Tuesday, June 30, 2009

not taipei/hakka: i recommend LAO DI FANG

or "The Old Place"
No. 489, Yuan Lin Road, Sec 1
Ta Shi, Taoyuan County

(03) 390-6863


Kid friendliness: high chairs available

Visit reviewed: 6/21/2009

A few weekends ago, I went on a road trip with a ton of relatives and family friends. The kind where you sit on a bus and listen to them karaoke to pass the time (whether or not you want to). The kind where you end up in other parts of Taiwan and you have no idea how to blog about where it is or how you'd get there. The kind where the day ends with a family dinner where the relatives do the ordering, you never get to see the menu and then huge platter after platter of food come out until you have no idea where the next plate will go.

We went up and down some mountain to take a bunch of pictures and then ended up in Ta Shi at Lao Di Fang, a Hakka or "Ke Jia" restaurant that was bustling with families chowing down. The food arrived as soon as we sat down (might have been a pre-order by my aunt or the tour guide) and never stopped. Mostly everything was good, though some dishes were more oily or salty than we might be used to.

In case you're curious, Brian Webb does a great job explaining in a summary about Taiwan's 3 ethnic groups: Aboriginal, Hakka, Hoklo, and Immigrant.

My favorites were the

stir fried rice noodle

vegetables with thousand year old egg

and tofu with vegetables pot.

Also pretty good was the oysters

and chicken

and eggplant.

Surprisingly, I didn't like the Hakka stewed pork belly over simmered preserved mustard greens (similar to "gua bao" when put into steamed buns) and the soup with the "tang yuan" (or rice balls). I'm used to having the "tang yuan" over shaved ice, so I couldn't get used to it in a salty soup, especially the pink ones. The Hakka pork and mustard greens were too salty for me and I missed the Taiwanese version with the condiments of the ground peanuts/sugar powder and cilantro to balance out the flavors.

Also, it didn't help that these dishes arrived at the end- the shredded "si gua" or loofah and the Hakka stir fried squid. Too stuffed to try it.

I don't think this was my first time having Hakka food, but I'm definitely not familiar with it. But send some huge hot fragrant plates of Chinese food to our table, and we're happy customers. Especially after a long day on the bus. Any big fans of Hakka food? Any recs for inside Taipei city?


tt said...

Interesting! It is also so intriguing, especially in Asian countries, how the food can vary so much from region to region. It's almost like experiencing a neighboring country. Nice write-up.

Anonymous said...

Been watch the news from California on Taiwan food and Board of Health is after food venders on too much fried foods.

Young people will develop health program eating too fried food want new way to cook and serve food.

Your entry on Hakka food is very good and healthy no deep fried dishes. Will try to visit this restauant when in Taiwan.


Leslie said...

your pictures look delicious! I live in Nankan, but we don't like to drive into Taoyuan much because it's so crowded.

But if you're in the mood to explore there's a great Hakka/goose restaurant in Zhongli. I don't know the name and I couldn't give you directions, but it has a pretty big parking lot and a big sign with a goose on it.
(I know, now helpful. right?)

Brian Q. Webb said...

Thanks much for the props & good article. My dad & stepmom left Taiwan loving Hakka food more then anything else.

@Erica Hakka food isn't very healthy, either. The meats are terribly fatty (or slow-cooked in rendered fat) and overall they have a high level of sodium. The reason is that salt was used as a preservative in Hakka foods before refrigeration was introduced and it has carried forward into the modern cuisine. However, it is good food.

Every culture has its healthy and unhealthy parts to it.

Anonymous said...

your entire paragraph about the big family trips on the buses, and the oeating at a huge table where you never see the menu, is too true. I was chuckling when I read that. Nice blog! Just found it.