Friday, March 20, 2009

Outside of Taipei: Western restaurants

As I say outside of Taipei is a different country. When I worked in the small towns visiting factories there would be only be one western restaurant in a 20 kilometer radius – and they were all the same style.

“What do you want for lunch?” the boss of that particular day’s factory would ask.

I would tell him a wouldn’t mind some western food, then would come the hesitation, embarrassment for a moment because he couldn’t think of any western restaurants in the vicinity. Still he would assure me it was no trouble and just down the road – hen jin (very close) bu yuan (not far) - but then he would be driven half-way across the county, constantly on his mobile, trying to find where a good western restaurant was and how to get there. Finally, when you arrived it was imitation French chateau, dark wood beam d├ęcor inside, fountain and bridge crossing goldfish pond at the entrance, and then clam chowder soup with a pastry top for starters, steak with a choice of black pepper or mushroom sauce (it had to be steak, westerners apparently ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner) and spaghetti on the side (all local steak restaurants served pasta and a fried egg with your steak; no fries).

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