering homemade Taiwanese braised pork rice to customers in San Francisco's western neighborhoods. (Ashyan's Lu Rou Fan)

The most important thing is to not skimp out on the fat. That was the main lesson that Ashley Yan took away from annual trips to Taiwan, where she fell in love with lu rou fan, the classic Taiwanese dish of braised pork belly over rice. Here in the Bay Area? If she found the dish at all, it was almost always made with ground pork instead of pork belly. It never had the fatty richness that she remembered.

So after she was laid off from her day job with the pandemic still in full swing, Yan decided to start up a lu rou fan delivery service of her own. She launched Ashyan’s Lu Ruo Fan early last year out of a small kitchen in San Francisco’s Richmond District, delivering meals to customers in the northwestern part of the city. By the time she decided to take an extended break last February, she’d garnered a couple months’ worth of stellar Yelp reviews.

Now, Ashyan’s is back, and this time Yan is determined to share her lu rou fan with even more people in San Francisco and beyond. Her business is part of a growing wave of next-generation pop-ups and informal food entrepreneurs that have reinvigorated the Bay Area’s Taiwanese food scene.

“I always loved the little random shops on the street,” Yan says of the lu rou fan stalls in Taiwan. “That’s what I envisioned and what I wanted.”

Pieces of hand-cut pork belly simmering in the pan.
To give her lu rou fan the luxurious richness that she wanted, Yan uses hand-cut pork belly that's 70% fat. (Ashyan's Lu Rou Fan)

In order to capture that elusive taste, Yan adheres to what she calls the “golden ratio”: pork belly that is roughly 70% fat and 30% meat. Searing off the slabs of pork belly and cutting them up by hand is by far the most labor-intensive part of the cooking process, so Yan says she understands why local restaurants would choose to substitute ground pork.


But there’s no comparing the taste and texture. Yan’s lu rou fan isn’t as salty as other local versions, nor does it have the tinge of sweetness that you get with recipes that are heavier on the rock sugar. What it does have, however, is a rich depth of flavor that comes from all of the rendered pork fat that soaks into the rice.

“It’s comfort food at its core, and that’s what I want to keep it as,” Yan says.

For now, the lu rou fan is the only featured menu item. For $16, it’s a complete meal that comes with a hard-boiled egg and a few slices of pickled daikon to cut into the heaviness of the meat. Recently she also included a tangy salad studded with colorful bell peppers and kalamata olives—a bit of a fresh, light California touch.

Up until this point, Yan has only had the capacity to do about 30 or 35 orders at a time, so she hasn’t had to do much marketing. Her email list, mostly collected from her initial posts on Next Door and her neighborhood “Buy Nothing” page on Facebook, has been robust enough to allow her to sell out just hours after she opens her online pre-ordering form each time.

Now Yan, who worked in the Bay Area restaurant industry for 14 years, mostly as a server and event planner, is thinking about how to best take Ashyan’s to the next level. For the next few months, at least, she’ll continue to operate on a small scale, selling her lu rou fan about three days a month—two days for delivery in the Richmond, Lone Mountain and Laurel Heights neighborhoods, and one day for pickup at her kitchen in the Richmond.

But Yan is also looking to extend her reach. She’s exploring the possibility of working out of kitchens in Oakland and Redwood City, and she’s also accepting inquiries for catering orders from customers down the Peninsula and beyond. If all goes well, eventually she’d like to turn Ashyan’s Lu Ruo Fan into a food truck or a small brick-and-mortar restaurant.

The next lu rou fan sale dates for Ashyan’s Lu Ruo Fan will be on March 30 and 31 (for delivery) and April 1 (for pickup). Customers can place orders via the online order form. For the latest updates, sign up for the business’ email list.