Formosa – The Beautiful Island
“Formosa” is the former name for the country of Taiwan. It means “beautiful island”. The owners of the Bistro are lovely people that make the space warm and inviting. They are often there to answer your questions and make sure you are cared for.
Best Asian Food in Canada
Doing my research before I wrote this article was an eye-opener. Formosa has won “Best Asian Food in Canada” from asiastar-tv.com in 2018. I must admit, I have never been to Taiwan but have read that there is a lot of North American influence in the Taiwanese cuisine. Oreo cookies and cornflakes crumbs are two that come to mind. If you read a review from anyone actually from Taiwan, they complain a lot about pricing and state that they could make the dishes at home. Please don’t let them distract you from a visit, I promise the food is good!
I was originally introduced to Formosa through a Northern Bites experience. We were treated to the “triangle sandwich” and a panacotta bagged lunch for the ride to the winery. When we arrived back at the Bistro, we were able to sample the spicy won-tons, popcorn chicken, the yam fries and a Taiwanese version of kimchi. Chef Yu-Lin Shen showed us all how to make spicy wontons. The highlight of the night was the high mountain tea and an information session on the different types of tea and how they are served. So informative!
My “solo” journey is when I dragged my husband all the way to the other side of the city because I was craving both the popcorn chicken and the yam fries.
The menu is extensive, but not pages and pages like my favourite Chinese restaurant. Since Formosa is a “hidden gem” it is not usually busy, although I would love to see that change. We were promptly seated, I ordered a high mountain tea and hubby had a beer. The tea was a lovely, light flavour compared to most green teas. They do have a loose leaf version, but unless you specifically ask for it, you will get the convenience of the bagged tea.
I wanted to share my favourites from my preview visit with my husband, so I ordered the yam fries, popcorn chicken and the gyozas. My husband ordered the Teppanyaki Noodles with Deep Fried Pork Chop.
The yam fries are not like our typical North American sweet potato version. They are light yellow in color and lightly breaded. They smell like mini-donuts when they are placed on your table! They have a slightly sweet flavour to them and just the right amount of salt. It tastes like it should be a dessert.
The popcorn chicken also has a hint of sweet to it. You can taste the 5 spice in the breading. They are crispy, not greasy and hard to stop eating! Tender juicy morsels of deliciousness.
The Gyoza – not the ones you would think… No overpowering vinegar here. Perfectly fried, beautiful texture and a sauce that has a touch of vinegar, grapefruit, soy and wasabi. The sauce was the perfect companion.
The Teppanyaki Noodles did have the frozen veggies mixed in with them but it doesn’t distract from the taste of the dish. The noodles were tender without being mushy. This dish is served with a fried egg on top as well as the two large pieces of deep fried pork chop. It is a very large portion size.
Speaking of portion sizes, Formosa is generous. After we had eaten our fill, we still had food to pack up in to-go containers. For two of us, high mountain tea and 2 beer, the bill was right around $50. Great value for your money compared to a lot of places.
The food is nicely plated and the atmosphere is cozy and homey. The owners try to ensure that everyone feels at home when they walk in for a meal.
It truly is a “beautiful island” tucked away in a strip mall. I will look forward to my next “stay-cation” soon.