Stix goes to Taiwan for inspiration and finds plenty at Taipei’s night markets
Even the best hotels go overboard with cheesy props for ‘food festivals’ in a desperate bid to lend some authenticity to a hastily conceived food promotion. I didn’t see any props at Stix but almost the entire restaurant was filled with Asian diners at lunch on the opening day of the restaurant’s Taiwanese promo – a more conclusive stamp of authenticity than temporary fixtures.
Visiting Chef Sung Chiung-Hung from Grand Hyatt Taipei typifies the friendly Taiwanese you are likely to run into almost anywhere in the country where despite their limited English skills, most Taiwanese are keen to help. I haven’t encountered a more friendly ‘people’ in any other country in South East Asia. Taipei’s night markets are a treasure trove of Taiwanese culinary delights and Chef Sung has sought some inspiration from these vibrant markets that are probably the best place to spend a night out in Taipei. Taiwanese cuisine has carved its own niche despite formidable influences – from the Southern Provinces of Mainland China to Japan.
The menu is concise and yet offers more than a sneak peek into Taiwanese cuisine. You will find all the prices on the menu ending with the numeral 6 – 六 (liù) – considered lucky in Taiwan. The green pepper, pork and seafood pie is the pick of the starters, herbivores can give the crunchy mushroom and cabbage spring roll a go. The menu has room for one of Taiwan’s popular dishes – mango fried chicken, but my favourite in the mains is the highly ‘instagramable’ Pink Lady – steamed tomatoes stuffed with rice. It’s not a dish I’ve spotted at the Taipei night markets I visited and tastes almost as good as it looks.
Equally pretty are the mushrooms in a deftly carved pumpkin cup. There are quite a few dessert options like the sesame balls with bean paste. Give the Malay caramel cake a miss though. Food promotions are over in a flash and this one is even shorter than the standard 10-day editions.
The Taiwanese food showcase is only on till May 24 (for lunch and dinner) and has been put together in conjunction with ‘The Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in Chennai’. Stix is at the Hyatt Regency Chennai (Ph: 044-6100 1234). Meal for 2: Rs 3000/-