Sunday, August 22, 2010


Shrimp fried rice, a suitable first meal for a stint in Taipei. I consumed more MSG in this one lunch than I have over the past 12 months living in LA.

Here is an exercise in the Ayn Rand school of Taiwanese night-market cuisine, which holds that the eater herself should make all important choices in the meal. This woman will throw anything you point at into a deep fryer and then chuck basil and garlic paste onto it. Then you eat it with a toothpick out of a wax paper sack. Down the way there are similar food stalls that will barbecue, steam, or boil the food items of your choice, depending on the temperament and personal idiosyncrasies of each proprietor.

Another important watchword of Taiwan's culinary Randianism is Fuck You, Let's Put Instant Ramen Into It. It is apparently SOP at all-you-can-eat hotpot restaurants to stock huge amounts of ramen packets, lest the rugged Taiwanese ubermensch be denied his nutritionless, salty due.

I don't think anyone minds if I interrupt this talk of food with a picture of my hot Taiwanese cousins, Zhaoqin and Fay.

Make no mistake, my boys Kevin and Simon need their Wii Rock Band something fierce.

A combination hot/sour hotpot at 鼎王 (Dingwang), a very snazzy family-style hotpot restaurant in a very snazzy corner of town. This restaurant provides all the free duck blood cubes and cured tofu that you could possibly consume within a 90-minute time limit. If you were never a fan of congealed blood, tendon, or intestine, it's because you weren't eating it spicy enough.

The real stars of the show are the fried-dough 油條 (youtiao), pictured left. These are usually eaten for breakfast and are something like unsweetened, chewy churros, only with double the grease content. The youtiao served here are over-fried, so that they remain crispy even when they absorb the spicy broth.

The menu at Dingwang. Incidentally, "Selected Rectum" is the name of my next band.

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