Taipei: Fresh And Aged – December 2014

I know what I want. I dream about it. I daydream about it. The images are vivid and the images are not just images. They are 8K resolution real. They are smell-o-matically aromatic. They are taste-buds-plugged-into-Oculus-Rift-Ten.Point.OH MY HALLUCINATING brain cells aromatically real.

Damn those foodstuffs in Taipei. They infect your mind like twenty days before you actually get there. And then when your plane lands at around 5 A.M. all you can think about is getting to where you’re staying so that you can dump your luggage and drive or walk or take a taxi or take the MRT to your favourite breakfast place. And then you realize that it’s a Monday and that they’re not open on Mondays and your mind drifts right into lunch and you think you know what you want for lunch and you think you know how to convince everyone else you’re supposed to lunch with to lunch with you at the place where some of your daydreams are made of. And then you tell them and then they all disagree with you and try to steer you away from the place and then you’re so tired and jet lagged and confused and you think to hell with it and you think that you’ll just satisfy your daydreams tomorrow and you go with the flow and the flow takes you to that place that you may not have necessarily daydreamed about but that you absolutely adored the last time you visited and you feel good about it. You feel good about yourself.

And then you look at the menu and you get psyched up because you see that the place now offers a ridiculous 75-day-dry-aged USDA prime hunk of beef on top of the already insanely soul-pleasing when you tried it last time 55-day dry-aged beech oven roasted steak and you feel even better. You summon the waiter to order the 75 day aged version and he tells you that the pieces you see hanging in the dry-aging chamber not 30 meters from you have not been aged that long. He offers you their oldest piece of beef which he says is definitely aged for more than 55 days but also decidedly less than 75 days and you have no option but to accept. And accept you do. And you also accept the two lobsters that your mother orders but that she is too full to even have a bite of. You expect little of the lobster.

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Your wife is more receptive to the lobster and she offers to try it first and you cannot but accept her offer and you offer your sincerest husband-to-wife gratitude for her gesture. But then just as she digs in you dig in too because eating simultaneously with your wife has become so much of a habit that it has become autonomous.

The lobster was perfectly cooked. The meat straddled that fine, fine line between being undercooked and being merely “cooked”. It was well seasoned. It was subtly seasoned. The creaminess and saltiness came in hints. My wife, Me, Us , WE -We could both taste the sweet brininess of the succulent meat.

But then neither of us are real lobster lovers so as good as the lobster was and as well as we thought it was cooked we thought the lobster was ok. Okay it was good. But it was only ok good. It was no comparison to the steak even though we had yet to taste the steak but we knew we were right in our assessment. We just knew.

And wouldn’t you know it we were right. It was as a matter of actual fact no comparison. The steak was mind-blowingly mind blowing. It blew my mind while my mind was being blown while I was eating it.

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This steak blew the 55-day-dry-aged version that previously blew my mind right out of my daydreams. The surface of the steak was so crispy and had so much fatty and buttery and charred flavours that it was like no beef or chicken or duck or goose or fish or whatever crispy animal skin or surface I’ve ever had. And the meat had such a concentration of flavours. Beefy flavours were a given and so were the sort of cheesy and moldy flavours. But there was an added flavour of rot that I don’t know if it was from the bacteria or enzymes breaking down or whatever the hell chemical or biological process that was going on in there it was just plain mind blowingly mind blowing and without a shadow of a doubt the best and most intensely flavoured steak I’ve had in a long, long, long time. And then the meat was red and tender but there was not one drop of liquid anywhere to be seen on the plate. They didn’t only rest the thing, they practically sent it on a vacation to a Caribbean island.

The best thing I had on my most recent visit. Period. I’m still daydreaming about it two weeks later.

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