A taste of Taiwan at Naruwan Formosa


On their food-tasting trail, my foodie friends met Thomas Pua, an entrepreneur who was familiar with me and he reminded them to invite me over to his restaurant.


Facade of Naruwan Formosa Cuisine [in Malay]
at Taman Sutera Utama, Johor Baru

Years ago, I reviewed Pua’s restaurant, then opened in a charming garden centre near Johor Jaya and it soon became a regular dining destination for my family and I.


I remember that this enterprising young man completed his education in Taiwan and when he returned, he not only brought home his degree but also brought back his Taiwanese wife.


When the global pandemic reached our shores, many entrepreneurs in the food industry pivoted to takeaways and deliveries while Pua and his wife, went on to create their Tasty Taiwan brand of noodles, sold from grocers* in frozen packs.


A traditional menu at Naruwan Formosa Cuisine

As the economy reopened, Pua, who had stayed in touch with my foodie friends, invited us over for a dine-in experience of authentic Taiwanese cuisine at his restaurant dubbed, Naruwan Formosa Cuisine.


Pua explained that Naruwan, in the indigenous Taiwanese language, simply translates to Welcome while Formosa was the former name of Taiwan.


Century Eggs appetizer made with duck's eggs

Opened among the many eateries in Taman Sutera Utama, Pua was certain that when diners looked at their menu which mirrors typical menus at eateries in Taiwan, they would be homesick for a taste of authentic Taiwanese cuisine.


For a start, Pua said the Chinese characters printed on the menu were ‘old’ characters, unlike the shortform characters in modern Chinese writing. And typical of traditional Chinese writing, the lines on this menu were arranged vertically.


A serving of Beef Noodles

He said fans of Taiwanese cuisine will instantly recognize the many familiar dishes listed in the menu but for diners (like me!) who cannot read Chinese, the friendly service staff are on hand to help with recommended items.


It was good to see Pua and his wife again and watch them in their element, serving up authentic Taiwanese cuisine to appreciative diners. I thought that the number of walk-in diners was very encouraging, particularly on a weekday night.


A bowl of Taiwanese Lor Mee

Having visited Taiwan and thoroughly enjoying their food, my foodie friends had fun comparing the dishes served at Naruwan Formosa against their memory of the Taiwanese specialties they tasted while on holiday.


Our meal kicked off with refreshing appetizers like the crunchy Pickled Cucumber.


While I had always assumed that century eggs were made from duck’s eggs, Pua reminded me that not all were.


A serving of Taiwanese Yee Mee noodles

Two other recommended choices of appetizers made with Duck Century Eggs were wedges of century eggs drizzled with a secret sauce while the other was a brick of cold tofu topped with wedges of duck century eggs and garnished with bonito flakes.


The noodle choice for fans of beef must be Beef Noodles made with broad rice noodles in a bowl of beef broth filled with chunks of braised beef and vegetables.


My friends insisted that Taiwanese Lor Mee was a recommended noodle choice and when I had my first taste of the stewed noodles in a thick broth, I agreed with them.


A dish of Braised Pork Belly

Meanwhile Pua assured me that the taste of Taiwanese Tomato Noodles was unlike tomato-pasta and when I tasted the noodles topped with minced pork, tomato paste and shallot oil, I decided that it tasted rather agreeable.


But after tasting the rich umami in the broth for the Taiwanese-style Yee Mee, I deemed this as my favourite noodles among them all.


As I slurped the thick rolls of noodles in a comforting broth filled with ingredients like shellfish and pork, I was told that this dish was a common breakfast food in Southern Taiwan.


Taiwan has their version of gyoza dumplings and while I am familiar with the shape of plump Chinese or Japanese gyoza dumplings, my friends reminded me to adjust my expectations because Taiwanese gyoza dumplings were comparatively slimmer but tasted just as good.


Stir-fried Kangkung 
in Shacha sauce
Pua recommended two pork dishes: Braised Pork Belly, a dish which was just right to savour with steamed white rice while the sliced Boiled Pork Belly was served with two dip sauces, chilli and a special dark sauce.


If this dark sauce looked ordinary, it certainly did not taste ordinary at all.


When I asked Pua about it, he smiled eloquently and smugly said, “Our secret sauce!”


My taste of Taiwan at Naruwan Formosa was completed with a dish of stir fried Kangkung (Water Spinach) in Shacha sauce. [Eh, what is sha-cha? I asked.]


My friends made an effort to explain that literally translated, sha-cha means sand-tea, and that sha-cha sauce was unique to Taiwan and common in Taiwanese cuisine just as tom-yum was to Thai food.


They told me shacha may be used as a barbecue sauce or satay sauce and when I tasted the vegetable dish, I found that shacha certainly lived up to its name in a unique taste with a grainy texture.


A frozen pack of Tasty Taiwan
Formosa Stewed Beef Noodles
in Tomato

Satisfied with my new knowledge and the taste of Taiwanese cuisine, I assured Pua that I would be back again to savour more items from his interesting menu.


Naruwan Formosa Cuisine [Non-Halal] is at No. 27, Jalan Sutera Tanjung 8/3, Taman Sutera Utama, 81300 Johor Baru. Johor.


Open daily from 11am to 11pm.


For reservations and takeaways, Tel: +6010 987 8766.


*Tasty Taiwan frozen packs of noodles are available from the Village Grocers.

No comments:

Post a Comment