An Aboriginal Lunch in Taroko Gorge at 達基力部落屋風味餐

Our friendly server pauses for a photo

My family and I visited Taroko Gorge on Taiwan's East Coast near Hualien early May of 2017. The day was full of breath-taking views and fresh air. Possibly the most memorable stop on the trip was lunch. We hired a taxi driver for the day and when he suggested lunch at 達基力部落屋風味餐 (roughly Da Ji Li tribe restaurant in English) no one had any doubts it would be excellent. Taiwan has 14 different aboriginal tribes, totaling 533,600 people as of 2014. They have held on to their traditions and culture despite Taiwan's troubled past. I'm sorry to say I am not sure which tribe this restaurant represents.

the spread
seating

table set

The restaurant is open-air, and on the side of a hill with a view out facing the ocean. It is a good idea to apply some bug spray before sitting down. The mosiqitoes of the east coast know no mercy. Our driver let us know that the restaurant has live aboriginal music on weekends as well. I sensed it might be a place locals visit too. There is no menu for walk-ins, just a meal set of seasonal items. We paid $400 TWD per person about $14 USD. There was no way we were able to finsih the banquet of foods this price included. The restaurant's website lists a menu and includes other items like a whole pig that can be ordered in advance for groups.

okra, sausages, and onions, with sticky rice behind

dragon's whiskers salad

After we settle into our table we were quickly brought a pot of winter melon tea and a trio of appetizers. All of these foods were made with, or seasoned with, local ingredients such as mountain pork, black pepper, and a local onion that tastes a little bit like ramps. We also received a pumpkin sticky rice dumpling that was sweet and delicious. Next was a cooling salad of cabbage, carrots, chili, garlic, and some steamed vegtables also from the mountains called "dragon's whiskers" because they look like the long, curly dragon's whiskers you see painted and carved in many temples.

green pepper and bacon
fried smelts

roasted pork and chicken

Our main courses briefly arrived. I really enjoyed the cured pork (bacon) and green peppers.  There were little fried fish for each of us, mine was full of crunchy eggs. We also had a plate of tender and juicy roasted chicken and pork belly. Some steamed cabbage was a nice touch, but you can imagine there wasn't much room for that on our plates. I shouldn't forget to mention the pot of rice, which contained both white and turmeric varities. It wouldn't be a meal in Taiwan if there wasn't any soup invloved. We had a nice light broth of greens and corn.

steamed cabbage

soup

The food was all extremely fresh and had very little oil on it. It will remain one of my favorite meals in Taiwan.
naughty cats cleaning up

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