Midway through the trip, mom took us to the eastern coastal city of Hualien. We stayed at the Farglory Hotel that rested on the edge of a mountain overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Still getting accustomed to the street vendors, which are really at the heart of the Taiwanese dining experience, we spent some time exploring the restaurants within the hotel.
Akikusa was one of them, and it blows Japanese cuisine in the US out of the water. On occasion, you’ll find similar thoughtfulness put into dishes in New York like they were here. But the very basic selection here proves how quality input yields quality output and trumps any sort of embellished plating or fancy fusion.
The seafood medley is a prime example. There wasn’t a dash of seasoning. The plump noodles were fresh in a shallow base of clear broth, drawing only from the shrimp and scallop.
Same with fat-laced kobe beef: Six cubes of raw beef served with a searing stone grill. Not a single pinch of salt or pepper, yet gushing with deep flavors. The rice wrapped in bamboo leaves as well, extracting all the herbal flavors from the leaf. And naturally, the sushi is healthier, richer.
Japanese influences are widespread across the country, especially from a culinary standpoint. It’s seen in some of Taiwan’s exquisite bakeries, extravagant snack selection, meticulous packaging. Still, Japan’s just a three hour plane ride away, so let’s leave Japanese food to Japan. The best of Taiwan up next.