BY 沈容安(Bernice Shen)
Taiwan is well known for the miscellaneous kinds of food varieties and is given a name as “the kingdom of delicious food.” Besides the omnipresent local food, more and more exotic cuisines have entered and stationed in this island in recent years. As people’s eating habits have been changed with time, exotic cuisines have become more and more popular. Japanese, Korean or Thai restaurants can be commonly seen on streets nowadays. It is a good way to know more about a country through their food.
Attractive Russian Restaurant
It is not easy for foreigners to run restaurants in Taiwan. “Our purpose is to share our love with customers through cuisines,” said Oleg Feklinov（法奧）, the owner and chef of Russian Castle（俄羅斯城堡）. Oleg was a doctor in Moscow Government. Since he was interested in Asian culture out of pure curiosity, he came to Taiwan to learn mandarin nine years ago. Then he got married and settled in Taiwan. Like many other restaurants, Oleg and his wife suffered a lot at the beginning, especially the long working hours. But he said,“Customers’ satisfaction is the happiest thing for me.”
Russian cuisines are unfamiliar to Taiwanese due to the cultural differences. In order to show the original tastes, ingredients are imported from Russia. Kefir（俄羅斯酸奶）is the most important essence of Russian cuisine. When compared with Taiwan’s yogurt, Russia’s is less sweet but thicker. As a regular customer, Shao-ting Chiu（邱紹庭）likes it best. He explained, “it is new for me. Beet root is mixed with potatoes, pickled cucumbers, some nuts and then sprinkle kefir, which tastes very refreshing.”
Food also conveys emotions and cultures. While decorated in Russian style, Russian Castle takes it to transmit Russian culture. When stepping into this restaurant, you can see the matryoshka dolls（俄羅斯套娃）and various kinds of books about Russia exhibited in a cabinet, giving you a strong exotic feeling.
Secrets of Swedish Cuisine
Milo Milo（迷路麋鹿）is a Swedish restaurant and bar originally established in Taipei. The initial owner and head chef was Peter Larrson, a Swede who came to Taiwan to learn Chinese many years ago. Then he fell in love with a Taiwanese girl and decided to run this restaurant to share his home cooking to people. However, since the couple moved back to Europe, the restaurant was taken over by a store manager Marty Hsu（許德宏）now.
Hsu continues maintaining the style and quality of this Swedish restaurant just like what Larrson did before. Every dish in the restaurant is made from the freshest material. “Larrson insists on having the highest standards, from the choice of food ingredients to everything in the restaurant. Even the sauce or soup is made with our own hands, instead of the ready-to-eat food packets.” said Hsu, “I think the biggest difference between Taiwanese food and Swedish food is the cooking methods. We Taiwanese are used to add lots of seasoning to make the taste heavier, but Europeans attach great importance to the nature flavor of the ingredient itself.”
“I love the flavor of each dish, though it’s quite different from what we used to eat,” said Sherry Lu（盧語弦）, who tried Swedish cuisine for the first time, “especially I felt very reassured after knowing every meal is handmade.”
In Europe, people are used to enjoy their meals in the dining time with wines. But this habit isn’t very common in Taiwan. So Milo Milo wishes they can not only introduce the Swedish cuisine to people but also let everyone get used to this way of dining in gaiety.
Authentic West African Restaurant
Samba’s Place（森巴廚房）, a theme restaurant of West African style which offers Senegalese cuisines, had impressed customers with authentic dishes.
Senegal（塞內加爾）, a country which is located in West Africa, was colonized by France back in 1864.Within the historical background, Senegalese dishes are not only well-known for their West-African features but also for the elements of French cuisine in it. “In the beginning, I had fears and was a bit pessimistic about opening this new type of restaurant in Taipei because Africa is little bit associated with poverties and negativities,” said Samba Diop, the owner of Samba’s Place.
The taste between Senegalese dishes and Chinese cuisine is quite different as well; Senegalese dishes are much more salty than
The main reason for Samba to open the restaurant is that he always has a passion for cooking and loves to share dishes with friends. Without any practical experience about how to manage a restaurant, Samba and her wife immediately encountered some difficulties in the beginning.
Even though Samba’s Place is struggling with cost control, they still provide high quality dishes with imported seasonings. They dedicated in offering what they eat at home to the customers. In order to please Taiwanese customers, Samba had done some adjustment and mixture to the dishes. For instance, after seeing fried rice with green pepper and beef, Samba added green peppers in the Maffe Beef（嗎啡牛肉）.
Feeling the Aroma from India
Jimmy Bomb, a Chinese who was born in India, is the owner of an Indian food restaurant. He decided to open a restaurant with his friends because he was attracted by Taiwanese culture after finishing his degree courses here. In a coincidence, he decided to bring in the Indian traditional food and culture by running an Indian food restaurant. However, at the beginning, he was influenced by the demolition of a night market near his restaurant and was forced to move to another place to continue his business.
The most important element of Indian cooking is the use of spices. If Compared with Taiwanese local food, the flavor of Indian food is stronger. Therefore, most of Indian restaurants will change the taste and make food more acceptable for Taiwanese. However, Jimmy insisted on keeping the original taste of Indian food and the only change he made for the food was that he didn’t put the chili powder unless customers order him to do it.
Jimmy says more than 20 types of spices are used to make Indian dishes. Those spices are made from natural plants. He says that all the food and drinks will be accompanied by their own seasoning spices in India. All of them are served in different purposes. Some of them even have medical attributes.
Jimmy designed the restaurant following the India features and he also tried to put some cultural elements of India on the menu. The details about the Indian culture are listed in the menu and it let the customers know some interesting things about India. He emphasizes that besides supplying the food, he is pleased to share the Indian culture with others.