Monday, September 28, 2009

Taipei Travel Log: Dinner at spicy Hotpot (满堂红麻辣锅)

I have finally settled down a little to blog about my Taipei trip. After all the grieve from Dell, I deserve a little pockets of happy moment to get thru this brand new week.

I didnt take much sightseeing pictures in Taipei, since frankly....hmmm... there is really nothing to see within the city area itself. As my husband so aptly put it, it's really all about food for me this trip.

The first food review shall be 满堂红麻辣锅 [man tang hong ma la guo]

This is a specialty store devoted to selling nothing but hotpot soup with your choice of own raw ingredients. While hotpot stores are aplenty in Taipei and prob in Asia, this store is especially known for their spicy chili broth. The broth is supposedly cooked for over 8hrs to get the really fiery spicy flavor into the soup.

I went to the branch at ai ren street and not the flagship store because its much nearer to Far Eastern Shangri La my hotel. As I have blogged somewhere earlier, its a good thing I book a week in advance to secure a table for the 5.30-7.30pm seating.

Arriving and locating the restaurant is a breeze though one should walk to the side street for the main entrance, instead of looking for the entry along the main road where their logo sign is being displayed. Walk up to 2nd level, you are greeted by the bustling busy but polite young waiters. We were seated promptly at this huge table and immediately I was askd if I wanted the 鸳鸯锅 (yuanyang guo) [definition: half portions of normal broth and spicy mala]

As I had done my Internet research prior the trip and knowing the potent power of the dried chili broth, I had specifically asked for the mildest version. The waiter acknowledged and immediately my pot of soup was served.

I was given this checklist of items to order or rather select. The price of the meal is fixed at about 450NT per adult for dinner time, so we can select whatever we want and the waiter will serve the various selections to the table.. The only thing u need to get yourself are the free flow of soft drink coke bottles, as well as different type of sauces from a range of BBQ sauce, vinegar, Japanese sour sauce, sesame seed oil, peanut power etc etc...there must be over 10 types of assortment there.

I checked the most of the list of beef options minus the bacon (about 3 different cuts) , clams, prawns, veges, chicken, assortments of mushrooms. The meat came in thinly sliced ham format. For the beef, there were the signature version, near the belly and one shoulder beef area. However, my fav dish was actually the minced prawn in the bamboo tube. That is the BEST dish for me.

Ok for starters, even their mild version of the chilli broth nearly killed me. It was really really really spicy. I didnt choke on it but you can feel the warm fuzzy feeling in your tummy even if all I did was to cook my meat in the broth and didnt drink the soup, which prob would have been suicidal. I rem another blogger had mentioned how he was stuck in the toilet the whole of next day after his meal from over consumption of the chilli broth and he wasnt used to the spice, so I was determined not to make the same mistake and ruined my hols. Hence I threw all my veges into the normal broth.

I was really lucky to get a really attentive and friendly male waiter. He noticed I didnt touch the chilli broth and asked if it was still too hot for me. I confessed it was really too spicy for me and I wasnt used to it. He grinned and added more of the normal broth into the chilli broth to dilute the spiciness. Initially he had mistaken I had returned back to Taiwan from overseas and he joked that my tummy had forgotten its "spicy roots". After he realised I wasnt Taiwanese, he actually stuck around to cook my meat for me. I look around and didnt see any of the other waiter cooking the meals for the rest of the patrons. Ok, I confessed, I like the special treatment. I didnt have to lift a finger, all I did was to eat whatever the waiter dished onto my plate. haaa

Of course, special treatment couldnt last the whole nite since the place was really jam packed with customers :) I had a jug of the 乌梅汁 which basically is some black plum juice. It was alittle different from what I had in mind and it was alittle too thick before the ice melted. Plus it had kinda a strong herbal taste too. However, it certainly clam the "fire" within the tummy after the intake of the chilli broth. Unfortunately, my husband has no interest in such "chinese" beverage taking preference with his coke and I couldnt finish my plum juice of coz.

All in all a good meal for the first dinner of the trip, not to mention dirt cheap. 2 hours is just the right duration for the meal. We decided to free up our table for the next guests and had our icecream in a cone as takeway instead.

The only thing that had my husband stumped a little was the male washroom. He was kinda taken back that there was little privacy. The washroom toilet door was kinda tinted in red but it was seriously not hard to see the "men in action" doing their little business as the urinal was place by the side of the door. I was so amused I started laughing. I was telling my husband that no one would really be interested to "look in" and stare at them peeing but he wasnt all that convinced...


ADDRESS: 仁愛旗艦店台北市仁愛路四段228號之402-27016669

OPERATING HRS: 營業時間上午十一點半至三點.下午五點至凌晨一點
(11am -3pm lunch/ 5pm -am dinner))

COST: 每人午間399元 (noon),夜間假日450元(night),單點另計,加一成服務費用,

TIME LIMIT :限時兩個小時.


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