Kaohsiung - Any Good Eats?
Sky Cantonese Restaurant, Han-Hsien International Hotel
Sky Cantonese restaurant, which re-opened recently (1 May) after a 2-month renovation, offers perhaps one of the best views in the city, perched as it is on the 40th floor of the Han-Hsien International Hotel on the graceful tree-lined Sihwei 3rd Road (opposite the Kaohsiung City Hall building).
Cantonese fine dining has never really been a forte in Fujianese-dominated Kaohsiung, I guess, so the dishes we had last night turned out to be pretty simple, rustic (almost London Chinatown-style!) and one-dimonesional. We ordered:
- Char-siu, which turned out to be quite bland. In fact, this was the FIRST time in my life I had char-siu which was not caramelly-sweet & smoky, the way we would recognize this iconic Cantonese dish! I guess Kaohsiung taste-buds for the bland extended even to local preparation of char-siu!!
- Sweet-sour prawns, which was good: the prawns were gargantuan & absolutely fresh. One thing about Kaohsiung, being Taiwan's major seaport - seafood here is absolutely "alive-and-kicking-a-few-minutes-before" fresh! Taste-wise, the dish lacked the subtlety & added dimensions which good Cantonese restaurants in HK or Taipei can produce;
- House-special Cantonese fried rice, with dried shrimp. Again, like most dishes we tasted in this city, it's pretty bland, as if the chefs had not used any salt, garlic, shallots or soysauce in their cooking. It provided a good counterfoil to the sweet-sour prawns though;
- Stir-fried loofah vegetables with dried scallops: a homey Cantonese dish which I quite enjoyed;
- Taro & sausages in a claypot. I'd had better renditions of this dish in Fung Shing and New Mayflower in London Chinatown. Still, it's nice to find some familiar Cantonese homecooking in Kaohsiung.
All in all, I'd recommend a meal at Sky restaurant if you want to have a great view. The service is still perfunctory and needs improvement, perhaps because they needed time to get back into the groove after the recent 2-month closure for renovation.
The simply rectangular dining room was unremarkable - I'd not seen the restaurant in its previous incarnation, so not sure what the improvements, design-wise, were. But everything (from carpets to crockery) were spanking new.
Foodwise, I'd say you'd enjoy local food in the streets more than trying to find fine-dining Cantonese in Kaohsiung. But if it's simple Cantoese cooking you're after, e.g. fried rice, sweet-sour pork & eggrolls variety - then, Sky can satisfy your needs.
One additional interesting thing I noted, they also offered a full range of Cantonese dim sum (which I regards as more a breakfast/lunch food in HK) at dinner as well!
Sky Cantonese Restaurant
Han-Hsien International Hotel
33, Sihwei rd Road
Tel: 07-332-2000 (Hotel main line)
Thanks again for all your nice trip reports!
If you are in Taipei, give Ding Jen Fong (鼎珍坊) a try, it's one of the best private kitchen style Cantonese, although it has a slight Taiwanese slant where you will find some HK style non Canto dishes in there, and it works. You'll find quite a few good blogger writeups if you enter the Chinese name of the place in search.
台北市大安區復興南路一段219巷1號 (Taipei City, Da An District, Fuxing South Rd, 1st portion 219 #1)
Liu Yi Ji Beef Noodles
This little gem of an eating place serves, IMHO, the BEST-TASTING noodles I'd tasted in Kaohsiung the past 2 weeks, bar none!
At first glance, the ramshackle-looking eating shop looked downright nondescript from the outside, situated as it is on a small side-street off Sihwei 3rd Road. It's about a couple of blocks away from the 42-storey Han-Hsien International Hotel.
The tiny dining area seats about 20 people. At the back is a small but busy kitchen - 3 women cooking, churning out wondrous-tasting beef consomme that's tasty & perfectly balanced. One of the women cuts the "jumping noodles" by hand from a huge lump of dough, sending flat slivers into boiling water, instantly cooking them.
Each bowl of the noodles come with chunks of melt-in-your-mouth beef, which was wonderfully marinated & stewed beforehand. You can ask for free re-fills of the soup, which was utterly delicious dark-brown colored beef consomme.
You can order from a variety of side-dishes to accompany your beef noodles. We chose:
- Beef tendons;
- Pig's intestines;
- 2 types of hard tofu;
- Hard-boiled eggs which were stewed in a spiced soy reduction;
- Sweet, stewed peanuts.
What I also liked about the place was also they provided condiments on the side: a rather effective burn-your-mouth chilli-oil paste, white rice vinegar (to drizzle over your soup for an added dimension) and soysauce.
Oh wow, probably the best-tasting meal I'd had in Kaohsiung the past 2 weeks. This is the ONLY place which I'd come back to again, if I return to Kaohsiung!
Liu Yi Ji
71, Yongkang Road
Lunch: 11am - 2pm
Dinner: 5pm - 8pm
Closed every 2nd & 4th Wed of the month
Thanks for all your nice reports and photos! Much appreciated.
If won ton noodles represents the homesick food of most Hong Kong expats, I'd say beef noodle soup is probably the representative homesick food of at least 90% of Taiwanese expats. The numerous delicious side dishes is also a crucial enjoyment factor to these beef noodle shops. What's interesting to note is that the 2009 Beef Noodle Festival participants all seemed to have agreed to not use beef from the USA and have unanimously chosen Australian beef instead. There are vendors who have been doing this much longer with non US beef, who claim that if American beef is used, it becomes way too soft and beef slices fall apart.
Wow wow wow. That's all I can say.
This is exactly why I love this site. I never would have found this place otherwise, and it is really really worth finding.
Klyeoh had it pretty much spot on. I wish I had remembered to ask for the soup refill, because the broth was really really good. Perfectly seasoned (the perfectly sweet spot between bland and too salty), richly colored, with an amazing depth of flavor.
The pieces of beef were incredible as well: tender and flavorful, with enough texture to not fall apart.
The knife shaved noodles were fine. I might try regular ones next time.
From what I can remember from the menu, they also offer a dry version of the noodles and a rice plate.
I also had the dried tofu and stewed egg side dishes, both of which were great as well.
Overall, this place was great, and a steal at the price (70 for the small bowl, which I got, and 85 for the large).
Thanks a ton for the recommendation. I'll be back for sure (I'm living here for the month of July).
It’s a delight to taste another Chinese regional cuisine besides Kaohsiung’s bland-ish Taiwanese-style cuisine – and Shanghai Shanghai at the upmarket Talee (Star Place) mall held up well to satisfy our expectations. Make no mistake – it’s not cutting-edge Shanghainese food, but then we’re talking about Kaohsiung here - certainly no culinary hotspot in Taiwan, what with Taipei’s cosmopolitan offerings (with its L’Ateliers & Patisserie Sadaharu Aoki already setting it light-years ahead of other cities on the island) and Tainan’s firm grip on street food which placed them ahead of this staid southern seaport.
But Shanghai Shanghai managed to satisfy our craving for something with stronger flavors with stewed sweet dong-po pork, xiao long bao (even though theirs is a tad bland), sweet-sour fish, deep-fried bamboo shoots & candied dates stuffed with glutinous rice paste.
Nice meal – no fireworks here, but a satisfactory experience overall.
9/F Star Place (Talee)
57, Wufu 3rd Road
Had a good bowl of beef noodles at Lanzhou La Mian, near the Kaohsiung International Airport yesterday. Very finely-sliced beef shank & tripe, perfectly-textured Lanzhou noodles, and generous pieces of tendon. Beef consomme was well-balanced & subtly-flavored. And loved that cold century egg and tofu appetiser, too!
Lanzhou La Mian
542 Siogang Fei Ji Road
Had dinner at the 3 Sisters Seafood Restaurant last night. It's one of the oldest and best-known (amongst locals) seafood spots in town.
What we had:
- Cold appetiser platter, consisting of chilled poached Alaskan king crab legs, squid, clams, chicken, sweet azuki beans, bean-thread noodles, shishamo fish and fresh salad greens;
- Grilled butterfly fish with garlic crumbs;
- Braised oysters with golden needle mushrooms & yu-tiao;
- Baked squid, served with puffs filled with sweetened glutinous rice paste;
- Crispy deep-fried soft-shell crabs;
- Stir-fried sturgeon with bamboo shoots & shallots in a spicy bean sauce;
- Live prawns cooked on the table atop hot stones;
- Braised rice noodles with squid;
- Pork-rib soup with maitake mushrooms & red dates; and
- Grilled Taiwanese pork sausages.
Nice place and good service. Food is very typically Kaohsiung style, i.e. bland, despite the very fresh ingredients.
2 Sisters Seafood Restaurant
No. 157, Yugang Road
Lai Lai Seafood Barbecue Restaurant
Lai Lai Seafood Barbecue restaurant is one of the more well-known seafood spots in Kaohsiung. The original outlet is located near the Love River (Ai He or 愛河), but we went to the branch downtown last night, opposite the iconic 85-storey Tuntex Sky Tower, a huge building which one simply can't miss whilst in Kaohsiung.
Some dishes we had:
- Grilled leeks: thick, juicy wands of crunchy goodness which tasted more like asparagus;
- Steamed sea-bream: the fish was alive & swimming in the tanks a few minutes before it ended up on our dinner table. Super-fresh & firm-fleshed. Unfortunately, the soysauce used was not of superior quality such as those you'd find in top-class Cantonese restaurants in Hong Kong. So, taste-wise, the overall experience was a bit of a let-down;
- Grilled crayfish: again, very fresh - I just wished they had a spicy dip, but Kaohsiung folks seemed to have blander palates than their Taipei counterparts (or anywhere in Asia, for that matter!!). To foreign visitors, everything here would seem bland in comparison to what you'd have elsewhere;
- Fried Fukienese-style noodles: studded with pork-belly slivers, white cabbage and garlicky, intensely-flavored clam juice. This was the strongest-tasting dish I'd had all week, so it's my personal favorite dish for the evening.
- Lobster cooked two-ways: a poached lobster salad served with mayonaisse, and a lobster soup, flavored with miso, served with addition of tofu cubes & deep-fried Chinese crullers or you-tiao (油條).
- Deep-fried sweet potato balls containing duck's egg-yolk and mashed yam with roast duck filling.
Lai Lai Seafood Barbecue
53 Minsheng 2nd Road
Love River, Kaohsiung
Tel: +886-4-215 6966
You can call the same tel no. to get the downtown address.
OK so after surfing around, and this is strictly for those curious and for archiving. If you return and decide to try it out, please let us know.
The winner of the Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup Festival 2009, red stewed category, is not a shop in Taipei, but in Kaohsiung, by a chef whose restaurant specializing in Northeastern Chinese sour cabbage pork belly hotpot called Liu's (or Liu Jia Suan Tsai Bai Rou Kuo Guo). One blog entry mentioned that the day this store (and chef) won the award, regulars who used to go to the shop for sour cabbage hot pot that day were outnumbered very quickly by those coming for beef noodles, and they stopped selling it that day at 12:30 pm as the chefs hands were sore from shaving the noodles. The story is that the shop was founded by a man named Liu who wanted to retire after 30 years in the biz, but a retired military man named Wang 王鴻庚 took over the business.
Taiwanese media coverage of the BNS festival 2009 winners, including a very brief interview with Chef Wang.
re: K K
Zuoying is the HSR stop for Kaoshiung area but not in Kaoshiung proper. I have eaten at this place and it is wonderful. But I haven't tried their BNS. Zuoying has many good eats from their military dependent village heritage. If the OP is willing to venture out of the city proper, then I highly recomend:
Su Family Salt Water Duck
They have a limited supply each day and generally sell out by noon. This guy's blog has some other Kaoshiung and Zouying rec's.
re: K K
La Maison de Vincent
I took a brief respite from Kaohsiung’s street food to try La Maison de Vincent, run by Cordon Bleu-trained Vincent Jen. Located in a nice 2-storey French-style house, set amidst a small flower garden with trickling fountains on Sihwei 3rd Road, it felt worlds away from the teeming night markets & colorful food stalls which Kaohsiung was justifiably famous for.
I wasn’t sure if the owner-chef, Vincent Jen, was cooking that evening, or whether he’s even in Kaohsiung – he’s opened a sister restaurant, Le Coq, in Taipei a couple of years back. Prices at the Taipei restaurant can be 3 times that of its Kaohsiung counterpart.
Anyway, my dinner last evening consisted of:
- Amuse geule: a trio of tuna-celery salad, mushroom fricassee and Waldorf salad. Not exactly French, and tasted/felt more like a school lunch-box – but hey, it is gratis;
- Salad course: Crabe au Pampelmousse, a light, creamy crab salad, with grapefruit & avocado. It’s got a nice balance of textures, despite tasting more like a sandwich filling than something you’d expect in a sit-down French restaurant;
- Soup course: Soupe de Poisson, a hot consommé was poured over slivers of wafer-thin raw fish at the table. The soup looked beautiful – very finely-julienned vegetables & finely-chopped green shallots provided color over the white fish. But the soup was bland, pretty tasteless, in fact. The poached fish slivers were fresh & firm;
- Main course: Poulette de Lu-yea en fricassee – this was the only course I liked. The chicken was roasted till the skin was extra-crisp, then served with very fresh, poached prawns over an intensely flavored prawn bisque.
- Dessert: A trio of sweets consisting of a decadently rich, heavy NY-style cheesecake (perfect!), a Swiss roll with pure chocolate filling (cake was too dry, but pure chocolate filling was truffle-like & delicious), and a chewy, sweet mint macaroon.
All in all, a nice satisfying meal, if one wants a change from the usual Kaohsiung street fare or local Chinese seafood restaurants.
The service at La Maison was very attentive & polite. Enough English is spoken for any foreign visitor to get what they want. The cosy restaurant, with antique French-style furniture & beautiful silver cutleries, fits 20 diners, so one may wish to book ahead.
130, SihWei 3rd Rd.,
Lingya District, Kaohsiung City
Tel: (07) 335-9559
I'm assuming you can read Chinese.
Never been there myself (although I'd love to someday). However poking around the net, there is some good info to be found. If you plan on visiting a night market, these two appear to be popular, 瑞豐夜市 and the more well known 六合夜市 that has a tourist/vistor website at
Go to google.com.tw and enter the names of the markets in search engine, with additional words like 必吃, and I'm sure you will get a ton of results. Ditto for youtube search engine in case you find a Taiwanese food program showcasing the good stuff.
I'm seeing lots of recommendations for papaya milk and Turkish ice cream.
Kaohsiung is a major shipping port, and thus should be a fantastic place for seafood (in general). I would go for local seafood delicacies (土魠魚羹 fish soup is great, so try that)
re: K K
Thanks - yes, the night markets were certainly on my itinerary. I also heard about the fresh seafoods. But the guidebooks & web-sites had been very sparse on specific must-not-miss restaurants, e.g. best-known for certain local dishes, oldest restaurant in town, most popular in town, etc.
Anyway, am hoping local colleagues there will be the ultimate food guides, and will report back on any good finds :-)
re: K K
Liouhe Night Market was great - definitely a must-visit for anyone intent on tasting Kaohsiung's street food. Some of the stuff I tried:
- barbecued chicken's backsides on skewers. Tasty.
- glutinous rice cakes flavoured with pig's blood. A bit chewy, else not very distinct taste//flavor.
- Stinky beancurd. Absolutely foul in odor (think open-sewer), but tasted wonderfully crisp & scrumptious.
- Steamed glutinous rice dumpling with meat/peanut filling. Okay, quite aromatic, but tasted blander than the versions we get in HK.
- Fried oyster omelette. Nice, but just wished they'd have chilli sauce to go with the rather oily, rich omelette.
- Glutinous rice flavoured with brown sauce & topped with meat floss.
- Papaya milk drink from the famous Zheng's stall (its front was plastered with dozens of photos of Taiwanese celebrities who'd patronized the stall).
- Barbecued chicken. Quite flavoursome but otherwise a bit too dry.
- My fave item that evening: biscuits (pies?) filled with a mixture of minced pork & leeks. These are cooked by sticking the dough onto the inner wall of hot, charcoal-fired clay oven: a method very similar to the cooking of Indian naans. The vendor will use tongs to remove the aromatic, crisp biscuits studded with sesame seeds on top. The crisp biscuit shells preserve the juiciness of the minced pork filling inside - delicious!
Definitely worth the visit - it's also very accessible, especially with Kaohsiung's spanking new subway system. Stop at the Formosa Boulevard MRT station - it's right at the doorstep of Liouhe Night Market.
Hey thanks for reporting back so quickly! Liouhe Night Market looks to be on the small side for such a big southern Taiwan city, and most of what you have listed is quite common in Taipei as well.
Taiwanese papaya is fantastic, and I would extend that to most seasonal fruit in general. Certain regional fruit are irrigated with milk to produce a unique flavor.
Perhaps you could have obtained some extra chili sauce from the stinky tofu vendor (if it was self help)?
The biscuits/pie you had....it's called Hujiao Bing, or Pepper Biscuit/Cake. It seems that every stall in Taiwan claims to have invented it, but it has Fuzhou origins. This is also one of my favorite things to eat. If you are ever in Taipei, try the original stall at Raohe Night Market (near the opposite end of the entrance), but the white pepper marination is heavy. I would say that the crispy roasty exterior actually has a similar texture to UK/Australian style baked meat pies.
re: K K
Thanks, KK - the textures & outward appearance of Taiwanese pepper biscuits are similar to the pepper biscuits I'd tried in Malaysian cities (Penang, Ipoh, and Kuching in Sarawak) but they don't have meat fillings there, only sweet molasses. I've heard of meat-filled ones made by the Fuzhou community in Sibu, Sarawak, but had never been there to try it myself. These Taiwanese ones are a revelation for me :-)
That's very interesting, thanks for the comparisons. I'm always curious about Fuzhou and Fujian cooking and themes from China to Taiwan to Malaysia and Singapore (I only know a wee bit based on one visit, and your country's Hokkien Mee and Bee Hoon are beloved noodle dishes of mine and my dad when he spent some of his child years there). This is one style of cuisine that eludes the West Coast USA for the most part (except for Fuzhou fish ball soup in Taiwanese restaurants).
re: K K
There are 2 other Fuzhou towns in Malaysia (besides Sibu in Sarawak): Sitiawan in the state of Perak and Yong Peng in the state of Johore. There, you'd be able to find various hard-to-find Fuzhou dishes. Of course, the Fuzhou fishballs (containing minced pork filling) would be the most common dish found there.
Malaysia, the hu-jiao bing biscuits are known as kong piah:
Ahhh noticed Kong Piah = Gwang Bing (Gwang = light). A very interesting variant, but essentially the same style of roasting.
Here's the Rao He Night Market Taipei Hujiao Bing
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9Rkm9OxDjM&feature=related (the good stuff starts about 3 mins in)
Here's the Shihlin Night Market branch clip of prep work prior to roasting
What I miss from my childhood is a defunct family receipe for Hokkienese Poh Piah that's actually a very delicate and amazing fried eggroll. Crazy prep work. The closest thing I had that resembles it is my former neighbor's lumpia rendition but different, and a place outside of Taipei at some suburb banquet restaurant that had a variant on it.
The Taiwanese version (which the locals called o-ah-chien) tasted exactly the same as Penang's but is less oily, and they also added some lettuce leaves when frying. I do miss the spicy-sour chilli sauce dip which S'pore/M'sia oyster omelette vendors serve though. The Taiwanese are not into spicy stuff, so you'll probably need to bring your own if you're visiting Taiwan for a protracted period.