Friday, June 3, 2011

Three culinary treasures (Travel in Taiwan)

Tell a local gourmet you're heading to Pingtung's west coast, and he or she is sure to rhapsodize about Donggang's Three Culinary Treasures. The town has always made it living from the ocean, so it's no surprise that all three of signature delicacies are seafood.

First and foremost is bluefin tuna, the availability of which peaks around the start of summer. It's often served Japanese-style as sashimi or sushi. If you order some, do try it before you sample any other dishes. Top-grade bluefin sashimi costs around NT$300 per slice, so it deserves a clean palette. In appearance, it resembles marbled beef. In taste, obviously, it's very different.

If raw fish doesn't appeal, order a tuna dish that's been deep-fried or steamed.

The second treasure is sakura shrimp. These are usually shallow fried, seasoned and served on a bed of fluffy white rice.

The third is escolar roe. Dark brown in color and surprisingly like cheese in both texture and taste, this dish is served cold and thinly sliced.

All three of Donggang's culinary treasures can be sampled at Sunrise Restaurant, a three-story landmark establishment that's been in business over 40 years. Like many banquet-style restaurants, the food here is best enjoyed by large groups who can order several dishes.

According the owners, Sunrise's chefs much prefer freshly caught seafood to farmed fish. Despite the emphasis on seafood, the menu caters for vegetarians and those who'd rather eat land-roaming creatures. For NT$400 to NT$500 per person, you'll enjoy a real feast.

Little Liuqiu has several seafood eateries, and one of the best is Baihai Restaurant. It's easy to find. If you're walking from the center of Baisha to Lingshan Temple, it's one of the last buildings on the left.

Not everything on the menu comes from the ocean. Locally-made pork sausages, chopped into slivers and served with lettuce, are a favorite. Baihai also serves up what locals call a Little Liuqiu Pizza It contains neither cheese nor tomatoes, yet in terms of shape and size it does resemble a pizza. Filled with prawns covered with flour and seasoning, it's deep-fried until golden brown – and it goes down a treat.

This short piece was one of three accompanying my ecotourism report on Little Liuqiu and Dapeng Bay in the May/June issue of Travel in Taiwan magazine. I'm not going to post the other two (about places to stay and souvenir buying); see my previous post if you need an explanation of how to read the magazine online.


Katy said...

Steven, I have a question: you don't include names in Chinese characters, shall I assume that signs in English are widely available in South of Taiwan nowadays? (Which wasn't,say,10 years ago)

Steven Crook... said...


For roads, railway stations etc, now almost every sign is bilingual. Of course, there are spelling inconsistencies. I don't paste Chinese names into my articles because few of the publications I write for expect that, and I don't want to give myself too much extra work!