Mar 30, 2012

Garage Lamb Hot Pot 車庫羊肉爐

Garage Lamb Hot Pot is a mom and pop restaurant literally run out of their own garage. It is located in a small alley in the Jhongshan District. For 1600 NT, a party of 4 can enjoy a filling meal consisting of pork and kimchi lettuce wraps and a simmering pot of Lamb Hot Pot. They claim that they use year old lamb and do not add large amounts of herbal spices. The reason for this is that they want to present the natural flavor of their lamb, which proves the fresh quality of their meat. However, if you want to dine at this place you must register with your name or cell phone during peak hours (18:00-21:00). What you get is worth the price.
Address: 台北市合江街93巷10號
                 No. 10, Lane 93, Héjiāng St, Jhongshan District
Phone #: 02-2503-9503
Business Hours: 18:00-23:00
Website: Restaurant Facebook Page
Accepts Credit Cards: no
Price Range: $$$
Attire: casual
Good for kids: yes
Take out: yes
Waiter Service: yes
Outdoor seating: yes
Alcohol: yes

Food Quality: 4 out of 5
Decor:  2 out of 5
Service: 4 out of 5
Overall: 3.33 out of 5
Final Thought: Quality hot pot although not really worth the trek

Since the profile picture pretty much shows the whole restaurant, you can tell that the decor is extremely non existent. They run the operation from their garage with a bunch of tables and chairs that dangerously protrude out into the alley. I sat on the outskirts of the restaurant and I was literally inches away from through traffic. They get very low marks on decor and they are located inconveniently in the middle of an alley where parking is next to impossible. However, their food and service makes up for this. They have very warm service and has that mom and pop feel. Even their daughter was there to help out with the orders. We just ordered what they recommended, which is a pork kimchi lettuce wrap for appetizers, lamb hot pot, a side of fried tofu skin, and a plate of  sesame oil angel hair noodles.
 The kimchi they served was actually pretty good. There was more flavor and a decent kick compared to a lot of "korean restaurants" around Taipei. The crunchiness and sourness was just as I would expect. However, we were told not to eat this straight up, but with wrapped up in lettuce with red onions and barbecued pork slices.
 This red onion, seaweed, and fried scallion mixture is part of the lettuce wrap.
 The quality of their ingredients is pretty amazing. The leaves were nicely washed and with no visible signs of deterioration. It tasted fresh and was the perfect lettuce for this wrap.
 The main meat of the lettuce wrap is shown above. It is the barbecued pork slices mixed with green onion. Suffice to say, the wraps carried a kick from the kimchi, onions, and black pepper combined together. The savoriness from the salty and fatty slices of pork was the main draw of the wrap; everything else accentuates it.
This pot is what everyone comes here for. During the winter, this is a very soothing meal to enjoy. The pieces of lamb doused in the bean paste mixed with the soup stock does a good job warming up the body. This restaurant does not add excess chinese herbs or alcohol, which makes their broth extra clear and easy to drink. The pieces of meat are tender and skin chewy. The only draw back is there just aren't enough pieces. If I returned I would definitely add an order of beef slices or lamb slices because I feel I did not get enough red meat. They fill up the pot with a lot of tofu, fish balls, and cabbage though. Their cabbage is a high mountain cabbage, and was cooked to the perfect tenderness. The leaves were beautiful and full. Also, the Taiwanese food bloggers seem to also hold their fried tofu skin in high esteem:
Supposedly, this is a very high quality form of fried tofu skin. I am not a connoseur of tofu skin, so I really did not know what to think about it. It was tougher than most and a little thicker, but in terms of overall taste and consistency, I could not tell the difference between this and other tofu skin. If you ever do feel like making the rek out here, I would recommend getting more slices of red meat and hold off on...
Sesame oil angel hair noodles. There really is no need for more carb fillers when you have a whole pot with tasty items floating about. The tofu the cabbage and fish balls are enough to stuff without this getting in the way. This item is not special and there are too many restaurant with a better version to substitute it. Don't think you will need a filler item and order this because unless you are Kobayashi, you are probably wrong.

Overall, I think they served a decent lamb hot pot. The ingredients they use is indeed much better in grade than most lamb pot restaurants. They don't mark up for it that much either. They only accept cash and they run their operation in their own garage. There isn't much of an overhead. In their own words, "we are a street vendor with a covering" (我們是有蓋子的路邊攤~). It is fairly priced with respect to their quality, but it is just their location that makes a trek out to this restaurant unappealing. Of course if you live around here it would be a great place to dine at. Yet, if you are like me and live in the Gong Guan area...I would recommend a visit to the neighborhood Dont Kill Lamb (莫宰羊). They are a good lamb hot pot place as well and much closer to NTU. Although their quality is slightly lower than "Garage Lamb Hot Pot", it is much more convenient location.

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