Stacy Tang’s MBA from Cornell led her to work in the tech industry for a time. But her husband, Willy Wang (also in tech), convinced her that her passion resided elsewhere, namely in the restaurant business. They’ve recently opened Taiwan Bento in uptown Oakland, where the focus is on bento-style Taiwanese food that Tang has updated from her family’s traditional recipes.
I relaxed with sweetened winter melon and ginger tea (served cold, no caffeine) while our order was being prepared. Everyone in the place seemed to be on a quick break in the middle of a busy day, and this is exactly the kind of customer the restaurant wants to attract. Each bento is made to order, but comes out of the kitchen in only a few minutes.
The menu, which is written on a chalkboard just inside the entrance, is small, contains only five bento options, and a few side add-ons.
We settled on the braised pork and the ma-po tofu, both served in bowls (rather than boxes) to keep the sauce safely in.
The pork, ground and wok-braised, was redolent of five spice, topped with cilantro, and served with a cabbage, carrot, and edamame mixture with a slice of pickled daikon and a hard-boiled egg cooked in tea leaves. The soft tofu had the same presentation, with the addition of a few chiles and cooked green onions. Both were served on top of rice, and both were generous portions for about nine bucks each.
For an extra $1-$2, you can add extra meat, tofu, rice, or veggies, or a soft-boiled egg instead of the tea-leaf version.