Xiaoming Tongxue | Tasty Taiwanese treats in Topwin

Nothing like a restaurant with polite service, good food and even better value to start off the new year. Taiwanese restaurant Xiaoming Tongxue, on the fifth floor of Topwin Sanlitun, delivered all three today.

Given the restaurant’s name translates as Classmate Xiaoming, it’s not surprising there is a schoolhouse theme, including chalkboards, the staff outfits, and desks doubling as tables. Some dishes are served in the sealable metal tins that have been home to many a school lunch throughout the decades. (It looks like such meals are making a comeback in Taiwan.)

You’ll find the expected Taiwan comfort food favorites here, including sausages, omelets and stinky tofu. We tried the tofu, a dish some Taiwanese restaurants here have shied from, and found it only mildly pungent. This is one dish that could afford a bit more kick. The lightly battered sweet potato fries were crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. And, along with a helping of sliced meat, the barbecue set arrived with a trio of tiny pickle dishes, a mild stew with hard-boiled egg and, hidden beneath that on a second level in the same container, rice topped with sausage and minced meat. That alone would make for a meal.

There are plenty of beverage options, including tea. I opted for passion fruit with black tea, the tannins of the latter nicely balancing with the sourness of the former. Cans of Taiwan Beer are rmb14. (Not sure if it’s related, but there’s also a line of Xiaoming Tongxue drinks.)

If you seek a casual meal at affordable prices, this restaurant is worth a try. Our bill totaled rmb151 for a meal that left two big eaters stuffed.

By the way, unless you are fine with waiting for dinner, it’s best to arrive early as the seats were pretty much full by 7 PM.

(Hat tip to Curious G)

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