Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dallas: First Emperor Chinese Restaurant

Having to rely on Coco's for Taiwanese food in Austin sucks.  The menu is very limited, and as tasty as the fried pork chop is, it's absolutely too unhealthy to eat over and over again.  We were eager to finally try another Taiwanese restaurant while in Dallas.  Everything was still coated in oil (check out the soup), but First Emperor Chinese Restaurant offers a wide variety of dishes, including some that are hard to come by (sliced liver soup doused with sesame oil; fried yin2 si1 juan3). 

The sliced liver soup was super tasty, especially because of the generous amount of spicy ginger.

Sliced Liver Soup with Sesame Oil

We ordered my childhood favorite, fried yin2 si1 juan3, which is just fried dough.  While I was in China in 2009, I ate fried man2 tou2 with condensed milk, which I think would definitely work with the yin si juan as well.  Too bad it's not served this way in Taiwanese cuisine.
Fried Yin2 Si1 Juan3

I love Thai basil.  I'm tempted to stir-fry everything with Thai basil.  The Taiwanese like to use Thai basil (jiu3 ceng2 ta3) to stir-fry with Japanese eggplants, chicken, or baby clams.  I opted for eggplants, which came piping hot.  The skin of the eggplant was tough and smokey from being brutally fried in the wok, but the flesh melted in my mouth like chocolate. 

Eggplant Stir-fried with Thai Basil

Another staple in Taiwanese cuisine is mei2 cai4 kou4 rou4 (preserved vegetables braised with pork belly).  This is a good dish to eat with rice because you can let the sweet sauce seep into the mound of rice. 

Mei2 Cai4 Kou4 Rou4 (Preserved Vegetables Braised with Pork Belly)

Another good dish to pair with a bowl of rice is the famous Sichuan dish, ma2 po2 dou4 fu3.  I highly recommend this dish at First Emperor's although it isn't a Taiwanese dish.  The sauce isn't numbingly spicy, but this tofu is extremely flavorful and tender.

Ma2 Po2 Dou4 Fu3 (Numbingly Spicy Tofu or Madam Pockface Tofu...depends on how you want to interpret the origins of this dish)

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