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

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

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Main Street Imperial Taiwanese Gourmet / C&L Imperial, Inc. (北港) - April 30, 2011

It was a testament of my undying and greedy love that brought me across two rivers and two bridges, after a
day of hiking and a visit to Han Ah Reum, no less, to my paramour of many names, Beigang – d.b.a. Main Street Imperial Taiwanese Gourmet, and a.k.a. C&L Imperial; imperial in any case.

A scoop of light orange in color and dotted with dark raisins was placed at our side of the table (sharing a table should not a problem, really, unless you are stuck with people of ill-habit); the appearance of which thoroughly convinced me that it was an ice cream, moreover, dropped off quite accidentally by mistake. Quite untroubled by the potential ethical question after allowing for a grace period of 60 seconds to run, I devilishly whispered to my seriously starved dining companion to try it. Mens rea plenty, but it turned out to be a case of legal impossibility as the ice cream look-alike was in fact an amuse bouche of mashed carrots with raisins. Frankly, aside for the technical excitement, the orange mash should not have merited so many words: it was quite healthy and equally horrid.

Chef Lin’s Sautéed Intestines

The intestines, studded with scallions and curlicues of ginger, arrived to our collective sigh. The sliced intestines were chewy without being rubbery; and the strong chili oil thoroughly complemented the unique flavor of the offal. As one masticates on a piece of doughnut shaped intestine, the spicy chili, the pungent scallions and hot ginger all started to sing a forceful and joyous chorus - imagine the Peasant’s Chorus in Le Comte Ory.

Oysters Beigang Style

It was initially disconcerting to realize that the small oysters – however, juicy, tender and fresh before they grew old and big – were prepared by an identical method as the intestines – chili, scallions and ginger. Mercifully, my dismay was dispelled the instant I placed one plump oyster –sautéed swiftly by the masterful Chef Lin to preserve its perfect plumpness, which burst open at the gentlest touch to release its briny and sweet, runny interior – and realized the resultant flavor was delightfully different. Rising out of the same base, the brine of the oysters played against the hot chili, while the sweetness rounded off the kick from the ginger. Where the offal played on top of the accompaniment, the oysters played with it; the effect of which was best studied by following each mouthful of oysters or intestines with a little bit of white rice.

Cannot Taste the Stinky Tofu

A more intriguing, albeit inelegant, name for a dish, I had not encountered before. What did the chef mean by “cannot taste?” When I needed guidance most in my self-indulgent life, Chef Lin miraculously materialized, again, with the greasy apron and bright yellow T-shirt: “The stinky tofu is fried, then sautéed with cabbage. It is very good.” Needless to say, by now, I had absolute faith in his “It is very good.”

The cubed fermented tofu was indeed fried, and then sautéed with cabbage and his glorious minced meat sauce. Due to this double cooking, the tell-tale smell had been tamed so that its full potency did not hit head-on; rather, the distinct tang was released subtly through and among the sweet crunchy cabbage and savory meat sauce. Regrettably, this admirably creative dish was marred by the fact that the tofu was not properly drained off of the frying oil before making its way over to the wok; therefore, the porous cubes were unpleasantly filled with oil. Next time, I think I would like to taste my stinky tofu.

Pan-fried Rice Noodles

Completely different from the version served in night markets (thicker strands of rice noodles with shredded cabbage, carrots and shiitake mushrooms), Chef Lin’s had included shredded napa cabbage and pork. Fluffy and minimally seasoned, the rice noodles were satisfactory and wholesome, if not, as divine as his other creations.

We, of course, did not leave without the signature sautéed cabbage, which was an embodiment of graceful simplicity.

Main Street Imperial Taiwanese Gourmet / C&L Imperial, Inc. (北港)

Address: 59-14 A Main Street, Queens, NY 11355
Phone: (718) 886-8788


  1. FANTASTIC. I've never read a more moving description of intestines.

  2. You have never met a more ardent lover of intestines, that is why.

  3. I suspect it could be a niche fan base. :)