Taiwan is in the news. And I know nothing about its food. Something has got to be done, so - Will it be dinner in Flushing or dinner in Elmhurst?
David's Taiwanese Gourmet, Inc. on Broadway in Elmhurst, located in a mini mall, was our destination. David, the chef and owner, opened 15 years ago but has only been located on the corner of St James since 1995
It has a different look. There's quite a bit of brick about. Ching Dynasty fighting armor hangs on the wall along with a sample of gear people wear in the rice fields on rainy days - and it's 100 years old. Grandmother's purse, worn with a coin secured inside, is there, too. A wooden thresher for rice is on display. Downstairs you'll find wood carvings from the Ching Dynasty.
Taiwan is an island off the coast of southeast China's Fujian province bordering the Taiwan Strait. Its food is predominately seafood.
Fujian dishes are slightly sweet and we noted the same hint of sweetness in Taiwan's cuisine,. Japan, close by on the other side, occupied Taiwan for more than 50 years, so most of the old people speak Japanese and there has been a Japanese influence on the Taiwanese. David has added a sushi bar.
The menu is pretty much straight forward: Appetizers, Taiwanese specials, chef specials, soup (innumerable soups), rice and noodle dishes.
The Irish have their breakfast with blood sausage. The Germans love their blut wurst. Italians describe nostalgically the fried, ravioli-shaped dough with a blood filling. So, we shouldn't have been too surprised to find a number of items using blood as an ingredient on the menu. Blood rice cake was an appetizer choice. Don't be turned off. It was a moist pudding-like slab of sweet rice, red burgundy with peanut powder sprinkled on top. It was centered in a slightly sweet sauce. We ate it all up - she hesitantly at first, but then with gusto for seconds.
An oyster Pancake (omelet) may be more your dish. The omelet was very well made plus, was delectably loaded with tiny oysters. David can very well boast "Taiwanese gourmet" with this item.
Americans have soup at the beginning of the meal, Chinese at the end. So I guess we got by having oyster soup at this point in our meal. It was four star gourmet - a clear broth with lots of those marvelous little oysters.
Many of the dishes on the menu are seafood - wonderfully steamed and barbecued red snapper , striped bass and eel. But we ordered clams with basil - very nice! - all clams, no broth, in a slightly sweet, thickish sauce with a profusion of fresh leaves. Caution: It is pleasantly hot but if you bite into one of the red pepper bits you will find it very hot.
To satisfy our Western palate we chose pork with roasted bean curd, and for a veggie we picked Chinese watercress with garlic. The pork was in short, slender strips with matching strips of bean curd, herbed and spiced just right. The watercress was super - a high mound of bright, dark green greens with characteristic watercress stems. The garlic was both halved cloves and chopped cloves. I relished the cloves. She moved them aside, settling for flavor.
David's tea is served in handle-less, mug-like cups. And all the chinaware is most attractive.
"It's very different," my dining companion said of our Taiwanese experience. "And that's nice."
Me? I'd like to sample a lot more of it, perhaps downstairs seated among the masks.
THE BOTTOM LINE
A Taiwanese experience. Different from the usual. Antique rain gear and armor; wooden rice thresher and wooden masks on display. Steamed and barbecued fish. Seafood (clam and tiny oyster) dishes. Very fine.
Blood Rice Cake...$1.25
Crispy Fried Intestine...$4.75
Crispy Fried Shrimp...$9.25
Clams with Basi1...$9.95
Red Snapper...Market price
Kidney w Sesame Oil &
Meat Ball Soup..$2.95
Pork & Mushroom Soup...$2.50
Cuisine: Taiwanese & sushi
Setting: Some brick. Antique
armor and gear
Hours: L & D 7 days.
Location: Corner of St. James
Credit cards: None (Cash only)
Private room: For 10
Noise level: Moderate
Handicapped access: Yes
©2001 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.