Quan Alley – Hotpot That Combines Your Love For Art and Food
I can only liken Quan Alley to a grandmother — a provider of comfort food steeped in tradition. Served here is our all-time favourite hotpot experience that’s wrapped in old-Taiwan aesthetics. What sets Quan Alley apart from the rest of its competitors is its delivery of ingredients which are literal pieces of art. Pork slices are arranged into the shape of a rose, and greens are bunched to make a little garden. Believe us when we say that a meal here is a feast for all your senses!
First, choose two soup bases. There’s that sichuan spicy soup that we all love, but opt for the Pork Bone Soup and the Bonito Stick Kombu Soup (starting from NT250/pax) if you wish to savour the fresh flavours of the ingredients.
The Pork Neck (NT1280) is the highlight of Quan Alley’s unique menu. Matsusaka pork neck is gingerly presented beautifully as a rose petal. I wouldn’t have taken the pork apart, if not for my rumbling tummy! Each slice is brushed with egg white before it goes for a dip in the hotpot.
The Taiwanese love their calamari. Quan Alley offers a glorious Calamari Paste (regular NT320/ special NT490) which is molded into a doughnut. It’s hard to pinpoint its exact taste since there’s a lot going on, but you can definitely taste bits of calamari, chicken soft bones and carrots. We also had the peculiar Calamari Mixed With Chicken Soft Bone (regular NT230/special NT420). Its charcoal hue might deter you from taking a bite, but rest assured that its colour is derived from squid ink. It takes on the form of a nougat.
In my opinion, the Beancurd with Sesame Paste (regular NT230 / Special NT420) wins consolation prize for the best presentation award. Twigs are used in place of wooden skewers to hold the beancurd. It resembles a mini woodland. The beancurd boasted an eggy texture which was enhanced by a delicate sesame aroma. Enveloping the beancurd was boiled spinach, which unfortunately lacked flavour. The Smoked Beancurd with Chopped Shrimp (regular NT320/special NT520) came in a dense package that boasted a strong nutty flavour that was derived from sliced almonds. I don’t fancy mixing nuts in my ingredients, but I was glad that the shrimp lent added sweetness to the dish.
The winner for the best presentation award was definitely the Vegetable Combination (NT860). I wouldn’t usually prioritise greens as a go-to ingredient for hotpot. However, when more than 10 kinds of vegetables are exquisitely arranged in a bouquet, even carnivores will be enthralled.
The Shrimp, Pork Neck & Cuttlefish Ice Pop (regular NT350 / special NT560) was reminiscent of our favourite ice pops in childhood. The era of popsicles may have ended, but the children of yesteryear can still indulge in this dish, albeit now as adults. Pluck out the savoury popsicle from the shaved ice and cook it well. Gelled to the shrimp-pork-cuttlefish paste was a unique candy kumquat and dough mixture, which I mistook as fat.
Quan Alley takes seafood to a luxurious level with their Tiger Prawn (regular NT450 / Special NT720). Each prawn is meticulously filled with cheese, soft chicken bone, celery and seaweed before being twined with noodles and deep fried. The dish delivered a somewhat complex and puzzling taste. The addition of cheese and chicken bone added a richer flavour, but reduced my desire for more. Reducing the number of ingredients in the prawn might help one better enjoy the succulence and freshness of the tiger prawns.
Finish up the hotpot with a portion of Boneless Short Ribs (regular NT480/ special NT950). The intense marbling yields bold juicy beefy flavours.
Quan Alley surely offers an exquisite experience for hotpot lovers. The staff takes great care in ensuring a speckless dining experience, so hotpot here is certainly not a messy affair.
Address: 126-6 Xinsheng South road, Section 1, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City
Opening Hours: 11am to 9pm daily.
MissTamChiak.com made anonymous visit and paid its own meal at the stall featured here.
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