Emilio Villarruel
Emilio Villarruel
Director of Marketing

Breaking Bread: Swordfish in Taizhong

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Breaking Bread: Swordfish in Taizhong

“Breaking Bread” is a series of personal anecdotes brought to you by the OrderEZ Team dedicated to sharing the transcendental food and beverage experiences that make up our “Why”. The road to falling in love with F&B is paved with great culinary experiences, and it is our privilege and pleasure to share ours.

One of my favorite phrases through the years says quite a lot while simultaneously saying nothing at all: “it is what it is”. What “it” is…well, is open to some interpretation. Fundamentally though, the phrase carries with it a sense of acceptance of an uncomfortable truth - whatever it is, that’s how it will be, so learn to live with it. In sharing that sentiment, I must reveal one of my own uncomfortable truths - I’m a really, really picky eater.

Whether it be seafood, beer or wine (of any kind), offal, or even particularly spicy food - at times my palate is closer to a toddler’s than that of our readership of F&B professionals and hardcore foodies. At some point I’ve had to come to terms with my preferences - it is what it is after all.

In defense of my foodie credentials, there have at least been attempts throughout the years. As an American living in Asia, I’ve encountered some…unexpected flavors. In Taiwan, I attempted stinky tofu, in China - turtle soup, in South Korea I even tried sanakji (though in full transparency, there may have been a bet involved).

In recent years, while I can’t claim to be more adventurous in my culinary pursuits, I can at least pride myself in being more prolific. Perhaps it’s in appreciation of the privilege of restaurant dining experiences during endemic times, in hoping to support an industry I hold dear, or perhaps to add some seasoning to my life in the form of satisfying culinary experiences. Maybe it’s all or none of the above, I tend not to overthink it - at this point in my life, I approach the Taiwanese culinary scene and all it has to offer with the enthusiasm of an explorer. Deliciousness is out there in abundance, and I intend to get acquainted - one bite at a time.

The pursuit of new and interesting flavors, and seeking a bit of a change of pace, led me to visit the city of Taichung. In preparation for my trip, naturally, I did my homework. While I planned absolutely nothing on my itinerary in terms of attractions before arriving, restaurant reservations to well-reviewed local gems were naturally secured in advance. Priorities, after all.

One of the restaurants on my “hitlist” was none other than Forchetta. Not knowing what to expect, but secretly expecting quite a lot, I seated myself in the cozy restaurant - noting the attention to detail from decor to service to cutlery; Forchetta had an unmistakable charm to it. What plating is to a dish, decor is to a dining experience, and with that, I was quite excited to see what the menu for the evening would hold. As Murphy would attest though, if something can go wrong, it will - and great expectations are often springboards to disappointment.

The set menu, crafted by medical professional turned professional chef, consisted of quite a bit of seafood - which has never been my cup of tea, to put it mildly. Growing up Puerto Rican, there are certain foods you are inevitably exposed to, and to my great chagrin, bacalao or salted codfish is among them. From my earliest memories to now, I can still identify two of the truly heaviest, world-changing traumatic experiences - trying bacalao and witnessing the death of Optimus Prime (in that order).  Needless to say, I was not enthusiastic at the prospect of a fish-forward dining affair.  Any explorer should expect hiccups on their journey, and though for the briefest of moments I considered hitting the eject button, I ultimately sat awaiting the first course’s arrival while musing to myself, “Well, it is what it is”. 

What it was, was something quite unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. Swordfish sashimi drizzled with yuzu, layered with spicy Spanish chorizo and house-grown microgreens, topped with a mango sorbet. I’d never tasted anything like it before. From the sashimi that almost melted in your mouth, the crisp crunch of the microgreens, chewiness of the chorizo, down to the airiness of the sorbet; the textural interplay was only underscored by its flavor. Sour, sweet, spicy, umami, all at once and it in different proportions and permutations of flavor with each bite.

While I do remain a quite picky eater, I continue to challenge my taste buds and preconceptions in the hopes of expanding my palate and exploring what each meal has to offer. What I learned that day, and am reminded of regularly, is that there’s an entire world of food that awaits and each dining experience is what it is - an opportunity to explore it.

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