May 27, 2013

Grand setting, simple food

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A couple of my ex-colleagues were in town today, and wanted to meet up for dinner.  No surprise that the task of picking a restaurant fell on my shoulders, even though one of them used to live in Hong Kong and know the town pretty well.  After some arm-twisting to at least give me some direction, I ended up picking Cuisine Cuisine (國金軒) in IFC.  My last visit was a few years ago, and I wanted to see what things are like nowadays.  After all, these guys have themselves a little macaron… and it's always interesting to see if these places deserve them.

I was flipping through the menu, and some the first things that caught my attention were actually dishes that are classically Cantonese, yet very much favored by gweilos…  I joked with my friends about ordering stuff like lemon chicken, sweet and sour pork…etc.  They seemed to let me order whatever I wanted…

Deep-fried taro silk with Chinese vinegar (金絲珠豆) - a last-minute decision to order something "interesting".  This looked a little different from the picture on the menu, but never mind.  I figured the ladies would enjoy the taro… Basically this was a tower of shredded taro, together with some raw onions and peanuts, drizzled in a light vinegar sauce.  Pretty yummy, actually… but I seemed to have enjoyed it more than the ladies, which I find a little odd.

Honey-glazed barbecued pork (蜜餞叉燒皇) - can't come here without ordering their char siu (叉燒).  This wasn't the most tender char siu I've ever had, but it sure was tasty!  There was a good balance between the tender parts and other parts which were slightly more chewy; a good mix between fatty and lean parts.  The flavors were also a little stronger, which I liked.  I had a tough time finding decent char siu in Taipei, and wanted to give the ladies a chance to enjoy it while they're here.

Sweet and sour pork with strawberries (草莓咕嚕肉) - yes, I did order this… but one of my guests found it too sour… For someone who normally doesn't like things which are acidic on the palate, I thought it was just fine.  A pretty decent version.

Stir-fried kale (清炒芥藍) - this had a slight bitterness to it, and produced a sweet aftertaste.

Fried rice with conpoy, scallop and egg white (瑤柱帶子蛋白炒飯) - this was executed very, very well.  Rice grains were individually separated, dry on the outside thanks to high heat, yet still chewy with bite.  Delicious.

2000 La Croix de Beaucaillou - sweet and fruity on the nose, with cedar, mint, and smoke.  Also some coffee notes.  Really lovely after 2 hours.

I didn't quite get to order some of the more "creative" dishes here, but the food was still pretty solid.  Maybe I need to come a little more often?  Definitely doing the lemon chicken next time!

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