Thu, Nov 11, 2004 - Page 16 News List

Take a break and bite into Ilan's delicacies

By Chris Fuchs  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

If you're starting your trip in the late morning from Ilan City, Bajia's Fishery is an excellent place to stop for lunch.

The menu is mainly fish entrees, though some are made with pork and chicken. But coming here for meat is like going to a steakhouse to eat fish.

Everything at Bajia is delicious and fresh. Among the many dishes, the sweet-roe xiangyu (甘露卵香魚) is a must. The portion of the fish that contains roe -- fish eggs -- is braised in soy sauce and lightly sauteed. The taste, although too dry if you eat it in one mouthful, is buttery and sweet. You can top off lunch with a cup of coffee or tea in the second-floor coffee shop.

An afternoon is complete only after a tour of the Happy Cherry Tea House and a cup of Oolong tea. There, you and the owner, Zhong Yong Xing, can discuss whether or not it's acceptable to drink the first pour.

"It's okay, it's really okay to drink it," he said to a group of surprised tourists who came recently.?

Dinner can be hard to find in the backwoods along Route 7. A restaurant called Shanben Farm (山本農場) in Datong (大同鄉) has homestyle cooking with one unique edge: most dishes are made with tea.

When you arrive, you'll find out what's on the menu. But selections are bound to include steamed fished smothered in ginger and scallions and braised in soy sauce, as well as a variety of meats, from lamb to chicken, cooked with tea.

If you want to stay the night, five minutes away from Shanben is a cozy bed-and-breakfast called Tea Village (茶之鄉).

Before tucking in, owner You Hui Zhen (游輝真) will teach you how to make two Hakka specialities. One is leicha (擂茶), a hot beverage made from ground green tea, peanuts and sesame seeds. The other is a sweet, elastic treat called muorji, made from sticky rice that is shaped into balls and rolled around in sesame seeds or crushed peanuts.

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