Tuesday, 20 March 2012
Restaurant Review -- Chishang rice 'railway lunchbox' (Taitung)
Railway lunchboxes are popular in various locations around Taiwan. Well known examples include Fulong in New Taipei City and Alishan in Chiayi County.
Chishang in Taitung County in the country's southeast lies in the East Rift Valley, a well watered area with mild climate ideal for the production of rice, so it is perhaps not surprising that rice based meals were sold from station platforms to passengers passing on trains running between Taitung and Hualien.
Visitors to the township can choose from various restaurants within a few hundred meters of the railway station. With decommissioned trains now equipped with dining tables and exhibits about both rice production and railway history, one of the most popular is Chishang Fanbao (池上飯包) on Highway 9, the main road connecting the dozen or so towns of the rift valley.
A vegetarian lunchbox is available here, but workers acknowledge it is not only "dan-nai su" (蛋奶素; ovo-lacto vegetarian) but also "guo-bian su" (鍋邊素; "pot-edge vegetarian", meaning it is cooked in the same pots as meat products).
They will happily telephone a nearby fully vegetarian establishment and, for NT$70, a lunchbox will be delivered in about ten minutes, which can be consumed with meat-eating friends at this atmospheric restaurant.
NOMM found the local rice to be delicious, but the ratio of fake meat to fresh vegetables was too high.