Notes from Taiwan, A Popular Seafood Restaurant

Last night, Y and her parents took me out to East Wind Seafood in Jhongli. It was Ma’s vegetarian day, but she insisted that we go out to the seafood place last night so that I could try it before we leave for the States this weekend.

When we arrived, East Wind Seafood was already hopping. Business people and workers were jovially sitting around tables eating from many dishes and drinking Taiwan Beer. A “Taiwan Beer” girl in a white suit and boots was walking around the tables making sure everyone who wanted a cool drink was satisfied.

The waitress on duty told us that they were full tonight. Apparently, they are so popular now that you have to make reservations in advance even during the week. However, Ba pursuaded her to setup a four person card table in the middle of the restaurant for us. Some businesses are very amenable to customers as long as the customer is flexible with things, too.

We feasted on seafood rice soup (a flavorful soup with clams, oysters, and shrimp), fried chicken breast with mustard, tiny squid (they aren’t baby squid–this species stays small–about 3″ long), large stirfried shrimp that you de-head and shell at the table yourself, fried fish with white pepper, a plate of extremely fresh sashimi fish and shrimp for me, and most amazingly, a lantern fish. I had until last night only seen lantern fish on National Geographic specials on TV. I didn’t know that people ate them. The waitress brought it out on a plate, complete with head and tail. Its head and body were flattened, and its many, sharp teeth jutted out between its lips. Its meat is the most tender fish meat that I have ever enjoyed.

While we were eating, we happened to see Maggie Shen’s mother. Maggie is one of Y’s friends, who lives in Switzerland now with her physicist husband Fede. She was there at another table for business. She saw us first and came over for a chat with Ma, Ba, and Y. I tried to follow everything, but since I don’t know Chinese, I smile, laugh when others laugh, and look forward to Y’s translation later. This is the most frustrating part of the trip, because I wish that I could participate more in conversations without putting an extra burden on Y to translate to me and for me. I will know some Chinese when I come back to Taiwan with Y next time.

After dinner, Ma and Ba insisted on buying me a jacket as a gift. We stopped by an outdoor clothing store located near their house. They picked out an Atunas fleece jacket for me, because it will keep me warm in Ohio.