Thursday, April 1, 2010

Mmmmm... fish paste (頂級甜不辣)

I posted about 甜不辣 (tian bu la) before, at a place my mom used to eat at when she was in high school. I also mentioned that I used to hate anything that came from within feet of water with a furious passion. Well, I've grown to embrace most types of seafood, going so far as to eat them despite knowing that I'd break out in hives at night. My favorite (aside from the fried octopus balls of course) is probably this. I'm too lazy to rehash exactly what 甜不辣 encompasses, you can hit the link at the top to read about it, I'll just introduce a bootleg stand that I found that makes one of the best versions I've ever had. Located near 龍山寺 (Long Shan Temple) exists a 4-way intersection of the 2 main streets that encompass the night market. On this corner, you will find a giant yellow sign with the characters 頂級甜不辣 (Ding Ji Tian Bu La), which roughly translates to 'top quality tempura.' If you looked at their 'operation,' it comprises simply of a stand, a bunch of cheap plastic tables out in the middle of the street, and wobbly metal stand chairs, fenced off with cheap twine... no lie. In all honesty, it screams insanitary, and it is devoid of any charm whatsoever. What made me sit down is beyond me. I'm sure glad I did though...


For 40 NT ($1.25) you can pick up a small, but for 55 NT ($1.75) you can pick up a large, which is probably twice the size. Inside you get the same variety of differently shaped tempura which are deep fried, then cooked in diakon broth, as well as some fishballs, meatballs, daikon radishes, and of course... the 'sauce.' The tempura here is unrefined, unlike that at Simon's, with textural oddities that remind you that fish... probably shouldn't be in paste form. While that was the plus at Simon's, this homemade quality manifests itself as an indication of quality in my opinion. The tempura were delightfully springy, moderately oily, and the fish taste carried well, despite being masked by the sauce. Oh my, the sauce. This is the one place that makes Simon's look bad. Sure... it's simple mixing miso, sugar, soy, and chili paste (and let's be honest, MSG), but they managed to do it in such a fashion that the flavor started off entirely sweet and ending with a spicy aftertaste. Not sure how, don't really care, it was delicious. As far as the leftover sauce, of course they'll let you fill your cup with soup broth, which makes for the complete meal. Moral of the story, go here. I will actually go out of my way to say you should make an out of the way trip to look for this place. Unless you're some sort of mega germaphobe, I promise you won't be disappointed.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

stop being nocturnal

Random Thoughts of a Jersey Mom said...

I'm pretty sure I've never tried this place. Will keep it in mind next time I go to Taiwan.

Nicholas said...

it looks completely insanitary (half these places do), but it's quite good, I swear!

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