Fri, Mar 01, 2002 - Page 10 News List

Restaurant of the week: Lan Lao Lao Gourmet 蘭姥姥

Address: 3, Lane 66, Yitung Street, Taipei (台北市伊通街66巷3 號)
Telephone: (02) 2506-3874/2507-9353
Open: Lunch 11:30am until 2pm and dinner 5pm until 9pm. Closed on Sundays and national holidays
Details: NT$900 for two, Chinese menu only

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lan Lao Lao has been renovated, but they didn't need to improve on the food.

PHOTO: GAVIN PHIPPS, TAIPEI TIMES

Although recently given a bright shiny facelift in the form of a very modern glass facade and a characterless but poured concrete interior comparable to many of the city's eateries, the Southern-style Chinese cuisine cooked up at Lan Lao Lao (蘭姥姥) remains as traditional as it could ever be.

The revamped joint has been serving up cuisine endemic to China's Zhejiang (浙江) region for eight years, over which time the restaurant has built up a loyal following among both the quick stop business crowd during lunchtimes and the wining and dining crowd in the early evening as well.

Regardless of the time of day diners choose to frequent Lan Lao Lao, it's the restaurant's pork dishes that take pride of place in any meal. And leading the way is the hongtsong kaopai, or ribs with red onion (紅蔥烤排). A small plate of which costs NT$400 and a large plate NT$800. A true taste sensation, the pork falls effortlessly from the bone and dissolves in the mouth, leaving little need for diners to exercise their jaw muscles.

Not that the well-cooked parts of pig are the only dishes worth eating. The eatery also does some truly mouth watering things with tofu such as crab with tofu and hibiscus (蟹黃芙蓉豆腐堡), a dish that tastes a whole lot better than it looks (NT$150 for a small portion).

Another of the restaurant's trademark dishes is the hsuetsai paiyue (NT$150 for a small plate, 雪菜百頁), which is a dish that while probably a little salty for the Western palate remains a tasty treat for those who enjoy the strong flavor of hsuetsai. Like all traditional restaurants, soup plays a big part of any meal. And once again Lan Lao Lao doesn't disappoint. The odd sounding but popular two sinew soup (兩筋一湯) which, like many dishes at the Lan Lao Lao, is available in small, medium and large servings, is priced between NT$150 and NT$400.

Along with the food, another point that sets Lan Lao Lao apart from the rest is the consistent manner in which the chefs are always on the ball. It doesn't matter how often diners chow-down at Lan Lao Lao; the food remains as well prepared and as appetizing on each visit.

It's not only the chefs who make eating out at Lan Lao Lao such a pleasure. The waitresses are cordial and are always happy to help diners unfamiliar with southern-style Chinese cuisine to choose their spread.

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