Taipei 2017: Day 4 ~ Cherry Duck Experience at Red Lantern Restaurant

January 16, 2018

This day is one the highlights of our Taiwan visit, because I knew well that this was a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience! So for our fourth day in Taiwan, our main activity was to eat the cherry duck cuisine of Red Lantern restaurant in Yilan. This restaurant is famous in Taiwan for its duck dishes. We had to place a reservation here (thanks to our friend, Darcy, who knows how to speak Chinese) days before our trip to Taiwan! Darcy contacted them via phone and email for our reservations (book online here).

The place where the magic happens! πŸ¦†

Travel to Yilan

From Taipei, we had to hop on a train from the Taipei Main station. Our travel time was ~2 hours because Yilan is 63 kilometers from Taipei. (Note: we bought our tickets the previous day at the main station to get reserved seats).

We rode a different type of train. The seats were arranged like in a bus.
I was at the window side again, so I was able to do some sightseeing while on the train.

Arrival at Silks Place

Upon reaching the restaurant at Silks Place Hotel where Red Lantern is located, I finally understood why we had to do the reservation days before our visit: the restaurant only had 2 reservation schedules per day: one at noon (our schedule was at 11AM) and one at night. Only those slots that were filled will be their guests for the day. Walk-ins are not allowed.

Waiting outside the restaurant (hello to our fellow guests!).
Good thing we were able to come just in time. Within a few minutes, the restaurant opened! We were guided by a staff to our table. I noticed the interior of the restaurant was mostly colored red (drapings, table cloth). After we have settled down at our table, we were given appetizers which was made of... guess what... duck. πŸ¦†It tasted like adobo and it was served cold. We just thought that maybe this dish was really served like that (I had no photos of the dish as I was busy eating πŸ˜†).

We've already pre-ordered our meal in our reservation (which was the 5 duck dishes). After a few minutes of waiting, some chefs approached our table, one was pushing a strolling cart where the cooked duck was laid out. They prepared 3/5 dishes in front of us. I was really amused by this. They were saying something in Chinese while they were doing this (Darcy said they were explaining how the the duck was cooked and describing the dish that they were making). Since we couldn't understand a thing anyway, the rest of us at the table just focused on capturing the preparations on video (hopefully I'll upload it soon πŸ˜…)!

This dish tasted like heaven. 😍
Pictured above is the first dish that was given to us. I'm not sure how it's called, but mainly it was made of duck skin with sticky rice and melted cheese inside (and other magical ingredients for sure). They were plated on those metal spoons. Each of them was meant to be eaten in one bite. When I ate it, I bit into the crispy and juicy duck skin, and then I tasted the cheese inside. IT WAS PURE HEAVEN. My world literally stopped for a few seconds with me savoring those wonderful flavors exploding inside my mouth. I noticed my colleagues having that same moment as well. πŸ˜‹ All that we were able to say was 'This is happiness' (while wiping some tears of joy 😁). But seriously this dish was unbelievable. Unfortunately, we were limited to 2 servings for this meal. I slowly savored eating my second one.

The other dishes were good too. There was also soup included in the set (not pictured). It was creamy and tasted great. My only concern was it was too oily. There was literally a thin layer of fat when the soup cooled down.

There was no rice included in our meal but we were satisfyingly full. For sure I will never forget this dining experience (especially that duck skin dish 😜)

Kavalan Brewery

Since our main activity for the day was already finished, we were back to impromptu travelling. We checked the local travel brochures to see what other places we could visit in Yilan. This was where we found Kavalan Brewery.

We had to take a taxi from the Silk Place to reach it. I've never been to a brewery so I was curious on what we could see inside.

Some parts of the brewery were open to visitors. Inside, visitors are presented with exhibits of  the different stages of creating whisky.

I think this is the fermentation stage?

There were only a few visitors that day. Interestingly, the place vividly reminds me of the game setting of Inside.

We also attended a whisky tasting session, which involved listening to a brewery staff speak Chinese for a few minutes. Darcy was trying her best to give us real-time translations. πŸ˜… I've got to say their whisky was strong (just basing it on the odor, I know nothing about whiskies hehe).

After checking out the other places in the brewery, we decided to go to Mr. Brown Coffee cafe (which was just upstairs) to chill. I saw they were offering boozed coffee (with Kavalan whisky of course). Well I knew I had to try it so I ordered one. It tasted good! I never knew alcohol and coffee could be combined. I actually got a bit tipsy after finishing it πŸ˜‚. Good thing we didn't have to go anywhere at that moment. We just sat there in the cafe and chatted.

I'd just caption this "That Boozed Coffee Smile". πŸ˜‚
We noticed it's getting late already so we decided to call it a day. When we went outside of the brewery again, we noticed something was off - there were only a few cars passing by. None of them was a taxi. So... how are we going back to the train station? We waited for several minutes, but still no single taxi passed by. We checked Google Maps and saw that there were 3 bus stops nearby.

We saw the bus signs. One of them stated the bus in that route is scheduled to stop there at 5:30PM. At first we were doubtful if the schedule on the bus sign was accurate. A local saw us ogling at the bus sign and told us (more like told Darcy) that indeed a bus comes there at that time. We were slightly relieved. Still we couldn't help but think of worst-case scenarios. We were four tourists standing awkwardly near the bus stop sign in some remote place in Yilan.

It was getting darker as the minutes passed by. We were already talking about alternative routes in case no bus arrived. Well guess what, at exactly 5:30PM, the bus arrived. Taiwan, you are amazing.

Outside the brewery
It was only a mini bus, which means there are commonly a few passengers in that route. Indeed, the bus only picked 1-2 passengers at each stop. We alighted at the bus stop near the train station. We paid via our EasyCard. So convenient, right? (Note: you have to beep the card twice: when you hop on and hop off the bus). This experience kinda reminded me of my visit to Petit France in South Korea. If you want to know why, check that post!

On our train ride back to Taipei Main Station, I was at the window side again. Since my friend was sleeping (and I was not sleepy), I just looked outside and observed the scenery passing through. This was the time I was able to reflect my experiences in Taiwan so far. I felt really happy because I got to experience these things. But as I thought about this, my eyes welled up with tears. I was happy and sad at the same time (eh is that possible?). I was also sad because I couldn't share this experience with my family. I want my parents to taste that delicious duck too. I felt I was being unfair. And to add to that, I had some family stuff going on during the time of this travel, but I showed no empathy about the issue. I felt guilty because I was just out having fun while people were worrying about something back home. Although it's somewhat solved as of this writing, I can't help but still feel heavy thinking about that. The tears just kept flowing for almost the whole duration of the train ride. Good thing my friend was asleep, or else I have to come up with some awkward excuse why I was crying. πŸ˜“

Anyway, back to the brighter side of things - I really enjoyed this day! That dining experience alone was worth the trip to Taiwan. I'm rating it 5/5. πŸ‘

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