Noodle Soup for the Soul

Mimi 5 Bobee in Diamond Bar serves the best Taiwanese food in town, from the heart

Almost everyone loves to eat Chinese, but most will admit that it can get a bit boring after a while. Between the common dishes of spring rolls, chow mein, and orange chicken, sometimes there just isn’t enough variety.

But for those with Chinese food fatigue, there’s Mimi 5 Bobee, a small Taiwanese restaurant nestled away in a corner of a plaza located in suburban Diamond Bar. And although the small island of Taiwan is located just off the coast of China, Mimi 5 Bobee’s cuisine is worlds apart.

Owners Mark Chen and Chi Tsai.

The restaurant was started by Mark Chen and Chi Tsai, two friends that met decades ago as classmates at California State University Fullerton. Since both come from traditional business backgrounds, they made the decision to start a business together.

In April 2006, after an unsuccessful attempt to get into the Quizno’s franchise, they came to the conclusion that what they wanted was to start their own restaurant with a menu that reached back to their Taiwanese roots. And thus, Mimi 5 Bobee was born.

The unique name of “5 Bobee” came roughly translated from a popular Taiwanese song of that time, which many businesses were using to help Taiwanese customers better recognize their brand .

As for where “Mimi” came from — “Nothing. It means absolutely nothing. We just chose the name and stuck with it”, Chen said.

“People ask us that all the time, if the restaurant is named after one of our wives? It’s not, we just choose a name,” Tsai said.

The two admitted that they did not know much about running their own restaurant when they first began their business. Tsai said that he hadn’t even worked in a restaurant before starting their own business.

Chen said, “It’s easy to get into the restaurant business, anyone can get into it. You don’t even need to know English. But how do you keep it open, how do you keep your restaurant going? It’s hard.”

But the two eventually found success in December of 2012 when their beef noodle soup won “Best Noodle” at the Taiwanese Culture Festival in Los Angeles. The awards and accolades started coming in after that, and the two went on to expand from their Diamond Bar location across the San Gabriel Valley, with restaurants in Rowland Heights and Rancho Cucamonga.

Chen attributes the success of the restaurant to the quality of work they put into the food.

“It’s all about soul, man. About the heart and soul that we put into making food for our customers.”

“Our menu, we make it all here. We don’t buy from somebody else,” Tsai said.

All of the their main dishes are prepared from scratch, a fact that the two restaurateurs take pride in. A fact that is self-evident in their food’s taste.

Their beef noodle soup, now Mimi 5 Bobee’s signature dish, is prepared with thick wavy noodles and a savory beef broth that makes it unlike any other dish in this half of the world.

“All of our dishes are signature dishes, to me. Our Taiwanese dry noodle is awesome. Our fried pork chop is pretty good. Even our pork stew sauce, we make it two different ways. One for the rice, one for our noodle. No other Chinese restaurant does that, there is no way,” said Chen.

As for mistakes they have made in running the restaurants, the two friends joked that they set the price too low — wait, what??

Chen explained: “I mean, think about it. You go to McDonald’s, how much is a meal? Seven or eight bucks? How much is the smallest meal here? Our Combo A is $7.25, and you get a bowl of noodle and a drink. And that noodle was made on the spot, when you ordered it.”

Tsai added, “We are not fast food. So why are we priced like we are fast food?”

Well, their minor mistake is a major plus for college students in the area as it means that Mimi 5 Bobee is not just a restaurant with great food, but an affordable place to hang out.

Plus they have a pretty cool fish tank.