July 12, 2022

Some last minute fun

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I had been away from Taiwan for far too long, and even before the pandemic I was mostly spending time eating at home with the Parental Units, or doing the occasional meal at a place with the ability to order à la carte. Tasting menu was a tough ask for mom, so this pretty much ruled out taking her to most of the newer fine dining establishments which have popped up over the last few years. As a result, I am pretty unfamiliar with the hip places in my hometown.

Thankfully Little Rabbit came to my rescue, and helped me book a couple of meals at places I've been wanting to try. Tonight we hit Impromptu by Paul Lee, which is in the corner of the Regent Galleria. Chef Paul Lee (李皞) wasn't in town tonight, but hopefully that didn't matter much.

The restaurant has an open kitchen, and this, plus what seems to be their policy on aircon, meant that the space was a little warm. Maybe that's why the guy at the neighboring table came in shorts. I was also grateful that my friend did not book us seats at the counter, since neither the heat nor the loud conversation from the neighbors would have been pleasant.

Buckwheat tart, cantaloupe, sausage - with diced cantaloupe, cantaloupe sorbet, and saucisson. A little lime zest shaving brightens things up.

Seaweed, melon, scallop, finger lime - using crispy laver (海苔) as tart base was perfect, as the flavors worked well with the diced scallops and Oriental melon (香瓜). We also have acidity coming from finger lime as well as jalapeños marinated in lemon.

Foie gras creme caramel, popcorn, truffle - it's nice to see crème caramel on the menu, and adding foie gras gave it a grainy, powdery texture. We have winter truffle from Australia, but I couldn't taste the mountain litsea (馬告) that was sprinkled on the popcorn.

But the problem is the spoon. The crème caramel fell apart easily due to its texture, and using a spoon with such a thick rim - no matter how cute it looks - was completely useless. The utensil just kept breaking down what it is trying to pickup.

Bread and butter - bread baked with roselle (洛神花). The butter was too warm and soft, and that is often the problem in Taiwan.

Cold noodle, caviar, tomato, basil - FAIL. I can appreciate the chef wanting to present a very Taiwanese dish of cold tossed noodles (涼麵), but this was definitely not the way to go. First of all, what was the caviar doing here? In my opinion it was completely unecessary. The sauce made from tomatoes and Sherry vinegar was much too sweet and overpowering. And then there was the presence of both basil - which admittedly goes very well with tomato - and dill. These things just feel like a combination punch to the face...

Even when I tried to pick up the eggs one by one with my chopsticks, I still had trouble tasting the flavors of the Calvisius Tradition Prestige because the eggs ended up being coated in that sweet sauce.

Quail, green mole, pepita, wild greens - removing the top covering consisting of greens such as Malabar spinach (皇宮菜) and fiddlehead fern (過貓) reveals the quail from Chiayi (嘉義), which came atop green mole made with physalis, pumpkin seeds, and spices like cumin. The quail was tasty for sure, but I didn't get the connection with those greens...

Skate wing, green pea, miso, clam - the skate wing was pretty tasty, and we've got green peas, pea mash, and a foam made of clam miso. Overall a pretty good dish.

Chicken wing, sweet shrimp, chayote, red curry - the Stout red shrimps (胭脂蝦) were partly cooked and had a jelly-like texture. We've got some lentils at the bottom, chunks of chayote which came with some acidity, and shredded chayote shoots (龍鬚菜).

The chicken wing on the side had been stuffed with a shrimp paste, but strangely the texture of the shrimp paste was completely mushy... kinda like taro mash. Didn't care for that.

We were shown our main course before the final prep and presentation.

Wagyu skirt steak, corn, bourbon, cinnamon - the Australia wagyu skirt had a bouncy, chewy texture that was pretty nice, and a wonderful meaty flavor along with the fat. Served with some chargrilled corn and deep-fried onions rings which were much, much too tiny. The barbecue sauce was on the fruity side, with some acidity which hit the back of the throat.

I couldn't taste the cinnamon in the corn, but there were little cubes of pork and the taste was actually a little spicy. Very nice.

Tamale, salsa rojo - with oxtail and some calamansi on the side. I was pretty happy that someone in Asia would make tamales, but Little Rabbit only complained about the size of these...

Peach, lavender, shiso - at the bottom we had chunks of peach along with aiyu (愛玉) jelly, then a disc of meringue, topped with peach sorbet. We also had foam made of peach vinegar. Very peachy. Topped with a perilla flower.

Mango, coconut, grapefruit, tapioca - basically Cantonese 楊枝甘露. Came with grapefruit jelly in addition of chunks of pink grapefruit, as well mango ice and mango ice cream. Yum.

White tea - Fujian white tea.

Chocolate, longan, Oolong tea - the chocolate mousse, dried longan (桂圓) cake, and Oolong tea (烏龍茶) ice cream. Unfortunately there was a big grain of salt embedded in the cake, which made it salty.

2012 Tommasi Recioto della Valpolicella Fiorato - the sharpness of alcohol on the nose was evident. Almost a little raisin on the nose.

Raspberry palmier

Little Rabbit and I each brought a bottle. She, of course, brought pink Champagne...

Krug Rosé - nice and rounded on the palate, pretty mature now, with a little toast on the nose. A little more bitterness when it warmed up in glass. Pre-2004 label so this has around 20 years' of age on it. What a treat!

2013 Clos Rougeard Saumur Champigny - served starting 1 hour after decanting. Pretty muted nose at first, perhaps a little corked? Some light red fruits on the nose, with a slight hint of brett. Not much body here. Disappointing.

A pretty decent meal overall. I thought there were a few places which needed some improvement, but it was still an enjoyable meal.

Even though it was already late enough for the hotel shopping mall to close off all its exits except for one, someone still wanted to go for another round. So we walked over to Ginza Sakoh (銀座酒向) nearby.

They do serve food here, and for some reason I got a small cup of borscht when I sat down...

We were offered some snacks, which include rice crackers and dehydrated pineapple.

There are a number of fruit cocktails available, and no one would be surprised to see me order up a lychee cocktail.

Unfortunately, this place doesn't open late... so we ended up going for a third round at a place I found by scrolling around on Google Map...

When you see a name like Snowflake (玻璃心), I just gotta come check the place out! Especially since they seem to offer an eclectic selection of drinks - including girlie drinks!

China blue - like bitter cough syrup...

Melon ball -

Aroumd the world - don't let the rainbow colors fool you into thinking this is just another girlie drink. We've got gin, vodka, rum, tequila, and brandy here... along with orange juice, lemon juice, pineapple juice, blue curaçao, and grenadine.

Time to call it a night...

P.S. We got goodie bags from Impromptu by Paul Lee, which was a small package of noodles served with diced green beans, chili, and minced pork (蒼蠅頭). We also had cold-brewed tea. We had it for breakfast the next morning...

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