July 13, 2022

Going up a different mountain

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Time to catch up with more friends I haven't seen for too long. I last saw the King almost exactly 3 years ago when he was in Hong Kong for a few days, and my other friend was last in Hong Kong nearly 5 years ago. I'm pretty glad that I was doing a long stay in Taiwan this time around so that I could spare some time to meet up with a few friends. I wanted to have more meals with Taiwanese cuisine, and I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the King suggested Mountain and Sea House (山海樓). It's been a few years since I was last at their original location, and I admit I was pretty curious to see what, if anything, has changed.

The King set us up in a private room with a pre-arranged menu, but of course some of us had ideas of our own. I asked for the menu to be shortened as I would have a big night out tonight, but I guess we needed to get to the minimum spend...

Deluxe Mountain and Sea House platter (山海樓豪華拼盤) - always start with this... today we only have 5 components, which is just fine by me.

Egg-stuffed squid rolls (三色蛋中卷) - squid from Penghu Islands (澎湖). Stuffed with 3 types of eggs: salted eggs, century eggs, and firstborn eggs. Served with julienned cucumbers and garlic mayo. Not sure I see the century eggs in here...

Wild abalone stewed in tana spice (達那滷鮑魚) - wild local abalone seasoned with tara (達那) commonly used by Atayal (泰雅族) aborigine.

Additive-free Chinese sausage (手工現灌香腸) - made using the front legs of local pigs.

Yilan shrimp puffs (糕渣) - made with chicken essence and corn starch. I've always loved this deep-fried chicken soup ever since I first had it years ago.

Sugarcane-smoked free-range chicken (甘蔗燻雞) - free-range chicken from Yunlin (雲林縣) smoked with green sugar cane from Chiayi (嘉義縣).

Zucchini parcel (干貝櫛瓜封) - what a pretty dish! The exterior is made by braiding thin strips of zucchini and carrots, and served in a soup with various mushrooms like oyster mushrooms and shimeji.

Wrapped inside were shredded pork, different shredded mushrooms, and star jelly (雨來菇). Very mild flavors, but very nice.

Flat fish spring roll (扁魚春卷) - with dried flounder flakes, dried shrimp, and bean sprouts. The flavors from flounder flakes were slightly strong but nice. The sun-dried cherry tomato was definitely pretty sweet.

Peng Lai beef (蓬萊牛肉) - based on an old recipe from Peng Lai Restaurant (蓬萊閣). The rib comes from local Taiwanese cattle 黃牛. Very tender.

Seed-coated shrimp toast (蛋黃蝦托) - so... this is where having connections really pays off. I had asked for this dish because of its similarity to the Cantonese shrimp toast (蝦多士), and was really looking forward to its Taiwanese counterpart. Yesterday the restaurant called my friend and informed him that this dish would not be available as they were missing a key ingredient. When I expressed my disappointment through my friend, somehow the restaurant scrounged up enough pumpkin seeds. Definitely pretty tasty, and happy that I could try this. The prawn was wrapped in a paste with salted egg yolk, and of course anything deep-fried is bound to taste great.

Stir-fried rice noodles (古早味米粉) - I know they've toned down the seasoning here, but Sankala still felt thirsty after eating this... And this is the reason why mom won't come back.

Garlic-flavored squid with snail soup (魷魚螺肉蒜) - the name of the dish mentions whelk and squid, but there was less of those ingredients than chunks of pork and pig tripe... A little spicy and some acidity from the pickled mustard greens (酸菜).

Taiwan organic fruit platter (寶島季節有機水果)

Aiyu jelly with wild ginger (野薑愛玉) - love aiyu (愛玉). Just about impossible to get outside of Taiwan.

Pretty happy with our lunch, but definitely stuffed. Happy to have come back for another taste, and really good to see my old friends.

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