December 29, 2018

General Chang's chicken

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I'm back in Taiwan for a few days over year-end, and figured I would show Hello Kitty and Mama Kitty a few sights while we're here.  One of the places that has been in the back of my mind has been Marshall Zen Garden (少帥禪園) - which was opened a few years ago by an acquaintance on Facebook.  Located at the former residence of Marshal Chang Hsueh-liang (張學良, apparently later also known as Peter Chang!) where he was under house arrest for more than 50 years, the complex includes a restaurant, a tea house, as well as facilities for onsen (溫泉).  As it's situated on the hillside, I figured the setting would be pretty nice while offering some fresh, clean air and views of the city.

The weather hasn't been great since we arrived in Taipei, and there was the drizzle this morning.  After checking in at the gate of the complex, we carefully climbed down some fairly steep steps to the building housing the restaurant.

While the others chose the Young Marshal Course (少帥私房套餐), I went a little more premium and got the Elite General Course (大帥府傳套餐) - named in honor of the Marshal's father Chang Tso-lin (張作霖).

We've got some pickles to help us whet our appetites, starting with green papaya marinated in passion fruit juice, along with wakame (若布), and radish pickled with perilla leaves.

Green soybeans (毛豆)

The first course was the longevity trio (長壽三寶), featuring 3 little bite-sized appetizers.
Braised abalone (紅燒一品鮑) - there was a chunk of very bland radish beneath the abalone.

King grouper radish cake (龍虎斑蘿蔔糕) - with some XO sauce on top.

Beef shank jelly (牛腱珊瑚凍) - some enoki mushrooms (えのき茸) inside.

Pan-fried lobster with pineapple puree served with grilled pineapple (少帥最愛蝦:霸王豪宴蝦) - unfortunately the lobster was overcooked. 

The purée it was made with pineapple, ginger, and butter.  This was a weird combination that I didn't like.

Fried threadfin fish with mash potato (大帥竹午魚) - fourfinger threadfin is a really delicious fish, and the texture was very soft and fine.  Very nicely deep-fried.

Fresh homemade organic rose vinegar (漢卿趙四玫瑰醋飲) - not sure how vinegar could be "fresh", but this definitely tasted of rose petals.  Taken together with some preserved plums.

Braised pork knee tendon (大帥府傳燉虎掌) - the tendons were tender, and the chili pepper chiffonade on top was surprisingly spicy.  I wondered if the half-chicken from the Young Marshal Course was any good...

Tulip and quinoa rice (伙房養生飯) - this was OK.  Was there really tulip here?

This braised pork rice (滷肉飯) was part of the Young Marshal Course.  Ho-hum.

Chicken and the jinhua ham based soup, with assorted seafoods such as scallops and fishmaw steamed for hours (漢卿佛跳牆) - with sea cucumber, pig trotter tip, taro, bamboo shoots, garlic, shiitake mushroom, dried squid tentacles.  I could feel some collagen on my lips after finishing the soup.

Seasonal vegetables (趙四獨門蔬食) - this was OK, but not much seasoning here.

Seasonal fruit (寶島四季鮮果) - the melon was pretty ripe and sweet.

Bird's nest with coconut milk (大帥府傳甜品:椰香燉桃膠雪燕) - this was , with bird's nest, hasma (雪蛤膏), peach resin (桃膠), jujube all in coconut milk.  Pretty nice, actually.

The food here was OK, but coming here is more about the setting and the view.  And surprisingly the skies cleared up for a couple of hours while we were here, and we even had to shield ourselves from the glare of the sun after lunch when we strolled around the grounds.

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