The day started out with us going to a place for Taiwanese in Rockville. We made our way out there and found out our original destination for Taiwanese was no longer in existence. It was now a chinese buffet. Luckily I bring along a smart Bridget who knows how to Google and found another spot next door. Good to know the area is home to another Taiwan cuisine restaurant: Taipei Cafe
Nothing is ever more awkward than going to a restaurant where no one speaks English. From the moment we walked in until we left we knew we were in territory that wasn’t normal to us. Between the slurping at the table on one side and fish heads on another table, I knew this would be interesting. I wasn’t 100% sure but I am pretty sure the staff laughed at us a few times during our stay.
The menu was quite large and we had no idea what we were looking for so I asked for a little help. He made a few recommendations, sadly everything was seafood. So I went basic with their Taiwan wonton soup and an appetizer of tempura.
The wonton soup was outstanding and like nothing I’ve ever had, especially from a crappy Chinese take out. The wontons tasted freshly steamed before being plopped in to the soup.
To go with the soup we also ordered an appetizer of Tempura. We assumed the tempura was tofu. We assumed this when we ordered it, ate it and after it was done. The server later asked how the seafood tempura was. Which was quite humorous because I told him from the start I was allergic to seafood. He gave me an odd look after he saw the dish was done and asked “So you enjoyed the seafood tempura.” We both sat there quietly and not sure how to answer that.
For our entree we ordered something large we could split. I also wanted something that was very popular in Taiwan. A Hot Pot is a large “stew” that contains a variety of flavors with meat and vegetables mixed in. We ordered a pork belly hot pot with pickled cabbage. Also mixed in were fish cakes and pickled eggs.
We didn’t realize at first we ordered a second soup but our server did. He giggled again at us as he said “Here is more soup” when he brought out the dish. However, the hot pot was amazing and had so many flavors.
We weren’t sure if we would get dessert but then I saw they had something called Shaved Ice. I didn’t know what we were getting but I felt that it wouldn’t be that strange since it was called Shaved Ice. I asked the server to make suggestions on what 3 toppings to get and he said: Red Beans, Lychees and Taro Root. Again, I wasn’t exactly prepared for what we were getting.
This picture does not do this dessert justice. The giant stack of shaved ice was surrounded by red bean, lychee and taro root. The sweetness of the syrups, odd consistency of beans and root, as well as the large stack of ice was incredible. Incredibly weird and odd. Everyone around us was staring, we couldn’t stop laughing and we slowly ate this giant “mountain.”
After all the giggling around us and our shaved ice mountain fell apart, we were done. We enjoyed Taiwanese and the differences with this cuisine and other Chinese foods. I would come back but next time the mountain stays in the kitchen.