Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Shen Long Fang, Taizhou 神龍舫, 泰州 ♥ ♥ ♥


I am in the middle of nowhere in Jiangsu, China,




having dinner on the famous Yangtze River, inside this shabby, run-down junk of a restaurant so phantasmagorically named “God Dragon Yacht,”



with these people that are suppliers by day and, I am seriously beginning to suspect, goons by night.

In real gangster fashion, the President and Owner, Mr. Huang, and his mafia gather around for some deadpan, pokerfaced gambling before joining us at the dinner table.



Okay, I don’t care what mob these people belong to or what crimes they have committed or how many innocent souls they have bullied and harassed, these hoodlums just know how to wine and dine to win the bellies, hearts and hence businesses of their hungry Manila buyers.


I am afraid to take food photos for the fear that these men would beat me up for making them wait to eat, but to my delight, none of them seems to mind. Ha! Customer is always king. I dare not push my luck by asking them to write down one by one the names of all these dishes though, so here are pictures minus proper names. Sorry!

Small appetizer plates:

IMG_2641 IMG_2642 IMG_2643 IMG_2644 IMG_2645 IMG_2646


The big plates: 

IMG_2652Yangtze River Shrimps 江蝦


IMG_2656Fish head, fish ball, other fish parts in fish soup – all from the Yangtze


IMG_2658Braised Duck (caught swimming in the Yangtze?)


IMG_2659Yangtze River Eel 江- So delicious! My favorite dish of the night.


IMG_2660 Yangtze River Saury 長江刀魚

Before the Qingming Festival, when its meat is like foam and its bones are all soft and edible, the saury sells for as high as RMB3,000/catty. After April 5, when the bones begin to harden and the meat becomes a mushy consistency, the price lowers a bit, but still costs a fortune. We come one week late. Boo!!! But the saury still is the most expensive item on the dinner table tonight, and being the guests of honor, we are given one whole fish each, served by none other than Mr. Huang himself, using, of course, his very own pair of chopsticks! Ahhh… Chinese hospitality!

The saury on April 12, the most undesirable quaggy texture, the most number of fish bones per square millimeter of meat, the most hassle, the most challenging and time-consuming to eat, and still the most expensive item on the menu.

I hate the saury.


IMG_2661Another fish from the Yangtze River


IMG_2663A much needed vegetable break from all that Yangtze fishes


IMG_2665Yangtze Puffer Fish 江魨

Eating puffer fish is one tricky business. The second best part of this little monster is the thorny skin on its head. But how do you protect your tongue from all the nasty pricking?

Mr. Huang peels off the skin from one of the puffer heads and shows me by turning the little piece of skin inside out, hiding the thorns and exposing the silky smooth surface of the inside. He then places it on my plate, using again his very own chopsticks. Yes! I really love Chinese hospitality!!!


IMG_2667Skin of puffer fish head turned inside out, and the very best part of the puffer, Mr. Huang promises me - the TESTICLES!


IMG_2669 Random part of a super giant fish, also from the Yangtze


IMG_2671Really delicious salt and pepper saury fish bones. Can’t let them go to waste!


IMG_2672Bamboo and mushrooms


IMG_2673 Another Yangtze River fish in hot and spicy soup


IMG_2674 Yummy spicy goose stew


IMG_2677And the perfect ending to a generous meal - spinach and rice cooked in the richest and tastiest of all fish stock. I swear, this is sooooo good I wish I were a little fish so I could swim in this bowl forever.


I wash down all these food with Taizhou province’s specialty drink and also my new found favorite:

IMG_2657 Gingko Biloba Tea


The men, on the other hand, gulp down this locally brewed wine that I swear is 110% alcohol. I’d suffer from a nasty hangover the next morning just from sniffing this stuff. Scared to borrow one of the many bottles for an actual photo, I just make do with the poster hanging all over the restaurant walls.



In the midst of booming voices, roaring laughter, heavy chain smoking, breaths that reek of alcohol, and unhygienic swapping of saliva, I have one of my very best meals in China.

I do not care what kind of people Mr. Huang and his cronies really are. Neither do I care how worn down and creaky this old junk of a restaurant is. Right now, to me, these people are angels sent from heaven, and the God Dragon Yacht is paradise on earth.


IMG_2635Now if only they would do something about the archaic toilet…


神龍舫: Somewhere in 泰州, about 3 hours of manic driving, frenzied overspeeding and insane overtaking from Shanghai

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