Nov 10, 2011

Bamboo Fish Trap 筌壽司

Bamboo Fish Trap is a Japanese restaurant located on the fringe of the East district hidden in an alley way off the Fuxing and Shi Ming Blvd intersection. Bamboo Fish Trap is a type of restaurant where there aren't any traditional menus, but they serve whatever is fresh and will provide a full-course meal  for you. Their full course meals cost around 2000 NT. Pay this restaurant a visit if you would like to try fresh local fishes in a Traditional-esque Japanese style sushi bar.

Address: 台北市大安區安東街29-1號
                No. 29-1, Āndōng St, Daan District Taipei City
Phone #: 02-2771-1856
Business Hours: 11:30-14:30 , 17:30-21:30
Website: N/A
Accepts Credit Cards: yes
Price Range:   $$$$
Attire: casual
Good for kids: yes
Take out: no
Waiter Service: yes
Outdoor seating:  no
Alcohol: yes


Food Quality: 4.5 out of 5
Decor:  3.5 out of 5
Service: 4 out of 5
Overall: 4 out of 5
Recommendation: Good place for regional and fresh sushi.


When you walk in the whole space is mostly this sushi bar set up with only one table in the back for a party of 8. The interior is designed like the archetypical sushi bar. The bartop probably only sits about 10 people, and a full course meal probably runs for about an hour, so they do not expect to cater to a big crowds of people. The atmosphere in here is very private and the chefs converse with the customers and explain the dishes. The decor isn't very awe inspiring, but the service here is very personal and efficient. The space is just a little small and cramped. When we sat down we were not presented with menus. They will prepare a full-course menu for you. For 2000 NT you can get a lot of fresh nigiri and their own special dishes. Don't come here with the expectation to devour all the familiar sushi you know and love, but come with curiousity to try the what it set before you.
The first thing that was set before me was this trio of appetizers. These are not what you would expect from a Japanese restarautn, but it was delicous regardless of the cognitive dissonance. I was suggested to start from the right and make my way to the leftmost dish.
The first dish was sliced duck with a paired with bit of fresh mustard in side an onion sauce. The duck meat was tender and just gamey enough. The sauce is light, slightly salty and sweet from the onion. There is only a bit of kick that is contributed by the mustard.
This next dish is a fish appetizer that was first deep fried then slowly simmered in a broth so that the outside has this layer of soggy breading btu the inside is a soft and flaky fish suffused with sweet and soury ponzu sauce-ish flavor.
The last appetizer is a pork and 牛蒡 katsu, which has the oils and meatiness from the pork and a hint of sweetness from the root-type vegetable. It isn't archetypical Japanese food that you were brainwashed with, but divorced from my presumptions, these were delicious appetizers. They are safe and not too out there.
The first sashimi that was placed in front of us is what they call the "Horse Whip Fish" (馬鞭魚), which i guess are called cornetfish. I've never had it before, and I was quite amazed to see the wierd elongated corpse of the cornetfish. The meat is pretty elastic and chewy. It is a very lean fish with a crisp taste to it. They paired this with a shiso flower so that flavor permeated throughout the meat.
This next piece was from a Taiwanese type of swordfish. It is also lean, yet this was was slightly hard to chew. The meat is kind of chewy. The taste of the fish was not that pronounced, it was just a subtle oceanic breeze. This was paired with sweet onion flower, and was suggested to be paired with a bit of wasabi (btw, they only offer fresh ground wasabi from the Ali mountain).
The next dish is this Uni served on top of a slow cooked tofu served on top of a bed of ice. The Uni was very fresh, buttery, and from the color and texture it seems really fresh. Also we saw the canister that it was from Japan. They have a dab of fresh wasabi on top to coax the salty and buttery notes out even more. I never knew uni paired so well with tofu, but the slow cooked soft tofu helped reduce the fishiness of the Uni and the sauce helped add some more sweetness to the dish. Plain uni could be too pungent and slightly bitter to some people, but by itself the Uni was sweet, buttery, and only slightly sea salty. Paired with the tofu, it is definitely more palatable for most people. I would have liked to have more, but I guess their portion control is for everyone's best interest.
This next dish is this 赤貝 or "Red Clam". It was very elastic. It had the texture and flavor of those Ika sushi, but it had a deeper stench to it. It was interesting to try, but it isn't something that is repeatable for me.
Something that would be repeatable is this glorious piece of fresh yellowtail nigiri  (紅甘). This is probably the most popular fish in Taiwan and is not very cheap. they already pair it with the right amount of soy sauce so all you have to to is pop it in your mouth. Their sushi rice is drier than most but it does accentuate the fish. The yellowtail is very tender, soft, but not melt in your mouth fresh. The marbling from the fish adds this layer of savoriness. Your mouth will definitely be permeated with fishiness, but to those who enjoy that flavor, this is definitely a delight.
The next dish is their sweet raw shrimp nigiri. Their meat still had its strength in it and the taste was semisweet and more natural notes. It was sweet from its own meat instead of whatever added flavors you might get from a more trick-sy sushi bar. At some point of the meal, they also presented us with a grilled shrimp head from this piece of shrimp stuffed with rice in it. The rice absorbed all the flavor from the shrimp head and was a good preparation method. I forgot to snap a picture of it though...
Next, this side of grilled fish helped add more substance to the meal because by this time we really only had small portions and samples of food and spaced out in 4 minute intervals, there really wasn't a fullness to the meal. There mushrooms on top were also a good addition to the dish to add some vegetables in the mix. Drizzling a bit of lemon is always a good call on grilled fish and this was flaky salty, and aromatic from the slight charring. This skin is crispy and oily, grilled just right.
This is a piece of seared flounder nigiri. There was an unexpected burst of flavor from this nigiri probably because it was the fatty portion of the fish. The searing let the oils come up to the surface so the first impression is a burst of savoriness with a hint of sweetness. I didn't taste any pronounced muddiness probably due to the searing process.
The next dish might be repulsive to some, but I frist tried it without knowing what it is. It's a slab of fish testicle tempura. It is very creamy, soft, and salty in the inside, while bready, crispy, and rumply on the outside. Very much like what you would imagine how a testicle might taste. The sauce really helps to make the testicle taste less raw. They have a piece of sweet yellowpepper to get that taste out of your mouth if your not too found of testicles.
This is what they called 白甘. I can't seem to identify this one in english, but it might be some sort of fish related somehow to the yellowtail if they share a similar character to describe it. Regardless of what its called,, its tasted similar to the yellowtail except that they seared this piece so it was also oilier on the surface, giving it a more immediate burst of flavor than the raw form. It seems like the raw forms taste a bit of chewing to get into the taste, but the seared version are more upfront and in your face/mouth.
This next scallop dish was quite interesting. It isgrilled and paired with a piece of brocolli.They flavor it with a blend of herbs and spices. It was tender and not very fishy due to their preparation. I liked the fast that they served it in a shell.
The last morsel of nigiri for the night is this piece of mackerel. It was lean and more elastic ad had a stronger more fishy taste, it was a perfect at the end because it would be more overpowering that the earlier fishes. In retrospect, they served the fish from lighter flavors to heavier. I didn't know it at the time, but I guess it makes sense to do it this way so your palate isn't too messed early on in the meal.
The salty portion of the meal is brought to a close with a hot bowl of miso soup cooked with a clam. The clam was sweet soft and about the size of a quarter. The warm soup really helped cap off the night. I don't know the finer nuances of miso soup, but it was pretty good and flavorful. I had to down this one because we needed to skedaddle. Thus, I could not really think about this as much as I wanted to.
I couldn't think about this desert as well which is a matcha jello topped with cream and red bean. it is a typical type of dessert done in a very intersting way. I would gavor ice cream over this jello, but it was a semi-sweet Japanese-ish desert and a very appropriate way to end the meal.

I think this place deserves to be revisited especially since everything served is seasonal. I recommend calling ahead and asking what is offered at the time before trying it out. Bamboo Fish Trap is a great place to bring your snobby friends who might not be so impressed with Hi Sushi, and definitely would not step foot in Sushi Express.

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