上朋 – my favourite Japanese restaurant in Taoyuan, Taiwan

October 31, 2014

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Shang Peng is the name of my favourite Japanese restaurant in Taoyuan, Taiwan

When I teach at the International Center for Land Policy Studies and Training (ICLPST) in Taoyuan, I try to have at least one meal in this restaurant.

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Japanese “nibblies”

Usually, I go with my friend Jim Riddell. Last time we had another fabulous meal. This time we did not drink beer but ordered a bottle of sake.
The charming waitress brought us a bottle of Black&Gold by the Gekkeikan Sake Company, a producer from Kyoto who is producing sake since 1637 in Fushimi.

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It came in a nice decorative bottle which Jim took home after the meal. We drank it cold not warm.
But boy I tell you this Sake was as smooth as silk, pure and balanced, in short an elegant wine.

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What a good choice this was. from here it was downhill all the way.

Below you will find photos of the various dishes we enjoyed with the Sake.

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Assorted raw fish

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To cleanse the palate

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Jim’s raw fish dish

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Jim’s soup

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Eel with rice

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The twisted fish

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Ingredients for the soup

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Ingredients for the soup

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The soup in parchment. It is amazing that the paper does not burn.

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Fruit at the end

What a wonderful evening this was. After paying I forgot my credit card at the counter.
The restaurant rang Jim a little later and informed him about this.
And the next day I picked it up at lunch time.

If in Taoyuan you should seek out this place and enjoy a Japanese meal. it’s definitely worth it.


Wang Ping Steak House in 桃園 Taoyuan, Taiwan

November 26, 2012

The shutters of Wang Ping Steak House when still closed

Together with my friend Jim I went to Wang Ping Steak House in 桃園 (Taoyuan) for a kind of farewell meal. The International Center Land Policy Studies and Training (ICLPST) had made a booking but we had to be there at 17.20 h already, because the place was fully booked.

Can you imagine that? Chinese gourmets seem to know what is good, and they eat early. So off we went and presented ourselves at the above time. It was a rainy day, with low hanging clouds, and it was dark when we arrived.

We had to wait a few minutes. Then we were shown to our table on the ground floor. The menu is in Chinese and in English. Straight forward so to say. We ordered in no time.

The appetizer arrangement

The salmon and mushroom arrangement was lovely and wetted our appetite. We were offered a glass of fizz, so to say, fizz with a sweet plum taste. We did not protest.

The fizzy plum drink

Both of us had ordered the mushroom soup. It came in two vessels, a soup bowl with the mushrooms lumped together like a little tower, the broth came separate. I was not quick enough to take a photo of both. The soup was good, fully flavoured, creamy and intense.

The mushroom soup

We ordered a bottle of house wine. Red was the colour we had chosen. I do not know much about French wines. When a bottle of ‘2010 Ginestet Bordeaux’ arrived, I was wondering what it would taste like.

As it turned out, Maison Ginestet is a wine trading house specializing in Bordeaux wines.

The wine was full bodied, had beautiful forest fruit aromas, and was dense with a long finish. Just the right wine with red meat, I thought. The typical Bordeaux blend is a good choice when eating beef or lamb.

Grand vin de Bordeaux

I liked the dark red colour

The sorbet

To cleanse the palate, a sorbet was offered. Again it had a plum taste. The fine acidity made sure our palates were ready for the main course.

Dried plums and plum sauce for the lamb

Jim’s main course: lamb

Beef fillet

Jim went for the lamb chops, I ordered the beef fillet. Big dishes but we were ready for it.

Chocolate dessert with ice cream

Crème brûlée in a shell

Also the desserts did not disappoint us. What a lovely way to end our farewell meal.

The service at Wang’s is very efficient. The well trained waiters and waitresses are polite and attentive. We both enjoyed the evening.

I was about to board a plane a few hours later. Jim stayed behind for another two weeks at the Centre. As always we are confident to meet again for another joint teaching engagement at ICLPST.

Chinese flower tea

Come and eat at Wang’s

PS: I highly recommend a meal at Wang’s. They have several outlets, I think.

Address:
Wang Ping Steak – Taoyuan Jhongshan Branch
No. 546, ZhongShan Road, Taoyuan
Taiwan –
Tel.:+886 – 03 – 339 1650


Shopping shrimp restaurant in 八德 (Bade), 桃園 Taoyuan, Taiwan

November 23, 2012

Shopping shrimp restaurant poster

I agree that this is a strange name for a restaurant – Shopping Shrimp Restaurant – but I was told it is the transliteration from Chinese into English. Anyway, the three of us, Jim, Steve and myself, we were really looking forward to check out this place.

Jim had been there before and was raving about the pepper shrimps, the best in the world. In fact the “shrimps” turned out to be Thai prawns. Why did I have to come from Bangkok to sample Thai prawns here on the beautiful island of Formosa?

Tacky plastic plates at Shopping Shrimp

The deal was that you could eat as much as you wanted for 499 NT $ including four mugs of 0.4 litres of beer. Who can refuse such an offer?

From the International Center for Land Policy Studies and Training (國際土地政策研究訓練中心), where the three of us were teaching, we jumped on the bus to Bade and reached the restaurant in no time.

The inside of Shopping Shrimp Restaurant

We were early and the place was still rather empty. Later it should fill up quickly. The friendly staff selected among themselves the one who spoke some English and off we went and ordered our food.

The menu

The menu was in English and Chinese with big colour photos so that one would know what was ordered. We selected a few dishes, and anxiously awaited what was to come.

Pepper shrimps in a clay pot

It did not take long and the first clay pot of pepper shrimps arrived at our table. More followed soon. the waiter brought us the menu for more orders and we sampled the various types of prawns in all flavours and shapes.

Garlic shrimps

More shrimps

Shrimps wrapped in a leave

Shrimps on rice

Needless to say that the food was super delicious. We ordered more and more, even another pepper shrimp clay pot. We did not need carbs that night.

Taiwan draft beer

Needless to say, we washed the food down with fresh Taiwan draft beer. The three of us, we had a jolly good time. Shopping Shrimp Restaurant is a cool and groovy place.

Remark: Steve and Jim are from San Diego, they taught me Californian slang over dinner.

The three diners: Jim, me and Steve


Mosel wine in the EVA Air lounge in Taipei

November 22, 2012

The other day, while I was waiting for my flight home to Bangkok, I discovered to my great amazement in the business class airline lounge of EVA Air, that a wine from my native Mosel was on offer.

What a pleasant surprise, I thought, when I spotted the label in the wine cooler. It was a ‘2011 Bockstein Kabinett Grand Cru’ by St. Urbans-Hof in Leiwen, Mosel. The wine village of Leiwen is only a couple of kilometers away from my home town Trier.

I have visited the winery and love their crisp-dry Rieslings. For the first time I had the opportunity to taste one of their off-dry wines. The terroir, “Bockstein” in Ockfen, a small village at the Saar river, a tributary to the Mosel, is also a place very dear to me.

From the raised hides in the hunting territory of Schoden (another village at the banks of the Saar river) one could have a glimpse of the “Bockstein”, a rock formation towering over the Saar valley. It’s vineyards are very steep and the Riesling grapes grown are famous for their high quality.

Off-dry whites are not my favourites, but of course this wine showed it’s outstanding quality. It was full and lush, smooth as silk in the mouth, with intensive and mellow Riesling aromas. It had also a long finish, and I loved the balance of sugar and acidity.

Moreover, I found my beloved Mosel (Saar) here, thousands of miles away in a place of Asia where I least expected it.


上朋 Japanese Restaurant in Taoyuan, Taiwan

June 12, 2011

Tucked away in a side street 上朋 Japanese restaurant has a great façade

Since quite some time I wanted to post this little story of two old friends going on a stroll to celebrate life at a Japanese restaurant.

上朋 (Shang peng) Japanese restaurant, not far from the International Centre for Land Policy Studies and Training in Taoyuan where we were teaching, was our choice.

上朋 restaurant curtain

The diners

We ordered Sake. Jim preferred the cold one which came in a carafe with a whole in it in which ice cubes were placed to keep the Sake cold. Fancy stuff. I choose the warm Sake which was a delightful drink.

The cooled down Sake

Simple and easy: warm Sake

We booth choose one of set-menu type meals, also for the sake of convenience. As it turned out we should not be disappointed. The cold dishes set before was were very tasty. More appetizers should follow.

上朋 cold dishes

More cold appetizers were to follow

Japanese food is art

Also the fish is tastefully presented

The Sushi platter was divine

Then came the ingredients for the soup

The soup was boiled on a table stove. The liquid was not held in a clay pot but in parched paper. Then
we dropped the ingredients above into the broth and let it cook for a while.

Isn’t the soup beautiful?

A sauce was presented to dip the fish and vegetables in

A selection of fruit ended our meal

This was a wonderful meal in a very peaceful atmosphere. The service at 上朋 is excellent. The food is reasobaly priced, and as customer you have the feeling that you are king. I highly recommend the place.


Feasting on Japanese delicacies at Ba Tiao Shou Si – 八條壽司

May 31, 2011

八條壽司 Ba Tiao Shou Si

Let me take you to a very special place, 八條壽司 a Japanese restaurant near Taoyuan. Before we enter the place and indulge in the photos I took of the various dishes served to us, let me explain a bit the background.

Every year when I teach my course on good governance in land administration at the International Center of Land Policy Studies and Training in Taoyuan (ICLPST), Taiwan, a good old friend of mine, Prof. Lin Kuoching, professor of economics and agricultural policy, invites me and Prof. James Riddell, an even older friend of mine from my days at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, out for an evening in the hot springs.

It is the annual reunion of three men united by their passion for agriculture, the land and the people cultivating the land. They also share a passion for politics, geo-politics and political developments in Asia. After our long conversations in hot and warm and cold water basins, we move on and have dinner together.

Ms. Lin, Prof. Lin’s wife, is usually the one selecting the meal and the dishes. However, this time we were too late for the Chinese restaurant at the spa, so we went back to town. A Japanese restaurant called 八條壽司 was our aim.

The entrance of 八條壽司

The place is down to earth, nothing fancy. When we arrived it rained cats and dogs, and the restaurant was packed with people. The photos were taken when we left late in the evening.

The common dining room 八條壽司

The shogun’s armour in a glass vitrine was the heirloom of the place. To the right from the common dining area are individual rooms in the Japanese style.

The Shogun’s armour

Now just follow me from picture to picture of the delicacies we were offered. I do not know the names of the dishes, often I even cannot say what the dish was composed of, but trust me, this was amazing, awesome, super delicious, in short: heaven on a stick, as we say in Australia.

Beautiful raw fish

A salad with fruit to clean the palate

Fish eggs

More raw fish

Brown rice selection

Beautiful creations

Soup

Some more raw fish

And a flat fish

Chicken

I am not much of a chicken lover, but this chicken skewer was just delicious, unbelievabel. It converted me: good chicken dishes do exist.

Sake

We drank tea and warm sake with our meal. I love sake but are utterly ignorant about the various types and qualities. This is something to explore in the near future.

The three men and the Shogun’s armour: Prof. Lin, Prof. Riddell, and me.

Needless to say that this was a fantastic evening. Thank you fellow diners for the company, the hospitality of the Lin family should be praised and rewarded in the other world, last but not least I wish to thank the cook of the 八條壽司 restaurant: you did a great job. Arigato


Lunch at Spring Farm 春天農場 in Taoyuan, Taiwan

May 28, 2011

Goodness me, a week has past and I had no time to produce a single post. That must have been a busy week. Every evening is was flat out tired, and had just enough energy for a family meal, a glass of wine, and bed.

Another Saturday, another chance to prepare some of the photos which I took while on Taiwan for stories on food. I have so much material I do not know where to start. And on Wednesday I am on another busyness trip which will take me to Manila,which has a great cuisine, and Beijing. I guess there are some culinary delights in the making.

Well, but let’s get to Taiwan, to the city of Taoyuan to be precise. The “peach garden city” (that’s the literal translation of the name), alluding to a story of an oath (桃園三結義) being taken amid peach blossoms by three friends (Liu Bei, Guan Yu, and Zhang Fei) and warriors from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms a famous novel written by Luo Guangzhong.

Taoyuan is a rather dull town, clad all in grey of the many concrete walls and high rise buildings. There is little public space and not much green.

However, the more significant seems the attempt of an eatery to built on that particular lack of nature in the town and use it to its own advantage: “Spring Farm” could be such a venture.

It might fall into the category of so called “leisure farms” which are a model to attract city people and offer them a kind of unique experience.

We went there on a rainy Saturday to have lunch after a long morning meeting discussing anthropological research and land tenure questions.

Spring Farm

I assume “the farm” was once at the outskirts of the city, and has now been “swallowed up” by urban sprawl.Set up a on a couple of acres of garden land, I would call it, it combines eating with other first hand benefits such as buying health food and ornamental plants from the producer. There is a lot of space around it where kids can play outside.

One of the sales rooms

When you enter, making your way from the car park to the main building, you do not get straight away to the restaurant but you are led through various sales rooms where various processed and dried foods, cookies, cake, bread, rice, oils, vegetables but also soap, fragrances and other odds and ends are on offer.

Shoppers paradise so to speak, all on your way to the dining room. It helps to acquaint you with what to buy on your way our.

Some veggie garden

From the dining room you can see a piece of garden where various vegetables are grown, a banana grove is seen in the back.There are a couple of different dining rooms, an indication that the number of people visiting is very large at times.

One of the dining rooms

The diners

Actually we were five people but I have only Prof. Yen Aiching, her son (left side), Prof. James Riddell and myself on this photo.

You order a main dish from the menu and get the entrée from a buffet type structure. here you will find a mix of Asian and European dishes and ingredients, and you can assemble a fusion first course for your meal.

Fusion appetizer

As you can see I went for a healthy appetizer selecting Asian and non-Asian ingredients.My main dish would be salmon which turned out to be very tasty. There were other fish dishes on offer as the one further below cooked on the table in a steam boat.

My main dish

Fish on a steam boat

The dessert

All in all the food was very good. The quality of the ingredients was excellent. The service very efficient. And the most important, we had a very relaxing time and great conversation over the dinner table. The only thing missing in my view was a good wine list. Instead various chrysanthemum teas were on offer. I guess that grape wine is not that high in demand.

On the way out we inspected the wares on offer which is always very educational. What products do people buy? These and other questions come to mind. Overall I think the concept pays off. Spring Farm tries to make a difference. It provides its customers which a unique experience in the middle of al large city.

Bread as in Germany

The bred counter made my German heart jump. There was so much on offer, amazing. In an Asian context bread has somehow an exotic flavour. In fact some of the creations can be quite surprising including non-traditional bred ingredients (such as green or red bean paste).

Various processed foods

Some dried beans etc.

The green house with ornamental plants

The porcelain dog says good bye (well he does not say that)

We had a great time. In Europe I would not patronize such a place but on Taiwan when all the time in the urban jungle, my soul was longing for some green, some plants, trees and fresh air.

PS: We found the place by searching the internet from a smart phone. Thanks for taking us Prof. Yen.