Restaurant Review: Shin Yeh (Taipei, Taiwan)

Shin Yeh has multiple locations in Taipei that serve delicious Taiwanese food in an upscale setting.  Picture menus available.  There are individual tables and private rooms with incredibly professional service.  I had a great dinner there to cap off a week of eating through Taipei.  The Taiwan burger was really delicious – steamed bun filled with pork belly, preserved vegetables, and pork sung.  I liked it better than the pork belly bun at Momofuku!  Also outstanding was the steamed glutinous rice with crab.  This particular branch was located in the new Shin Kong Mitsukoshi department store on the 8th floor, overlooking the modern, Manhattan-like Xinyi District near Taipei 101, one of the tallest buildings in the world.

Shin Yeh – Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Xinyi Branch (link here)

8F, No. 9, Songshou Rd., Xinyi District, Taipei City

Building A9 of Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store

A great blog of restaurants in Taiwan: a hungry girl’s guide to taipei

Restaurant Review: Namu Gaji

Namu Gaji is a “New Korean” restaurant opened in 2012 by three brothers in a prime location in the Mission on the corner of 18th and Dolores in San Francisco. On the menu are Korean as well as Japanese-inspired dishes made from locally sourced ingredients, including from the owners’ local farm.  Small plates and larger plates are served family style.

Ramyun – homemade ramen noodles, 4505 Meats hot dog slices, kimchee, bean sprouts, and a panko-crusted soft egg in a delicious, hearty, spicy red broth.  My favorite dish on the menu.  There are 24 orders available per night.

Korean Fried Chicken (kfc on the menu)- super crunchy fried chicken coated in a sticky sweet, spicy red pepper sauce, served with a dashi gravy and tart pickled daikon and a cabbage slaw.  The flavor of the chicken coating was delicious, and the daikon was a great side to go with the chicken.  1/2 chicken for $35

Stone Pot – Namu Gaji’s take on bibimbap with rice crisped in the stone pot serving vessel, various vegetables, a fried egg, optional steak, and gochujang (a sweet, spicy red pepper sauce).  This was good, but not particularly special.  $16 (+ $5 for steak), so definitely pricy for bibimbap.

Two appetizers were excellent:

Dumpling – shiitake mushroom dumplings in a flavorful, earthy broth.

Octopus – tender chunks of octopus, pumpkin, in a spicy gochujang sauce.

One dish on the menu I wanted to try was the Bo Ssam – pork shoulder with oysters and other accompaniements.  It is $100 and serves 5 – 8 people, and there are two available per night.

Dessert – there were rotating flavors of shaved ice available.  I had the yuzu shaved ice, with candied kumquats and graham cracker crumble.  It was delicious and refreshing after a heavy meal, but one of my dinner companions said something to the effect of, only in San Francisco is a bowl of ice $8.

I can’t help but compare the menu to Momofuku in New York, which also sells Korean Fried Chicken, Bo Ssam, and, of course, ramen.  There is definitely a similar philosophy of using Korean and other Asian dishes as a starting point for more modern or innovative versions, but the owners of Namu Gaji have their own unique vision.

Service is very friendly.  They were very busy on both Sunday and Tuesday nights.  Reservations can be made online through UrbanSpoon.  The restaurant space is warm and inviting.  There is an open kitchen, a long communal table, and scattered small tables and seating along the window and kitchen.  The seats were backless stools, which were a little uncomfortable, but probably necessary given the small footprint of the restaurant.  Definitely recommended.

Link to Namu Gaji restaurant website here.


Lucky Peach: Issue 1 review

David Chang makes delicious food.  That much I know having made a pilgrimage to NYC to eat at Momofuku Noodle Bar (twice), Momofuku Milk Bar, and Momofuku Ssam Bar.  He has given us many recipes in his Momofuku cookbook, so I was curious to see what he would bring to his new food quarterly, Lucky Peach.

The first issue of Lucky Peach is devoted to the topic of ramen and is a fascinating read with bonuses of new versions of recipes of the Momofuku ramen broth.  I made the original version published in the Momofuku cookbook, which took about ten hours and produced a rich and flavorful broth.  When I made the original version, I went to the Asian supermarket and was in the checkout line with the ingredients, including one pound of bacon, five pounds of pork bones, and three pounds of chicken.  My Spanish is not very good, but I heard the guys at the check-out line say “loco…”

Version 2.0 ramen recipe seems more streamlined.  Instead of steeping the shiitake mushrooms in the broth and then discarding them, he recommends pulverizing them into a powder and adding them to the broth.  Downside is no spent shiitake mushrooms to pickle, but the upside is a more intense mushroom flavor. Roasted pork bones have been eliminated from the recipe.  It still takes a long time, but makes over a gallon of good broth that can be frozen.

Some recipes are recycled from Momofuku cookbook, like Bacon Dashi, Alkaline Noodles, Pork Belly, and Pork Shoulder, but I guess they are there so that one can make a complete bowl of ramen from Lucky Peach rather than buy the cookbook.  New recipes that look interesting include Carrot Dashi, Tonkotsu-style Broth, and Arpege Egg.  There are other recipes that seem gimmicky like different ways to use instant ramen – ramen-crusted skate, oriental chip dip (mix the seasoning packet from a package of instant ramen into some sour cream and voila!).

The writing is quite good.  There is a nice travelogue piece by Peter Meehan that describes Peter and David’s visits to various ramen shops and the distinctive differences between them.  Harold McGee, scientist/author of On Food and Cooking, describes the alkaline part of alkaline noodles.  It is quite an education in the world of ramen.

Overall there is a nice mix of writing, food education, and recipes that is quite unique.  I am hoping for some more original Momofuku recipes and am looking forward to upcoming issues!

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