Looking for an alternative to turkey this Thanksgiving break? Two restaurants, one in Yilan and one in downtown Taipei are perfect options to consider.


Yingtao Gu

Address: No. 72, Section 7, Jiaoxi Road, Jiaoxi Township, Yilan County, 262

Hours: Opens daily 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Telephone: 03 987 3222

Yingtao Gu  in Jiaoxi Township, Yilan centers their menu around signature dish of roasted cherry duck. Below are several great options from their set meal, perfect for groups of four persons and up. It is priced at $800 NT per person when ordering the six-person set, though prices may differ for sets of different sizes.

The entrees include steamed vegetables and deep-fried prawns drizzled with cheese. The prawns were crunchy on the outside and the meat inside was fresh and chewy. Despite the unusual combination, the cheese sauce did not overpower the prawn, instead complementing it well.

The main dish, a whole duck, is served in three ways: in sushi form, in wrap form, and in your choice of porridge or soup. Even after these three delicious dishes, there will still be a quarter of the duck left over too.

The most unique of the three serving styles is the ‘sushi’ form. Instead of raw fish, a slice of crispy duck is placed on a neatly pressed, rectangular bed of sushi rice. The meat is juicy, sweet, and tender while retaining its chewiness, and topped off with a crispy, glistening layer of thin duck skin. Plus, the contrast between the smoking hot meat and the sweet, cold sushi rice was unexpectedly pleasant, making this dish one of the highlights of the meal.

Dessert was more duck—literally. Steamed fluffy black sesame buns shaped like  small yellow rubber ducks, a mascot wildly popular a while ago in Taiwan, took everyone’s breath away. The attention to detail is impressive, from the eyes and the carefully shaped mouth to the plump body. The ducks were almost too cute to eat!


Dashengting Shitang

Address: No. 18, Lane 366, Sec. 2, Bade Rd., Songshan District, Taipei City, 105

Hours:  Opens daily 12:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m., 6:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

Telephone: 02 2751 7737

If you are looking for a hearty feast closer to home, try this small restaurant downtown. Dashengting Shitang is a secluded Japanese restaurant hidden in an alley next to Taipei Adventist Hospital near Nanjing Fuxing MRT station. Inside is an authentic Japanese bar counter, where the chef prepares fresh sashimi for customers. Only two tables fit in the quaint restaurant; the rest of the customers sit along the bar. The wooden decor and the dim lighting in the restaurant give off a relaxed but cozy, authentic vibe.

The nine-course chef’s menu set costs $1000 NT per person, which is a bargain price considering the quality and authenticity of the dishes. The nine dishes, in the sequence they were served, include: sweet Japanese plums with apple chunks, sashimi, deep-fried Japanese tofu, grilled fish, large prawns, long sushi roll, salmon rice, clam soup and jelly-like Japanese dessert.

The top three highlights of the set are reviewed below.

Sashimi

Thick slices of salmon, swordfish, tuna, scallop, and snail are arranged thoughtfully on a plate paired with some sweet corn on the side. As expected of a classy restaurant, high-grade cuts of sashimi are served. The slices possess a uniform color, and the lean tuna is a beautiful deep shade of red, a sign of quality. The texture is springy and refreshingly delightful, making this an impressive starter.

Rating: 5/5

 

Deep-fried Japanese tofu

Amongst the other fancy-looking dishes, this one stood out for its simple homemade and cozy feel. This round deep-fried ball sits in light soy sauce, topped with thin and crispy seaweed flakes. Break apart the light golden skin, and the soft tofu reveals itself. This tofu is not your ordinary tofu; it is unusually delicate and flavorful. The owner said that sesame sauce is one of the ingredients that makes it so unique. The softness of tofu and the crispiness of the fried skin provide an excellent contrast.

Rating: 5/5

 

Grilled fish

An entire medium-sized grilled fish is served with a small lime. The type of fish served depends on the season. The skin is thin and crisp, while the inside is soft and extremely fresh, eliminating the aftertaste found in cheaper fish.

Rating: 5/5


[Photos: Vanessa Tsao/The Blue & Gold]

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