May 17, 2009

The mountain is still priceless - for now

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To celebrate their ruby anniversary with the extended family, my parents took us back to Da Shan Wu Jia (大山無價), the restaurant where we celebrated my birthday last year. As it's been almost a year since my last visit, I was curious to see how much things have changed.

As it turns out, just about nothing has changed. The menu was almost exactly the same as last June. Perhaps it was because both visits were during the same season, so we get served the same seasonal items... My enthusiasm waned a little.

We started with a small cube of red wine jelly, acting as amuse bouche. I made quick work of this.

The peanut tofu topped with wolfberry (枸杞), pinenuts, a dab of wasabi and served with bamboo shoot on the side. This time the tofu was a bit more like Chinese boiled peanuts than I remembered, with some Japanese bonito sauce for flavoring. The summer bamboo shoot was still nice and sweet, but the little bit of aiyu (愛玉) jelly underneath was new.

Once again we had the poached scallop in burdock (牛蒡) soup, garnished with fresh daylily (金針) and tomato, with a sprinkle of paprika. The scallop was really delicious, being fresh and tender and cooked perfectly. The thick burdock soup, with just a little amount of kick, was good enough for everyone to have seconds.

The glass was filled with assorted sashimi such as amaebi (甘エビ) and a mackerel/herring roe (鯖/数の子) combination on top. Underneath the fish was a salad of red and yellow capsicum, cucumber, lily bulb, lettuce and strips of cuttlefish. The onion vinegar for the salad was again very delicious.

A small shot glass of black plum vinegar came to clear our palate.

A bamboo basket came bearing some steamed pork ribs in rice powder with fermented red bean paste (紅粬粉蒸肉), topped with scallions , fresh corn with some taro. This was different from last time and pretty delicious. We were also served some nice pu er (普洱) tea to go along with the pork。

The Yilan gaozha (宜蘭高渣) was as yummy as last time. The deep-fried tofu-like jelly made from mushroom and chicken stock had lots of flavor, nicely complemented by the veggie puree. The addition of celery made it particularly fragrant.

A stack of grilled tiger prawns came out like last time, with grilled eggplant, green beans, pumpkin and deep-fried sweet potato on the side. There was a sprinkle of salt and pepper on top of the prawns, helping to bring out the natural sweetness.

Iced osmanthus vinegar came for some more palate cleansing.

A bowl of mushroom gomoku rice came with a thin slice of deep-fried mullet roe (烏魚子) on top. The mullet roe was incredibly fragrant after being fried, and really made the dish.

The pot of waterlily chicken soup (蓮花雞湯) was much larger this time since we had 3 times the number of people as my last visit. Once again there was a large waterlily flower floating on top, with bamboo shoots, lotus seeds, chickpeas, ginko nuts and chunks of tapioca roots inside. Everybody loved the soup, and we packed up the unfinished portion to take home.

The waterlily tea that followed was a great way to cleanse our palates, and at the same time it served to "cool" our systems.

Finally the fruit and the dessert were served - mashed sweet taro in a soup with longan (龍眼), red jujube (紅棗) and candied kumquat (金橘). It was very, very good - so much that some of us had two servings!

It was a really nice, long lunch on a lazy Sunday. The food was just as good as last time, and I can see that the execution level has not slipped from a year ago. However, given that the menu has remained almost unchanged, I probably wouldn't be coming back in the near future...

3 comments:

Leada said...

Hi Peech, love ur blog!! tks for all the sharing :) I have a short biz trip coming up to Taichung, couldn't find anything on ur blog, so wondering if you happen to know any wonderful restaurants there. I've booked Le Mout for now, any good? How about Chinese places? Thanks a million!!!

Peech said...

Hi Leada, sorry I can't be of much help. I haven't spent much time in Taichung so there is only one entry about a cheap local place. The only thing that comes to mind is the Grand View restaurant at the National Art Museum which is run by the Landis Hotel I believe. I haven't been but they always do a decent job with their food.

Leada said...

ok np i'll do some more research then. Tks for the reply!! 

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