Monday, November 26, 2012

taiwanese/chinese: i strongly recommend LU SANG YILAN DELICACIES

LU SANG 呂桑食堂 (or LV SANG)
No. 12-5 Yong Kang St.
(02) 2351-3323

MRT: Dongmen


hours: 11:30AM - 2PM; 5PM- 9PM

$-$$ (about $200-300/person)

Kid friendliness: high chairs available

Visit reviewed: 3/29/2010 & 8/22/2010

Yong Kang Street is even more accessible now with the opening of the DongMen MRT stop last month, and will strengthen Yong Kang Jie as a "must eat" tourist destination for Taipei. Adventurous diners looking for real Taiwanese flavors should definitely include Lu Sang on their list. I first tried it a few years ago, as it was one of grandma's favorite places to go for Saturday night family dinner. She loved ordering a whole table full of eats and then treating everyone, exclaiming that the whole dinner was cheaper than than a few dishes at other fancier Chinese restaurants and the food was just was good, if not better. Quite a few other people felt the same way, as it was always crowded when we went for dinner, often with people waiting in front for a table on one of the two floors.

Earlier this year, HungryinTaipei was featured in the CNNGo's article of top 40 Taiwanese eats (look for one of my favorites at number 30). While the list can't cover everyone's favorite, you can find a great bowl of  lu rou fan or braised pork rice (number 1 on the list) Lu Sang, as well as a number of under the radar dishes.

The menu of Yilan dishes is on the wall- brightly lit to point and order. Or you can check out the eats on the counter top. Once you order, the food comes quickly to the table. The selection can be intimidating for a newbie with the large selection and names only in Chinese... I've been there multiple times and sometimes I still have to double check the wall when I go.

There's a lot on the menu to explore, but here are my top 3 eats that I must order everytime I come to Lu Sang (and that I think you should too).

(1) Gao Zha or deep fried chicken broth

With all the deep frying craze in the US (deep fried oreos? twinkies? avocados? butter?!), this is something you might imagine seeing at the county fair or at a Michelin starred restaurant, plated prettily with some foam. But instead you can enjoy this Yilan delicacy at Lu Sang.

The first time I tried it, I thought it was fried tofu, but it was a bit too creamy, too silky, too tasty. When my relatives tried to explain to me what it was, they couldn't quite do it. Some internet research showed that gao zha is chicken broth mixed with flour, chilled and sliced into cubes then coated with flour to deep fry. Don't make my previous mistake and accidentally order the fried tofu since the photos look quite similar.. it's definitely not as good. Just remember gao zha!

The result is amazing, though very very hot, so be careful with your first bite. I often cut mine in half to let the steam out and then take a bite of the crispy exterior and let the rest melt in my mouth.

(2) Sliced pig's liver (NT$100) To me, this tastes like a chilled foie gras- with that same creaminess and sweetness to be savored. It's one of those dishes that tastes much better than it looks. 

(3) Sliced cold chicken (NT$180)- usually very tender and juicy, each slice covered with the gelatinous textured skin. One of the more accessible dishes for those that don't want to eat livers or intestines. The meat is similar to Hainan Chicken, but the skin is almost crunchy.

If you order those dishes, you should be good to go, but here are few other dishes to give a try to round out the family style meal

Red Rice Wine Ang Chow Pork (NT$150) -the sauce is sweet and you can slightly taste the alcohol from the glutinous rice wine that's used to make it. I've had times where the pork is very tender (like a roasted char siu) and other times where it was a little tougher/drier.

Pork intestines- fatty and chewy and good

Taiwanese minced pork noodles

Soup noodles

Steamed pork with pickled cucumber with salted egg yolk is like a sweet and savory mini meatloaf, best paired with a bowl of rice- sweet from the Taiwanese style pickled cucumbers and savory from the soy sauce and creamy salted egg yolk atop. I like this dish, but no one else at the table really appreciates it and it's too big for me to finish myself.

Bamboo shoots

Mini hotpot with vegetables and seafood (NT$180)

Fresh vegetable salad with hu feng dressing 

Instead of tea, there's complimentary hot kumquat tea available to self serve in the back. Bottles of the syrup are available to purchase to make at home.

You could always make it a mini meal on an eating tour of Yong Kang Street, instead of lining up for Din Tai Fung, you could hit up the Knife Shaved noodle or the dumpling place and then grab the gao zha and pig's liver and then getting some mango ice. I've never seen any non Taiwanese diners at Lu Sang, but maybe after this post, I'll be seeing a few of you there.


Jan S said...

I'll check it out when I have the chance! Especially the fried chicken broth, never heard of that before.


Alexis said...

Hello! :) Would you happen to know if they take reservations? I visited their website but everything was is Chinese. :-/

nana said...

hmm i cant seem to find the dongmen mrt

joanh said...

Yes! They do take reservations.. Give them a call :)

joanh said...

Did you ever try it? The gao zha is so good!!