Zhejiang Cuisine at Rong Rong Yuan

November 2, 2011 in Best Of, Food, Reviews, Taiwan, Travel

A complimentary snack from Rong Rong Yuan

Finally, my long-awaited Taiwanese food adventures have recommenced!  Armed with a new Sony NEX-5N camera (apologies as I still don’t really know how to optimise it yet), our first megameal took place at the famed Zhejiang cuisine restaurant, Rong Rong Yuan.  This place serves proper dishes so sublime that Taiwan’s First Lady is a regular visitor.

Rong Rong Yuan is huge, well-fitted, with plenty of private rooms for functions and large groups.  Their menu is extensive but reasonably priced for the type of quality you get.  Lots of fresh seafood as well as traditional and unique dishes — none of which compromise on presentation or taste.  Just have a look at the marvellous smorgasbord we feasted on below.

We started with a couple of complimentary dishes, including one combining dried tofu and dried little fish, with a dash of chilli (see first pic above).  Then came free range chicken, tofu skin rolls, steamed fish, broad beans, mini-prawns, amaranth hotpot, fried rice.  All were brilliant.  There’s too many pictures so I’ll put them in gallery format (can also toggle for slideshow — please check it out, it took me freaking forever to set this crap up).

However, the highlight for me had to be the signature dish, braised pork spare ribs stuffed in sesame buns.

The signature dish

The pork spare ribs are slow cooked in foil and the juices are simply divine, practically begging to be devoured being unwrapped from the foil and placed individually into the fluffy buns.

Coming in second was the crab pot with rice cakes.  

Crab pot with rice cakes

I just loved how all the ginger and spring onions and spices used to cook the crab got all mixed in with the rice cakes, making them ridiculously tasty.

A plainer favourite was the fried silver thread buns.  I simply adore the crispy exterior and the piping hot, soft and slightly sweet interior.

Silver Thread Buns

Another favourite for the rest of the diners was the steamed stinky tofu, which I was once traumatised by and steadfastly refused to eat.  I take their word for it when they say that it’s ‘terrific’ (and I don’t mean ‘terrible’).  It was sure pungent but the odour was less objectionable than some of the roadside vendors you’re likely to come across.

Argh! Stinky Tofu!~

By the way, what we sampled was merely just a fraction of Rong Rong Yuan’s impressive menu.

For dessert we were served complimentary fried ‘yuan xiao’, or glutinous rice flour balls with black sesame paste on the inside.  Not my thing but everyone else seemed to love them.

Free dessert!

In all, a splendid way to kick off my new culinary adventures in Taiwan.  Rong Rong Yuan is not the kind of place you’d visit regularly but I’d definitely recommend it for proper formal functions, large groups and special celebrations, especially because of all the private rooms they have.  Not every dish appealed to me but there were enough super dishes for me to consider it one of the best formal dining Chinese cuisine restaurants I’ve been to recently.  All the evidence is in the photos.

9 out of 10!

Details

Restaurant: Rong Rong Yuan (浙寧榮榮園)

Address: 2F, 25 Xinyi Rd Sec 4, Da-an District, Taipei City

Closest MRT Station: Da-an

Contact: (02) 2703-8822

Opening Hours: 11:30am – 2pm; 5:30pm-9:30pm

Price Range: NT400-700 per person (approx)

1221: Shanghainese Cuisine At Its Best

July 22, 2011 in China, Food, Reviews, Travel

One of the first Shanghai posts I did was on the famous Xiao Nan Guo, a ‘must visit’ for traditional Shanghainese cuisine (review here).  I was disappointed with it and thought that perhaps my tastes simply didn’t mesh well with Shanghainese food.

Fortunately, we gave it another shot, and this time we took our tasting talents to the restaurant known as 1221, a casual but stylish joint on 1221 Yanan Xi Lu in Changning.  From the outside, with its neon sign, 1221 looked more like a Western bar, but the inside was irrefutably Chinese.  1221 is supposedly very popular with expats because while it is still traditional Shanghainese cuisine, the flavours have been slightly modified to appeal to a wider audience.  On this particular night, there were plenty of expat tables and tourists.

We had a big group so we ordered a lot of food from its extensive 26-page menu.  Most of the dishes were rather simple, much like my experience at Xiao Nan Guo, but they were astoundingly delicious.  I couldn’t believe how amazing they were.  Not all looked great, but time after time I was surprised by the mixtures of flavours and textures.

Sadly, after a long day the camera battery was dying again, so I must apologise once more for the quality of some of the photos, especially the last few, which were taken with a wonky iPhone camera.  Nevertheless, trust me when I say they were all good.

(to see the food pics click on ‘more’ — be warned, there are A LOT and they will make you HUNGRY!)

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Dian Shui Lou: Taipei’s Only 5-Star Restaurant of 2010

December 15, 2010 in Food, Taiwan, Travel

According to this sign, Dian Shui Lou was the only Taipei restaurant to be awarded 5 stars by this guide book

Restaurant: Dian Shui Lou
Food: Chinese/Shanghainese
Location: See here — the two with English addresses are the full restaurants (the others don’t serve the full menu).  I went to the one on level 11 of Fuxing SOGO, which is easy to get to on the MRT blue line at the Zhongxiao Fuxing stop.
Price: For dim sums, probably around NT500 per head, more for main courses.

While attending another Taipei restaurant (which I will review shortly), I came across a restaurant guide book called “Taiwan Coumet Restaurant Evaluation and Selection 2010”.  In it, there was only a single restaurant that had been awarded the prestigious 5-Star honour, and it was called “Dian Shui Lou”.

And so I was like, “That’s it!  We’re going there next!”

Fortunately for us, there were several Dian Shui Lous in Taipei City (though be careful, some of them don’t serve the full range of cuisine), and we ended up going to the one on the 11th floor of the Fuxing Sogo Department Store (probably the easiest to get to by public transport).

(To read on and see the pics, click on ‘more..’)

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Finest HK Cuisine: Lung King Heen

July 22, 2010 in Best Of, Food, Hong Kong, Travel

The view from Lung King Heen

As of 2010, there are only two restaurants in Hong Kong that have been awarded 3 Michelin Stars.  One of them is Lung King Heen, a superb Chinese restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel (the other one is also there, and I’ll get to that in a later post).

Initially, I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about going there.  I’ve been to plenty of Chinese restaurants.  How good can they possibly get?

(to find out (including pics), click on ‘more…’)

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