March 25, 2012

Fusion cha chaan teng in Taipei

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Our family went tomb sweeping today ahead of the upcoming holiday, and the few of us present in Taipei had a casual gathering over lunch afterwards.  I wanted to try out Happy Hong Kong (港欣新潮茶餐廳), and the others kindly agreed to indulge me.

To be honest, I didn't have high expectations.  I found out about this place through a TV program, and found out that they serve "creative" cha chaan teng (茶餐廳) food.  While some of the fusion dishes looked interesting, I didn't like the fact that the owner - the son of an old-time celebrity - spent time showing us how much money he spent on decorations… and how the seeming small elements cost a ton of money because they were special and imported.  For a casual meal that I would have in this place, food is much more important than the decor.

We were all very hungry, so we started ordering this and that - with a good mix between the more traditional and the creative/fusion dishes.

Triple combination: char-grilled pork neck, lime & marmalade dip;  honeyed BBQ pork; roasted crackling marble pork (三拼:炭燒豬頸肉,配青檸及苦橙皮醬;蜜汁叉燒;脆皮燒腩仔) - the pork neck was pretty decent, and the BBQ pork was as I had come to expect in Taiwan - only so-so.  Unfortunately I didn't get around to taste the crackling marble pork, but I suspect the crackling would have been soggy and disappointing.

Drunken chicken roll with fresh goose liver stuffing (鵝肝醉雞卷) - mom ordered this since she loves foie gras.  I thought it was an interesting idea, and tasted OK.  Mom was a little disappointed and felt the liver stuffing was simply too bland.

Macanese pork chop in hard roll (澳門豬扒包) - this was actually pretty good.  The roll was hard as it should have been, and the pork chop was yummy.  The caramelized onions on top was sure tasty.

Wontons in lobster bisque (龍蝦湯雲吞) - the wontons were kinda OK, with whole shrimps and minced pork inside.  The lobster bisque, however, was simply too bland.  Yes, the sweetness of the seafood was there, but where was the taste of the ocean?  It was both under-seasoned and diluted… Maybe the restaurant wanted to cut down cost by adding water to the bisque.

Pan-fried extra turnip cake with XO sauce (香煎XO醬蘿蔔糕) - pretty good, surprisingly a little on the sweet side.

Pan-fried stuffed eggplant with shrimp in black bean sauce (豉汁香煎茄子釀蝦膠) - surprisingly very good!  Liked the flavors of the eggplant in black bean sauce, and the shrimp paste was tasty.

Taro & preserved meats fried semi-sticky rice with dried shrimps, green peas & peanuts (臘味芋頭炒半糯米飯) - not great.  The rice was simply a little too soggy, the result of not being fried at the correct (read: high) heat - there was no "wok hei (鑊氣)".

Stir-fried beef ho-fan (爽口乾炒牛河) - I thought this was OK, although I noticed it was rather sweet and not very savory.  Mom complained about the translucence of the noodles…

Stewed beef & bean vermicelli with satay sauce in claypot (茶嗲牛肉粉絲煲) - this was pretty much as I expected… Not a sophisticated dish but it works when you're in the mood.

I ordered a cup of Hong Kong style coffee (港式咖啡), but it tasted just like a "normal" Americano without the intense, almost burnt flavor from the roast.  It also came black, whereas cha chaan tengs in Hong Kong serve their coffee with evaporated milk (淡奶) already added.

Overall I thought the food was OK.  I can see a few things which have been copied from Tsui Wah (翠華) in Hong Kong, while the chefs - several of them have been poached from 5-star hotels around town - have tried to put forth their own creations.  Maybe I'll come back another time and try some more cha chaan teng classics and see how they stack up to the real thing...

1 comment:

Michelle Chin said...

Food looks kinda decent though


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