Bringing over original recipes from Taiwan, Lee Lai Jiak aims to transport diners to the streets of Taiwan through their tastebuds.
I found the café on the second floor of Tiong Bahru Plaza and could not resist its beckoning.
“Lai Jiak” means “come and eat”, so I really had no choice.
As a side note, I wonder if Taiwanese food is becoming trendy again, since a good number of cafes carrying the cuisine have been opening up.
These include Niu Dian Beef Noodles Singapore 牛店精炖牛肉面 (Balestier), Want Food Taiwanese Delights 恋恋湾味 (Cross Street), Breakfast Hola 早餐好了 (South Bridge Road), Tai One Wei 台ONE味 (North Bridge Road), and 初早餐 True Breakfast (Capitol Singapore).
The humble café is designed with a sky lantern theme, placing a nice amount of attention on ambience and presentation (The Pingxi Sky Lanterns were released originally to let others know that the town was safe, decorated with wishes written on them.)
While the furniture may be quite standard, the ‘sky lanterns’ hanging from the ceiling are a nice touch and a call back to Taiwanese culture.
What you can get goes from rice stuff to noodle dishes, with a complementing list of sides that are basically street snacks.
There are quite a number of rice dishes, including Railway Bento ($16.90), Braised Minced Pork Rice ($8.80), Shredded Chicken Rice ($8.80), Sesame Oil Chicken ($12.80), to Chicken Chop Rice ($11.80).
The signature at Lee Lai Jiak is their Railway Bento ($16.90). It replicates the style and content of a bento found in railway stations all over Taiwan and puts it on a plate here.
Would be more fun if served in a box?
It is a substantial dish, I must say, with a massive piece of pork cutlet glazed with a sweet sauce. It is accompanied by tofu, sausages, braised egg, and some vegetables.
While the price does seem a little on the higher side, portion is considered substantial. If I had this bento for lunch on a train in Taiwan, I might even skip dinner.
The other classics are also served, such as the Braised Minced Pork Rice ($8.80), Pig Intestine Mee Sua ($9.80), Taiwanese Signature Beef Noodles ($16.80), and Pork Cutlet Rice ($11.80).
The Braised Minced Pork Rice ($8.80) was not bad-tasting, though would have wished it came more steaming hot for a more satisfying experience.
As for the Pig Intestine Mee Sua ($9.80), it had a good consistency that was neither too diluted nor thick, with a mellow vinegary taste.
A number of appetisers may interest you, like their Handmade Taiwan Sausage ($5.80), Century Egg Tofu ($6.80), Braised Pig Intestine ($10.80), and Saltwater Chicken ($8.80).
If you ever come by, you may as well get some Salt & Pepper Chicken ($9.80) – my favourite side here as they were quite crispy, or Crispy Chicken Chop ($9.80) to go, much like what you get in the night markets of Taiwan.
Lee Lai Jiak is a go-to if you are at Tiong Bahru and want to reminisce the good old days of travelling to Taiwan.
Lee Lai Jiak 李来呷
Tiong Bahru Plaza #02-105/106, 302 Tiong Bahru Road, Singapore 168732
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 10pm (Mon – Sun)
Other Related Entries
Niu Dian Beef Noodles Singapore 牛店精炖牛肉面 (Balestier)
Want Food Taiwanese Delights 恋恋湾味 (Cross Street)
Breakfast Hola 早餐好了 (South Bridge Road)
Tai One Wei 台ONE味 (North Bridge Road)
初早餐 True Breakfast (Capitol Singapore)
* Written by Daniel Ang and Dean Ang. Follow @DanielFoodDiary on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube for more food news, food videos and travel highlights. DFD paid for food reviewed unless otherwise stated.