Thursday, March 25, 2010

[台北] - 上閤屋日本料理 - Jogoya Seafood Buffet (Taipei)

Jogoya 上閤屋 is a buffet that specializes in Japanese cuisine and seafood, and is exclusively a chain in the Taipei area with at least 3 locations and one in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. It is said that a conglomerate (Formosa group?) that owns hotels runs Jogoya, as well as a local shabu shabu chain Kolewa. Makes sense because they have the funds to get resources, training, and food in bulk at lower cost.

This particular location is in the area where Taipei 101, Warner Village (movie theater complex), and the multiple J-dept store Mitsukoshi buildings are. As a result buffet prices are a tad bit higher than others. To give you an idea, lunch here comes to about US$21, $25 for dinner. And you come here for late night snack too, they close at 2:30 am.....On weekends and public holidays you are given a 2 hour time limit to finish. But what mortal is able to spend more than 2 hours at a buffet?

When you walk in, and explore the area, the only thoughts that come to your mind are:


Especially for 20 bucks!!!

Fresh seafood, steamed or fried to order!
The selections here are SCARY. So much food, so little time (2 hours that is) Todai and other Bay Area Asian buffet owners, please fly to Taipei and eat here, then SUCK AND SWALLOW IT. And take notes and learn what a REAL Asian buffet should be!

After taking quite a few pix, I was then told by Jogoya employees that I was not allowed (lots of Japanese food business owners don't want you to "steal" ideas for the competition, such is life).
Glad I got away with whatever I could!

Hakka style salted pork
Cakes and desserts galore

More and more cakes

Sayori or needlefish, steamed to order (don't worry they have it for sashimi too!)

California bass!!

Dobinmushi and Chawanmushi

Taiwanese fruit

More fruit

Dragon fruit

Cantonese Turtle Jello too... 

Yes, alkie bevs are included in the price! Red wine and Tsing Tao too! 

Various grilled fish

From what I remember (and I'm sure I missed out a ton of stuff)

Sashimi section: needlefish (sayori), hamachi, escolar (super white fish), kajiki (swordfish), salmon, mirugai, scallops, some sort of local clam, oysters on halfshell, and what looked like a Kyoto style prep of saba embedded in a kazunoko like yellow fish egg! Nearby was yamamomo (mountain peach) but the locals call it Yang Mei (a plum variant).

Also various sushi rolls but did not touch those. Inari with black bean, kimchi, and ikura versions were seen nearby.

A made to order handroll section - crispy as hell nori, then choose from toppings - "matsuba" Japanese crab meat, sake marinated ikura, J-mayo (like kewpie), tobiko, local aspargus, peanut powder, rice, shredded lettuce. Specify whether you want rice or lettuce.

Whole fish steamed or deep fried to order (including needlefish)

dim sum section - Steamed to order XLB. Decent but these mofo's were quite big. Canto dim sum offerings were chicken feet, fried daikon cake, cha shiu bao.

Beverages (yes included in the price! SUCK this Todai and friends) - OJ, soft drinks, SIX kinds of tea leaves/bags, icee slush drinks, RED WINE, Tsing Tao Beer, cocktails (self pour)

4 kinds of ice cream. I heard they used to stock HAAGEN DAAZ, but switched to something low tech recently (when I went, bastards!)

Nabemono section: self help mini hot pot with Chinese herbal broth and veggies, a clay pot that had uhmmm...sesame oil rooster testicles (a local specialty) which they aptly label as hip fruit (ie the "fruits" by the hip, get it?), supposedly contains tons of collagen and great for ladies skin (I bet you can easily find and get women to eat this over swallowing for their men or performing fellatio for that matter)

Agemono section: lots of lesser interesting deep fried and tempura style offerings from fish, meat, to veggies

Yakimono section: grilled to order beef, chicken, pork slices and more mounds of meat.

steam table section: of note were local small crab (with tons of meat inside the head), steamed abalone (canned?), and more seafood. And that f**king rooster cock ballsac stuff shows up again in sesame oil sauce at the steamtables....damn it's everywhere!

ACYE Dobinmushi and chawanmushi. Not high end quality but hey!!!

Veggies - pick from a variety of local vegetables, stir fried to order and brought to your table

8 kinds of local fruit offerings at the fruit bar: honeydew, dragonfruit, starfruit, oranges, tomato

Dessert section - 4+ flavors of cheesecake, 4+ flavors of mousse cake (eg green tea, kiwi, strawberry, mocha etc). On the opposite end of the restaurant were green tea jello, and the Cantonese hardcore black jello (made with real turtle)...

Out of the three buffets I've been to in Taipei (Wasabi in Taipei 101, Hsin Yeh across from Taipei Train Station, and Jogoya), Jogoya easiliy wins hands down. All of them cost about the same, and competition is fierce. The one who offers the most at the best quality for the least wins.

Feeling stuffed afterwards? No problem, tons of shops and places to walk around in the area to burn it off, until the next eating adventure.

Apparently gluttony is not one of the sins in Taiwan...


Taipei locations:

台北市信義區松壽路22號 - 02-8789-5678 (Xinyi District, Song Sau Rd #22)

台北市大安區大安路一段170號 - 02-2325-5255 (Da An District, Da An Rd 1st portion #170)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

[台北] - 寧夏夜市 賴記雞蛋蚵仔煎 Lai's range chicken egg oyster omlette (Ningxia Road Night Market)

One of the most well known and common $taple$ of Taiwane$e $treet $nack$ is the oyster omlette 蚵仔煎.

For a mea$ly two George Wa$hington$, or NT$60 (arguably a tad bit cheaper elsewhere) you can get some natural viagra that is fresh and gives you a giant boner, I'm talking about appetite for more oral fixings that the food vendors have to offer.

Lai's is located in the outer edge of Taipei City's Ningxia Road Night Market 寧夏夜市 where this market is well known for a long block of nothing but the finest of street food. More importantly this market is one of the least touristy joints (unlike the overcrowded Shih Lin Night Market with elbow to elbow crowds), practically no shops, and a high concentration of vendors that adhere to one philosophy, keeping tradition alive by preserving the original ancient/old school flavors and receipes from 30 to 50 years ago.

Lai's is a fine example of local street cuisine. They've been around 30 years and their signature oyster omlette is still their strongest seller. NT$60 or about 2 bucks gets you a perfectly well done dish.

It is said that Lu Gang 鹿港 (a seaside town with a port) in Changhua County is the birthplace of the oyster omlette in Taiwan, brought over by Fujianese immigrants from China. They use no eggs in their receipe and a ton of basil. The addition of eggs seems to be more of a Taipei variation (no basil in this version).

The kitchen is outdoors, with some nearby stools and tables, and a separate indoor section for those who prefer to be off the street.

Lai's Range Chicken Egg Oyster Omlette rundown:

-Fresh baby oysters (Er Ah 蚵仔) native to Taiwan (probably from by the coastal waters near south central west side)

-Free range chicken eggs

-Tung ho 茼蒿 (Garland chrysanthemum) also a great veg to use with hotpots

- in house made special red sauce (like a light ketchup with some savory, sweet, and sour)

- potato or yam starch to thicken, it's a tad bit gooey texture, so native Japanese who like the "neba neba" (sticky) (and I mean things like natto you sick minded folks) will find some comforting similarity.

All this grilled on top of a high heat metal surface.

The whole combination just blends together so well.

The clear broth baby oyster soup is great too.

The atmosphere is incredible, with locals and like minded street food lovers around you. It's all very simple, but yet ridiculously impossible to recreate abroad for some reason.

賴雞蛋蚵仔煎 (Lai's Chicken Egg Oyster Omlette by Ningxia Road Night Market)
台北市大同區民生西路198之22號 (Taipei City, Datong District, Mingshen West Rd, 198 by #22)
(Tel) 02-2555-0381
(Hours) 15:00-2:00(隔週二休 closed Tuesdays)

There's actually another 30+ year old place nearby that's quite famous and here's a pic of the storefront for those curious. Until next time....

Monday, March 22, 2010

[礁溪-宜蘭縣] - 鵝肉郎海鮮 Goose Guy Seafood (Jiaosi, Yilan County)


Nope, not Hooters.

It's Goose.

One weekend we were on the road and driven to the eastern coast of Taiwan, of Yi Lan county, in the town of Jiao Si 礁溪. The area is known for mostly farming, local specialties / cuisine, hot spring spas.

Our gracious host settled on a restaurant for our evening meal called Er Rou Lang Seafood Restaurant 鵝肉郎海鮮, which loosely means Goose Meat Guy. Turned out to be a very popular restaurant with locals and visitors and in a way similar to Goose City in Taipei City

We didn't have goose that night at Goose Guy. Our host took care of ordering and everything was as delicious as can be

Salmon Sashimi (local Taiwanese salmon) - big thick meaty slices, just barely defrosted. Very common appetizer for sashimi (in addition to raw prawns or raw local swordfish). Soy sauce and wasabi mud bath mix sorely needed of course.

Stir fried noodles - no pix of this, but had hints of sacha sauce in it. Very nice.

Boiled/steamed local shrimp - Cantonese seafood restaurants would serve a dipping sauce of seasoned soy sauce with chili peppers or jalapenos for a dish like this. All we could use was unfortunately the soy sauce and wasabi. The shrimp was a lot tastier than the salmon.

Hollow stem veg stir fried (kung xin cai 空心菜) - Sure you can get this at any Chinese restaurant, but this version is locally grown and irrigated with hot springs water! The taste and texture is unlike anything else I've had.

Chuan Chi 川七 veg stir fried with dried fishlings - A great unique local veg and also grown and irrigated with hot springs water in Yi Lan county. Darker green hue, leafy stem, and juicy with a nice crisp. Unbeatable flavor

sea snail/conch type thingy stir fry - with Yi Lan scallions (the equivalent of Tokyo Negi or really really really large green onions), basil, soy sauce, some seasonings. Great toothsome bounce on the sea creature, and the scallions were wonderful too.

This place maybe a sit down restaurant, but it is not upscale by any means. It is definitely pricier than street food, but you are getting quality.

Again, very typical local food to have after some R&R at the hot spring spa places. Probably more enjoyable with some alcohol if you choose.

Fresh vegetables of the day

Live lobster in tanks

礁溪鵝肉郎海鮮 (Goose Guy Seafood)
礁溪鄉信義路29號1樓 (Jiaosi - Xinyi Road #29, 1st FL, Yilan County)