October 6, 2018

Dad's bday 2018: a Tasting gone awry

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Given the lack of decent Cantonese restaurants in Taipei, I wanted to bring mom to one of my favorite places while they were in town.  I thought there were a few dishes at Tasting Court (天一閣) mom would find interesting, so that became my choice for tonight. A menu was proposed, and as usual I made a few changes, then cut the number of dishes down by one to accommodate the old fogeys.

Steamed orange stuffed with crab meat (白玉紅蟳釀金盞) - one of my favorite dishes here.  As instructed, I spooned some of the Huadiao wine from the bowl onto the contents inside the orange, which included diced onions, Chinese celery, water chestnuts, kaffir lime leaves, and egg white.  Good dose of fruitiness and acidity.

Chinese grilled pork chop with soybean (西班牙黑毛豬叉燒) - mom was pretty impressed with both the texture as well as the marinade.

But she wasn't a fan of the pickled radish, where the vinegar irritated her throat.

Slow-cooked whole melon stuffed with wild duck and dried peel (陳皮水鴨冬瓜盅) - nice fragrance from the aged tangerine peel here, and the winter melon was nice.  Loved the soup but it did have a little dose of pepper.

Mom and dad were the only ones who wanted to eat the dregs...

Steamed fresh flowery crab with aged Shaoxing wine served with rice noodle (香醉紅蟳) - mom looooves crabs, so of course I was happy to see her eat as much as she wanted. 

Slow-cooked meat ball in chicken soup (隋王斬肉) - I wondered if they have changed the recipe for the meatball, but mom seemed pretty convinced that there was more than pork here, given the fluffy and bouncy texture.  Meanwhile I lamented the fact that they took away the napa cabbage...

Pan fried whole crispy chicken stuffed with shrimp paste (江南百花雞) - when I first saw the name of the dish in Chinese, I was imagining the skin to be steamed, but I guess I wouldn't complain about crispy chicken skin... Not bad, although mom was surprised about the addition of kaffir lime leaves, and found it a little "fusion".

Vegetable scalded in fish soup (魚湯浸時蔬) - this will always be well-received by this crowd.  What's not to like about a whole bowl of veggies, especially when there's ginkgo nuts?  And I loooove loofah!

Prawn roe stirred noodle with prawn and shallot essence oil (蝦子蝦油蔥油撈麵) - hands down one of my favorite dishes here, and tonight this did not disappoint.  Soooo much flavor here from the prawn and shallot oil, along with the prawn roe and diced spring onions.  Couldn't resist having myself a second bowl, and took the leftovers home.

Osmanthus and coconut jelly (桂花椰汁糕)

Huadiao with dried jujube dessert drink (花雕紅棗飲) - love the cold and sweet drink with Huadiao wine.  Meanwhile jujube is totally up mom's alley.

Snow fungus sweet soup in papaya (木瓜燉雪耳) - I thought this would come inside a hollowed-out papaya half, but I guess not... Still, this was very, very good... and both moms were big fans.

Lelarge-Pugeot Rosé de Saignée, dégorgée le 20 juillet 2015 - nose was a little strong and pungent, but definitely a lot of red fruits here.  A little bitter on the palate.

2002 Kongsgaard Chardonnay - totally oxidized, a bit sugary and candied orange peel, marmalade on the nose.  Short and flat on the finish, with some acidity and lemon citrus.  Second pour about an hour later was better, but the palate was still short.

Mom seemed to enjoy her meal, and dad certainly did.

P.S. Unfortunately for her, mom had to endure a fairly sleepless night as her throat reacted to some of the seasonings with chemicals used in the restaurant's cooking, and she coughed as her throat turned dry.  Even her usual remedy of Fisherman's Friend throat lozenges - along with three cups of water - didn't help.  I felt terrible, as I try to be careful when choosing restaurants for mom precisely because of her sensitivity to artificial seasoning.  With all the story-telling from the restaurant about their "old school" recipes, it seems the kitchen still can't help but resort to artificial seasoning.  I guess you just never know...

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