Makansutra: Must-try tastes of Taipei
Some places to check out for good and tasty bites in Taiwan's capital
I am not one who trawls the Internet to check out what's "happening" and where you must eat.
Sure, I Google for food but not for places.
I rely on the good ol' kaypoh method - ask around and poke your nose all over, just like how we researched our Makansutra guides during those pre-Google days. Walk aimlessly, ask shamelessly and see where the road takes you.
I rely on friends and trusted foodies' advice, even if it's already recommended online.
If you are planning a trip to Taipei this month, here are some great bites to try.
A-JIAO ROASTED PORK
No 2, Lane 247, Section 2, Yanping North Road, Datong District
Opens 8am to 2pm, closed on Mondays
You may miss this stall as the crowds at peak hours block your view.
The signature dish is its fried pork (above), using belly and collar meat, and it comes so fresh. There is a sweet and savoury feel in the marinade and I can polish off at least three plates at a go.
The noodles seem to be intentionally bland so they don't clash with the other dishes like steamed cuttlefish and chitterlings. Go early to get seats and before they sell out (which they do every day).
Basement 1 of The Howard Plaza Hotel
160, Section 3, Ren'ai Road, Da'an District
Opens 11.30am to 2.30pm, 5.30pm to 9.30pm
Tel: +886 2 2326 7433
One can't expect much from a hotel-owned banquet restaurant, but this one has a grand old reputation. The items are hearty and not commonly found even at Taiwan porridge places in Singapore.
I adore the cold clams in soy wine sauce (above, left) - the molluscs are sweet and the good soy sauce punctured with hints of rice wine is so comforting over the hot, sweet potato porridge.
The stir fried oysters (above right) with spring onions goes down so easily and they use little local oysters that are not overpowering.
I also can't get enough of the puffy chai po (preserved radish) omelette. The trick is to spin the omelette in the wok of oil, and it is stuffed with little chunks of chai po and chives.
LU SANG RESTAURANT
No 12-5, Yongkang Street, Da'an District; Opens 11.30am to 2pm, 5pm to 9pm daily.
Tel: +886 2 2351 3323
This place has been offering mostly Yilan cuisine since 1999, with a friendly picture wall menu to help first-timers.
The smoked shark's meat is a can't-miss. It comes sans the fishy pong and the wasabi soy dip takes the smooth flesh to another dimension.
The gao zha (pictured) is a thick, deep fried starchy blob of chicken stock and it melts in the mouth when you bite through the crispy batter.
Another highlight is the braised pork in red wine lees. The meat is tender and soft and the lees has a sweet wine aroma. Nibble on a little of the pickle that comes with it and this becomes addictive.
The definitive must-order, in my book, is the stir fried glutinous rice with crispy krill on top. It will make you forget your ketogenic diet.