Chicken in Plum Sauce
(NT$130, 6 slices per plate) is
prepared by first frying the
chicken leg, and features the
refreshing, slightly sweet-and-
sour flavors of plum sauce.
Stinky Tofu (NT$140) is served
with four seasons beans and
bacon bits, for a creative dish
that is also very appetizing
with a bowl of rice.
Fen Lan Kitchen
Written and translated by Diva Yang
Photos by Andy Lin
23, Alley 66, Lane 12, BaDe Rd, Sec 3
Hours: Mon-Fri 10 am-2 pm, 5-9 pm; Sat 11 am-2 pm, 5-9 pm
Credit cards not accepted. No service charge.
Fen Lan Kitchen is a menu-less restaurant, where chefs pick out quality seasonal ingredients on a daily basis and cook them according to the palates and preferences of the guests. These experienced chefs also take into consideration the number of diners and their budget to design an array of delicate cuisine that makes up a complete, sumptuous dining experience. While there is nothing fancy about the atmosphere here, Fen Lan's owners are focused on ensuring each guest has the opportunity to savor food that is genuine and affordable. Thanks to their unending efforts to uphold a high-quality reputation, this place has maintained a large group of loyal customers, including some politicians and celebrities.
Explaining the origins of her popular restaurant's menu-less approach, hostess Gao Guei-lan says, "I used to run a smaller restaurant, and I always have had a loyal clientele. I managed to cater to them throughout lunch and dinner hours but, as time goes by, they have asked me to decide what dishes to have for their meal. All they have to do is tell me what they want to have, or what they don't eat, and I will be responsible for coming up with all the ideas." "I also really enjoy cooking, and often spend time trying out cuisine from all walks of life, so whatever I have to offer becomes a tasty dish that everyone would enjoy," she adds.
Thanks to this background and her culinary talents, she has been able to offer a unique selection of family-style dishes at Fen Lan Kitchen since 1998. In this way, she resembles a gourmand's personal chef, producing rich and flavorful creations.
For those who have never been to her restaurant, or are not familiar with her style of cooking, Gao recommends they try either a fish, a meat, or a simple stir-fried vegetable dish. Many customers become regulars here after savoring these items. Ms. Gao also noted that some guests will tell her what they don't eat, or what they don't want added into a dish, as soon as they arrive, adding that she is very careful regarding the special needs of her guests, by monitoring everything in the kitchen. In the end, her greatest satisfaction is knowing diners will enjoy her cooking.
Left: Stir-Fried Salty Egg with Pumpkin (NT$140) is made by first frying the pumpkin, making it different from the soft, mashed texture usually found in other pumpkin dishes. The pumpkinsweetness is mixed with salty eggs in a wok, for a surprisingly smooth combination.
Right: Stir-Fried Thousand-Year-Old Eggs with Leeks (NT$140) is cooked by stir-frying chopped leeks, minced pork and thousand-year-old
eggs together in a pan. Garlic and chili peppers are then added for a unique, quite spicy and appetizing flavor that can go well with a
few extra bowls of rice.