I hate people who are not serious about their meals. -- Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

1010 Hunan Pop Cuisine

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Pain never felt so good when eating chilies

Thousand yr old eggs and roasted chilies

Taiwan has a mix of Asian cuisines and one of my favorite places to go is 1010 Hunan Pop at the top of Eliste bookstore that as the name suggest, does Hunan food. Hunan food is similar to Szechuan food in their heavy use of peppers but they go easier on the chili oil and have a lot more dishes that are not chili focused. The resulting combination has the positive effect of not completely “paying for it”, the next morning or later in the evening. If you do not understand the previous sentence, then you clearly have not eaten overly spicy foods, actual spiced Thai food or got Indian food spiced the non-Gringo friendly way.  

Lychee drink, much needed

To start off, I got a lychee drink which had indeed fresh lychee, lime zest and crushed ice. It was sweet and tart and something that would be a nice cool down from peppery dishes. The menu here as well as at a lot of popular places do a Top Ten list or specifically mark the most popular dishes that people order, which I find is a plus because it narrows down the choices and allows me to bypass asking the server what is good here. To start off, we got the thousand year old duck egg with roasted chili peppers. It is a simple looking dish but the combination of that funk thousand years out egg and mellow heat from the roasted chilies wakes up the taste buds. 

Dong-An Chicken

The Dong-An Chicken, which is fun to say had chicken, chilies, sweet peppers and a good amount of ginger. This was a well balanced dish of hitting both sweet and sour. The chilies in this dish were quite tame but the ginger added a nice bite. One of the non-spicy dishes was the egg custard with clam. Think of it as a savory flan that was light and eggy with clams and a nice relief to onslaught of chilies. 

egg custard and clams

Pretending to be healthy, we ordered water spinach that was cooked with garlic. Sautéed vegetables here are extreme good here and are light, tasty and fully embrace the “breathe of the wok” flavor and something that cannot be recreated, even if you have a well seasoned wok and an insane burner. 

Water Spinach and garlic

The hottest dish and by far my favorite was the stinky tofu, intestines and chilies casserole. This was a hell broth that brought you to a sweat and thankful for those disposable wet towels that accompany many meals. There was a lot of funk going on in this dish from the intestines to the stewed stinky tofu. Stinky tofu has a distinct odor and the stinky factor and taste is usually tamed when it is fried but stewed like this, celebrates fermentation and unleashes an unapologetic, funky, tantalizing odor. The chilies in this dish were varied, from the dried to the fresh. The chilies had varied effects from heat, mouth numbing and sinus clearing. I have never used any controlled substances in my life, but the effect from eating extreme heat and chilies is something that is indescribable, a limbo state like Inception in which it totters on the euphoric and masochism. The best part is after we finished all the tofu and intestines, which was good; I continued to eat the chilies and leftover sauce. 
Stinky tofu, intestines and chilies

The final dish was the fish heads with green chilies or when you look at the dish, green chilies with fish heads because the amount of chilies in this dish was not like the way you garnish with a sprig of parsley. The fish heads were smothered with chilies, like they took a page out of the Curtis LeMay Dresden doctrine and carpet bombed the chilies onto this dish. The heats from the chilies were cut from a good amount of vinegar. Unfortunately, fish heads are not popular here in the United States but besides the usual Japanese method of grill it with some mirin, fish head with chilies is one of my favorite ways to eat it. Oh and future warning to all those dining with me, I automatically call a cheek, you if I do not get a cheek piece, there will be problems. 
Fish head with green chilies

Ending the meal was a simple dessert of almond jello and pineapple, which were fresh pineapples. Taiwan is a great place to travel in which you can try varieties of Chinese food styles all in one place and done very well. Also although I did not have it this time, you cannot miss out on the ribs which get a heavy dose of cumin seeds and plus, you get a glove to keep your hands sticky free!

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