Dancing Pig (豬跳舞小餐館), which opened in July last year near Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall (國父紀念館), is a pork lover’s paradise and the latest endeavor by up-and-coming chef Jason Lin (林志豪), who first emerged on the city’s restaurant scene with Italian establishments Big Pancia (大肚皮義式餐坊) and Va Bene.
As its name suggests, pigs and their meat feature prominently on the menu at this snug restaurant, where diners are charmed by artery-clogging yet soul-satisfying meals served in big portions at wallet-friendly prices.
Stuffed with piggy knickknacks ranging from piggy dolls and piggy figurines to piggy paintings, the interior seems more like a cute cafe designed to appeal to females and youngsters than a carnivore’s palace.
On a recent visit, several children spent most of their time lying on a sofa near the entrance while playing with a couple of plush pig toys. Evidently, chef Lin’s love for the animal makes his restaurant a popular destination for families with kids.
Though beef, mutton and other meats are available, my dining companion and I decided to stick with pork dishes and paid an extra NT$100 to make our orders into set meals with soup and a drink. We began with potato soup, which was over-salted, but that initial disappointment quickly vanished when the pig ear chips with lemon and caper mayonnaise (酥炸豬耳朵附酸豆美乃滋, NT$180) arrived.
Breaded, chopped pig ears deep-fried to crispy perfection: the appetizer approaches culinary genius. The dish was simple, yummy and the sourness of the sauce added a flavorful zest while offsetting the greasiness of the fried ears. Pair the crunchy number with the lemoncello bubble (NT$130), a bubbly drink mixed with Italian lemon liqueur and Sprite. It’s a pity that movie theaters don’t sell deep-fried pig ears.
For our main course, my partner had the restaurant’s signature roasted pork rib in Taiwanese barbecue sauce (惡魔風烤豬肋排, NT$460), which was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.
My risotto with stewed pig tongue (鄉村燴豬舌燉飯, NT$320), an award-winning dish by Lin, was equally enjoyable. What is often a tough and gamy cut of meat, was cooked to perfection and the strong flavor was matched by a robust herb and mushroom sauce.
Both of the dishes came in impressively large portions, and halfway through my futile attempt to finish the food, I literally felt blood flowing out of my brain to aid digestion. As a result, I sadly forsook the bread pudding with ice cream vanilla (麵包布丁佐香草冰淇淋, NT$110) that many bloggers have been raving about.
Other recommended dishes include the half chicken with vegetables and starch (哈佛脆皮嫩肉雞, NT$360) and the assorted charcuterie plate (綜合鄉村開胃拼盤, NT$280), which combines Italian tidbits like salami with Taiwanese snacks such as pork jelly and duck gizzards.
The restaurant’s beverage menu includes beers from Italy, France, Belgium and Taiwan (NT$130 to NT$160), as well as a selection of red, white and sparkling wines (NT$700 to NT$1,380 per bottle).