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The Call of the Wild Striper at the Taiwan Cafe

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The Call of the Wild Striper at the Taiwan Cafe

galleygirl | Oct 6, 2003 10:56 PM

"Galleygirl,...(static, static...) we've got your fish"...
The phone call I'd been waiting for came around 6:30...Instantly alert, I leapt off the couch; snapped from the depths of self pity I'd been wallowing in, due to a broken toe....
"Where do I meet you?"
Snap, crackle, static......
"We need meat, we'll meet you in Chinatown, Taiwan Cafe"....

This was how I came to be meeting the giggling, giddy, surf casters, in the throes of hypothermia, standing on the steps of Taiwan Cafe, with the "No Mung" bucket, filled with about 6 pounds of ocean fresh striper, on the hoof...Readers of this board will already have figured that the Surf Twins were no other than Striperguy, and Dan, fellow hound who will surely be posting here soon. (Damn, I hope I got his name right, everytime i asked, I got side-tracked by more food, but I digress)...

I had agreed to TC for the hand-off, because I had not-so-secretly been craving the Seafood in Claypot...But as soon as we went inside, negotiations commenced to hack off a chunk-o-striper, and allow the chef to have his way with it..The manager suggested the chili-soya bean with tofu preparation. I had had it before, and wasn't that excited, I thought it was a little heavy..We cautioned to go light on the sauce, and then Striperguy disappeared into the kitchen, not wanting to miss the dismemberment of his prize....

We started with the amazing, spicy anchovies, with cheap sake and Tsing Taos. Lovely, fish with poblano chilis (I think), perfect for drinking...The Surf Dudes were in fine form, (think Nomar and Jason after homers...) showing assorted bruises, scars, cuts, and callouses. If Hemingway had been there, it would have been "The Young Dudes and the Sea". Whatever....Fisherman, inches--- you know how it is..

The veggie dumplings had just arrived, and more quickly than we could have imagined, they brought this HUGE PLATTER OF TWO INCH THICK STRIPER STEAKS, thinly coated with a clear soy-glaze, accented with shards of dried chilis. Chunks of tofu slipped off the chunks of fish...We gasped. Everyone gasped. Regulars coming in to meet their families craned their necks to see what we were getting....The platter barely hit the table before we started lifting the firm steaks onto our rice bowls. The fish lifted from the bone in smooth sections, the easiest I've ever eaten with chopsticks. Huge, sweet mouthfuls, steamed to perfection in the light, boiling sauce. SG said the wok was smokin'. I've never had white fish this delicious. It had never swum in a tank, it hadn't been farmed (not that there's anything wrong with either of those.) The only water through it's gills was unfiltered saltwater. I am spoiled for life. We ate big chunks, we spooned the hot,salty sauce over more chunks, we even ate the thin, delicate skin. I'm embarrassed to admit how quickly that platter was demolished. I ended up with the one left-over steak, to peruse and observe at my leisure tomorrow..

Oh yeah, they had the beef with poblano peppers, and I had held out for my beloved seafood and vegetables in claypot. Ha. We ended up splitting it into three quarts and taking it home, after agreeing that the trencherman-sized trough of broth, seafood, taro and napa was delicate, delicious, and well worth ordering for the upcoming cold weather. I think TC may be overcoming it's previous reputation for inconsistency; this was the third absolutely stellar meal I've shared there in a row...But nothing was gonnah get in the way of that striper tonight.

It was a confluence of planets, the tides, the running of fish, and the New Year. Hopefully, it bodes well for every meal in the coming year!

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