“We’ll have the dead man’s coffin, please.”
Yes, that’s a real dish. A real dish with a very dark name, available in a bright blue restaurant with flowers on the wall. Sunway serves Taiwanese food, and is not to be confused with Subway, though the ‘n’ and ‘b’ keys are dangerously close on my keyboard. It’s a cheerful place to be, especially with the current weather.
They offer classic Taiwanese dishes, many of which are street food-inspired; there’s an entire section dedicated to ‘Night Market’ eats, for example, as well as various deep-fried snacks, rice, noodle dishes, and meat dishes.
Of course, there’s also the ol’ dead man’s coffin.
This dish gets its name from its shape – essentially, it’s a loaf of white bread that’s been deep-fried and hollowed out, resulting in a literal box of crispy golden bread. The inside is filled with a creamy seafood soup, then topped with a fried bread lid and sprigs of cilantro.
It’s an impressive sight, and also a little intimidating to dish up! If you cut into the sides too early, they’ll open like flood gates and allow a river of cream to spill onto the table. The best tactic is to scoop the soup into bowls, split the top piece of bread, wait a bit, then cut into the walls after they’ve had a chance to absorb some of the broth.
This dish is basically the Taiwanese version of chowder in a bread bowl. The soup had imitation crab, clams, and prawns, and was rich but not too salty. The bread was soft inside and crunchy on the exterior, with the most prized piece of the whole dish being the extra-crispy lid – I bet people fight over it all the time!
Another plate we snacked on was the Sunway soy sauce-based platter. There are various items you can choose from on the menu for this combo (3 for $4.95), and we opted for tempura (deep-fried fish cakes), tofu, and enoki mushrooms, all of which were marinated in a sweet and savoury soy-based sauce. Very tasty.
We also tried a Taiwanese street food staple – oyster and pig intestine vermicelli soup. It’s thickened with cornstarch and filled with thread-like noodles, large oysters, and slices of white intestine. It has a slight seafood-y taste to it, and a wonderful texture from the vermicelli. I love that fresh chopped garlic is a common garnish on Taiwanese dishes – it gives both the dish an incredible aroma.
Our final dish was the pickled vegetable beef fried rice, which was good, though the pickled vegetables weren’t as prominent as I would have liked them to be. I drizzled some of the tofu/tempura/enoki sauce on it, and then had an ideal combination of texture and flavour.
To drink, we had a Jasmine green tea, and I tried the hot wintermelon healthy tea, the top of which was crowded with chrysanthemums and goji berries. It was both beautiful and warming, though as with bubble tea, I’d recommend getting it half sweet.
Whether you’re up for offal or wanting something a little more conservative (by Western standards), you can get it at Sunway. I highly recommend this place!
Afterwards, continuing on with the day’s Taiwanese food theme, we went to Maple Castella Bakery, which is a place I’ve cycled past many times but have never before noticed.
It’s tucked into the corner of Admiralty Centre, with access to it from both the mall and the road, the latter of which is a very inconspicuous entrance.
The shop was filled with dozens of varieties of cookies, buns, and traditional baked goods, including these elaborately packed pineapple and blueberry cakes.
They also sold the round, dense, and expensive cakes that are given as engagement ‘favours’ to the bride’s extended family when a couple announces their engagement.
We bought a loaf of rousong and cheese bread, which was just out of the oven and still warm. We pulled soft pieces of the bread right off the loaf, and I fell in love with it. Hard. I’ve become rousong’s biggest fan over the past year, and the concept of swirling it into sweet, brioche-like bread and topping it with cheese is pure, flossy genius. This stuff toasted with butter for breakfast?? My mind can barely handle the thought.
I also got a coconut bun, peanut bun, and lemon cake. The lemon cake was underwhelming (plain white, dense cake covered in lemon-flavoured, white chocolate-like icing), but I loved the other two. The knotted buns were laced with filling, and I especially liked the slightly-salty peanut bun. Best! Snack! Ever!
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my Wednesday afternoon trip to Taiwan. Even more, I liked that this trip to Asia only cost me the price of a Canada Line ticket, and that I could follow it up with an evening on a West coast beach. Furthermore, I now get to say to people “What? You’re going to Richmond for dinner? Well you simply MUST try the dead man’s coffin.”
Dead Man’s coffin: $6.95
Pickled Vegetable Beef Fried Rice: $8.50
Oyster and Pig Intestine Vermicelli: $7.95
Sunway Soy Sauce-Based Platter: $4.75
Vegetarian options available