Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Han Chi Tiger Noodles

We ate at this restaurant - Han Chi Tiger Noodle - on Sunday, and all I can say is Awesome! I got lamb and Brendan got pork, but we both stuck to the spicy (ma la) specialty soup with puffed rice.

This makes two awesome restaurants near, but not on, Yongkang Street that I strongly recommend (the other one is the Japanese fish restaurant I recommended last week). Is it just me, or is Yongkang Street proper really not that great for food? I know it has this reputation as a culinary Mecca, but so far I've mostly been maybe not disappointed but still "yeah, it's OK" while eating there. Nothing stupendous. Not even the erstwhile Ice Monster (Sugar House in Nanshijiao Night Market is much better, and aptly named). I love the shops - jewelry, used books, old furniture, Chinese-style stuff - and the park, but the food? Eh. And no place to get a good drink nearby!

(Some of the old-school xiao chi places with the low brick kangs and simmering pots of meat...things are pretty good, but not better than anywhere else, and my favorite one of these style restaurants is actually on Songde Road on the other end of the city).

Around Yongkang Street, especially around Lishui and Jinhua Streets, however, I'm finding all sorts of great places to hunker down with amazing food. So my advice is: avoid the main Yongkang drag for food, and instead hunt along its outskirts, especially down Lishui Street.

I did forget to tell them that I didn't want duck blood and ended up with a bunch of blood that I didn't eat (I really don't like it; it tastes like pennies!). My bad!

With our main dishes we got beer and two snacks: a tasty cucumber plate and "tofu skin", which I love for its flavor and texture in general. Han Chi's comes with a flavorful sauce.

They also have dumplings and other items, and an area where you can mix your own sauce as such places do. Among their more interesting offerings is flower pepper oil (hua jiao you or 花椒油) and spicy pickled things that I don't commonly see.

Other than that, I can't improve on the Taipei Times' review, so I won't try. Everything they say is true!

Across the street, next to 7-11, is a great little cafe called Vinyl, with a large (but not especially cheap) wine selection, full coffee tea and other drink selection, food, snacks, desserts and a modest beer choice. They have inviting wooden tables, shelves full of wine, plugs and Wifi, too. The music leaves something to be desired but generally a great place to hang out.

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