Thursday, December 04, 2014

Taiwanese cuisine, A-Sha Hotel, Tainan, 阿霞饭店的台菜

With more than 50 years of culinary culture, A-Sha Hotel 阿霞饭店 is well-known for its traditional Taiwanese cuisine 台菜, and is visited by many celebrities, and Taiwan past-and-present presidents.

As it was not easy to find free time during a weekday, we had to plan around a weekend crowd.  (Note: Reservations recommended especially if you are not a local. You do not want to find yourself in disappointment especially when a long way from home, and when this is one of the travel/culinary destinations to-do). We made our reservation before our outbound flight from San Francisco to Taiwan, so we could look forward to our first experience with authentic and traditional Taiwanese cuisine while on-board the dreaded long-haul.

How about a short orientation about this historic restaurant?

Courtesy: A-Sha Hotel Website

Originally, we wanted to order the famous Sticky Rice with Mangrove Crab 红寻米糕 (refer to the video above) from the ala-carte menu; however, there are quite a few famous dishes in A-Sha; thus set-menu was the way to go. Usually, set-menu gets a bad rep. and personally, from past experiences, it has been; but in A-Sha it is not.

The two-person set-meal $1500NT (about USD$50) is considered reasonable and worth the buck with the restaurant's renowned establishment and menu offering: (1) Charcoal-Grilled Mullet Roe, (2) Steamed/Boiled Fresh Prawns, (3) Platter of Shrimp Rolls, Crab Cakes, Sausage and Stewed Colon*, (4) Choice of Scallop Pork Tripe Soup vs Sharks Fin Soup (we picked the Scallop Soup), (5) Choice of Sticky Rice Mangrove Crab vs Fried Fresh Eel (Sticky Rice Mangrove Crab of course!), (6) Sweet Dessert Soup.


Why an asterisk* with the Platter of Shrimp Rolls, Crab Cakes, Sausage and Stewed Colon*? Because the sausage and stewed colon are two items that we DO NOT eat; and often, set-menu means standard, that also means items can hardly be changed/exchanged. Still, no harm asking the server about the non-standard and so I did.

Initially, we received standard expected answers that the two items cannot be exchanged for something else, and we were ready to have the items removed from our order - I mean, why waste food, knowing that the two items will be untouched when served. However, the server came back, probably after checking with the kitchen/manager and said that they will not serve us sausage and stewed colon and up the portions of shrimps rolls and crab cakes for the platter instead (which was what I suggested and asked earlier). Thanks for this "going the extra mile" service.

The shrimps rolls, and crab cakes are really delicious and the Sticky Rice with Mangrove Crab also live up to its reputation. Steamed crabs over glutinous rice is not a new dish for us; however, unlike a very similar Cantonese dish - of steamed crabs over glutinous rice, the sticky rice here is not overly-greasy, in this Taiwanese-style of preparation and cooking. You do not get that immediate bloated feeling while enjoying this dish.

Sticky Rice with Mangrove Crab

Why am I highlighting dessert? I found it uniquely nice in a strange way. You can imagine combining Almond Jelly, Glutinous Rice Balls, Red Bean Soup, Mashed Taro, Cheng Tng in one bowl - calling it dessert and there you have, a new dessert, which I am saying again, tastes strangely good!


A Sha Hotel  阿霞饭店
Lane 84, Section 2, Zhongyi Road, Zhongxi District, Tainan, Taiwan 
台 南 市 忠 義 路 2 段 8 4 巷 7 号

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