Upon walking into Gloria Prince Hotel and continuing to the restaurant on the 2nd floor, it was quite obvious I was in for a treat. The dining hall was quite spacious, adorned with elaborate chandeliers and elegant dinner table settings.
CHIOU HWA is a traditional Cantonese restaurant known for its dim sum and roast duck. In fact, the restaurant is famous for serving "Peking Duck" an impressive nine different ways.
Words & Photos By Nathan Allen
My host Calvin Lai welcomed me to Taipei, and we began our "culinary tour". First up was a sampling of some of Taiwan's famous teas.
Starting from lightest to darkest, we sampled green tea, then oolong, then the heaviest roast - the black teas. My personal favorite was the first, known as "Biluochun Green Tea". It is grown in Sanyi, Miaoli - Taiwan, and is quite accurately described as having an elegant taste.
This is when Chef Fong, a Hong Kong native, appeared on the scene. Along with a perfectly roasted duck, he began to put on quite a show for us.
With expert precision (and an incredibly sharp knife), he presented us with a plateful of sliced duck - crispy skin and all.
The chef was quite friendly, and kind to pose for a photo before returning to the kitchen.
After a brief explanation once more dishes were presented, we were ready to sample our sliced duck.
As mentioned earlier, the restaurant serves roast duck nine different ways...but we only had enough time (and appetite) to try three. I have to admit I was a bit skeptical, because I swear I tried duck before, and did not care for it. This time, however, was completely different. I guess you could say it was love at first bite.
The first method used a thin wheat "pancake" (more like a crepe, I suppose) to wrap the duck meat, along with some spring onion and pickled ginger. A slight dip in the included sauce was the final touch before tasting. Wow. The meat was tender and succulent, expertly cooked and proportioned with the thin, crispy skin.
All methods have their appeal, but this was by far my favorite. Such a unique and delicious experience!
(continued below, but I do hope you'll consider following along with me...)
The next method was Dried Tangerine Congee, or Chinese porridge. This recipe uses duck bones, along with traditional Chinese medicinal ingredients. The rich duck oil is well suited for for the taste and texture of the congee.
The third method uses a lettuce leaf to create a sauteed, minced duck wrap. You can see the minced duck meat on a small plate in the distance here.
Again, I preferred the "pancake" option, but everybody will have their own tastes and preferences, I suppose.
The next dish was quite special. Another one of the chef's signatures, this is a goose liver soup made with precision sliced tofu.
Shaped like a flower, it's quite obvious that a lot of work went into this detailed presentation. I didn't even know it was possible to slice tofu this finely!
Our meal was topped off with some traditionally baked Cantonese apple pies. They were lightly sprinkled with cinnamon, and uniquely shaped liked small sandwiches. I don't particularly like apple pie, but I must say - they were exquisite.
I took a look around the restaurant and snapped a photo of the dining hall before preparing to leave.
Overall, I was so impressed by this unique dining experience. It is clear that so much goes into the painstaking preparation of these dishes...and that passion and dedication shines through with each savory bite.
Big thanks to CHIOU HWA and chef Fong, as well as my host for this lunch, Mr. Calvin Lai. It is an honor to share this experience with all of you.
More info about CHIOU HWA Restaurant can be found HERE
- Nathan Allen
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