January 1, 2019

Golden new year

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It's the start of a new year, and just like last year, I went on an excursion away from the concrete jungle.  The difference, though, was that I'm spending it in Taiwan... and it's a very wet day.

We started the day by visiting the New Taipei City Government Gold Museum (新北市立黃金博物館) out in Jinguashi (金瓜石).  This area used to be a place where people mined for gold, so there is a whole complex of buildings showing different aspects of the industry - including dormitories where the miners used to live.  We walked through the grounds of the Jinguashi Crown Prince Chalet (太子賓館), where Emperor Hirohito (裕仁天皇) stayed in 1922 before his ascension to the chrysanthemum throne.

The main attraction here, of course, was the Gold Building (黃金館).  This building has an exhibit on the history of the industry, and includes a section on the Allied WWII POWs who were forced to work in the mines by the Japanese.  But the pièce de résistance would be that huge block of solid gold weighing in at 220.3kg, and visitors lined up to take their pictures with this baby.

Before we left the complex on this very wet day, I stopped by Alchemy Cafe (煉金文創咖啡) for a cup of coffee.  Given my love of anything gold, I really couldn't resist ordering up a cup of real gold coffee (真的999黃金咖啡).

We needed to get some lunch, so we moved to the touristy Jiufen Old Street (九份老街) looking for an old favorite of mine.  Unfortunately, it seems that the shop selling giant pork balls (貢丸) has changed hands, so eventually I gave up the search and had an unremarkable lunch at a place I didn't care to remember.

The Parental Units decided we should take Mama Kitty to Suntay Teppanyaki (三太養生鐵板燒) for dinner.  I haven't been back here for more than 10 years, but there was a time when I enjoyed the "healthy" take on teppanyaki (鉄板焼) served here.  The cooking here is very simple, without much seasoning, as it emphasizes showcasing the natural flavors of the ingredients.

We didn't need a lot of food, so the Parental Units chose the usual, smallest set (一太套餐).

We started with a cup of tea which was a blend of jujube and American ginseng, along with a small calamansi.  This was a little bitter.

As usual, we were served this homemade onion relish to accompany our food.  This was delicious enough on its own.

Wax apple with coriander

We were also given a piece of multigrain toast with Chinese knotweed (五穀何首烏養生麵包), which Hello Kitty didn't care for.

Then came a bowl with a piece of egg tofu (玉子豆腐), on top of which sat a slice of pan-seared scallop along with a slice of radish.  Meanwhile we also had a warm broth made from radish and scallop.

The first course cooked on the teppan was Chinese white shrimp (鮮活明蝦).

Next was an egg soft-cooked in an onion cocotte, then topped with a scallop seared on the side, and served with a few drops of Maggi sauce.  Too bad the scallop was overcooked.

White love (白色之戀) - Chinese yam (山藥) is cut into thin, noodle-like strands and rolled up, then dipped into a sauce made of jujube (紅棗) and red lees (紅麴).  We've also got a cherry tomato with a Thai basil leaf and raisin, as well as a petal from a mother-of-pearl plant (石蓮花) sprinkled with some plum powder.

Fragrant mouthful (一口香) - sitting in a cup made from loofah (絲瓜) was white ginger lily (野薑花) petals, an apple ball, and dried celtuce stem (貢菜).  Very clean and light flavors.

These shimeji mushrooms (占地茸) were simply steamed and lightly browned, and curiously came with a hint of seafood umami.

Top grade beef sirloin rolls (頂級沙朗牛肉卷) - there were three slices of sirloin, and each was rolled with a different stuffing:
Semi-dried tomato with Thai basil (風乾蕃茄和九層塔)

Kumquat with marinated chili (金桔和剝皮辣椒) - the chili was reasonably spicy, but thankfully the sweetness from the kumquat helped to neutralize it a little.

Flying fish roe, peeled chili, and perilla leaves (飛魚卵 剝皮辣椒和紫蘇) - the fish roe was still pretty crunchy.

Fried rice (黃金炒飯) - made with Maggi sauce.

Baby bok choy (青江菜苗) - served with ponzu (ポン酢).

Tea and fruits

Dorayaki (銅鑼焼き)

This being New Year's Day and all, and since we had a quiet night last night, we brought along a nice bottle of Champagne.

Jacques Selosse V.O., dégorgée le 15 Octobre2009 - pretty mature now, of course nose was oxidized, showing marmalade and minerality.

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