|My daughter, Emily at TGI Friday's in Taoyuan City, Taiwan|
I took my daughter to lunch the other day, and she is my culinary opposite. She likes to eat the familiar things, I'm more of, "what did you say I just ate?" kind of guy. I prefer to eat Chinese food and usually at the food carts, but my daughter’s tastes run to American food. She’s a beef and potatoes type of person. She likes good old-fashioned steak and French fries. So I thought I would take her to a restaurant where a friend had taken me, recently. Rebel Burger.
|Rebel Burger's Bacon Cheeseburger, fries and a Sprite|
When I first came here, a friend, knowing I liked Mexican food, wanted to take me out for a treat and took me to a Mexican restaurant in Taipei. “The best Mexican food in Taiwan. Bro!” But the flour tortillas were raw, and they only had Tabasco sauce when I asked for hot sauce. I’m not complaining, I could see that they really wanted to make the best Mexican food they could, but this isn’t Mexico.
This is Taiwan and the best food in Taiwan is Taiwanese. That’s what I want. When in Rome, eat what Romans eat. When I’m in Mexico, I’m going eat Mexican. When I’m in America, I’m going to eat…probably Mexican. But that’s another story. This isn’t about me, this about Taiwan looking a lot like America restaurant-wise.
|Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taoyuan City, Taiwan|
Because of American food’s newfound popularity, American restaurants have sprung up everywhere. They have Outback Steak Houses, Chili’s Restaurants, Bangles, TGI Fridays, McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut. I’m sure there are probably others that I’ve missed. Hopefully, my children won’t find out about them and I can continue to miss them.
The thing is, though, they have the same menu as their American counterparts for the most part, but they all seem to have a Taiwanese twist. For example, Pizza hut has a fixed menu. In the U.S. you go to the restaurant and you can pick the toppings you want on the Pizza. But in Taiwan they have only a few choices, and sometimes don’t know how to react if you want to change something. My wife has stood in the restaurant while they called the boss to ask him what to do when she wanted something different than their menu showed.
|TGI Friday's, just like in the good ol' USA|
Bigger restaurants, like Chili’s or TGI Fridays, or Outback Steak House just serve exactly what they serve in the U.S. I guess they figure that’s the drawing card; eating like you’re in America. If you’re inside the restaurant, it’s just like being in the U.S. In fact, that’s why my kids like to go to those places, it reminds them of home. It reminds me of America, too, but to me this is where I live, so this is home.
|Sometimes I just forget where I am, "Sure are a lot of Asian kids working here. Oh yeah, this is Taiwan."|
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