Across the Raohe night market in Taipei is my favorite goose meat eatery. It is another one of those places I must visit each time I visit Taipei, and not just because goose meat is rather scarce in Singapore. In fact I have been jokingly persuading the fellow running the place to open a restaurant in Singapore, and who knows, if I have the funds, maybe I’ll work out something with him one day?
In the finer dining establishments in Singapore, I never order the same dish twice. But I have forsaken high-end dining for years now because I can no longer stand the superficiality and pretensiousness often attached to these places where snooty and haughty waiters behave as if they are catwalk models and try to prove that they know more than you and mediocre mere cooks consider themselves world-class chefs deserving of millions of Michelin stars so they swagger around dropping names (“The Lee family ate here the other day”) and bragging like pricks.
Yet, in Taiwan, I never fail to visit this little modest eatery serving goose meat – just the one dish, some noodles to go with it and nothing else fancy.
Food is the taproot to happiness. Bad food can make me lose my temper and friends have seen me throw down the napkin and storm out of restaurants. I’m not kidding. When a man sits down for a meal, he doesn’t want to get fucking pissed off! He doesn’t want to get ripped off too! He wants food, not crap! So, familiar places and familiar food – good food – bring so much comfort and good feelings. I am therefore never tired of visiting the same old eateries over and over again although I am very open to try new ones.
Every three or four months, I go to Taipei, and an intimacy develops amongst the various people I interact with. Hotel employees, restaurateurs, cigar lounge staff, food stall operators, even limo drivers become faces that make me feel at home. Friendships like that warm the heart, making the places I visit even more welcoming.
This eatery selling goose meat is one such example: it is a family business, the patriarch is busy chopping and slicing away while the wife is the “minister of finance.” Another man serves as a waiter of sorts – I am not sure if he is the son or a relative or just an employee. Each time I go, we all greet each other heartily though I do not know any of their names, and they do not know mine.
But the warmth, the recognition, the authentic greetings and of course the superlative food draw me again and again to this simple establishment. I sense joy when I visit.
Good cooking involves honesty, simplicity and integrity, as my friend Spike Johan – a super classy gentleman who really knows food and is not a poser or pretender – will no doubt agree. And at this eatery this is what I get. No idiotic chefs trying to serve you some fusion crap, and gouging you till you are broke but leaving you still hungry, but honest, simple food, cooked with a passion.
The pictures below show the eatery, a plate of goose meat, and the final picture shows goose liver and gizzard covered with greens like ginger, coriander and basil; foie gras on the cheap! As always, click on each picture for an enlarged view. You will notice that unlike in Hong Kong where goose is often roasted or in Shantou, where it is often braised with soy sauce, Taiwanese goose meat is simply boiled the way the chicken in Hainanese chicken rice is cooked. This no-frills cooking method brings out the real taste of the delicious meat, best eaten accompanied by a bowl of soupy rice vermicelli.