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Summer is here and it’s time for beer. One of the best treats to pair with beer is white pepper shrimp, a spicy dish nicely cooled off with a quaff of your favorite brew. The trend started in southern Taiwan at food stalls in the night markets and in the 1990s arrived in Taipei. Since then, it has spread to many other Chinese cities.
Tucked into an inconspicuous corner on Bagua Road, Xinyi Taiwanese Pepper Shrimp restaurant is a paradise for shrimp fans and a good choice for those who want to try the famous Taiwanese dish.
Chen Xuezhong, who opened the restaurant a year ago, is a Shenzhen native who loves to explore cities for their unique delicious food. For him, one of his most unforgettable food moments was when he was studying in the United Kingdom. There he went to a Swansea restaurant that served the most memorable sliced pork with mashed garlic, a classic Sichuan dish. It was after that, that he began to seriously consider the food industry as a career option for himself.
Taiwanese-style white pepper shrimp.
Chen opened his restaurant after trying the white pepper shrimp at a Taiwanese restaurant in Dongguan. He fell in love with the dish and decided to bring it to his home city of Shenzhen. All his chefs were trained at the Dongguan restaurant so that the dishes would retain their authentic Taiwanese flavor.
“An interesting phenomenon is that people have become more obsessed with crayfish dishes than ever before, but I question whether it’s healthy to eat so much crawfish,” said Chen. “I hope I can offer another choice, as tasty but healthier.”
“The secret to the dish lies in the bean sprouts,” Chen said. The restaurant to preserve the freshness of their sprouts, began to grow their own to ensure that the vegetable was served within 10 minutes of being picked and therefore perfectly crisp and fresh.
With that lesson in mind, Chen’s shrimp restaurant started pulling the prawns live from the tanks. Chen even rises early to hand pick the shrimp at the seafood market, which are then kept in the tanks.
Roasted lamb chops.
Soft, juicy female prawns are marinated with fragrant white pepper sourced from Taiwan before being cooked. For those who haven’t had this dish before, first lick the sauce off the shrimp, then dig into the succulent meat.
There are many other dishes to try: lemon shrimp, which are not spicy, salt-encrusted barbecued shrimp, roasted lamb chops, sauteed milkfish belly as well as refreshing stir-fried seasonal vegetables.
Unlike other eateries, Chen allows his clients to bring their own beverages as long as they are not sold in his restaurant. (His restaurant sells Budweiser and Taiwan Beer.)
Sauteed milkfish belly.
Comfortable like a family living room, the restaurant features art pieces created by Chen’s sister on the wall and a shelf of funny-shaped beer and liquor bottles left by clients. Diners will also see a cartoon featuring Chen himself serving a pot of shrimp.
On a street crowded with restaurants, Chen’s has the privilege of boasting a large parking space for true gourmets like himself who are willing to travel miles for a really good meal.
Add: 24, Building 5, Bagua Road 1, Futian District