Tuesday, September 28, 2010

基隆廟口's best of the rest...

Crab 'geng' (螃蟹羹)

I know what you're thinking... "is he still talking about that stupid seaport? God I wish he'd shut up already." Sorry. Wait, no I'm not. I guess I could've written about 基隆廟口 in a singular long post, but I feel like that would be an insult to each and every incredible shop located there. They're all tremendously unique, and they all deserve their spot in the limelight (even one as weak as my blog). Combine that with the fact that I have the attention span of a goldfish and you'd have a recipe for disaster. Basically you'd get more rambling and made up words than anyone should have to put up with. Anyway, here's a condensed 'best of the rest' post for things I put in my mouth at Keelung.

Stall #55... home of 螃蟹羹, otherwise known as crab 'geng.' Without rehashing a full explanation of what 'geng' is (read here), this stall serves up a crab meat variant. Like Goldilocks said about the stupid porridge, theirs is neither too thick, nor too thin, existing at equilibrium at just the right consistency for slurping with minimal effort. The mushrooms were forgettable, but everything else was spot on. The bamboo shoots were remarkably tender, the cilantro and garlic were playfully complementary in flavor, and the crab meat with fish paste was absolutely sublime. I won't ruin the description by making up fake words to describe how delicious this was, but all I know is for 55 NT ($1.75), you can buy soup that'd put your grandmother's secret recipe to shame. No offense to your grandmothers.

Oil... rice

Still from stall #55, is a single serving of 油飯 or oily rice. They're not really famous for this, but it was 25 NT (75 cents). It just seemed like a good value. Besides, you know how Chinese people are... we fucking love rice. Obviously, if I bought soup, I was going to get rice in some capacity. Theirs was pretty average. Nothing really out of the ordinary, just short grain rice cooked with plenty of oil, mushrooms, pork, and shrimp. Nope, what made me decide to mention this was their accompanying orange sauce. I'm not really sure how to explain what it is (you'll see later that it shows up pretty often), but basically it's a thick, citrus flavored sauce (miso based maybe?), that you can slather on just about anything. For reals, I drowned my bowl of rice in this sauce, and oh it delivered.

Taro cake w/sauce (油蔥粿)

Hell yeah son, return of sauce! Stall #60 serves up something called 油蔥粿 for 35 NT (just over $1), which is really just taro cake. Another instance of things being lost in translation, this isn't the kind that fat kids like, but rather a savory 糕 kind of cake, like turnip cake. They serve this two ways, either fried or straight from the steamer. Clearly I didn't make the ordering decisions here, as the version I got was steamed, but in the end it doesn't really matter. Having the consistency of a fresh and jiggly rice cake, you have a soft and tender block of... stuff, with the slightest hint of taro flavor. That probably doesn't sound overly appetizing on its own, but the redeeming factor, again, is the sauce. It's like liquid crack that you can pour on everything. Slightly tangy with a long lasting sweetness, this is the stuff of legend. When combined with the steamed block of taro, you get both components of supreme texture and flavor i.e. pure and unadulterated win.

As far as 基隆廟口 goes, I'm sure I only scratched the surface (I wish I were a cow, since then I'd have 3 stomachs), but if a preliminary sampling of random food all turned out this well, I get kind of scared thinking about the potential in the other 50 some odd stalls.


Rodzilla said...

You may say it's mediocre, but I'm all about that rice.

Nicholas said...

haha, I'm all about rice too man. Can't get enough of it. Would snort it if I could.

Anonymous said...

uuummmm don't cows have 4 stomachs?

Nicholas said...

yeah I guess they do. I'm an engineer, not a biologist damnit! I should change that to camels... which do only have 3 stomachs :D

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