The last day of my conference was a half day and once that was up, I ran out to meet Mirna for lunch and an afternoon of shopping. Our target that afternoon was the Yashow Market, billed as being much less touristy than the Silk Market. But first, lunch, and luckily, one place I’d marked was Bellagio, one in a chain of restaurants in China specialising in Taiwanese cuisine, and one that just so happens to be within walking distance of the market.
The room’s pretty glam, isn’t it? It wasn’t over the top crazy though and it certainly didn’t distract from the food. Do you see the waitress in the photo above? With the sash and the cropped hair? All the waitresses had cropped hair and I don’t think it’s a coincidence! Wow.
Their illustrated menu was the first I’d encountered that didn’t overwhelm me: it’s not too long. Still, everything looked so good that it was difficult to narrow down our choices. There were many drinks to choose from but we both settled for our usual iced lemon teas, Hong Kong style. I like the side of syrup they provide on the side: many cafes in London would do well to offer this with cold drinks.
The Taiwanese stewed minced pork came in a little pot and we split a bowl of rice to eat with it. This was utterly gorgeous as the pork was mainly of the belly cut and it had been stewed in a mixture of five spice and soy sauce and was utterly scrumptious on top of rice. As a bonus, we found a whole hard boiled egg at the bottom! (If I had been eating there by myself, I would have just had this on rice… they have lunch sets with them at the back of the menu.)
After hearing Mirna go on about the delights of sweet and sour fish, I ordered one, hoping that it would taste just like the one my mother used to make. It wasn’t bad – the fish fillets had been twisted so that the crispy fish skin wouldn’t get soggy under the sauce and there was a nice scattering of pinenuts on top. The sweet and sour sauce itself was a little too red but the flavour was excellent – much smoother than the takeaway versions here.
For greens, we ordered the stir fried dragon beans with garlic, as recommended by Helen of World Foodie Guide. Strangely, I’d never had these beans (also known as winged beans) cooked but only raw and dipped in sambal in Malaysia. They’ve got a lovely crunch to them and I love anything with garlic.
Our final dish was a Taiwanese cold noodles – a pile of noodles topped with shredded chicken and cucumber, to be tossed together with a sesame paste based sauce and chilli oil. While lovely, they got a little neglected on our table what with the pork and the fish.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have any room for one of their spectacular shaved ice desserts! They really were quite something to behold – gigantic mounds of shaved ice topped with various fruit and bean concoctions; most groups were sharing one. If you’re going to go, try to make space for one of these! I absolutely loved our meal at Bellagio and wish I’d eaten there more than once on our trip! Prices are reasonable for London again – I think the meal came to about £15-20 altogether.
6 Gongti Xilu