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在纽约哪里可以吃到正宗的台湾便当?

更新时间:2016-5-15 7:55:58 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

A Meal (and History) in a Box at Taiwan Bear House
在纽约哪里可以吃到正宗的台湾便当?

Pell Street these days is two quiet blocks, no more, but Chinatown was born here, where Doyers Street dead-ends into Pell, where tour guides still talk of tongs and mah-jongg.

如今的披露街(Pell)只是两个安静的街区,但唐人街当年就是在宰也街(Doyers)尽头与披露街交界的地方诞生的,到现在,旅游指南仍然会说起帮会和麻将。

At night, on Pell’s eastern end, pilgrims queue for soup dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai. They may not notice Taiwan Bear House, which opened last June, with its teddy-bear logo suggesting just another perky bubble-tea shop.

到了晚上,在披露街的东头,来到鹿鸣春(Joe’s Shanghai)品尝汤包的人排起了长队。他们可能没注意到去年6月开张的台湾原创便当店(Taiwan Bear House),它的标识是一个泰迪熊,让人觉得它可能又是一家生气盎然的珍珠奶茶店。

But see those towers of empty wooden bento boxes in the window? They’re waiting to be filled. First a bed of rice, then a layer of minced pork simmered down to a near gravy. On one side, garlicky cabbage, barely wilted in a wok, still crunchy and bright. On the other, half a hard-boiled egg, inked with soy, and a dense pressed square of dry tofu with sweet seams of star anise.

但是看看橱窗后面堆积如山的木头空饭盒吧,它们在等着被装满呢。先是一层米饭,然后是用文火炖到快要成了肉汁的碎猪肉末。饭盒一侧是蒜炒高丽菜,因为仅仅过了一下火的缘故,仍然口感爽脆、颜色鲜亮。另一侧是半个卤蛋,还有被压得密密实实的豆腐干,点缀着八角。

Over this may lie a pork chop hammered thin and sealed inside an improbably fluffy crust, or pork belly in slices thick as cake, with descending horizons of lean and fat, or chicken freed of its bones and deep-fried twice, so the crispy shell of skin turns chewy where it clings to the flesh.

上面可能还有一块裹着极松软脆皮的炸猪排,也可能是肥瘦分明、切成蛋糕薄厚的五花肉,或是被煎炸了两次的脱骨鸡肉,松脆的鸡皮格外经嚼。

In Taiwan, these boxed meals are called bian dang, an adaptation of the word bento under Japanese colonial rule in the first half of the 20th century. They are stubbornly unfancy and in no need of elevation. Secret ingredients in the Taiwan Bear House kitchen include Skippy peanut butter and ketchup.

在台湾,这种放在盒子里的食物被称为“便当”,也就是日语中的“bento”,它来自20世纪上半叶日本殖民统治时期。它们朴实无华,也不需要什么提升。台湾原创厨房的秘方里包括Skippy花生酱和番茄酱。

Indeed, the highest compliment you can pay to the restaurant’s food is to say that it tastes as if it were served on a train. Not any train, but one traversing some of the thousand-odd kilometers of rails that run a loose circle around Taiwan. For while bian dang are found everywhere on the island, none are perhaps as beloved as those made for decades by the government-run Taiwan Railways Administration.

事实上,给这家餐厅菜品的最好恭维,就是说它的口味好像是火车餐。当然不是普通的火车,而是行程1000多公里的台湾环岛火车。台湾全岛到处都有便当,但几十年来,最受人喜爱的还要算是政府运营的台湾铁路管理局推出的台铁便当。

Millions are sold on trains each year. Once, they were hawked from station platforms and tossed through rail-car windows. Last summer, they were borne reverentially by models down a runway as part of the four-day Formosa Railway Bento Festival, and praised in a news release as “boxes full of love, story and human nature.” This month, an announcement that bentos can now be ordered online made the evening news.

每一年都会售出成千上百万份台铁便当。它们一度在站台上被小贩兜售,从火车窗里抛下来。去年夏天,模特们一本正经地带着它们走过秀台,这是为期四天的“台湾铁路便当节”活动的一部分,一份媒体通稿称之为“满盒都是爱、故事与人性。”本月,台湾电视上的晚间新闻称,台铁便当可以通过网络订购。

At Taiwan Bear House, each bento costs less than $10 and is fuel for a day. (In Taiwan, it would be less than $3.) They come tightly packed in light, biodegradable boxes of poplar veneer. There are no compartments, as with Japanese bento. Arrangements are vertical, starting with a base of sushi rice and building up with minced pork, cabbage, egg and tofu.

在台湾原创,每份便当的价钱不到10美元,足以让你一整天都活力十足(在台湾的售价可能连3美元都不到)。它们被装在轻盈,可生物降解的杨木饭盒里,饭菜压得密密实实。它不像日本便当那样分格,饭菜的分布是纵向的,最底部是寿司米饭,上面一层层压着猪肉末、高丽菜、鸡蛋和豆腐。

Subtract any one part, and the meal is diminished. (Evidence: the vegetarian option, an uninspired muddle of bell peppers and mushrooms flung into a wok with oyster sauce.) Rice soaks up the juices so nothing is lost; cabbage cuts the edge of salt. The egg, darkened and meaty from stewing in soy paste, ketchup, scallions, garlic and ginger, would be welcome at any meal, anywhere. Dry tofu is more of an acquired taste, here almost candied in flavor.

如果去掉其中任何一部分,便当就会减色不少(这里的素食便当就是证据,只是柿子椒和蘑菇加蚝油的大杂烩)。米饭浸在菜汁中,一点味道也不会损失;高丽菜和盐配合得恰到好处。鸡蛋在酱油、番茄酱和葱姜蒜末中卤过,染成了深色,带有肉香,无论何时何地都大受欢迎。豆腐干是经过调味的,在这里几乎是甜的。

Two of the restaurant’s young owners, Kris Kuo and Carol Wu, grew up in Taiwan and came to the United States for graduate school; a third, Christopher Chang, is from New York. Not one has a culinary background. Ms. Wu works at a hedge fund, Mr. Chang is an engineer, and Ms. Kuo studied accounting. So they enlisted a chef from a Taiwanese bento shop to come to New York and teach Ms. Kuo his recipes, which she taught her staff.

餐厅老板都是年轻人,其中郭怡文和吴侄琏在台湾长大,来美国念研究生,第三位老板张育齐来自纽约。三人都没有厨师背景。吴女士在一家对冲基金工作、张先生是工程师、郭女士学会计。所以他们从一家台湾便当店雇了一位大厨来纽约,把自己的拿手菜传授给郭女士,由她再来培训员工。

The fried chicken is inspired by the “popcorn” style of chicken sold at night markets in Taiwan, boneless hunks of meat perfumed with Chinese five-spice and slightly feverish, with a chewiness just under the surface. The pork chop is dredged not in the usual sweet potato starch but in panko. Purists may object, but the sheath of crumbs comes out well bronzed, somehow crispy and wispy at once.

炸鸡的灵感来自台湾夜市上出售的“鸡米花”,它把无骨的大块鸡肉用中国的五香香料熏过,带着微微的热度,表皮之下有一点韧性。猪排上裹的不是普通的地瓜粉,而是日式面包粉。追求正宗的人可能会反对,但炸出来的脆皮呈古铜色,既松脆又柔软。

Still, if I had to choose, I would forgo pork chop or chicken for a larger heap of that minced pork, the cheapest bento option, and the best.

不过,如果必须选择,我还是会放弃猪排或鸡肉,来上一份分量更大的猪肉末,这是最便宜的便当,也最好吃。

Half the pleasure of the bento is demolishing it with swiftness and intent. One afternoon, a young man at the next table bent sharply, his face as close to the food as public decency would allow. He did not speak. None of us there, eating, had any interest in speech.

吃便当的快乐有一半来自于专心致志地很快吃光。一天下午,我邻桌的年轻人弯下身子,脸贴到食物上的样子近乎不雅。他什么话也没说。店里的人全都没说话,只顾着吃,完全没兴趣交谈。

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