November 8, 2011

The cousin from the north

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Dyson 2000 was in town on business, and was kind enough to stick around for an extra evening after traversing our little beautiful isle visiting clients in the space of a day.  I, of course, tried to be a good host and took her to a couple of local places.  The poor thing had nothing to eat but bentos (便當) bought at the various train stations!

Our first stop was at Lu Sang (呂桑), the same place I took David when he was in town a few months ago.  I decided to let the starving woman choose her own dinner, so didn't make any recommendations at first...

Steamed chicken (白斬雞) - compared to what David and I had last time, the portion tonight was downright puny!  Maybe because this time I came with a lady instead of a big guy...  I think the chicken itself was still decent, but we didn't get a lot of meat to gauge the texture.  The skin was good, though.

Rice with pork lard (豬油拌飯) - there was never any doubt that we would each order a bowl of this... and guess who "Dyson'ed" what was in her bowl?   Then again, what's not to love about lard?!

Deep-fried pork with spring onions (三星卜肉) - never had this before... Strips of pork are coated in starch batter and deep-fried.  Dyson 2000 kept wondering about the batter, since she felt it was distinctively sweet.  There were clumps of deep-fried spring onions, which were of a special cultivar called Sanshing (三星) from Yilan (宜蘭)... kinda like Japanese kaki-age (かき揚げ).

Deep-fried liver flower (肝花) - the mix of chopped liver, water chestnut...etc. in tofu skin was pretty OK.

Yilan gaozha (宜蘭高渣) - initially I didn't order this, but I knew that Dyson 2000 wanted a little something more, and this is something really special for me.  Deep-fried chicken soup in batter.  The chunks would fall apart with the slightest pressure at the wrong location.  Literally melts in your mouth.  It's obvious that the batter has absorbed a lot of oil in the frying process, but this is just too good...

Our northern cousin obviously still had lots of stomach space, so we hit another one of my favorites just down the street.  Sit Fun (喫飯食堂) also sells Taiwanese fare, but doesn't have the Yilan specialties that Lu Sang offers.

Dyson 2000 sat down and immediately started to work on a bowl of rice flour vermicelli with sesame oil (麻油麵線).  I was already pretty full from the pork lard rice, so I saved room for the other dishes we were about to have...

Stir-fried bird's-nest fern with white bait (炒山蘇) - Taiwanese people love eating their fern, and I relish the opportunity to have something a little unusual.  The stems and the tips are crunchy, while the leaves are a little slippery and felt a little more like kelp (昆布).  Fried with yummy white bait as well as marinated manjack berries (破布子).

Pan-fried pig's liver (香煎豬肝) - this is what we came for.  Mom loves the fried liver here instead of the perfectly steamed variety at Lu Sang.  Tonight we felt the slices were a little too thin, so the center was a little overdone.  The exterior was still yummy and slightly browned/singed.  I guess it's just personal preference.

With our bellies full, I took my guest on a tour of the Shinyi branch of Eslite (誠品) since it's close to her hotel.  We toured most of the floors here, including both the lifestyle section as well as the vast selection of books and magazines.  Like many people before us, we wondered if it were possible to have something like this in Hong Kong... and whether the high rental was the only hurdle.  Oh well, she's always welcome to visit anytime...

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