So... after a quiet dinner at home with the Parental Units on my Gregorian calendar birthday, I would go out for a celebratory birthday dinner of sorts on my lunar calendar birthday - which happened to fall on the very next day this year. For this occasion, I would be joined by a couple of special guests...
According to the Great One, it has probably been more than a decade since she stepped foot in Taiwan - outside of Taoyuan International Airport, that is. She had been asking me to take her around Taiwan for a few years, and she's finally decided to grace my homeland with her presence. Since she's flying into Taoyuan anyway, we decided to start her tour in Taichung with a meal at the highest-ranked restaurant from Taiwan on the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list - Le Moût.
It's been almost 5 years since my first and only visit to the restaurant, and I found it a little wanting back then. HaoKouFu told me that she thought the cuisine has improved over the last few years, so I was looking forward to checking it out...
After getting off the high speed rail, I took our group to National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (國立台灣美術館). It's close to the restaurant, and they happen to be holding an exhibition of Japanese ukiyo-e (浮世絵) art in conjunction with the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum (東京富士美術館). It was a rare chance to see some legendary prints from the era, such as 31 of the Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido (東海道五十三次) from Utakawa Hiroshige (歌川広重) and 17 of the Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji (富嶽三十六景) from Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾北斎).
With some time to kill before our early dinner, we stopped by L'atelier de Bon Pain next to the museum. This actually turned out to be a decent bakery opened by someone who had won some kind of prize at Mondial du Pain 2011. We sampled a few of their selections, including kouign amann, canelé, gâteau breton... which weren't bad at all.
Finally it was 6pm and we walked through the gates of Le Moût to meet up with HaoKouFu. After spending a few minutes making sure we were dressed for dinner, we were seated at our corner table while the sun was still out.
Since we had booked the table directly with Chef Lanshu Chen (陳嵐舒), we were asked if we could prefer the "regular" menu or the special menu the chef had prepared for our little group. Well... since the chef wanted to show us her special dishes, it would be rather uncivilized for us to turn down her kind offer. So we eagerly awaited for what was in store for us...
Pastry puff stuffed with char siu - like a char siu pineapple bun (菠蘿叉燒包). There were definitely bits of char siu here, and the green sauce inside reminded us of the garlic herb butter we often see with escargots à la Bourguignonne.
A beautiful dish delivering light and refreshing flavors, accented by the intense perfume of black truffles. I think this was everyone's favorite.
There were what seemed like bits of crunchy, buttery cookies on the side with white sesame inside.
Pretty decent chicken. Although I'm not sure that it reminds me of beggar's chicken, at least it was a helluva lot more interesting than the chicken I had here 5 years ago.
Everything seemed to work together perfectly. Nothing was too sweet or too sour. You had a variety of textures from the melting sorbet, soft pudding, to slightly crunchier white fungus and finally the lotus seeds. And decorated with nasturtium and wax begonia to look like a waterlily pond.
Egly-Ouriet "Les Vignes de Vrigny" Premier Cru, dégorgée en Juillet 2015 - rich and full-bodied on the palate with a long finish. Very interesting and toasty nose, with a bit of caramel.
P.S. I am still a little bummed that the others decided not to offer Chef Lanshu our congratulations...