Ah Cai Shi Mu Yu Du 阿财虱目鱼肚 – Legendary milkfish belly that only opens at 10pm!
TAIPEI, TAIWAN — Like many great food stalls and restaurants in Taipei, Ah Cai Shi Mu Yu 阿财虱目鱼 standing on Neijiang Street is easily missed by tourists. It is famous throughout many locals in Taipei, and the lines outside can run to more than 20 people.
We only found the stall because we stayed in one of the Airbnb apartment right above the eatery. Every night when we come back, we would see the queue outside this eatery. It got us really tempted, so we decided to join the queue.
Milkfish is very popular in Taiwan, and the fish can be used to make many different dishes. Almost all parts of the milk fish can be used, no wonder some call it the fish of champion. Sometimes, it can be garnished with slices of ginger and cooked into a broth. Sometimes, it can be used in congee. Here, they are either braised or pan fried.
Our favourite is the pan-fried version of milkfish belly (NT$200). With macks of lime, it is guaranteed to whet the appetite especially during winter. The fish is flaky, slightly sweet, and has a texture similar to cooked salmon. By pan frying it, you can can taste the moist, intense and buttery flavour.
Another option is the braised version (NT$200). As the fish cooks, the soy sauce turns it a beautiful golden brown. The reduced liquid intensifies the flavor and in the end, you are left with a kind of glaze that coats the fish and serves as a sauce for the rice that you should definitely eat with it.
Instead of the usual three-cup chicken, they serve three-cup clams. Cooking in claypot, the clams are fat and succulent, with basil to bring out the fragrance of the dish. Sesame oil is kept in a minor key. The clear seafood soup is my favourite with fresh prawns, squid and clams, garnished with fried garlic.
I had been told that lu rou fan is another dish to try. True enough, the pork belly was so soft that it literally melts in your mouth. But it was too soft and lacks the bite to have it in the middle of the night.
On the other hand, the omelette is awesome. With a dull shade of yellow, this is one of the thickest and tastiest omelette I ever had. It’s a heavy pancake made out of eggs alone, I think our local chap chye peng should learn from them.
Ah Tsai Milk Fish (阿財虱目魚)
Address: 53 Neijiang St., Wanhua District, Taipei City (台北市萬華區內江街53號)
Tel: (02) 2370-3378
Opening Hours: Mon to Sat 10pm to 5am