Thursday, October 25, 2012

Beef Sashimi, Goose Liver Sushi and My Interesting Month. Plus Links.


October has proven to be quite the interesting month - I've spent much of it shuttling between Taipei and Donggang for King Boat, one of my favorite festivals, eating some really ridiculously good food and generally making merry. Here's a recap:

Beef sashimi
Last night we went out for beef sashimi at 無雙牛肉 in Yonghe, in a lane off Lehua Night Market (#24-1, Alley 6, Lane 111 Yonghe Road Sec. 1 - you have to enter the night market to get there). Although you can get it elsewhere, I'm sure, this was my first beef sashimi experience and I was pleased. The first plate we got was thawed, but served cold, and had a velvety mouthfeel. The second was more frozen - I preferred the first, but the slight crunch of ice with the second was also good. The chef is a real foodie and has lots of rules (sashimi before soup, don't harass, bother or disturb the boss, beef sashimi only on Wednesdays). Another good find there is the beef soup, which has a slightly cloudy but deeply flavored and textured, a real umami-bomb of broth.

Listen to the boss.

Another cool temple in Donggang
The week before that, I returned to 貍小路 (Tanuki Koji) on Anhe Road, one of my favorite Japanese-style restaurants (an izikaya, really), which happens to be very close to my apartment. Despite the price (you won't get out for less than NT$1000 per person unless you forgo sake, and why do that?), and the difficulty of getting seats, I absolutely love their food. The old Taipei Times review points to the potato, cheese and fish roe dish, beef sashimi and grilled fish as your best bets, along with sea urchin. The urchin is great and I always love the fish, but the beef sashimi is no longer available. My recommendations are the milkfish sushi, the stuffed chicken wings (stuffed with meat, fish roe and some red pepper for a hot aftertaste), the blanched tomato in sesame sauce and the sea urchin.

And then there's the one thing you absolutely cannot miss: the goose liver sushi. It's lightly seared goose liver (not sure if it's foie gras or just goose liver, and I don't want to know) with a touch of a delicious sauce served as one-bite sushi. It seems like a large portion for one bite, but the goose liver melts in your mouth and creates an explosion of earth-shattering flavor. Unless you're a vegetarian, you absolutely have to try it. It will change your life. Just don't sit where I sat: I'm pretty sure they had to clean that cushion after my visit. It was that good.

Between these two memorable restaurant visits, I went to the boat burning that marks the end of King Boat festival. Not only is it an exhausting, but fascinating and in some ways transformative experience to stay up all night on a beach full of people and watch a life-size boat (and huge pile of ghost money) burn at dawn, it also makes for some really cool photos. I'll wrote another post on that later.



After the burning, we slept in and spent the rest of the day in Donggang - I'll write more about that later. What I'll note here is that we ran into an off-duty spirit medium the next evening - I thought he was doing some sort of ceremony around the still-burning remnants of the boat and ghost money, but no, he was taking photos.

And then he let us do this (in fact, it was his idea):



As you can see, I am way more comfortable as 濟公 the eccentric monk than Brendan is. Clearly I am a kindred spirit to Ji Gong (hah!), no matter how unflattering his robe is on me. An eccentric monk with a benevolent heart who enjoys meat and alcohol? Sign me up! Except for the monk part.

Part of the "South Taiwan, So Cool" Exhibit                    
Before heading down for the boat burning, I stopped for a few hours in Kaohsiung. This doesn't get its own post because the show is over, but Pier 2 was having a really interesting exhibit on products designed and made in southern Taiwan (South Taiwan, So Cool!). Some of it was graphic design, with a huge display of southern Taiwanese graphic design from the 19th century up until modern times, some was artsy design or traditional cottage industry stuff (think Hakka Blue, Meinong oilpaper umbrellas), some was manufacturing (think Kymco bikes), some was local goods (think baked goods).


The entire exhibit was in Chinese, which was a shame - I can read but I'm slow, and I had to get to Donggang, so I only had the time to read a few plaques. Foreigners who can't read at all would be at a loss here, and yet I can imagine there are foreigners who are illiterate in Chinese but would be quite interested in something like this. Signage in English, even if it's kind of Chinglishy, would have been a good idea.

I also stopped at the Dome of Light just for fun - I love it and haven't been there in years - and got some famous Gong Cha lightly salted cream green tea (near MRT Yanchengpu). Now, I just found out that there's one right near my apartment on Tonghua Street, but at the time I didn't realize that and I thought it was all special. But I don't regret going all the way out there. That tea is GOOD!

Donggang's famous place for eatin' is Huaqiao harbor market (華僑市場), where I ate very well for those two weekends, ping-ponging between a guy with a truck that sells grill-your-own local fish, snails, cheap oysters (one serving is NT$100, three servings is massive) and handmade Taiwanese tempura (甜不辣) among other things...and Yu Nong (漁農), the best restaurant at the harbor in my opinion, which does a mean tuna belly and some fantastic fried fish balls.

In Donggang we enjoyed some good Vietnamese food, too - one of the best things about heading down there is enjoying the tasty and generally authentic Southeast Asian food available due to the large SE Asian communities in the area.

One small part of The Dome of Light
I also did what I would consider to be one of my best presentation seminars - I'd done great ones previously for some other clients, but this one really knocked it out of the park. We got a fantastic group of people from Moet Hennessy (the luxury conglomerate that also owns Glenmorangie, Ardbeg and other wine and spirit purveyors. I linked to Glenmorangie's Taiwan Facebook page because I heard a whole presentation about it the other day) who already had strong English and were very receptive to advanced-level skills, bonus lessons and tips, and feedback. It capped off with a 20-minute talk on whiskey tasting, delivered by a fantastic presenter. It went 10 minutes overtime (final presentations are meant to be ten minutes) but was so interesting that nobody bothered to stop him from talking.

It was much better than the time I did a similar seminar and got to hear a presentation about erectile dysfunction in obese Asian men at 9am on a Saturday in a hospital conference room. I'm happy that I now know a lot more about whiskey (which I was already a fan of, the peatier the better), but could stand to know a bit less about erectile dysfunction in obese Asian men.

Finally, I got my permanent resident certificate (woohoo!). They say the process is supposed to be quick. It's not, at least not for me. I started it in May and got the card in October.

Oh yes, and I met Jet Li.


I'll leave you with some links - 

US isn't doing so well in gender equality (duh)

An honest discussion of the wage gap

Sexism in the skeptic/atheist community: the scandal continues. I'm a skeptic and an atheist but not a part of the community, and not interested in being a part of it. This is a part of the reason (also, I just don't like joining groups. Dunno, I'm weird like that).

A really good answer to guys who feel they've been "friend zoned" - either be her friend, or don't, but make that decision for you and don't blame her for her lack of interest (but do walk away if she strings you along with no clear answer)

Boosting the birth rate in Taiwan (which I personally don't think is necessary beyond attaining replacement level birth rates)

Is paying a new graduate in Taiwan NT$20,000 a month for a 25-day/month work week even remotely acceptable? I don't think so, but the government doesn't seem too concerned. They keep the minimum wage at about NT$17,000+/month and don't seem to be doing much to address the issue. I might write more on this later.

Even Nice Can Be Annoying - a good answer to why women get annoyed when men hit on them.

Mitt Romney Greets a Gay Veteran, Has His Ass Handed To Him - Mitt Romney would probably not say right to a gay person's face, or address the LGBT community, that he supports continued discrimination against them, that he believes it is right and legal to restrict their rights and block legislation seeking to end such discrimination. That it's OK to treat them as second-class citizens because his religious opinion is more important than their rights. (If he did do that I'd still think him vile and bigoted, of course, but at least I'd say he's got a pair of brass ones, no matter how misplaced his ideas). Had he known that veteran was gay he probably would have changed what he said - to what, exactly, I don't know. If you're not willing to say something to someone's face, or address a group head on with your views, it is a good sign that your views are terrible.

Same for a lot of Republican candidates and legislators talking about women's issues, by the way. I doubt Richard Mourdock would go up to a rape victim who was impregnated by her rapist, and tell her how to feel (specifically that she should feel the child is a 'gift from God' - a god she may not believe in), and that feeling any other way is unacceptable to him because for some reason his opinion matters.

I do think there is hope for the Taiwanese economy (these guys are my clients, by the way, so I'm kind of biased). There may not be hope for wage growth or sane working hours, but I don't believe Taiwan's economic prospects are so dire as many locals believe.

"I'm feminist and it's tradition in China? On keeping your last name" - a great blog post by Jocelyn. Only one quibble -  it's not longstanding tradition in China. It's a relatively recent change, and even now the husband's name + "tai tai" (太太), a la "Madame Chiang Kai-Shek" was the typical form of address for a woman - among others that all stressed the husband's name over any mention of the wife's. Even in Taiwan many of the older women still go by their husband's last name. In our apartment complex, plenty of articles in our local newsletter refer to women with two last names - theirs and their husband's. I wrote something quite different awhile back, on how it's normal in Taiwan not to change your name, but I did. 

I am, however, considering legally changing it back and just going by my married name socially, as other than my marriage certificate, that's what I do anyway.

And just a final interesting photo:


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