With my brain hardwired to go ape shit when I see things like beef noodle soup and shaved ice, I have a tendency to forget that Taiwan is also home to plenty of fantastic South East Asian restaurants. Given their culinary prowess and close proximity to Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, etc. it would make sense that there's a fair number of these places around. Ignoring everything my brain was telling me to do, the last place I ate at in Taiwan (no, the Burger King in the airport doesn't count) was actually a restaurant specializing in boneless roast Thai chicken... and you know what? I don't think I regret that decision at all.
Where from you ask? The shop, called 珍口味 (zhen kou wei), was located in 師大夜市 (Shida Night Market). Nestled in a small nook the size of a studio apartment on the side of the main street, I'm not entirely sure what possessed me to stumble inside. It might've been the giant oven/fire pit they had roasting numerous boneless chicken legs at once, or it might've been the cheap ass prices they had listed on their menu outside (everything was like 65 NT! ~$2), whatever it was, all I can say is... this place is fuggin' awesome.
The roast chicken is entirely scintillating. A juicy slice of meat (which they claim to be entirely chicken leg) is flattened and roasted, skin on, inside a giant box of flames. Seared to perfection, the amount of charring is balanced delicately by the areas of skin that remain ever so soft. Glazed with a sweet soy garlic sauce, the crust is as tantalizing as anything I've ever eaten. The meat is succulent and tender, coated in a thin layer of oil from the skin itself. Absolutely terrific would be the only appropriate description. The sides are nondescript, but who the fuck cares when you can make chicken taste like that? Not me, and neither should you.
Don't be deceived by the aesthetics here, since let's be honest, it looks pretty awful (and I'm probably partially to blame for that). It's Thai coconut curry chicken, and it was decently tasty. Not "holy shit, I'd punt a baby kitten if I could have this" good, but I wouldn't turn down a bowl right now. The chicken was just as tender as the ones in the roast variant, but this time it was immersed in an oily sauce of super pungent curry, which had a slight hint of ginger. Drizzled over a bowl of white rice, it's a simple (and guilty) pleasure. Now, is this gonna make me a Thai food addict? I don't know if I'd go that far (it's like betraying beef noodles or something), but shit, I'd be lying if I said that chicken wasn't something else.
For all of you who hate my postings about Taiwan since you can't actually ever eat at any of those places, rejoice. To everyone else, it's okay to cry... I won't judge.