藍家割包 (Lan Jia Gua Bao)
I Highly Recommend ☆☆☆☆☆
Taipei eatery offering: The Best Gua Bao (割包) / Rice Dumpling (zòngzi, 粽子) /
4 Flavored Soup with Pork Intestines (四神腸湯) / Soup (tāng, 湯) /
Noodles with Pork Meat & Intestines (大腸肉羹麵線) / Roselle & Plum Beverage
No. 3, Aly. 8, Ln. 316, Sec. 3, Luosifu Rd., Zhongzheng Dist., Taipei City 100
Phone: (02) 2368-2060
Hours: Tue - Sun: 11am - 12am (Midnight), Closed Mondays
Last Reviewed: 27 June 2014
The gua bao existed before the western hamburger. Gua Bao (guà bāo, 割包) is a traditional Taiwanese snack. Even the name itself is in Taiwanese, not Mandarin. Before it was modified with Taiwan's steamed bun into what we know and eat today, its origins came from Fúzhōu (福州), China, where it was more of a meat dumpling. Gua bao literally means "sliced wrapper."
"Gwa-bao derives from the Chinese steamed breads 'mantou' and 'baozi.' Legend has it that these were developed by Zhuge Liang in the Three Kingdoms era (220-280). After putting down a rebellion led by Meng Huo, Zhuge Liang tried to reform locals’ indigenous sacrifice ritual by replacing human heads with “mantou” and “baozi.” Later, meat and vegetables were added to give the somewhat plain steamed buns some flavor, and this combination then evolved into the style seen today. Gwa-bao is also known as Hu Yao Zhu, 'tiger snapping at a pig.' As it is eaten like a sandwich, it is also sometimes called a Taiwanese hamburger."
-Food Culture in Taiwan
The gua bao consists of a flat, clam-shaped steamed white bread bun with soy sauce braised fatty pork, pickled mustard vegetables, peanut powder, sugar, and cilantro. Some vendors have refined this traditional recipe by replacing braised pork with fried pork, chicken, beef, and/or adding an egg.
A lot of Taiwanese consider 藍家割包 to have the best gua bao in Taipei. 藍家割包 means Lan (Blue) family gua bao because the eatery is owned by the Lan family. I have tried several gua bao in Taiwan and America, and I found 藍家割包 to be the best by far. So I'm going to have to agree with the multitude of Taiwanese people who line up for their gua bao because they think it's the best. I am in no way a sheep, following along blindly, when it comes to labeling what is the "best food," as I have been disappointed more often than not by hugely popular Taiwanese restaurants (more often, western-style Taipei restaurants). This fact validates 藍家割包 even more.
藍家割包 marinated flavors in the pork and pickled vegetables are outstanding. I really like how one can customize their gua bao with only lean pork meat, only pork fat, to everything in the middle. They also offer some other side dishes besides their gua bao, such as, rice dumplings (glutinous rice wrapped in leaves) that have been sautéed in soy sauce and contain pork, mushrooms, and peanuts. To be specific, it's Northern Taiwan meat rice dumplings (ròu zòng, 肉粽). They also have soup choices: 四神腸湯 which means 4 Gods intestine soup. This can be translated into 4 flavored soup, and those four ingredients are barley, lotus seeds, pig intestines, and pig stomach. They are all considered healthy; however, I will only agree with the first two on being healthy. You can customize this soup and order it with pork intestines, pork tripe, or both. They also offer corn with pork ribs soup (玉米排骨湯). Roselle with plum (洛神酸梅湯) is marked as soup and under their soup section, but it's not soup, it's a drink. Lastly, they offer spicy and non-spicy noodles that are short and thin with pork meat paste and intestines in a thick soup base with garlic paste (大腸肉羹麵線). Garlic lovers may really like this dish due to its strong garlic taste.
They also offer bulk takeaway D.I.Y. orders for your gathering or event needs. For every 10 you buy, you get 1 free. The steamed buns are given separately from the inside ingredients, both of which are given pre-cooked and fully prepared, and given in a cold state. All you have to do is reheat them and put the ingredients inside the steamed buns. This way the ingredients will not make the steamed buns soggy before it's time for them to be eaten.
Even though they only have a Chinese menu, I have translated it below into English so you can enjoy their food without being able to read Chinese or have a Taiwanese friend come along with you. This is how much I love you, my readers. The countless hours I spend on the details of my reviews are all for you.
The whole process on how to order from the line to paying:
There is usually a long line, but it's for takeaway. They do have some onsite-dining seats, so if you want to sit down and eat, walk up to the inside of the line in the front (between the front of the line and the seating area by the gua bao makers) and point in at the seating area with a finger count of how many diners. They will give you a menu and seat you if there are available seats. Otherwise, there will be a short second line that will be in between the long takeaway line and the restaurant. Eating onsite has some benefits: if it's a long takeaway line, you'll get your food a lot quicker. Also, you'll be able to use their chili sauce and sweet hot sauce if you're a fan of such condiments.
Use my English translated menu below to mark your selections. Yes, you can write numbers; all Taiwanese understand numbers and not just Chinese character numbers. If you don't like cilantro, you can tell them not to add it. If you don't know how to do that in Mandarin, just write a big blatant "NO" and an arrow pointing to the characters shown on the right side of the menu (I have marked cilantro on the menu below). If you don't want any pork intestines or stomach in your 4 flavored soup, making it a 2 flavored soup, cross out the symbol in the parentheses on the first soup selection (腸). They will happily cater to your customization. I don't know if all the ingredients are already added together and they just take out the meat from the soup, so be cautious vegetarians. However, this isn't a vegetarian eatery anyway, being that their isn't a vegetarian gua bao option. If you also want to order some selections to-go besides what your eating onsite, mark the appropriate boxes (I have marked the to-go section on the menu below).
Give the employee that works the tables your completed menu. Don't bother the fast-paced gua bao makers at the front of the eatery; they need to rely on speed to feed the hungry masses that constantly attack them in an unrelenting spear-shaped line ;).
After you're finished eating and received your to-go food, if you ordered any, pay the employee that works the tables the total listed at the bottom of your menu, which the staff will have written down.
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I translated 藍家割包 (Lan Jia Gua Bao)'s menu into English so you can easily order by yourself.
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No. 3, Alley 8, Ln. 316, Sec. 3, Luosifu Rd., Zhongzheng Dist., Taipei City 100
Phone: (02) 2368-2060
Hours: Tue - Sun: 11am - 12am (Midnight),
Gua Bao Price: NT$50 each
English Menu Only (I provide translated English menu above)
Dine in & to-go
Chili Sauce & Sweet Hot Sauce (add yourself)
D.I.Y. gua bao ingredients for take-away
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藍家割包, Best Gua Bao in Taipei
Watch 藍家割包 (Lan Jia Gua Bao) employees quickly prepare their delicious gua bao.
Learn how to make gua bao (割包) yourself.
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