May 19, 2019

The Guest House at Sheraton Grand Taipei Hotel - Whispering Here

Located inside Sheraton Grand Taipei Hotel, The Guest House sits high up on the 17th and 18th floor, serving a wide variety of Chinese dishes. And I'm serious about its vast cuisine selections.



Let it be Taiwanese wok stir-fry, Sichuan, or even Yang Zhou food, The Guest House has a little of everything. Usually I'm skeptical of such one-stop shop kind of restaurant, but hey, The Guest House was crowned two Michelin star again this year, have some faith in it.




Spacious seating here, even just for two people, they still gave us a four-seated table. 




The main dining area is located on the 17th floor and the private rooms are on the 18th floor. However, even if not inside an enclosed private room, the tables on the 17th floor are still semi-covered due to its interior design. Guests can still dine in comfort in their own space.




Menu, full details can be found on hotel's website.





"Pork tongue wrapped in pork ear" aka whispering -



The direct translation of its Chinese name is "whispering," which is fun because this cold plate is made using tongue and ear, two elements involved in such action.



Never thought that pork ear can be used as a wrapping ingredient due to its cartilaginous nature. If not knowing, one might even think that it's a beef shank stew. And that slightly crunchy texture from the ear might be beef tendon. Definitely a must order dish here, do not miss it, I'm serious. 

"Handmade noodles with chili sauce" -





Our waitress brought over the noodles to show us first and use a scissor to cut into smaller pieces on the side.



English name never as good as its Chinese original. Its Chinese name is actually pronounced as "biang biang" noodles, known for wide and flat shape. Originated from Shaanxi China, besides that spicy aroma, just the aroma, not really burning at all, vinegar scent prevails also.



Extra chilies for myself, just a little bit -



"Braised pork knuckle with rock sugar served with steamed buns" -



First pork tongue, pork ear, and now pork knuckle. 



Took the idea from dong po rou (braised pork belly), but in order to cut down the fat and grease, the chef uses pork knuckle instead. Still able to reach that gelatinous texture without much oil involved. 



It was bouncy when I poke my knife around it, but it just slightly melts in mouth after few chews. Soon after Chinese braised aroma, almost airy sweetness appears, gently covering the surface of the sauce, adding a touch of elegance to this supposedly heavy braise.

"Stir-fried dried cauliflower, shrimp, and pork with chili" -



Westerners should be familiar with cauliflower, especially it's been a popular ingredient in recent restaurant scene, mostly roasted or fried as a whole. Definitely an eye-catching dish on the table.



But here in Taiwan, sometimes cauliflowers are dried, sun dried, and can be stored for longer time. Texture turned slightly chewy that way, and can withstand heavier seasoning, makes a better wok-fry ingredient, like the one used here.

"Steamed scallops with garlic sauce" -



Who'd have thought there's noodles inside, bouncy and chewy noodles. I even wondered if these were some type of fish cakes in tube form. Anyway, not the best dish of the night.

"Crispy duck leg" -



Lightly seasoned duck leg, mostly focusing on contrasting texture. That thin and crunchy skin with a layer of duck fat hidden underneath, further lubricate the dryer meat beneath.



Dip in pepper salt to complete the flavor profile.



"Sweetened red bean pancakes" -



Toward the end of the meal, let's talk about the service. It's good in general, but they don't really talk about the dishes when serving. No extra information about how the dishes were made or the concept behind it. To me, it's like missing something interesting when trying out fine dining restaurants, but maybe that's just me, some might prefer to dine in peace.



"Sweet mung bean soup with pearl barley" -



Truly refreshing, just the right amount of icy touch and sweetness. After few heavy dishes, I was alive again once downing this bowl of sweet treat.



Got some hotel vouchers here, so ended up only paid around $25 USD that night, $25 only. Surprisingly, the service charge was calculated based on $25 instead of the entire actual meal value. Put the tips aside, that obligated service charge was less than $3 USD...oh man...


The Guest House currently holds two Michelin star status.



The Guest House at Sheraton Grand Taipei Hotel
17th Fl., No 12., Sec 1., Zhongxiao East Road., Zhongzheng District
Taipei, Taiwan 
+886 2 2321 1818
Hotel website: https://www.marriott.com/hotels/hotel-information/restaurant/tpest-sheraton-grand-taipei-hotel/
Restaurant Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/guesthousesheraton/

Opening hours: 
Monday through Sunday 
Lunch from 11:30 a.m. ~ 2:30 p.m.
Dinner from 6:00 p.m. ~ 9:30 p.m.


Another Michelin starred restaurant nearby:


May 10, 2019

So Simple, That's Why Butter Really Matters - Basic Butter Cookies

Such basic cookie recipe, that's why the key ingredient - butter, holds the key to success. Échiré butter is my secret weapon here. High quality butter can never go wrong.

Basic butter cookies - 





Ingredients (about 12 to 15 cookies)?


  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 85 grams unsalted butter
  • 1 small egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


How?

Take the butter out from the fridge and rest in room temperature till softened. 




Sift flour, baking powder, and salt to a big bowl.


Take another big container, preferable the one attached with the mixer, beat together the butter and granulated sugar till creamy and slightly fluffy. Add in egg and vanilla extract, beat till combined. 


Mix in the flour mixture in two batches.


Roll up the dough into a log and wrap with cling foil. Chill in the fridge for at least one hour.




Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit/200 degrees Celsius. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.




Take the dough out and remove cling foil. Slice the log, about half inch thickness. Arrange these unbaked cookies to baking sheet. 




Into the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Once ready, remove from heat, transfer these cookies to baking rack if desired. Wait till cool enough to handle by hand.




Happiness is appreciating the simple things in life. Agree?



Recent dessert recipes:


May 4, 2019

Salt Cured Fish and Chicken Fried Rice 鹹魚雞粒炒飯

Some love the smell, some just treats it like Taiwanese stinky tofu or durian, they run away from it as far as they can. I'm talking about salt cured fish here. It's pungent and high in umami, the result of all the flavors condensed and concentrated over time.

Salt cured fish and chicken fried rice -





Ingredients (about 6 to 8 portions)?


  • 3 1/2 rice cups short grain rice
  • 1 to 1 1/3 cups prepped salt cured fish
  • 2 eggs
  • 7 to 8 Romaine lettuce
  • 350 grams chicken tenders
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 stalk scallion
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 red chili (optional)
  • Some olive oil
  • Small pinch of black pepper
  • Some white pepper powder (optional)
  • Some grated bottarga (optional)


How?

I got this piece of salt cured fish from a local traditional market specialized in southern and northern Chinese ingredients. All sorts of cured meat and not so common seasonings can be found at such place. You can try to source it at your local Chinese market, or seek help from a Cantonese restaurant, since salt cured fish and chicken fried rice is often one of the popular dishes there.



Drizzle just a tiny bit of olive oil to a non-stick pan and turn to medium heat. Sear the salted fish as a whole, slowly and flip to the other side once a while. Sear till browned but not burnt.




Let it cool off first, then tear into smaller pieces by hand, also remove any fish bones while doing so. This can be done ahead of time, just store prepped fish pieces in the freezer.




Cook the rice first, use less water than usual, or simply store it in the fridge over night to draw out some moisture. 


Peel and dice the onion. Destem the scallion and chop into smaller pieces, separate the white and green parts. Destem and finely chop the red chili if using. Remove tendons from chicken tenders, then cut the meat into smaller pieces. Also cut the lettuce into smaller pieces.


Beat the eggs along with tiny pinch of salt.


Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a wok and turn to medium high heat. Once warmed up, pour in beaten egg, sear while using a spatula to break the eggs into small pieces at the same time. Do not wait till the eggs get browned, simply scoop the eggs out soon after broken into smaller pieces.




Use the same wok, drizzle 1 to 2 more tablespoons of olive oil and turn to high heat. Add in diced onion along with white section of the scallion, chopped red chili, and small pinch of black pepper.


Sear till the onion turns translucent then add in chicken tender pieces, cook for about 1 more minute.



Transfer prepped salt cured fish over along with some sugar, cook for another 30 seconds or so.


Add the cooked rice in two batches. Mix the first batch of rice with all the ingredients before adding the second batch. Mix till no plain rice chunks remain.


Add prepped egg into the mixture and lettuce goes in last. Sprinkle some white pepper powder if preferred.


Taste and adjust the flavors. Notice that no salt was used in this recipe since the cured fish can be very salty already. If unsure, it's also wise to use less cured fish in the beginning. If not salty enough, just blend in more cured fish later on. Better safe than sorry.




Plate the fried rice and garnish with green section of the scallion.




To make it even better, the chicken can be lightly marinated or fried in oil first for extra flavor and softer texture. But for a family meal, let go such hassles, keep it simple, as long as there's good quality salt cured fish, this fried rice is still da bomb.


Not sure in a smelly way or mouth drooling way though.



Other fried rice recipes: