July 11, 2010

Too far East...

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I met up with a friend for lunch today.  I had foolishly forgotten to reserve a table at the venue we agreed upon, which left us scrambling to find a replacement on short notice.  Finding a suitable place for lunch/brunch in Taipei is a real challenge.  There are just so many places out there offering the same old stuff... totally generic, bland and uninspiring.  Of course, any place good enough to be interesting to me ends up being fully booked, and I'm left to continue the search.

It literally took us more than an hour of brain-wracking, combing through blogs, review sites...etc to finally decide on Joyce East.  I figured a place like that wouldn't be too busy on a Sunday, and sure enough, I got us a table.  Neither of us have ever eaten here, and it was a chance to see whether the reputation was well-deserved.

Once I sat down and looked at the menu, I realized there wasn't much on the menu that I wanted here, either...  Sigh...  I joked about getting up and going to N.Y. Bagels next door, but we didn't.  I wasn't in the mood to take the set lunch menu as I wanted to save some room for dinner, so I decided to order à la carte.

The green salad with crab meat was very pretty to look at, having been constructed with great care.  The flavors were light and fresh - slices of poached egg under the crab meat, garnished with mixed greens, tomato, fig, brunoise of red beet and a splash of balsamic vinaigrette.  The portion was somewhat smaller than I expected, but I did want a light lunch. 

The baked pigeon from Bresse was one of the specials, and I'm always happy to have pigeon or any kind of bird from Bresse.  However I did make one crucial mistake - I forgot that I wasn't dining in a restaurant with a French chef.  You see, no self-respecting French chef would ever send out a bird that was cooked beyond pink, and I had gotten used to having them like this - which I do prefer.  However, many Asians - especially in less-sophisticated cities - still have trouble accepting pink/bloody meat in birds.  Sure enough, my pigeon came well-done, and a little too heavy on the salt for my taste.  Otherwise the seasoning was fine, and the skin was crispy and nice.  I can almost imagine the chef pressing the meat into the pan to make sure the meat was thoroughly cooked... Sigh...

I didn't have any dessert, nor did we drink any wine, but I did manage to pick up a bottle.  I browsed through the wine list and told myself that the 1990 Haut-Brion Blanc was listed at a pretty reasonable price, especially for dining-in.  After spending some time confirming the retail price of the wine around the world, I asked the restaurant to sell me a bottle.  I'm sure I'll be able to find an occasion to open this baby, and soon...

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