Taiwanese reboot of the original Humble Potato proves that change can be a very, very good

By Angela Matano

From tender Lu Rou Fan to bite-sized popcorn chicken, an assortment of Taiwanese treats awaits at MVP

Most Valuable Playa, 8321 Lincoln Blvd., Westchester (323) 989-2242 Instagram: @themvpla

Taiwanese food hits Lincoln Boulevard with the soft opening of instant local hotspot Most Valuable Playa, or MVP, planning its grand opening this Sunday.

Chef and operator Eric Ong (also behind Mee & Greet in Palms) took a look at his beloved Humble Potato and decided to make some changes, resulting in a space that is a little more upscale and date-friendly. Humble Potato devotees need not fret, however — the one on Washington Boulevard remains intact.

Most Valuable Playa’s menu focuses a little less on hot dogs and hamburgers, and a little more on easily shareable plates.

The garlic noodles, listed in the “snacks” section, is a glorious mix of egg noodles with a ridiculously delicious house-made garlic sauce, Parmigiano-Reggiano, crushed garlic crisps and parsley. Sharing, while admittedly a fundamental tenet of kindergarten-taught principles, might prove difficult in this case; I recommend getting one serving per person, or you might find yourself in hand-to-hand combat over dinner.

Another stand-out on the menu is the Yan Su Ji, otherwise known as popcorn fried chicken. These bite-sized morsels come paired with a spicy aioli that is a house specialty. The creamy condiment is the perfect foil for the crunchy chicken, served piping hot. If you are looking for a quick bar snack with an ice cold beer, these guys do the trick.

Speaking of beer, MVP will be serving both beer and wine, further altering the tone from the old Humble Potato days.

Elevated offerings such as the Hainan Chicken Rice let you challenge your palette and be a little adventurous, especially if you are not familiar with traditional Taiwanese food. A nice balance of poached chicken, rice, cucumber, crushed garlic, cilantro, ginger and chili sauce, the Hainan Chicken will wake your palate right up.

My favorite dish is the Lu Rou Fan, a mouthwatering piece of slow-braised pork belly seasoned with shallots, ginger, roast garlic and herbs, served with rice and a soft-boiled egg. The meat just melted in my mouth. This is a meal I will crave in the weeks to come, and, with the garlic noodles, might just be my downfall.

As my server put it, the food at Most Valuable Playa “tastes like something someone’s grandmother made.”

I don’t know about you, but my grandma never cooked like this.