No. 1 on Alley 11, Lane 147, Ming Sheng E Rd, Sec 2
Lunch: 11 AM-2:30PM
Dinner: 5 PM - 9:30 PM
date visited: 11/24/2006
Family dinners always come with too much food. Maybe because whoever is hosting that night wants to make sure no one leaves hungry, or maybe it's just easier to order from the family menu. I don't think it's strictly a Chinese thing- think about the holiday season, the table full of more food than you could ever digest.
This night was a perfect example- dish after dish after dish came to the table of what my uncle proclaimed were "Taiwanese" dishes. The restaurant was full of locals and the menu was only in Chinese with a few pictures, and the entrance to the restaurant was pretty difficult to find.
In general, the portions were huge (!), the food came quickly and the service was fast and efficient- they would switch the older dishes to smaller plates, and change the plates you had every few dishes without asking, so you didn't have to eat underneath shrimp shells and chicken bones.
I really enjoyed snacking on the fish eggs and lobster, although I hate mayo and scraped all of mine off. The boiled lobster underneath was a bit bland without it.
The chicken was tender and moist.
I don't like the taste of sea cucumbers
urchins, despite the repeated insistence of my mother who asks me to taste it every time it's served. I'm not afraid of it (as some people are)- I rather not eat the rubbery, tasteless texture in my mouth. I do like the shiitake mushrooms though.
The shrimps were small, but fresh. It's a pain to peel them, but I usually peel a bunch at time then clean my hands with a hot towel and lemon and am done with peeling. They taste better dipped in soy sauce and wasabi.
Didn't try the herbal soup, but it was HUGE.
Tried just a bite of the fish- it was tender, but bland.
Too full to eat anymore vegetables, but...
I left room for some unagi! It was sticky sweet and tender and delicious.
I had a little bit of crab- I thought it was a bit dry- even the eggs, which I like to eat, were also dry. It's not worth all the work of peeling the layers of getting the crab if it's not going to be moist and sweet.
Finally almost done with the dinner- a dessert is served. I've never seen this- sweet green mango under crushed ice, but the taste is refreshing and almost addicting. The mango almost tastes as if it was pickled in a sweet syrup.
Overall, it was a good dinner- although I was a bit disappointed some of my favorite shellfish weren't as moist or tasty as I would have liked, there was SO much food, it was hard to complain. Nong Lai offers set menus at NT$5000-8000 and we had eleven people. I don't know which set menu my uncle got, but you can see from the amount of plates and the portions of the dishes, it can be a great deal per person. Of course, you can always order from the menu as well. Perfect for huge family get togethers with round tables and the lazy susans to make sure everyone gets a chance at the food.