July 16, 2011

Grandma's birthday

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It's rare that I'm able to be in Taipei for grandma's birthday, especially when my own parents failed to remind me to fly back for her big 90th a few years ago.  The timing of my move, therefore, was pretty perfect... given that I was able to help celebrate her 97th (in Chinese terms) just 2 days after my arrival.

Dad made a booking at the Xin Yi branch of Ji Pin Restaurant (吉品海鮮餐廳).  This place has long been cited as one of the best Cantonese joints in town, and where they supposedly are able to provide good wine service.  I've always wanted to check this place out, and was pretty happy the opportunity came so soon after landing.

I left the ordering to the adults, and instead just sat back and see what comes out of the kitchen.  They decided to order a few items of dim sum, which I kinda chided them about. For some reason, Cantonese restaurants in Taiwan insist on serving dim sum at dinner.  This is why tourists come to Hong Kong and are surprised that they can't have dim sum at night, because they don't realize that dim sum is eaten only for breakfast and lunch...  Sigh.

There were a bunch of cold starters laid out on the table, and as usual this ravenous bunch dug in immediately...

Pressed tofu cubes and peanuts (花生豆干) - peanuts were not bad...

Honey roasted cashews

Sautéed string beans with minced pork (干扁四季豆) - these were OK.

Pumpkin with salty egg yolk (黃金南瓜)

Marinated mixed vegetables - kinda nice and refreshing for the summer.

Barbecued pork and roast goose (叉燒燒鴨雙拼) - the char siu was surprisingly succulent and fatty.  The roast goose was OK.

Steamed sea shrimps with lotus leaf (荷葉蒸密碼蝦) - nice and sweet.

Sautéed sliced giant garoupa with assorted vegetable (如意吉祥炒龍躉) - pretty surprised to see this on the menu in Taiwan, as I didn't know there were any giant garoupas (龍躉) in our waters.  I've never cared for this fish, because I just don't like the chewy texture.  The clueless adults had no idea what they were ordering - in fact they thought they had ordered sole (龍脷)...  *speechless*

Braised e-fu noodles (干燒伊麵) - I have no idea why this came in the middle of the meal, as carbs should always be served last.  This had to be ordered for the birthday in order to wish for longevity.  Tasted OK.

Turnip cake (臘味蘿蔔糕) - FAIL.  Too powdery and not enough actual radish.

Fried rice with salted fish and chicken (鹹魚雞粒炒飯) - this was OK, but once again I'm bothered that rice was served in the middle of the meal, especially at a high-end place like this.  They should know better.

Braised goose web (炆鵝掌) - they didn't braise it long enough, so it wasn't as soft and mushy.

Sautéed dice chicken with spicy and sour sauce (宮保雞丁) - OK this is just kung pao chicken, which I normally wouldn't order.  I guess this was OK...

Deep-fried tofu skin roll with shrimp paste (鮮蝦腐皮卷) - this was not bad.

Sautéed beef with garlic - this was a little unusual, as the sauce was a little sour.

Stewed rib eye of beef with tomato, onion, celery in red wine sauce (紅酒燴牛尾) - no, you morons!  It's ox tail, not rib eye!  Anyway, this was not executed well, as some pieces were tender and some pieces a little tough.  The bits I tasted were pretty nice - not quite falling off the bone, but still good.  Mom's piece was undercooked.

Steamed barbecued pork buns (叉燒包) - I took one look at this and decided not to bother.  The bun was totally the wrong shape, and looked more like Shanghainese steamed pork or veggie buns instead.  Has the chef never seen a proper char siu bao?!

Longevity buns (壽包) - looked pretty nice, but this was a little disappointing.  The bun itself had too mushy of a texture, and the filling of runny yolk and cream wasn't done very well.

1995 Lokoya Mount Veeder - the 14.5% alcohol really made its presence felt, as it was very alcoholic on the nose, with a hot palate and burned a little going down.  In fact it was almost like paint thinner... were it not for the slightly sweet nose and a bit of the grilled meat notes.  Kinda disappointing.

For my first dining experience here, I thought the food was not too bad... especially considering the price.  The parental units had dined at the other branch and had gotten burned by the expensive items, but once you skip those the prices for other dishes are very reasonable.  We were a little surprised at how few crispy chickens were available each day, and we didn't get ours without pre-ordering.  Service was very good, including the wine service!  They had nice wine glasses, and the waitress poured a few sips into our glasses without me saying a word.  I think this could be the place where I'd want to bring wine for dinner...


Hälsporren said...

Looks yummy! I looove dry fried green beans. Makes my mouth water...

scubagolfer said...

Welcome back to Taipei!

Just wondering: are you going to move your huge wine collection to Taiwan? If so, watch out for the hefty import duty!

Peech said...

I'm leaving all my wines in HK for now becos of the import duties. 25% isn't so steep when you consider HK used to have it at 80%...


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