November 2, 2018

Hungry Hungarian in Taipei: all about that pork

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We had about 2 hours to kill between our long lunch and an incredibly early dinner, and I seriously needed help in digesting lunch, so the Hungry Hungarian and I parked ourselves at Fika Fika Cafe so that I could have a second cuppa in about an hour... and to while away the time.  While my friend took a simple espresso for the injection of caffeine to keep away the jetlag, I took a Yirgacheffe that was served two ways.

Fortunately we were just a couple of blocks away from dinner, and when we showed up at My灶 at 5:30 p.m. after walking in a drizzle, I really wasn't hungry at all...  And trying to order Chinese food for two people really sucks.  I knew I wouldn't be able to try all the dishes that looked appealing to me... Incidentally, the English translations of the dishes' names are pretty interesting.

Each table had a little plate of sliced green papaya marinated in passion fruit sauce.  This was nice, and the acidity whetted my appetite somewhat.

Omelette w/a crunch (菜脯蛋) - the Taiwanese classic, with diced bits of preserved radish that adds a nice crunch - as well as some salty flavors - to the fluffy omelette.

The tubes (四季肥腸) - the restaurant had sold out of 蒼蠅頭, which was given the name of 'lord of flies' here, so they recommended this instead.

As the Chinese name suggestions, this was simply a combination - albeit slightly unusual to me - of string beans and pig intestines.  The intestines have been cut into strips before being deep-fried, giving them a crunchy texture.  Stir-fried together with garlic and chili.

Crispy pork chop (My灶排骨酥) - it's been a long time since I last had Taiwanese fried pork chop, which usually comes coated with batter.  Here the pork has been chopped into chunks, then served with a pile of deep-fried garlic along with diced spring onions and chilis.  Very heavy-handed in terms of flavors here, but that was to be expected.  I also liked the fine shreds of deep-fried taro on top.

Braised pork rice (滷肉飯) - one does not come here without ordering this Taiwanese classic, and against the advice of A Hungry Girl's Guide to Taipei, the Hungry Hungarian and I shared a bowl.  But what a glorious bowl this was!

I had dragged my friend to one of numerous branches of Formosa Chang (鬍鬚張) last night to try their braised pork rice - which I really like because they only use pork fat and skin.  This was the same style... without any ground pork - but so much better!  If only I had more stomach space... I would never have shared this bowl, but taken it all for myself!

With our bellies full, I took my friend to the famous Shilin Night Market (士林觀光夜市).  We needed to spend some time standing upright and walking around to aid digestion.  I picked up a couple of T-shirts while our visitor shopped for a cover for his phone... all the while being amazed at the fact that many of these stalls where people play games trying to win prizes can still manage to survive in today's age of smartphones and video games.

We had one last stop to make before I bid my friend goodbye. For a number of years now foodies around the world have been enamored with the bao... or the so-called Chinese hamburger.  Well, I couldn't pass up the chance to introduce my friend to "the OG"... the Taiwanese guabao (割包).  And there's no better place than Lan Jia Gua Bao (藍家割包), just across the street from National Taiwan University.

It's been a while since I was last here, so I was a little surprised at the five choices on offer here: fatty, lean, half-and-half, half-and-half with more fat, and half-and-half with more lean.

And OF COURSE I went for the "all fat (肥肉)"!  Love the mixture of braised pork fat, pickled mustard greens (梅乾菜), coriander, and peanut powder.  I can't tell you how much I've missed this...  I could feel my stomach jut out as I'm halfway through this, but I powered through and finished the damn thing.

So I've been stuffing my face for the last 15 hours, and I really don't want to think about eating again for a while... So I bid farewell to my friend, wished him good luck on his travels down south as well as around the region, and I look forward to seeing him in another city soon.

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