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Posts Tagged ‘Chinese’

Taipei and I have history.

It is a city that is a food lover’s dream, with so many different and unique flavors, and a lovely attitude towards all things delicious. However, the last time I was visiting Ilha Formosa, I had an unfortunate case of bronchitis. After a visit to a Taiwanese doctor, I was promptly restricted from eating anything spicy, oily, fried or cold. In other words, everything to be found at a street market was off the menu for me. Being ill is probably the only time when I am not hungry, and while I saw a lot of what Taipei has to offer culturally and historically, my experience with Taipei’s food culture was limited to some steamed dumplings and rice porridge that I could barely taste due to my stuffed nose.

 I was so happy to be able to spent some time over New Year’s to finally explore and eat to my heart’s content. I should be a bit embarrassed to admit how many things we ate in Taipei, but you won’t find a shred of regret! I was lucky to go with two friends who love food just as much as I do, and didn’t think I was crazy at all for wanting to try a different night market every night, or take a train out of Taipei just to eat dinner.

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Lucky Pierrot is a fast food restaurant chain only found in Hakodate, Hokkaido which serves some seriously tasty burgers and fries. We stopped there for a late dinner on our way around the northern most island of Japan, and only an incoming hurricane stopped us from going there again on the way back to mainland Honshu. Believe me, since we got back, I’ve looked for other locations, hoping in vain to eat there again. Unfortunately the chiikigentei 地域限定 or limited to region status of Lucky Pierrot is no joke. They have over 10 locations, none of which are outside of Hakodate.

While searching for Lucky Pierrot online, I was surprised to read that the restaurant chain has had some controversy in the past, mostly because they had a whale meat burger on the menu. The hunting of whales is a touchy issue between Japan and the rest of the world, and in general, I try to avoid eating things that are on the endangered species list. To be honest though, I did not even notice the くじら kujira whale burger on the menu, because I was too busy trying to wrap my head around how one restaurant can serve hamburgers, curry rice, and spring rolls on the same menu. Looking at their website online now, it seems they no longer serve a whale burger, though they do have a scallop burger, a sweet and sour pork burger and a Genghis Khan (lamb) burger on the menu.

Serious environmental issues aside, the food we did eat was good. Very good. Which is probably why Lucky Pierrot has won the best regional hamburger restaurant in Japan award for multiple years running. (Yes, there is a ranking for that.)

The Chinese Chicken Burger is their #1 selling menu item. It’s 3 large pieces of chicken deep fried and covered in what tastes like kung pao sauce (hence the Chinese part, I suppose) sandwiched with lettuce and copius amount of mayonaisse, in a sesame seed bun. The slightly spicy and sweet sauce complimented the freshly fried chicken, and the chewy bun was the perfect thing to contain the messy sandwich. I would have gladly eaten the chicken just by itself, but the combination of bun, lettuce, mayo and chicken was really satisfying.

I could almost feel my arteries shaking in fear, but pressed on and also tried the Lucky Pierrot special fries. From the menu photo, my friend thought they might be the elusive poutine. However, I was pleasantly surprised to get freshly fried thick cut french fries topped with not the conventional gravy and cheese curds, but a concentrated curry sauce and a mild cheese sauce. It reminded me of eating cheesy chips after a night out, the cheese complimenting the sweet Japanese style curry very well.

I couldn’t leave the shop without one of Lucky Pierrot’s shakes, which come in the normal vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavours, as well as some seasonal varieties, including this black sesame shake that I ordered. I love all things black sesame, or 黒ごま kurogoma , and this shake was perfect. The shake was thick enough to hold a straw upside down, and had flecks of ground black sesame seeds stired. Don’t let the greyish color of the shake throw you off, it was really delicious.

I was sad we didn’t have the chance to go back so I could try the yuzu ,Japanese citron, shake and get another order of Lucky Pierrot fries.
If you happen to find yourself in Hakodate, I really reccomend you give Lucky Pierrot or LaPi ラピ a try.

Lucky Pierrot@ Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan

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My friends know that I have a strange dislike for the gyoza commonly found here in Japan. Something about the inordinately large quantity of cabbage vs meat in the filling and lack of real flavor just makes me unlikely to order gyoza at a restaurant. I think I’ve been spoiled by Chinese style jiaozi and Korean mandoo to ever be satisfied with the Japanese equivalent. So now I just make my own 🙂

Ok, so I need a bit more practice frying up gyoza ^^;;
Appearance aside, I love this recipe! These slightly sweet and salty pork filled gyoza based off of my mother’s guotie filling recipe.
Ingredients:

  • 200g lean ground pork
  • 4 stalks green onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 20-30 store bought gyoza skins
  • 1 tsp each:

  • cumin powder
  • garlic powder
  • sesame oil
  • rice vinegar
  • powdered hon dashi (fish stock) or nuoc mam
  • 1 tbsp each:

  • sweet kecap manis or dark soy sauce+5g sugar
  • oyster sauce
  • —————
    1. Combine all ingedients other than the gyoza skins in a large mixing bowl.
    2. Mix well using your hands ( or a spoon if you like, but by hand is much faster)
    3. Wrap gyoza. If you don’t know how to wrap or cook gyoza, About.com has a great tutorial here.

    I always double this recipe and make a batch to pop in my freezer. You can cook frozen gyoza the same way as fresh gyoza.

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    Happy 2010! I can’t believe that another year has flown by so quickly. Foodwise, winter usually makes me think of baked goods and thick soups, fresh tea and oatmeal, you know, warming foods to chase away the cold that seeps into my uninsulated apartment and has taken over school hallways. >_<

    For some reason, all I can think about today is this perfect skewer of sweet strawberries and grapes, dipped in molten red sugar and left to harden in the winter air of a Pusan street market. Candied fruit seems like an unlikely thing to associate with winter, but they make a regular appearance in Japan and China, as well as South Korea. In Japan, tiny apples and plums covered in hard sugar, or apricots and mikan in soft mizuame pop up at winter festivals on New Year’s Eve. In China, you can find tanghulu , the traditional sugar covered hawthorn fruit and foot long skewers of candied fruit from strawberries to kiwi and bananas, wrapped in a thin layer of rice paper to keep them from sticking to each other.

    Since the ingredients of a candied fruit skewer are  just fruit, sugar and usually a dash of food coloring, it tastes sweet and fruity…but mostly just sweet. The draw for me is not the flavor so much as it is the texture. The crunch as you bite through the layer of hard sugar into the soft fruit is kind of addicting, and even as you complain that it is too sweet, or that the sugar has stuck in your teeth, you find yourself wanting another skewer the next time you walk past the stall.

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    egg tarts

    I tried to make a modified version of this recipe last week and they turned out pretty tasty. (Thought a little bit burnt x_x)

    The original recipe was a bit too big for me, and after reading the comments about the proportions being incorrect, I made a half batch of pastry and a third batch of filling, which ended up being perfect for the cupcake tins I was using. In the filling, I substituted 35% heavy cream for the evaporated milk, and brown sugar instead of white for the sugar syrup. When I baked them, I set my oven lower to 200 degrees Celcius and baked for 15 minutes.

    Click for the recipe!

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    nikuman

    Nikuman (肉包): Steamed bread bun filled with pork. Also called bao, manapua, mandu, siopao etc.

    Din Tai Fung @ Shinjuku Takashimaya, Tokyo, Japan

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