Vibes & Vices: Budaixi

As someone who often ponders the legitimacy of borders, I’ve always found the nation of Taiwan interesting in that depending on who you talk to, it may or may not exist.

Although there is a Taiwanese government, a Taiwanese flag, and presumably a Taiwanese people that pledge allegiance to both, world leaders and state-level organizations generally don’t like to mention Taiwan. Factually, Taiwan can be proven–I had many toys as a child, it’s where most of them came from–but for Official Purposes, there is no Taiwan, shut up.

The “One China” policy is a totally mature solution adults devised to both let Taiwan operate independently and stay on speaking terms with China. Doing their part to keep up the kayfabe, the Taiwanese even masquerade at the global recess known as the Olympic Games under the alias of “Chinese Taipei,” after the region’s capital city.

As it relates to this week’s entry, it’s inspiring to be reminded that suppression of worthy cultural contributions will most often prove a futile pursuit, and Budaixi, one of the newest arrivals to the city, stands as proof of this enduring concept.

The Vibes: “Budaixi” is the traditional art of puppetry, widely enjoyed in the nation to this day from its origins in the 1600s. Not only performed live, it is also featured in televised events which are viewed across the country/territory/dependency. The animation of human perspective represented by Budaixi teaches a profound lesson on the power of immersion.

I’ve never been to Taiwan besides on the Travel Channel, but walking into Budaixi is pretty much what I would expect to stroll into off the streets of one of its’ more populous cities. Eye catching colors and curious characters dominate the decor. The air is pregnant with the scent of exotic deliciousness…a small step across the threshold leads into another world.

The interior of the space has a surprisingly large capacity as compared to its footprint on the street, incorporating a few tables along with stools at a bar area. Students slurped noodles as a young couple both eyed the last wonton on the table. A fellow foreigner munched on his spring rolls with satisfaction. I placed my order for a spicy chicken bao and waited my turn.

The Vices: My sandwich took a few minutes to come out, and for good reason. Every bao that comes out of the kitchen is served on a made to order bao bun, steamed to chewy perfection before being blessed with the breast. Mine came with a tangy sauce and ground peanuts, offering another dimension of flavor for the familiar fried chicken platform.

The bao itself was a fascination, firm where it appeared spongy, airy where it looked dense, fresh where it seemed sticky. I had my doubts about a steamed bun (“who steams a bun??” went the error message from my American OS) but for this dish it was a natural fit. Served alongside sweet potato fries, the bao combo was choice munchies indeed.

Taking my last sips of Taiwanese iced tea–a toasty, full flavored affair that could have been Oolong–I welcomed this unexpected visitor to the shores of coastal Mexico with a smile. The diplomatic status of Taiwan may be debatable, but that of Puerto Vallarta’s Budaixi hopefully is not…here’s to a long and successful stay in town, you guys.

The Verdict: Budaixi specializes in Taiwanese casual dining favorites, so you can sample a little something different on the streets of this thriving city by the sea. Best of all, it’s within walking distance of my humble home in Versalles…maybe I’ll catch you there.

Info: Hamburgo 155, Versalles, 48310

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AJ Freeman
AJ Freeman is an adventurous spirit, serial friendmaker, and general enthusiast. He lives his everyday life hoping to demonstrate the nearly infinite potential for discovery and wonder on this small wet rock orbiting a dim yellow star in the backwoods of the Milky Way.