There’s a small unassuming white tiled restaurant, owned by an adorable and jovial man deep in Taipei on a small side street.
There’s a small unassuming white tiled restaurant, owned by an adorable and jovial man deep in Taipei on a small side street. The restaurant is called Little Shanghai, and the chef / owner is Feng Chao-Lin. Like many Taipei residents, Mr. Chao-Lin’s origins hark back to Shanghai. And as at Din Tai Fung, he believes that his Shanghai cuisine is much better than what you find in Shanghai itself. Here the ingredients are better, the attention to detail is higher, and everything is less greasy, he says. Apparently, in the opinion of many localTaipei chefs, Shanghai is just a sloppy unfortunate culinary place these days.
Mr. Chao-Lin immediately brought me into his kitchen. It was rather large stainless steel covered space open to the street on one end; there were some fans for ventilation, along with a large open doorway but this didn’t help much in combatting the intense heat bouncing off the huge burners. Woks were fired up; the sound of the open flames, the clank and bustle of the kitchen and the hub bub of chef chatter were so distinct that you could intimate where you were even blindfolded. The particles of miscellaneous condiments floating in the air were pungeant, and Mr. Chao-Lin was giggling almost constantly. As I began to photograph him holding a fish, he broke into complete laughter, and began wiggling the fish at the camera. He was so boyish and filled with glee; he radiated sheer contentment. I’m convinced he had a knack for telling knock-knock jokes. (more…)