Category Archives: Gastronomy

Fine dining, cuisine, food, cooking, hunger, nutrition

Taiwan Tex-Mex

The world’s best barbecue ribs are not found in Texas. Sorry. No, to taste these, you must travel to Taiwan, to Smokey Joe’s Restaurant in the city of Kaohsiung. Call for directions: (07)226-0833.

Smokey Joe’s has a huge menu, full of plenty of good traditional Tex-Mex style dishes, an assortment of other American style comfort foods, a complete Chinese menu, and a full-sized dessert and liquor menu. If I were a full-time expat living in Kaohsiung, I would probably frequent this establishment on a weekly basis. I had been to this restaurant before, back in 1996, but it seems much improved now.

For appetizers, we ordered the fried mozzarella and the buffalo wings. You can’t go wrong with fried cheese when you’ve been eating nothing but noodles, scallion pancakes, and tofu for the past week. The buffalo wings were quite good, with more of a Texas flavor than the traditional Buffalo, New York variety, but delicious nonetheless.

I ordered their Cheeseburger, which had a specialty recommendation on the menu, Yingwen got a Korean Hot Pot, and her brother got the ribs. The hot pot was as spicy and delicious as one would expect. They brought it out fresh and it was cooked on a burner right at our table, and we dumped the ingredients in and it was super yummy. The burger was as good as any you could find Stateside, with a nice thick layer of cheese, bacon, veggies, and a sesame bun. Good goddamn burger.

When the ribs came out, it was apparent that this was the way to go. This was the only dish we could not finish, because it was freakin’ huge like a side of brontosaurus. Taiwan’s chief food export is pork, for which it’s quality is quite renowned in east Asia. Some would argue that Taiwan’s pork is the highest quality that can be found worldwide. After these ribs, I would have to agree. This case goes to show that it doesn’t matter what your recipe is if you don’t have the finest basic products to back it up.

I have photos, but it’s late and I have to try and get some sleep because tomorrow morning we take the express train to Taipei at 7 AM. More later…

Veggie Lunch

Today we had lunch in a strictly vegetarian restaurant in the Tuntex Sky Tower. At 1,240 feet and 85 stories tall, this is the tallest building in Kaohsiung. I have never tried vegetarian food like this, so this was a very new experience for me. I was amazed how good this stuff was, considering it was all soy-based faux meats. The fish things really tasted like fish. The pork tasted like real pork. The vegetables themselves were done incredibly well. The food was served buffet style, and there was a little of everything; some Chinese, some Euro/American, some Japanese, etc… Overall it was a great meal, and a very interesting experience. My only regret was that I did not bring a camera. The atrium that this restaurant was in was gorgeous, and the building itself is an amazing piece of architecture. Click here for some good photos of the building.

All other pot stickers suck

I have had the best pot stickers in the world. We got in around midnight to Gaoxiong, Taiwan, and stopped at this little place in the night market (which was of course, still open and thriving at 1 AM,) and got a few dozen of these little babies. I can tell that I will be frequenting this shop quite a bit over the next two weeks.

By the way, I used the Pinyin “Gaoxiong” spelling since it looks as though someone went around and changed all of the street signs here to use Pinyin instead of the old Wade-Giles romainzation conventions. I still like the way Kaohsiung looks as a word better than the new way, but I gotta admit that the Pinyin is an easier system to pronounce. Bah – I don’t think I’ll get used to seeing Pinyin in Taiwanese signs and maps…

Max tired us out on the trip here. I was chasing him up and down the escalator in SFO, chasing him around the airplane for the first half of the trip, and then he crashed hard. It is eerie, I feel no jet lag and it is 7:30 AM here in Taiwan.

Plan for today is to go hit the local park with Max’s new toy Mercedes Benz battery-powered car, and see about hooking up a broadband gateway for my parents-in-law. Max’s feet have hit the ground maybe twice since he’s been here. I have no idea if he slept last night…

Mudd’s Restaurant

Yingwen and I checked out Mudd’s Restaurant last night. Overall it was a good experience. Here’s what we had:

* Hearts of Romaine, Parmesan, Butter Croutons in Chef OttobreΩs Caesar Style Dressing
* Crostini with Fresh Mozzarella, Tomatoes, Basil and Balsamic Syrup
* Pappardelle with Shrimp, Peppers, Sweet Italian Sausage & Tomatoes, Creamy Basil Sauce
* Dry Aged New York Steak Poivrade (rich peppercorn sauce), Mixed Garden Beans, Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes
* Chocolate Shortcake with Berries and Summer Fruit

Although we of course tried each others’ dishes, I mostly had the Caesar Salad and the Steak, while Yingwen ordered the Papardelle and the Crostini. Of all the dishes, only the Papardelle was somewhat of a disappointment. Yingwen found the large and long noodles difficult to negotiate, and they only portioned out four little shrimp and four little slices of sausage into the mix. She would have liked more in both of these areas. However, the Crostini was incredible, with fresh mozarella and tomato and greens from the garden out back. The Caesar was quite delicious and a very tasty dressing that had a unique fresh flavor to it. The Steak was the best part of the meal – a very lean portion with a delicous Poivrade sauce that permeated the incredibly fresh and crisp garden beans and potatoes, adding a hearty flavor to the whole plate. The Chocolate Shortcake was to die for – fresh pieces of shortcake with tons of fresh peaches and strawberries from the garden, all topped with whipped cream. It was in no way too sweet – just a very natural flavor to the dessert all around which we loved.

The setting is quite nice and peaceful – just an incredibly relaxing atmosphere in a quiet old restaurant nestled among some oak trees in a forgotten corner of town. The service was never too doting, nor were they forgetful. We were seated with a view of the garden and there was a harp player that included freakin’ Stairway to Heaven in her playlist. Highly recommended destination for those looking for an unique East Bay dining experience.

Scovill Units

The chilli at The Prince of Wales Pub in San Mateo. The chilli at The Prince of Wales Pub. The chilli…

Is delicious. The first bite is not hot, but it creeps up on you – but not too much. By the end of my bowl, I was in a mild sweat. There was a guy in there with a 10 gallon hat – definitley an out-of-towner – but he looked like he knew what he was up to with that bowl of chilli. He was all dour and serious when he saddled up to that bowl of red. All business like. (I wonder if this is how he screws his sheep?) These guys make a real classic: no beans, flavored just right, using chunks of steak, chili, and maybe a little oninon. Mmmmmm-Mmm!