Back before we moved to LA, we would come down every holiday to see the in-laws, who lived in Arcadia. And one meal would always be at Fusion, which was Taiwanese cuisine. Not the night market stuff most people are familiar with, but traditional Taiwanese cuisine, like 3 cups meats, steamed seafood, and a lot of veggies (typical and more eclectic.) Hard to describe other than it tends to be very flavorful but light, and definitely not in your face. The seasonings tend to allow the natural flavors of the ingredients to shine. Long story short, the owner left, the restaurant went downhill and we stopped going.
Fast forward to today and the in-laws had to cancel our dinner plans, so we were left scrambling. Then, someone on the boards who has been in Taiwan posted a picture of cold-mixed “dragon whiskers” vegetable, which was my favorite dish at Fusion. Which set me on a path to find a replacement restaurant, when lo and behold, I found Eat Joy Food!
So, off we went to Rowland Heights… While ordering, I noticed the picture for the “dragon whisker” prep looked exactly like Fusion… and the restaurant had boxes of high-end fruits for sale, just like Fusion… and the owner looked just like the owner of Fusion. Soon enough, we had confirmed that this was the same owner and chef!
Sadly, the “dragon whisker” was out of season, which was a bummer. So, our order consisted of:
boiled goose - pricey at $50 for 1/4 goose, but so delicious. Served with thin sliced garlic and the traditional sweet / spicy sauce. A lot of places serve this dish thinly sliced, I think to give the appearance of a large portion - these were hearty, thick cuts, which allowed us to truly appreciate the gamy, slightly chewy meat.
stir fried A choy - pricey again at $20, but a well-executed version, where the leaves were wilted but but the “rib” still retained crunch. Lightly salted and barely any oil. This was a consistent theme tonight… the food is so light, you can pig out and walk out stuffed, but not feel overly so. It’s a great feeling.
Miso black cod - best deal of the night. Two sizable fillets of tender, well marinated cod for $30. I managed to get one spoonful, as my two sons crushed this dish. Even my older one, who hates fish.
fried rice - lol… the owner recommended this and when we hemmed, he said if my kids didn’t love it, he’d comp the whole meal. One bite in, my 11yo turns to me and says “you’re not getting your meal comped.” Again, barely a hint of grease, but what stood out is the quality of the rice… big, fat grains that were perfectly cooked. The owner was incredibly proud of his rice, which is apparently imported from Taiwan.
hot and spicy duck blood and intestine - incredible rendition of a classic dish. Sauce was exactly what you look for, but again, light enough such that the quality of the individual ingredients stood out. The intestines were cleaned well with most of that nasty fat removed, which few places do. The duck blood was so clean tasting, without the irony aftertaste that most blood has and a perfect texture, i.e. not heavy or rubbery.
chicken and clam soup - aromy of fresh chicken, quality xiaoxing wine, clams and some herb, like yamaimo but without the gooey-ness. This was the perfect finish to the meal. Again, a light chicken broth that just tasted clean.
This restaurant isn’t for everyone… if you’re looking for in your face flavors and fat, this is not it. The cuisine is refined and the quality of the ingredients shines through. If you’re looking for exemplary Taiwanese cuisine, this place hits the mark!
Still in season! Just saw it at the farmers market! Season is pretty long for it.
Love this place. Did a lot of take out here when visiting my mom during the height of Rona.
Also Fusion’s OG chef (supposedly) is cooking at a restaurnT in Arcadia and will take special requests. My friend for some reason won’t tell me the restaurant name tho and insists on taking me there lol
Thanks! Totally random find for us but such a welcome surprise given the circumstances. But the time we figured out out, we’d already ordered but his bitter melon and salty egg is to die for and I can’t wait to order it next time.
Return trip two days later, this time with the in-laws in tow!
Boiled goose - even better than the first time, as the meat was more tender.
Oyster vermicelli - one of my greatest joys whenever I visit Taiwan is to visit the Ay Chung stand for oyster vermicelli. It’s an uncommon dish to find in the US and extraordinarily rare to find one that is well executed. Most places 1) skimp on or use low quality oysters, 2) don’t prep the intestines right, 3) don’t use the right noodle or 4) fail to get the soup base right, usually by overusing sha cha sauce. This version is exemplary… This is a common theme at EJF - dishes that in concept are easy to execute but in practice difficult are prepared so well here…
Chicken and bamboo soup - as flavorful and enjoyable as the chicken and clams version. Clean, fresh simple. Not a deeply colored or concentrated broth, but the chicken and bamboo shine through.
Fried cuttlefish balls - expertly fried, not greasy at all, chewy but “snappy” fish balls dotted with big chunks of cuttlefish throughout. Absolutely delicious.
Stir fried cabbage with ham - Really simple dish but again, perfect execution. My son said “dad, even the cabbage without the ham is so fragrant.”
House fried rice - A kid favorite. I didn’t even get to try any this time. But good enough that we had to order 2 plates worth.
Bitter melon and salted egg - one of my favorite dishes at the old Fusion. There are so many ways this dish can go wrong… too much bitter melon, too much salted egg, too saucy, too dry, bitter melon too limp or too crisp, bitter melon / salted egg not mixed together properly. It’s tough to get this right but this is the best version of this dish I’ve ever had. The bitter melon he uses is bitter but not overly so, the preparation is neither too saucy or dry, the egg is broken down and covers every piece of the melon, but is not overpowering. I can eat platefuls of this dish!
Miso black cod - I can’t opine as I didn’t get any. Again, a kids’ favorite.
I know I sound like a paid promoter, but EJF is dishing out some incredible Taiwanese cuisine and it’s in my vested interest to make sure it sticks around! There is so much focus on things like XLB, hot pot, beef noodle soup, Sichuan cuisine, etc., but for my money, if I had to choose one Chinese restaurant to go to for the rest of my life, this would probably be it.
LOL. I wrote that knowing it might not cater to everyone. To me, Taiwanese food is all about letting the natural flavors shine while complementing with light aromatics. The food really is delicious, but it is more “subtle.”
been about a year or so since I’ve eaten at EJF - so picked up takeout to my mom’s place since she lives nearby. Man pricing has really gone up and portions have gotten smaller. My wife wanted honey walnut shrimp, $30 for 12 small shrimp - ruff.
Good to see the owner is as gruff as ever lol. After I ordered the owner told me to go sit on the sofa and he’d let me know in 25 minutes. 40 minutes passed and I went to go check. Apparently, the food was sitting on the back counter for the last 20 minutes… sigh.
Took it home, my mom asked how it was, I told her how cold the owner was per usual. She told me that’s why she stopped going there cause service has gone really downhill as they’ve gotten more popular. The servers definitely had a DGAF attitude to tables ordering.
One couple asked what vegetable is good right now - waitress “I don’t know. I don’t know what vegetables you like” but… in that tone of annoyance. lol
honey walnut shrimp - wife said fine, average, but wasn’t expecting much since it’s a taiwanese spot
miso black cod - she really liked it, daughter hated the amount of bones in it.
pork and egg fried rice - I thought the rice was good, made in a similar style as DTF but not as Q. Rather have DTF fried rice in the same style but better and less expensive.
bittermelon salted egg (wanted louffah but when I asked the owner just gave me a swift “no” - since out of season) - pretty good version of it.
Three cup mixed (squid/chicken) - mom said not enough chicken skin on the pieces so pieces tasted a bit dry.
Will go again soon and eat there with a larger group. Couple friends want me to take them. Have my eye on other dishes (like the goose and some soups) that my family doesn’t normally like to eat.
Yeah. It’s been like that for a while with Shrimp and Seafood dishes. Even at dingy places it’s like $20+ That is why I didn’t feel bad for recommending Transparansea Shrimp to a friend today which for double that amount was like $35…
LOL, yeah, the owner can be pretty gruff… if you just tell him you used to go to Fusion back in the day, then he immediately warms up to you! The food is definitely not cheap, although I feel that’s the case everywhere these days. Was in NYC and paid $30 for snow pea leaves with salted egg / tofu.