May 16, 2010

A little taste of Yilan

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I'm spending some time with family in Taipei, and we decided to have a casual meal around "my" neighborhood.  Lu San (呂桑) is a casual place specializing in cuisine from Yilan (宜蘭), so we thought it'd be interesting to try it out.  We ordered up a storm, sat down and the food started arriving in no time.

First on the table was the pig intestine in miso (味增大腸).  I didn't taste any miso but it didn't's intestine and it was really tender!

Then came the shredded duck (宜蘭鴨賞) that tasted a lot like one of mom's dishes during Lunar New Year.  It's basically dried/seasoned duck served with garlic shoots and chili peppers.  A little chewy but very interesting.  It's called "moon-gazing duck" because the ducks are hung outdoors and moon beam shines upon them during full moon, so the locals quip that the ducks are actually moon-gazing (賞月)...

Fresh oysters in garlic sauce (蒜味鮮蚵) - the oysters are lightly blanched so that they're not fully cooked...and mixed with the classic garlic sauce and shredded ginger...

Sliced pork with red lees (紅糟肉) - the pork was just too lean and those really lean char siu (叉燒) that I hate.  The red lees of Shaoxing wine made the dish look interesting, but that's about it.

Sweetfish with roe (有卵香魚) - the fish roe took up most of the space inside the fish, and there was only a very thin layer of flesh on the outside...but it was sweet and delicious.

Marinated okra (秋葵) - with some vinaigrette and bonito (鰹) flakes.

Sliced pig's liver (粉肝) - very, very soft and tender...cooked just enough and retains all the moisture.

Yilan gaozha (宜蘭高渣) - not having been to Yilan before, the only times I've had this was at Da Shan Wu Jia (大山無價).  The version here is obviously a lot more down market, but still very good nonetheless.  It's basically deep-fried chicken soup, with some starch to solidify the liquids a little.  Grandma kept eating this since it requires almost no chewing effort...

Marinated eggplant and Chinese yam (茄子拌山藥) - this was OK.

Steamed chicken (白斬雞) - pretty nicely done.  There was just enough seasoning, and they dunked the chicken into ice water to make sure the skin has bounce.

Liver flower (宜蘭肝花) - basically chopped pig's liver with water chestnut, spring onions...etc wrapped into tofu skin and deep-fried.  Pretty good actually...

Japanese deep-fried tofu (日式炸豆腐) - basically 揚げ出し豆腐... Very juicy inside so that when I bit into my piece, it squirted all over the place...

The two desserts were pretty interesting... The pan-fried kumquat cake (宜蘭棗糕) was made guessed it...pieces of preserved kumquat (金桔/棗).  Needless to say it goes very well with the preserved kumquat tea they've been serving.

The last item was deep-fried longan rice cakes (桂圓米糕).  Basically a rice ball with pieces of dried longan (桂圓), coated with a layer of flour and deep-fried.  The flavors were subtle and nice.

It's always nice to come home and get a taste of Taiwan...

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