April 04, 2011


Wife's uncles may not read the hipster foodie blogs, but they're out and about quite a bit and they know what's up. So when one of them invites everyone for a big family meal you know it'll be good. Located in an older part of town and not particular convenient by MRT, the parking was a pain but there's valet service available. The room was jam-packed, mostly with big, round family-style tables, every one filled with extended families. The noises were off the charts, ranging from crying babies to boisterous toasts to just loud conversation. Definitely not a place for an intimate meal, but would make for a great scene to help define the term "熱鬧".

First came the sashimi, thick slabs of raw fish sliced without mercy. The busy sushi station more resembled a field-surgery station hacking away. You won't find this amount of fresh fish flesh on the plate for love or money in Japan, though.

新東南海鮮餐廳 First Comes The Sashimi Busy Sushi Station

But the sashimi was just the appetizer. The centerpiece is the pomfret rice noodle soup 鯧魚米粉湯. The flat, rectangular white fish used to be a home-cooking staple, but it's become increasingly rare and pricey over the years. The fish is cut into pieces and deep fried before being cooked with stock and lots of trimmings like scallions and shitake mushrooms, which infuses the absorbent noodles with lots of flavor. The fish is in the soup bones and all, so one does have to be careful during slurping to avoid the finer spines that lurk within.

Whoa That's Some Long Noodles 佛跳牆

We already had way too much food and the pot-ful of good stuff in the 佛跳牆 was just way over the top. Ended up taking most of that home with us, as we concentrated our efforts on the seafood dishes that wouldn't keep, like the Sichuan-style chili-fish-head, the collagenous flesh moderating the spiciness of the chopped peppers. The fine-dining pricing combined with night-market atmosphere might be disorienting for foreigners. But fresh seafood in great portions served up fast and hot, without hipster pretentions. Exactly the way the Taiwanese like it. No wonder it's so popular with the local crowd.


Posted by mikewang at April 4, 2011 12:30 PM