Many Asian countries have a wonderful tradition of simple boxed or single portion meals for take away for workers and travelers. In India, these are called tiffin, in Korea dosirak, Japan has bento. Taiwan calls its version biandang, but at Taiwan Bear House, newly opened this summer on Pell Street in Chinatown, they seem to refer to their creations as bento.
The most famous boxed set in Taiwan is sold by the Taiwan Railways Administration and is available on train journeys as well as in the stations. These workaday meals do not speak of high cuisine by any means, but do provide tasty travel bites that blow normal airline meals out of the water.
At the Chinatown store they have fruit tea and milk tea and it all can be turned into bubble tea if desired. We grabbed a lychee tea ($3.50, above left) and Taiwan root beer ($2, above right) to add some sweetness to our bentos. I like root beer, and definitely liked this imported sarsaparilla can which somehow feels less guilty than drinking typical sodas produced here.
If you dine in, your "box" is served in a compact round wooden disposable container, everything on a bed of rice and served with some lettuce, tofu, and half of a braised egg. Above are the pork belly ($9.99, left) and original minced pork ($6.99, right) bento boxes, the latter being the cheapest but possibly most satisfying. The main ingredient in terms of quantity in these bowls is rice, and the minced pork just seems to connect with it the best.
There is no denying the appeal of the night market crispy chicken ($9.99, above), boneless and softly fried chunks that come out blisteringly hot and deliciously fragrant. The pieces have a sweetness to them that beg for the chunks to be cut up and spooned into your mouth with a good portion of rice.
You can combine your boxes with drinks for a small discount if desired, making the appropriate combo for everyone. Please note that this visit took place in August and I have updated pricing based on their Seamless page. Apologies for any inconsistencies.