Yang Wedding Banquet in Taipei

We were fortunate to be part of Andy (yang1815) and Sugi’s wedding banquet in Taipei last weekend. Here are some pictures from the banquet (especially the food!), which was hosted at the very nice Regent Taipei Hotel.

Andy and Sugi pose with their nephews in the greeting room just outside the banquet hall. We had met the middle of the three nephews at the wedding in Maui last year and enjoyed meeting the other two on this trip. 

There was a large ice sculpture of two cupids about to kiss, melting quickly underneath the lightbulbs. It wasn’t until the way out that someone pointed out to me that the “male” cupid was anatomically correct and, I suppose, less well endowed after two hours than he was at the start of the banquet.

Andy’s father speaks to the guests while Sugi’s father, Sugi, and Andy sit at the table and await the first course. Chinese banquets are elaborate affairs. Usually about a dozen courses and great care is taken to choose the best (read: “expensive”) ingredients as a matter of showing a good “face” to the guests. The Yangs certainly were outstanding hosts as this was one of the finest banquets I’ve attended and every course was impressive. Here they are in the order they arrived.  

The first plate (everything at this banquets was plated for us, not served off common platters) was an appetizer salad of smoked goose breast. The orange ingredient is a kind of solid “cake” of fish eggs, if I understand correctly, the saltiness of which paired nicely with the tender, smoky goose.

The next course was a small bowl of slightly sweet mochi (sticky rice) dumplings with longan fruit. This was an interesting dish that is similar to desserts I have eaten in Thailand. It seemed strange that something dessert-like would be served as a second course, but the dish was tasty. 

Third course was abalone. This is one of those big-ticket ingredients that impresses guests and this particular succeeded in doing so. The abalone was tender and flavorful, a really good example of why the price tag is so high. 

The fourth course was braised scallops. In general, scallops are one of my favorite ingredients and these particular scallops were cooked really nicely. 

The next course was shark’s fin soup. Yes, this is an unpopular ingredient these days as most shark fins are harvested in a horrific manner. While I don’t know the source of these particular fins, I can say that this was the best shark fin soup I’ve had. Normally, the fins are cut into very thin strips and the broth is murky with cornstarch. This was a clear-broth soup and the fins were in large pieces. A good example of why this dish is considered a must-have on Chinese banquet menus. 

The sixth course was steamed sea bream with scallions. Chinese know how to cook fish and this captured the reason why: steaming keeps the fish moist, captures all the sweetness of fresh seafood, and avoids overcooking.

The seventh course was braised pork tendons with okra and chestnuts. The gelatinous texture of pork tendons doesn’t appeal to everyone, I’m sure, but it is hard to beat the flavor! 

The eighth course was something I’ve never seen before, a pork chop that has been cooked confit style and crusted with what I swear were Doritos and corn flakes. The meat was tender and very tasty. Definitely unusual. 

The ninth course was a chicken soup made with “black bone” chicken. This type of chicken has black skin but tastes like any other chicken. One truth, though, is that chickens in Asia (in general, and Taiwan in particular) are so much tastier than the chickens in the United States. The broth had the type of flavor that you always imagine chicken soup should have, but rarely does. 

The tenth course was a small bundle of glutinous rice with Chinese sausage, mushrooms, and lotus seeds, steamed in taro leaf. This is a dim sum staple and provided a little starch to help fill you up, just incase the previous nine courses had left you hungry! 

 

The eleventh course (the first dessert course) was actually two types of pastries, the left one filled with sweetened daikon radish and the right one filled with barbecued pork. These are familiar to anyone who goes to dim sum.

We concluded with a platter of fresh fruit, something sweet but refreshing to conclude the banquet. By this point, nobody had the appetite to do more than just nibble!

Congratulations to Andy and Sugi and thanks to the Yangs for their very generous hospitality! 

 

Back from Taipei

Was in Taipei for a long weekend to attend the wedding banquet for Andy (yang1815) and Sugi. They were married in a beautiful ceremony on Maui last spring and now, a year later, they flew to Andy’s hometown of Taipei to hold the traditional Chinese wedding banquet for his side of the family.

Andy and Sugi flew into Bangkok two weekends ago for a short visit and then we flew over to see them (and their families) this past weekend. I have pictures to share and will try to get them posted soon. As you have probably guessed from my less-frequent blogging, life has become quite busy for me. 

Great Eats in Bangkok Volume 1 – Guaytiaw

As Andy whirled into town for a three-day side trip from visiting his parents in Taipei, I had high hopes of producing this mega-video in which we would taste all the great things to eat in Bangkok.  Sure enough, during the course of two full days we ate a whole lot of things that would qualify for the “great eats” list.  But as I sat down to edit the video, I realized that I didn’t have enough footage to really address that many dishes.

Since I promised a video a few days ago, I’ve gone ahead and edited a first volume of what I expect will be at least a dozen (and probably more) videos that highlight various great eats in Bangkok.  Volume One focuses on guaytiaw – rice noodles – and particularly the pink-broth fish soup called yen ta fo.  It doesn’t provide as much depth on the various types of guaytiaw as I’d like, so I imagine a revisit of the subject will occur one of these days.

Before editing the next video, I’m going to shoot some more footage and do better advance planning so that I can make sure that future volumes provide you with the high level of quality that you deserve.  In the meantime, you can visit Andy’s blog to see some beautiful pictures of the other foods we ate and the places we went. 

Please share any feedback you have, let me know if there are any particular types of Thai food you would like me to address.

Thanks to Andy for taking the time and energy to visit.  We had lots of fun and look forward to seeing you again soon.