December 3, 2023

Yilan in Taipei

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A friend from Hong Kong is in town and visiting Taipei for the first time, and since I'm also back home for a few days, I arranged to meet up with him and his traveling companion. Taking into account of the street food and simple eats they have already experienced, I asked them to join me for lunch at Lu Sang (呂桑), an old favorite of mine serving simple fare from Yilan (宜蘭).

Given that this would be my only chance to introduce my friend to some local Taiwanese fare, it wasn't surprising that we ended up over-ordering... and ended up with a combination of what they wanted to try as well as what I thought are "must order" specialties...

Stir-fried white water snowflake (炒水蓮) - white water snowflake (水蓮) is a very local vegetable, and while I have found this imported to Hong Kong, it's not widely available. I love this crunchy veg, and here they've cooked it with some finely-shredded pork and a little wood ear fungus.

Sliced pork with red lees (紅糟肉) - they don't coat the pork in batter and deep-fry it like they do at many places, but I thought it's still something interesting to try.

Shredded duck Yilan-style (宜蘭鴨賞) - I do love this dish, because it reminds me so much of something mom makes for Lunar New Year. We've got the smoked duck which had been air-dried while being hung outdoors, some garlic scapes, garlic, and chili. Now that mom isn't likely to make her dish for the holidays, maybe this can be a substitute for me.

Smoked shark belly (宜蘭水鯊) - I don't usually order the popular dish of smoked shark belly (鯊魚煙) when I'm in Taiwan, and have probably only tasted this less than a handful of times in my life, but it would be a new experience for my friend. This was served chilled, as is typical, and definitely had smoky flavors. the texture was a little gelatinous.

Steamed chicken (白斬雞) - I felt compelled to order steamed chicken because I know they do a good job here, and because it shows how flavorful chicken can be in Taiwan. My friend's companion agreed that chickens in Hong Kong are generally tasteless... which is Foursheets' perennial complaint.

Yilan gaozha (宜蘭高渣) - my friends are not foodies so they have never tasted deep-fried custard (戈渣/高渣). It's always interesting to introduce people to these fluffy little piles of fried custard and watch their faces as they take the first bite. These are pretty OK.

Deep-fried liver flower (宜蘭肝花) - I do love the flavors of spring onions and the crunch of water chestnuts which make up the stuffing in addition to the minced pork. Very tasty and satisfying.

Rice with pork lard (豬油拌飯) - always a good choice here.

This was waaay too much food, but I left very happy. My friends were also surprised by the kumquat tea (金桔茶) served here. With our bellies full, we walked around a little to do some shopping before going our separate ways.

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