Friday, January 1, 2016

Kyushu Spring 2014 九州春季之旅 - Kourantei 紅蘭亭 下通本店

Visited 26.03.2014 

What is Taipien? A modified version of Nagasaki's famous Champon noodles, known as Taipien (太平燕), is found in Kumamoto. Origin of this local gourmet food can be trace back to a century ago - a soup dish brought to Kumamoto by Chinese immigrants from Fujian Province in China. Similar to Champon, the rich broth is cooked using both chicken and pork bone but is less milky in comparison. Yellow noodles is replaced with vermicelli, topped with a fried boiled egg, plenty of vegetables, shrimps, squids and sliced pork. I prefer Taipien to Champon because it is lighter in flavour and I like vermicelli more than noodles. Rushed to have a bowl of Taipien just before I left Kumamoto at Kourantei (紅蘭亭), an established Chinese restaurant founded in 1934. Came to their flagship store at Shimo Tori (下通). 

Excellent Chinese food. During this trip in Kyushu, I patronised two Chinese restaurants without high expectations of the food quality delivered. The delicious stewed pork belly buns I had in Shihairou (四海楼) changed my impression of Chinese food in Japan. This pleasant experience gave me the assurance that Chinese food in Japan isn't as bad as I thought. At Kourantei, we decided to try out a 6 course meal (円卓料理) inclusive of Taipien. It was impressive and some of the dishes were even better than what I have eaten before in my life! The 6 course meal includes meat dumplings (quite similar to siew mai), a hearty bowl of Taipien, prawns cooked in chili sauce, sweet and sour pork, fried rice and Annin tofu (杏仁豆腐) as dessert. Apart from Taipien, I felt that there were two dishes which stood out from the rest - sweet and sour pork and almond pudding.   

- Sweet and sour pork. We were all stunned by how good this dish turned out to be. Meat was fried to perfection - crispy on the outside while retaining the moisture in the meat. Every piece of meat was well coated with the savory and appetising sauce, accompanied with "wok hei" fragrance! All agreed that this dish was the highlight of the entire course.

- Annin tofu. I have to say this was an excellent finale to complete the meal. Kourantei's version of apricot kernel pudding was very smooth in texture and melt in the mouth - a sensation I have never experienced before with this traditional Chinese dessert!


Kourantei 紅蘭亭 下通本店
熊本市中央区安政町5-26 2F
Opening hrs: 1130 - 2130 hrs

How to get there?
Take Kumamoto City Tram (A line from Kumamoto JR Station towards Kengunmachi 健軍町) and alight at Torichosuji 通町筋. Walk for another 3 - 4 minutes along Shimo Tori covered walkway.

Note: Kourantei has another branch located along Kami Tori (上通).
Kourantei Kami Tori Pavilion 紅蘭亭上通パビリオン店
Opening hrs: 1130 - 2130 hrs

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