Thursday, January 14, 2010

Goose City Seafood (鵝肉城) Taipei 台北

Liao Ning Street (遼寧街) in Taipei City is known for a small block that has some street food stalls and a few restaurants. Arguably the most famous and best place to eat in the area is not a stall, but a proper sit down seafood restaurant (where "restaurant" is a loose term here, and still very informal where you don't get chairs to sit down on, but stools).

The outside looks very enticing with bright signs, almost looking pseudo Las Vegas like but without the blinding flashing bulbs, perhaps sort of a food brothel if you will, with employees standing by the curbside and on the street trying to usher potential customers to come in. But rest assured that this food brothel is worth hitting again and again.

To the left of the main entrance is more of a smorgasboardgasm of seafood display, from numerous sashimi blocks inside the counter, to containers and tanks of live seafood, to fresh fish on ice. Everything here is as fresh as it can be, quite possibly trucked in personally by employees and the owner from the port of Keelung (基隆) within an hour northeast from Taipei.

Choose and point to whatever you want, and how you want it prepared (or ask for recommendations). All seafood is charged by weight with a scale nearby to calculate what your tab would be for one item. In a very small corner of the seafood display are the various vegetables they offer (so yeah no need for a fixed printed menu, everything is seasonal!!) Goose City I suppose can be also regarded as a kind of restaurant one would take a visitor to, in order to experience some of the best of local cooking that's not a street food stall type of setting. You get a few hungry friends (or fiends for that matter), order several dishes, rice/noodles or starch of your choice (not really needed if you don't want to be full), beers or what not, and it's all good.

The interior is not exactly sexy or fancy

But the food was SEXAY.

We received a nice little appetizer on the house that was a small but good sized portion of a cold fish skin salad with julienne cucumbers, carrots, onions, and a type of mildly spicy fish sauce that hinted towards Thai and Vietnamese (like ngoc mam but different). The fish skin was very similar to that of tai 鯛 (Japanese sea bream or snapper) sushi (when served with the skin on) and was excellent.

Next were local raw prawns on ice with a soy sauce dish (and paste wasabi squeezed around the edge for Yoda Mud Bath mixing), artfully arranged like a flower petal under ice. Surprisingly sweet and even the prawn heads were juicy and burst with flavor.

Not pictured was bitter melon stir fried with salted egg, 苦瓜炒鹹蛋. Taiwanese bitter melon is not very bitter at all, and the salted egg provided a nice counter balance to whatever bitterness was there in addition to the smoothness of the egg white (impressive), which also gave the whole dish a very home cooked feeling. The overall texture was very similar to the Okinawan version of the dish (Goya Champuru).

Now onward to the signature dish. It seems that seafood overshadows their goose here! They have two versions of the bird, smoked or plain steamed. These guys must have gotten a lot of exercise and fed a diet of protein shakes or what not, as there was literally zero fat on these folks (then again, these geese don't live in near or sub zero weather to accumulate the fat they need). Which is not necessarily a bad thing, as you can taste the nice firm texture of the bird, with literally no fat under the skin (unlike Hong Kong style artery clogging heart stopping roast goose). The smoked version was very pleasant, and prepped in a way that did not have any overpowering flavor like some of the local versions of smoked chicken (熏雞). Two kinds of dipping sauce to choose from, one being a vinegar based, and the other a mild chili sauce with garlic, both very enjoyable in their own right.

We also got a small steamed fish for two, and I can't remember which of the two kinds of red colored fish (white meat inside) that was picked. One of them I heard in Mandarin was golden eye (like kinmedai or ) but I could have been wrong. Firm flesh but not dry. Taiwanese style steamed fish uses much less soy sauce than their Cantonese counterparts, using just enough oil, salt, and scallions and ginger to bring the flavor out.Did not get beer which would have been good with the meal. However there is a great non alcoholic substitute here, which is called 蘆薈露 (Aloe Juice). It's like a thin gelatinous jelly (soft and transparent) mixed with honey and one or two other ingredients. You cannot find this at supermarkets or convenience stores. Runs NT$60 or US$2 a can. Tab was close to NT$1200 for two, or US$40. Not cheap, then again it isn't street food, but very high quality.This place is also a favorite amongst Japanese businessmen and those who need to entertain clients.

Honk Honk! Me love Goose City longtime!

鵝肉城(Goose City)
台北市中山區遼寧街77號‎ - 02-2751-6922‎
77 Liaoning Street Taipei, Zhongsan District

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