On the second floor of Chinatown’s Far East Plaza sits Lao Tao. This quiet little oasis, away from the din and madness of the Howlin’ Rays line, serves Taiwanese street food. If fried chicken is what you seek, Lao Tao even has Taiwanese-style popcorn chicken.
The menu offers four rice bowls and one noodle bowl, with a handful of small bites. While the bowls look big, if you have a healthy appetite you could easily add on one of the smaller plates (like the previously mentioned popcorn chicken).
Oddly enough, fried chicken was not what I was craving, so I selected the Rub-A-Belly – a five spice braised pork belly bowl. While the pork was not plentiful, it was just enough to give the bowl flavor. The sauce was amazing, making eating the sauce-soaked rice quite a pleasurable experience. All bowls come with sweet corn, cucumber salad, pickled daikon radish and scallions. The Rub-A-Belly also came with the prehistoric-looking tea egg.
If meat is not what you seek, there’s a vegan tofu bowl, with fried tofu in a tasty sweet chili sauce. In addition to the cucumber salad, corn and pickled radish, some pickled mustard greens are included. For some reason, my husband’s bowl came with a tea egg – a pleasant surprise for him since he’s not vegan, but I’m guessing this was an accidental bonus.
If you’re opting for water, Lao Tao provides metal cups to serve yourself.
There’s a $12 minimum on credit card charges, so be forewarned. Lao Tao will validate parking for 1 hour in Far East Plaza with your purchase. While those Howlin’ Ray suckers will still be waiting in that dreadful line for fried chicken, you’ll have finished eating a delicious meal at Lao Tao, and can even have their fried popcorn chicken too.
Location – 727 N. Broadway, Unit 207, Los Angeles 90012
Website – http://laotaostreetfood.com
Kid-Friendly – Yes
Kid’s Menu – No
Vegetarian Friendly – Yes
Vegan Friendly – Yes
Gluten-Free Options – Yes