Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The best little dumpling house in Taipei

So, two nights ago about seven of us went with some of our Taiwan hosts to a little restaurant near Taipei City Hall that had the most extraordinary dumplings.

Today, I learned that it is famous throughout Taipei, and a major stop for all tourists (most of whom, for some reason, are from Japan).

Called "Din Tai Fung," it usually has an enormous line out front, but maybe because it was a weeknight, there was only about a 10-minute wait.

They have about a dozen different kinds of dumplings, and yes, Virginia, there is a difference between each of them: with hot chili sauce, crabmeat, vegetables . . . But whatever the variety, our hosts said the secret is the juiciness.

The price was pretty good too -- only the equivalent of 10 euros per person for several courses, includng wine, beer and dessert. (In other words, an entire meal for less than the price of a small pizza in Geneva!)

Be sure to try the red bean paste cake, which was apparently Madame Chiang Kai-Shek's favorite dessert.

And try the "Shaoseng" wine, if you dare. It's served warm . . . with dried plums or slices of lime dropped in the glass and allowed to steep. My French companions were shocked at first -- but then asked for more.

PS -- We also learned about the hidden meaning of chopstick handling: if a woman holds them so that her fingers are very close to the plate, that means she will marry very close to home. If she holds them so that her fingers are far away, then she will marry far away.

No word on whether there is an equivalent for us guys. But given our extraordinarily attractive waitresses, we agreed we'd be tempted to marry far from Geneva . . .

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