Fri, Jul 12, 2002 - Page 19 News List

Restaurant of the week: Lan Ting 蘭亭

Address: 3F, 41 Chungshan N. Rd., Sec. 2, Taipei(台北市中山北路三段41號3F)
Telephone:(02) 2523-8000
Open: Lunch 11:30am until 2pm, dinner 5pm until 10pm
Average meal: NT$800 per person
Details: English menu. Major Credit cards accepted

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

Get a taste of Chinese history at Lanting.

PHOTO: GAVIN PHIPPS, TAIPEI TIMES

To coincide with an exhibition featuring Tang Dynasty artifacts currently under way at Taipei's National Palace Museum, chefs at the Formosa Regent's Lan Ting (蘭亭) restaurant are at present cooking up a storm with a selection of dishes whose origins date back to a bygone time when Tang emperors ruled supreme.

While the stylish, slightly haut manner in which the food is presented may appear rather far removed from anything knocked up by Tang dynasty chefs, the dishes chosen by the chefs still remain representative of the flavors and styles of food eaten during the Tang dynasty.

"It took us about a month to do the research, ask professors and ensure the dishes were as close as possible to those prepared during Tang times," said Formosa Regent's Daphne Wang (王金微). "We decided on 12 dishes, but while we found plenty of dishes mentioned in historical tomes, very few recipes of food eaten during the Tang dynasty have survived."

The dishes are a mixture of cold and hot plates and soups, the most eye-catching of which is the stewed turtle soup chicken (NT$1,200). Served at the table complete with turtle shells, the dish, according to Wang is not very popular with the hotel's foreign guests, but is proving a big hit with local diners.

Diners who wish to enjoy a soup dish without the picturesque topping, are in for a treat, however, as both the braised chicken ball and vegetable soup (NT$200) and the braised sliced abalone soup (NT$300) are all guaranteed taste sensations.

For those with a passion for more down-to-earth Tang dynasty food, there's the marinated sliced lamb (NT$560) -- thin slices of lamb which are best dipped in the mild spicy sauce before eaten -- and the sauteed eel with bean sprouts (NT$560). The most popular dish with diners who wish to relive days of culinary yore is the sauteed beef and black bean (NT$520). The dish sees lightly cooked melt-in-the-mouth slices of beef topped with mild spices.

Vegetarians might be advised to avoid Tang food, however, as with the exception of sauteed celery in vinegar (NT$500) and sweetened wild rice with lotus seeds (NT$200) all of the dishes contain some form of meat.

To add an interesting twist to the dining experience, each individual dish also has its own story as to its how and why. While the hotel has yet to print English-language explanations of the food, should diners be curious as to the historic significance of their chow then restaurant staff will be only to happy to enlighten them.

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