Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ireland's Potato... where fries meet fruit

So fries are good. They're carbs... they're fried. What's not to like? Yes I know, there are countless numbers of places that fail at making such a simple food. The end result is either too soggy, undercooked, over salted, or all of the above. No one wants that. The question here is... how do you make something so simple, yet perfect, even better? This is where Taiwan, or rather Ireland, steps into the picture. Located in the 信義 (Xin Yi) district near Taipei 101, on the outer wall of the VieShow Cinema exists a bustling area of culinary delights. Nevermind the fact that most of it is overpriced (given the surroundings), a lot of the offerings are truly unique, that you can't find anywhere else in Taiwan. One of these stores (okay, I lied, this is a chain) is Ireland's Potato... a fast foodish kind of place that serves only fries. The store is literally just a nook on one of the corners of the movie theater, so it's pretty nondescript, but it's relatively easy to find once you see all the logos of pumpkin faced potatoes. Anyhoo, the menu consists of only fries, but an abundance of varieties (sort of like Box Frites). Amongst the listed are (since it's really hard to see, I'll list 'em)... color sugar powder potato (I think they mean rainbow...), plum pepper, nori, garlic powder, curry, yogurt cream, sesame cream, wasabi mayo, pickle mayo, fruit creams (of which there are strawberry, passion fruit, and pineapple), cheddar, meat sauce, sour cream, and honey mustard... whew, that's a lot. Out of all of them, the ones that seem to stand out are the nori (dried seaweed), yogurt cream (is this anything like tzatziki?), sesame cream, wasabi mayo, and the fruits... unfortunately, I didn't have enough time/money to try them all. Yeah sad panda again... Enough of this! How's the product?

I chose to get the passion fruit fries for 85 NT ($2.50) which at first I thought was a ripoff, but hey, compared to the US, that's not too bad. First up, the fries. They were good... not I gotta have these all the time good, but good. Thicker than the McDonald's thin (though not shoestring) fries I love oh so much, but not yet on the level of steak fries or wedges, they had an adequate crunch on the exterior, twice fried... I watched them! Because it was prepared on order, it also had the nice splash of oil when you bit down through the outer layer which, while pleasant, also left me with a scalded mouth. The inside is cooked through and through, yet remains pillowy soft, so really the criteria for good fries was met. The sauce, was really just a passion fruit jam kinda thing that was mixed with cream (or maybe yogurt?) and thickened with cornstarch and sugar. It was piping hot (which is nice in Winter, hint hint), and did a nice job complementing the saltiness of the fries themselves. My only real gripe is... it kind of lost the passion fruit taste after 2/3 of the cup, simply because the sauce was a tad overly sweet. In any case, if you end up in the area, I would make a detour to go find this place, because it is pretty unique, and the fries are pretty solid.

Last thing I had to add. I don't know if Irish people really say this, but I thought their logo and slogan were so legit that I had to take a picture. Although it seems to me that they're joking about potatoes by making it look like a jack-o-lantern... so yeah, way to go Asian people.


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