Monday, December 6, 2010

Taiwan 2010: WHM


Day 4, we had the pleasure to meet with the president of the largest dumpling restaurant chain in Taiwan and China, 五花馬水餃館, literally translated as Five Flower Horse or Spotted Horse.  Its name were taken from a famous Li Bai poem: 將進酒 Bring in the Wine.  This elegant poem talked about feasting with lords and kings, and each table was named after a famous Three Kingdom historical character.  They are famous for their handmade dumplings, noodle, and Chinese pancakes from scratch.

After the meeting, I dragged my parents to one of the restaurants for dinner.  I was expecting a fancy restaurant with ornate traditional decor... nope! Ironically, the restaurant is just a fast food dinner with fluorescent lights, oily table, and dirty washroom.  Customers order by writing an order sheet and walk it up to the front to pay and order.  Everything except for the actual dishes were self-serve. However, the restaurant was packed with people with a line up in front of the door!

People were drawn there by the free all-you-can-eat corn soup. Do you know any restaurants that gives away free all-you-can-eat food and use it as one of their selling point?  The soup is not bad at all.  It was thick, creamy, full of flavour, and comforting.  Dishes range from $1-3 CND are well portioned, and the boiled dumplings cheap and delicious - a rare combination. The dough were perfect and there was generous amount of fillings. In fact, I ate all the dumplings before I remember to take photos! Nom nom nom...

In addition to the free soup and dumpling, we ordered steam vegetables, tea eggs, noodle soup, and green onion pancakes.  I wish North American would take a note on restaurant like this, offering delicious greens and calorie conscious dishes cheaply and conveniently.   On the other hand, there wasn't anything healthy about the big bowl of oily and salty noodle soup with stewed minced pork, but it was sinfully delicious.

This is probably why international fast food chains, such as MacDonald and KFC, don't do well in Taiwan.  There are so many competing fast food places like this that offers Taiwan-centric menu with classy historic and literary themes and a more nutritionally balanced dishes.  MacDonald can maybe compete better if it starts offering all-you-can-eat fries.

I look forward to bringing Dennis there.  He would love the Three Kingdom theme tables and all the awesome poems on the wall.  It would also be a great place to introduce him to magic of boil dumplings.

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