Monday, September 24, 2007

Old Country Cafe @ Alhambra

Back in my school days, there was an outhouse of a sandwich stand that sold foot-long Hoagies for $1.50. Stuffed with thick cucumber sticks and doused with wholesale Italian dressing they were far from refined, but the price was enough to form a line down the street.

We lovingly named it "buck-fitty" as in, "Hey, let's head over to 'buck-fitty' for lunch!" But as the years went by and popularity grew, the owners thought it'd be a good idea to raise the price a dollar or two ... or three. Of course, they were completely wrong and lost a considerable amount of business. Are they still around? I don't know. I actually don't even care.

I hope not the same fate for Old Country Cafe, a charming Taiwanese hole-in-the-wall that's steadfast with its 1990s prices. Two girlfriends and I had dinner there over the weekend and when the bill came out I had to slap myself to make sure I was awake. The total?: $12.80.

And it's not just cheap, it's good. Overlook the grease and you might even think it's nutritious. Come Friday afternoon at work, I find myself craving their fried chicken over rice ($4.85), accompanied by various pickled vegetables and a boiled tea egg. And there's an added bonus of seasoned minced pork that rests somewhere between the rice and chicken. In my more health-conscious moments, I default to their minced chicken bowl which amounts to a whopping $3.60. (See above)

The cafe also offers an assortment of small vegetable dishes most of which are very foreign to my Japanese palate. Visiting Taiwan a few years ago, I remember catching a whiff of stinky tofu from a block away. Needless to say, I decided it wasn't for me and ran in the opposite direction.

If you're still a boba sipper, Old Country is for you. Unlimited refills with not only tapioca balls but custard pudding. Hopefully you're okay with the caffeine rush. I'm sure not.

Old Country Cafe
2 E. Valley Blvd.
Alhambra, CA 91801
(626) 284-4610


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H. C. said...

Ahh... Old Country Cafe - great place for cheap eats. Too bad they ran out of shaved ice the last time I went (the machine broke down) -- so went to nearby Shau Mei instead.

If only the Garfield/Valley corner isn't so chaotic in traffic, I may actually go to OCC more.

Daily Gluttony said...

ooooooooo kick ass! this is just 5 min from me. thanks for the cheap n' good eats rec!

Anonymous said...

that UCLA sandwich stand actually got beefier with the price going up. And you get a hefty bag of seasoned fries with the combo. I'm just sad it's not 24 hrs anymore.

Chubbypanda said...

Woot! Taiwanese food! It's all about the starch, grease, and cheap. Loves it, I does.

Aji De Mani said...

ooooh... i wonder if this place is anywhere close to the $15 foot massage places.