A family meal two decades in the making
One of the things I learned when I went back to Taipei after nineteen years absence was that my moms still got lots of family there! My uncles and just everyone over there in general were super friendly to us and helped us with everything. I felt a bit guilty after the trip because I waited so long to go back. Sometimes you don’t need a reason to visit the mothership. Sometimes you should just go, and afterwards, realize it was calling and sending out a ‘come home’ signal the whole time. E.T. had it right, I did not. But my lack of awareness never is an excuse not to stuff my face with more food. A few hours after our awesome xiao long bao meal at Din Tai Fung, we had dinner with the family. It was at this place that used to just be a noodles and rice shop, but grew into a full scale restaurant. To order your food, you pick out what looks good in the display menu outside and they whip it up.
So as I was saying, the restaurant used to be just a noodle and rice place, and they were known for their lou rou fan. One of my uncle was like, “Here we got you a rice and a noodle dish just to try before dinner starts.” I have a few uncles in Taipei, and it’s safe to say that all their food games are strong. I only had a bit of the rice but it was definitely legit. Later on in the trip I went to a place that basically just sold lou rou fan, but we’ll get to that later.
They put out this appetizer platter that had a little bit of everything. But truthfully at the beginning of the meal I was just kind of like, “Oh man, I recognize y’all! Y’all are my peoples! Except I don’t know your name.. or your name… or your name…” Everyone was super nice and warm and it was really nice to be with my peoples.
So I guess the thing about Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taipei is that you can find a bunch of Asian food for different countries. So back in the day when Japan though their shit didn’t stink, they were busy colonizing a lot of Asia and they spent some time in Taiwan. So Japanese food is pretty popular. They just put out this plate of sashimi and it was alright. I have to admit, I don’t eat a lot of raw fish and most of the time raw fish tastes like raw fish to me. As long as it’s fresh, I kind of don’t know what’s up.
One of the things you’re supposed to do when you want to take a sip of alcohol at these meals is to toast someone else at the table. I think it’s kind of a sign of respect thing in terms of tradition, but in practical terms it’s to get your family drunk all at the same time because everyone drinks. It’s a great method I think, but you can take small sips to keep your liver alive.
One of the better dishes of the night was glutinous rice with crab. I was a little scared to eat this because I don’t eat crab that often and I’ve had uncomfortable reaction to crab before, so I didn’t stuff my face. Still, this is super interesting and delicious. I think some Catonese places in Flushing has this dish as well.
At this point in the meal I was already full and the food just kept arriving a little by a little. There was a pan fried fish, but I couldn’t tell you which kind of fish it was. I think it was supposed to be the same fish that we had sashimi-style, just that one side of the fish we had raw and the other side was pan fried.
We also got some fried shrimp that had some fried garlic bits (I think?) on top. Another thing that was happening during the meal was that all the youngin’s, which includes me, had to go around to the entire room and toast all the older members of the family. I had a cousin who’s maybe only ten years my junior come around to toast me. Ah.. getting old.
By the time the soup came, I knew the meal was about to wind down. I’m not sure what was in the soup. Maybe chicken and some pork spare ribs? There was maybe one more dish after the soup, but then the meal was over and they served up dessert.
Most Chinese or Taiwanese food restaurants struggle with desserts I think. You can get good desserts around Taipei but it seems like most restaurants don’t really pay much mind to it. They served us some brown sugar mochi. The outside of the mochi was kind of translucent and the inside was filled with the typical red bean filling. The benefit of a this type of mochi is that it’s not as heavy and the regular kind. While not as life changing as the awesome mochi of my life, this was interesting to try.
After dinner we walked by a place that serves breakfast food like youtiao and soy milk, and my uncle asked if I had it yet, and when I answered no, he got Steph and I an after dinner snack that’s super carbalicious. It was just an OK version and later on in the trip we would try a much much better version of it.
Posted by Danny on November 4, 2013 at 12:14 am
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