"I have the simplest tastes. I am simply satisfied with the best." - Oscar Wilde

"I came, I saw, I ate." - Au Gourmand

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Vegan and vegetarian Cuisine in Taiwan (Part 4 of 4)

My last humble learning experience was at 玥飲軒 (yue-ying-shuen), which was actually a tea salon. We originally wanted to have tea here, but was just too intrigued by their culinary offerings: Milk tea hot pot, 客家 (ke-jia, one of the diverse Taiwanese ethnicities) 擂茶 (this ke-jia specialty is made of about a dozen different ingredients – barley, sesame, toasted rice, various beans – all ground together in a bowl with green tea, quite restorative and healthy, not to mention delicious) hot pot and vegetarian lion’s head (a.k.a. meat balls). So, we came back for dinner the next day to try out these very dishes.

The milk tea hot pot turned out to be the famous Taiwanese tapioca milk tea hot pot with black tapioca pearls. It was not sweet, don’t worry, and it was not bad, really, just totally befuddling. The fried dough, yo-tiao, dipped in the milk tea was actually delicious. But as the pot cooled, the soup (did I mention the importance of the soup base?) really turned into tapioca milk tea and it was just, well, weird. It is worth a try, once in a lifetime, you know, I must say.

Tapioca Milk Tea Hot Pot
客家擂茶hot pot, compared to the tapioca milk tea, was just uninteresting: The seeds and beans of the客家擂added depth to the soup, so it was more like soy milk hot pot than anything else. Therefore, even as it cooled, I had no problem finishing this one.

客家擂茶 Hot Pot

Curried lion’s head was the best dish of the night in terms of tastes. Its curry sauce was complex with spice and yet mild and creamy with coconut milk and just went down into my stomach really fast with the tea rice (just rice cooked with tea). The “meat balls” also had a perfect tenderness and complemented the curry sauce. Vegetarian or vegan or whatnot, it was a delicious dish.

Curried Lion’s Head

One word about service, again: The service was slow (the boy) and sulky (the girl). They say you get more energy, animalistic energy anyway, from eating meat. So, is the slow service due to the lack of meat? However, this is a tea salon and they have other omnivore dishes…so, this theory fails. On the other hand, what about sulkiness? Tea is supposed to calm the mind and give you time for introspection. Perhaps the girl needs to sit herself down and brew a pot of tea, huh? The good news is that they are looking to hire some new people, so you may have better luck than we did.

Restaurant Info:
玥飲軒:  台北巿溫洲街80號 (02)83693963 

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