Few restaurants in Taipei last much longer than six months, it seems, so a simple diner that has been in business for 53 years is worth taking a look at.
The Duck and Traditional Goose Restaurant in Hsimenting is as unpretentious as its name and delivers a standard meal with the minimum of fuss to a consistently good level, cheaply. And, if this is the secret of its success, the recipe may be found elsewhere, because the food is nothing special.
The noodle soup (NT$40) is simple: Spring onions, bean sprouts -- and a sprinkling of fried-and-dried onion flakes to give a touch of sweetness -- are submerged in a clear broth with a thin veneer of essential fats and oils. Earthenware bowls have given way to plastic facsimiles which can be quickly cleaned and sent out again. The sliced goose meat (NT$60 for a small plate) is always fresh -- since it doesn't hang around -- and arrives with a garnish of ginger and dollops of red and dark brown sauce. Chopped intestines (
Other goose-and-soup joints' food may be more flavorsome but they vary, often from day to day. The Duck and Traditional Goose Restaurant remains the same. "One and only," is how the current second-generation owner, Chang Jen-ho (
It all began in 1950 as a street stall, run by a Taiwanese family whose business was boosted by the arrival of hungry Kuomintang soldiers. Though the family that started the business no longer runs it, the proud boast is there have been no changes -- which is believable if not entirely true.
There are two stories to the restaurant and the ground floor is what might grandly be termed "open plan," with mainly stainless steel fittings and around 16 formica-topped tables surrounded by those small stools that allow six or more people to share a table.
Address: 98-2, Zhonghua Rd, Sec1, Taipei (台北市中華路1段98-2號)
Telephone: (02) 2371-3918
Open: 9.30am to 10:30pm
Average meal: NT$100
There are 20 plus tables upstairs and the calculation of 200 people at a sitting, NT$100 per head, 30 minutes turnaround, up to NT$40,000 an hour, 11 hours a day, seven days a week, adds up to serious money at the end of a good year.
So, no wonder that the service doesn't need to come with a smile and publicity, while not turned down, is not invited either. This is a seriously successful diner that is still packing them in after 50 years.
The boss may not be much of a talker, but he is always there watching the sidewalk for signs of business, keeping an eye on the cooks huddled over their vats of soup and chopping up hundreds of thousands of birds.
He is the captain of his ship and The Duck and Traditional Goose Restaurant can be depended on for good value -- sit down or take away -- while he's on board.