Taiwan-style feast for eyes and palate

First published in Tulay Fortnightly, Chinese-Filipino Digest 27, no. 6 (August 19-September 8, 2014): 16.

Years of sumptuous dining and association with the finest chefs in Taiwan have left me constantly indulging in flavorful reveries.

A truly palatable and visually exciting Taiwan-style feast to my mind features flavors from different ethnic and regional cultures, virtually taking a diner around the island.

Donggang (東港) pressed fish roe, Taipei Shihlin Night Market (台北士林) sausage, as well as Taitung (台東) corn-fed and yellow-skinned chicken whet the appetite as appetizers.

(From left) Steamed rice Alishan-style, Donggang fish roe, Garoupa, Grapefruit tapioca in mango juice

Braised shark’s fin soup, so often associated with luxurious banquets but definitely not a personal favorite due to knowledge of the cruel process of bringing the delicacy to the dining table, does not disappoint in taste. An experienced chef’s recipe sees to that.

Steamed rice, which gets served in Alishan (阿里山) style in a bamboo container, is topped with dried tiny shrimps from Keelung (基隆).

This part of the culinary treat makes possible a brief encounter with the Tsou (鄒族) aboriginal culture.

Premium pork knuckles are braised with rock sugar, enhancing appreciation of Chinese culinary art.
Hakka-style pickled vegetables and bamboo shoots are slipped along with the pork knuckle into a steamed bun.

Pork knuckle in bun
Shrimp and squid roll

Fleshy garoupa is steamed with wintermelon from Nantou (南投). Considered a typical Tainan (台南) recipe is the shrimp and squid roll. Grapefruit and tapioca in mango juice lend a sweet note to the meal. The entire presentation is very beautiful.

Indigenous singing and dancing, if requested, unfold as colorful entertainment, possibly with audience participation, throughout an exquisite high-end dinner.

A diner also may have the option of dressing up as a chieftain or princess for souvenir picture-taking.

Indigenous crafts like bead work and weaving are demonstrated to complete what is packaged as a Taiwan-style experience.