RESTAURANTS : Mr Goose 鵝肉先生

By Ian Bartholomew  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Jul 09, 2010 - Page 14

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Eateries specializing in goose are not uncommon, but I have always found them to look more tempting than they actually are. Whatever the merits of the other dishes they serve, the goose itself is either tough, stringy, or flavorless, or a combination of all three. I had all but sworn off goose, but Mr Goose, a popular restaurant on the high street of Hualian City, has changed all that.

Mr Goose offers a pretty comprehensive breakdown of the goose, starting with the essential order of goose meat, which sells for NT$300 for a jin, about 600g. An order of NT$200 is ample for two people, and can be made up of either the leaner forequarters or the fatty hindquarters. It should be pointed out that fatty at Mr Goose does not equate with greasy, and for both texture and flavor, the hindquarters win hands down. Just don’t think about the cholesterol.

As an obvious out-of-towner, one of the wait staff asked solicitously whether the meat was too my taste. She explained that Mr Goose used locally raised goose — as opposed to the famous Yilan goose. She was worried that being unused to the free-range goose, I might find it tough. The meat certainly had body, and it hadn’t the loose texture that is often mistaken for tenderness, but “tough” was a word that never crossed my mind. It was best described as “meaty.”

Other bits of the goose were equally good, with heart (NT$100), giblets (NT$100), intestine (NT$100), liver (NT$30) and pancreas (NT$50) all available. The heart is particularly to be recommended, and while the pancreas had novelty value, its texture took a bit of getting used to, and tasted like rather bland liver. All of these are served as cold plates, and can accompany a range of dry or soup noodles (NT$40). Goose blood mixed with glutinous rice is served dry or in soup form (NT$30 and NT$35). For aficionados of chicken blood, the chicken blood soup (NT$30) is particularly fine, with an excellent texture and flavor to the jelly. All these are very simple dishes, many available at street corners and night markets around the country, but Mr Goose understands flavor and clearly has a solid grasp of all the ins and outs of poultry.

What is also remarkable is that Mr Goose is able to step away from its specialty and adorn the table with good-quality stir-fried dishes as well, making it more than just a snack joint. Stir-fried local ferns (from NT$150) make for an interesting addition to the predominantly meat menu, and there are also some choices in the seafood department. The deep-fried oysters (NT$150) are particularly outstanding, their crispy batter and sharp ocean flavor providing a wonderful contrast to the rich oil of the goose meat.

From the outside, Mr Goose does not look particularly notable, except for the fact that it seems to be crowded even during the unfashionable hours of mid-afternoon. If you’re visiting on a weekend, be prepared to wait for a table. The food is served up fast and with a minimum of fuss, and the atmosphere is noisy and cheerful. An added bonus is that you can purchase a 3-liter jar of goose fat (NT$120) to take away to add the delicious flavors of Mr Goose to anything you might be cooking at home.

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