Evans Burger, Awesome Burger, Burger Ray — Taipei’s foodie scene has been spawning burger joints lately for whatever reason. Passing fad or not – Burger Fix recently closed after being in business for slightly over a year — time will soon tell, but one joint that has flown under the radar is Mount Kao Sandwich Shop (漫高三明治).
Opened a year and a half ago, the tiny glass-walled corner shop lies hidden in a narrow lane by the Technology Building MRT. Don’t be fooled by the whiff of Japanese pancakes coming from the vendor next door. Mount Kao serves burgers and sandwiches — lots of it. Inside is industrial and minimalistic — a wooden bar top displaying locally brewed craft beer, compact tables and chairs arranged for intimate seating and floor-to-ceiling blackboards showing off their hand-written menu.
The burgers and sandwiches are indeed as tall as mountains, as Mount Kao’s Chinese name suggests (gao, 高, or kao as it is spelled in the Wade Giles Romanization system, means “tall”).
Photo: Dana Ter, Taipei Times
I go for the mounted cheeseburger ciabatta (NT$240) and decide to make it a double, which means extra cheese, bacon and a double layer of egg and meat for an added NT$90. The two slabs of 4oz meat are tender and chewy. I wasn’t sure what to think of the cooked egg white occupying the center of the meat (the meat is sliced like the shape of the bagel with a hole in the center), but the egg worked amazingly well, lending gooey texture and moistening the palate.
The bacon added extra crunch and saltiness, though the cheese could have been a little runnier. The arugula in the burger was a surprisingly nice touch – much fancier and more multi-dimensional flavor and texture-wise than basic lettuce. Its natural pepperiness complements the other ingredients.
Normally, I detest side salads in burger joints — my theory is that they’re just slapped on to make customers feel less guilty of ingesting so much red meat — but Mount Kao’s isn’t bad. For one, it doesn’t come with overly sweet dressing, but with a tasteful dollop of vinaigrette instead, separate from the salad. The burger also comes with a side — either fries, wedges or sweet potatoes. I choose the fries, thinking that sweet potatoes with burger might be an odd combination. It’s a good choice as the fries are warm and crispy. All of this I wash down with a banana milkshake topped with cinnamon (NT$110), which is rich, creamy and divine.
Photo: Dana Ter, Taipei Times
My friend wishes to order the tarragon chicken salad sub (NT$195) but they’re out of tarragon chicken that day. Dismayed, he settles for the mushroom shrimp grilled sandwich (NT$245), which did not disappoint. The bread is warm and crisp, the mushrooms succulent and juicy, the shrimp chewy while the tomato adds some juiciness. I found the bacon bits to be a nice surprise — salty, crunchy — though I probably would have appreciated it better had I not already eaten so much from my own burger. Thick and creamy, the garlic mayo sauce brings the other elements in the sandwich together.
Because there just isn’t enough meat to go around, we also order a side of fried meatballs (NT$150). The granules of meat on the outer layer are discernably crunchy. Inside is warm and chewy while the barbecue sauce makes for a hearty dip.
Mount Kao certainly lives up to its name. While I certainly relished their monster-sized burgers and sandwiches — every last morsel of it — that was a lot of meat and I might have to stay away from burgers for a while.
Photo: Dana Ter, Taipei Times
Address: 35, Ln 175, Heping E Rd Sec 2, Taipei City (台北市和平東路二段175巷35號)
Telephone: (02) 2755-3863
Open: Tuesdays to Fridays from 11am to 10pm, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 10pm
Average meal: NT$250 to NT$500
Details: Menu in English and Chinese, cash only
On the net: www.facebook.com/mountkao
Scott Saulters wasn’t sure if his film had just taken one of the two top prizes at a recent film competition. Although Saulters has been in Taiwan for 15 years and is proficient in Mandarin, the award ceremony for the inaugural “Bi Tian Iann” (眯電影) short film contest was conducted entirely in Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese), a language he can’t speak. “I thought I heard it, but I didn’t want to look too excited,” he says. Despite his limited command of the tongue, Saulter’s entry, Wu Yu Tzu (烏魚子, mullet roe), took first place in the amateur category of the
The Taiwan of yesteryear was dominated in whole or in part by the Dutch, Spanish, Qing Empire and Japanese. But is the Taiwanese name for a popular edible fish derived from the Portuguese language? Cheng Wei-chung (鄭維中), an associate research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Taiwan History, says yes. The fish in question is the narrow-barred Spanish mackerel, which was listed in early 18th century Qing local gazetteers as Taiwanese specialities alongside milk fish and mullet, according to Cheng’s paper, “Mullet, narrow-barred Spanish mackerel and milkfish: Multiple contextual developments of three certified seafood specilaities in Taiwan, from the
I didn’t expect to spend more than three minutes out of my car, yet the sun was so brutal I put on my hat before approaching the seawall. Beimen (北門) is the flattest and most sun-baked part of Tainan. It lacks trees and people. In wintertime, the weather is often delightful. It wasn’t yet mid-morning in the hot season, however, and I felt like a leaf shriveling in the desert. Atop the seawall but facing inland, I could see dozens of the rectangular ponds which account for a significant percentage of Beimen’s “land” area. Some, no doubt, were dug to produce
Aug. 10 to Aug. 16 They called him the “No Problem Doctor” (沒關係醫生) because that’s what he always told his patients when they couldn’t pay up. Operating the only clinic in Changhua County’s Pusin Township (埔心) during the 1950s, Hsu Tsai-chih (許再枝) knew that life was difficult in his remote hometown. “They barely had enough to survive, so it was pointless to chase after them for the money,” an 81-year-old Hsu told the United Daily News in 2002. “I just went with the flow, some offered to pay me back years later but I had already forgotten