Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Taiwanese Porridge

So I went to Shin Yeh for the Taiwanese sweet potato porridge but I was not done. I had to go to another famous place for porridge the next night and we ended up at Xiao Li Zi.

This stretch of shop houses is famous for their porridge. We had wanted to go to the next shop but was closed for renovation. So we ended up here and the food was good too. The shop is two storey and the food is all located on the ground floor. Some tables on the ground floor too. And during dinner time, it gets crowded. We had to wait for some folks to vacate their table before we started ordering.

The front is where the food display is.

Rows and rows of food displayed. You pick up a tray and point at what you want and they put it on a dish for you.

A cooking station to blanch the vegetables

Some of the food are kept on warmers. Like this cabbage with pork balls - the pork balls are called shi zhi tou or translated “lion head”. Called that because the pork balls are shaped into round balls resembling the lion’s head.

Bai cai with beancurd skin.

And what was (to me at least) the most delicious dish of the night - duck blood! I believe they no longer allow blood to be sold in Singapore so this dish is a must have for me. And they cook it with sian chye (salted mustard green). It is absolutely delicious!

And the other dish that was nice was the pork trotter. Braised till the meat is tender.

We also had steamed fish which was ok - nothing fantastic.

And chai po nearing - pickled turnip omelette. Nice but a far cry from Shin Yeh.

And the xiao yu hua shen which is also not as nice as the Shin Yeh.

Overall, it was a nice meal and an inexpensive one. My hosts told me the meal cost TWD1,200 which is around SGD50 for three persons. Certainly cheaper than in Singapore. And there were a lot more dishes we did not try. Ready to head back to Taipei - save for another day. But for that night, I became the vampire!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Shin Yeh Taiwanese Cuisine

Taiwan… One of my favourite cities for good food. And throughout my years of traveling to Taipei, I have always made a point to visit local restaurant Shin Yeh.

In the late 90s when I was frequenting Taipei almost every month, I was a regular at Shin Yeh Restaurant. And I have my favourite dishes there to. Previously they had an old establishment nearby the Grand Hyatt Hotel which has since been closed down. Nowadays, they have more “upmarket” locations and this time around, we visited the outlet at the Mitsukoshi Department Store. The long corridor into the restaurant.

In the old days, I was such a regular guest that the Manager of the restaurant Ms Hsu would have me a table even without reservations. And she would know my food preferences too. Starting off with the chai po nerng (pickled turnip fried egg), xiao yu hua shen (fried silver fish with peanuts), zhu kan (pan fried liver), ay chai (stir fry vegetables) and of course the sweet potato porridge.

This time around, it was just us two so I could not offer much. First up, chai po nerng. Pan fried to perfection… What I like about how they do it at Shin Yeh is they have perfected the pan fry for this dish. The egg is thick and fluffy and the pickled turnip sweet as opposed to the salty kind we get here in Singapore. See the nice brown texture of the omelette.

And now for the inside - fluffy egg with nice chunks of chai po.

And the dish both Gina and I love, pig’s liver. They do it just nice - still juicy and succulent. Many restaurants overcook this dish. But dang… high cholesterol.

This next dish is rather peculiar - they call it ay chai. Honestly, I don’t know what to call it in English except that this is a local vegetables that for the longest time was fed to ducks. Then they took it and made it into a stir fry with garlic and it is very refreshing. Texture is almost like spinach.

Another favourite of mine is also the chicken roll - they call it jee zhuen which is chicken roll. The taste is almost like char siew but wrapped in beancurd skin and then deep fried. Sounds yummy right? It is… trust me.

Nice chunky pieces of chicken meat rolled in with some vegetables. When I first tasted this dish, I thought it was char siew inside only to notice the name of the dish says - chicken roll.

And what is sweet potato porridge without fried silver fish and peanuts - they call it xiao yu hua shen which literally means small fish peanuts.

And by this time, I was so hungry I totally forgot to take a picture of the sweet potato porridge. But it was a meal I have been pining for a long time. Craving satisfied!

And at the end, you get free dessert - mua chee. Shin Yeh also has a branch in Singapore located in Liang Court. It has been awhile since I have been there. So I think I shall make it there soon to make a comparison.