Hungry Paulie is a Taiwanese restaurant that offers a cheap and cheerful menu of Taiwanese dishes. There are Taiwanese specialities like red rice rolls stuffed with fillings, rich noodle soups, a range of street food snacks, drinks and desserts all for a very reasonable price.
It was the Easter long weekend and we were having Celia and Pete over for lunch to see our new house - the last time we saw them was before COVID. When it came to deciding what to eat I asked Celia what she liked to eat. She gave me a list of dietaries that would require a bit of tap dancing around if I were to cook. But then the ever-thoughtful Celia suggested, "You can order from somewhere interesting and we can split it and you can blog it!".
It was music to my ears. While I love entertaining, cooking comes with it an expectation and the idea of letting someone else do the cooking sounded quite heavenly. A week before our lunch I came across Hungry Paulie. There are a couple of branches of this Taiwanese restaurant, one in Eastwood and one in Mascot. You can order, pay online and pick up or you can choose from a range of their delivery partners.
I sent Celia a list of around 18-20 items. I found it hard to choose as a lot of things sounded really interesting and also they're inexpensive too. Celia reined me in gently suggesting that we could still try a dozen or so items and it would still be $30 a person. I ordered and paid online and Mr NQN went to pick it up at the time specified. It is busy this Easter Sunday.
He arrives home and we start unpacking the two bags of food. I ordered winter melon tea for Mr NQN but soy milk arrives. It's fine but honestly I would have preferred to have known that they were out so I could skip it because we've all had soy milk.
We start with a popular breakfast snack the traditional egg pancake of Dan Bing. It has a simple lick of sauce and a thin layer of egg omelette with spring onions on top of the pancake itself.
While on the subject of pancakes we also try the shallot pancake filled with braised beef slices and lettuce and is a perfect lunchtime sandwich. The beef is soft and has a similar flavour to the beef in the beef noodle soup while the finely shredded lettuce gives this a nice crunch.
The radish pastry reminds me of a yum cha pastry but less flakey which isn't a criticism, it just makes it less dry. The filling is shredded radish, onions and garlic and the pastry has just the right amount of moisture to it so that it doesn't feel like it needs a dipping sauce.
The savoury rice pudding has a radish cake yum cha vibe to it and is made from rice and potato flour. It is served as a giant half orb cut into quarters with a flavoursome sauce on top. I like this paired with the garlic sausage.
I love Taiwanese sausage because they're like Lup Cheong pork sausages which are very flavour intense. This comes with a garlic sauce and shredded, sauteed cabbage on top which adds a lot of flavour.
This was Celia's only request as the Zongzi holds many nostalgic memories for both of us. It's glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves with soft pork belly pieces, a chestnut and a large, marinated shiitake mushroom. Here it is served outside of the leaves and cut up with extra sauce on top which makes it a bit less dry to eat.
There were a few different types of filling for the purple rice rolls and I went with the pork chop because we had the other fillings in other dishes. This is like a rice kebab - sturdy and filling for a rib sticking lunch. Inside are You Tiao or fried Chinese donuts, vegetables and a breaded pork chop. It is good and best eaten warm as it can get quite dry when cold.
I love Taiwanese sticky rice cakes because they're crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Mr NQN isn't such a big fan of sticky rice nor is Pete. These rice cakes have a lot of flavour and are slightly addictive although they can be a bit dry if you're not used to them. You can get these with differing levels of spice. I ordered medium spicy just so everyone could eat it but this is quite mild so perhaps go one level up if you want a bit of heat.
There are a few weekend only dishes and the vermicelli soup is one of them. The soup can come with oysters, intestines or just plain. We tried the plain one and it's quite strong in fish which is a bit polarising. I am not a huge fan of it but Celia loves it.
I realise that I may have over ordered because only now we're getting onto mains. Both noodle soups come with the soup in a separate bag and this one is the lighter one with flecks of garlic in it. It's nice and I like the texture of the noodles but I think I prefer the Taiwanese beef noodle soup out of the two.
The Taiwanese beef noodle soup is a classic soup, with a slightly sweet, aromatic broth and big chunks of soft beef. It's one of my favourite soups especially in winter. It's a bit more subtle than ones that I've had but it's warming and tasty. I usually like a bit more in terms of aromates like star anise and cassia but that's a personal preference.
I'm ending off the savouries with my favourite dish. The steamed rice is topped with a generous amount of melting, chopped pork belly, a boiled egg, cabbage, shallots, bok choy and a scoop of that delicious sauce. There's plenty of aromates, flavour and a finish with white pepper. This dish disappears as everyone goes back for seconds and thirds.
Savouries are more of a highlight than the desserts as we all love Asian or Chinese desserts. The tofu jelly has a creamy texture and soup to it. It just isn't very sweet at all and all of us except for Mr NQN who loves tofu leave it behind.
So tell me Dear Reader, how often do you entertain and just buy in all the food? Do you have any favourite Taiwanese dishes?
This meal was independently paid for.
Shop 6/6 Bourke St, Mascot NSW 2055
Open 7 days 8am - 8pm
Tel: 0415 383 668