Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Just got back from binging in Taiwan. Surprisingly, I have not gained any weight from all that high GI (glycemic index) comfort food known as Taiwanese cuisine. Where are the pics? Oh I forgot to pack the battery for my SLR and I sure as hell wasn't going to spend $50+ overseas for a new one. There's always next year.

Great trip overall, though. Aside from uptight formal banquets (great seafood and liquors) my uncle insists on hosting every winter, I had a chance to visit the hot-spots in Taipei that Taiwanese food bloggers have been raving about. My focus for this year was Japanese cuisine. Sounds stupid, but Japan is only a 2.5 hour flight away and many folks take advantage of this to conduct business. Summary: Beats casual Japanese in SoCal. Better prices, equal volume of food, superb quality/freshness of meats/fish, great preparation/cooking technique. Definitely worthy of revisits in the future. Highlight was grilled eel. Grilled in the restaurant on real charcoal. None of that re-heated pre-prepared nonsense we find here most of the time.

Living in Taiwan for four years plus my annual winter trips and mother's home cooking causes Taiwanese cuisine to feel almost humdrum and standard. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate good cooking like most people and the food I have in Taiwan is nothing like the dull, oily Taiwanese fare found in SoCal. But, one does get tired of the same experience over time. Regardless, relatives took me to a few new restaurants which were, to put it concisely, fuckin' awesome. Best one in my opinion was a joint where dishes can be had at about $3 each. Their cooking was so good that our table(8) shared 20 dishes (to name a few: ginormous steamed crab, spicy fried soft-shell crab and calamari, cute little fried fish, huge fried fish with a sweet/spicy sauce, grilled lamb, Ma La "stinky" tofu)

On an unrelated note, I had the opportunity to take a guided tour of a brewery while I was in Taiwan. Alcohol and tobacco is controlled by the government over there, and because my uncle is the top brass of the alcohol/tobacco department, my family has access to lots of free booze, smokes, and small hookups here and there (immune to towing/tickets. whoopee!). The brewery's director personally gave us a guided tour and treated us with two cases of beer. What a day that was...