Tuesday, August 8th is Father's Day in Taiwan, because 8/8 is pronounced "ba ba" in Mandarin, which is very similar to Baba, the Mandarin word for Dad (different tones, though). Anyway, Vanessa and I took her family to Flavor, a Swedish restaurant in Taipei. I had already dropped V off at her parents' home in Sanchong earlier in the day, so I took the scooter and met them at the restaurant. As soon as I got there, I got a whiny five minutes of complaining from my mother-in-law and sister in-law:
Them: "You brought the scooter! Aiya! How wil Zhen-zhen (Vanessa) bring her maternity clothes home?"
Me: "Don't worry, I'll think of something"
Them: "But what can be done?!"
Me: "Don't worry, I'll think of something."
Them: "But you brought the scooter! What are you going to do?!"
Me: "I'll figure something out. Let's eat dinner!"
Them: "But it's hard to carry things on the scooter! How can you bring things back?!"
Me: "DON'T WORRY, I'LL THINK OF SOMETHING."
Them: "But there are two bags of clothes!"
Me: ~getting on the damn bike and riding back to Xizhi to get the damn car~
By the time I got back to the restaurant forty-five minutes later, they were finishing their appetizers. I ordered a glass of white wine and then another. Dad referred to adogah (big-nose foreigners) only once in the conversation, so huge progress on that front.
He did manage to complain loudly about the appearance of the shrimp and avacado salad, saying it looked disgusting. This in a restaurant about the size of my living room. Vanessa asked Dad if maybe he could say it even louder, as perhaps the boss didn't hear it from the other end of the room. Dad then warned me that the shrimp salad lacked strong flavor, and Mom helpfully suggested that "that was the way they (us Swedish people? Canadians? All people who are not Taiwanese?) liked it. ~groan~ Despite Dad's warning, I thought the salad was delicious, and for all of his kvetching, Dad still managed to clean his plate faster than anyone else at the table. He then got up and went for a walk.
My meal came last, since I arrived last - a pork chop with basil and cognac sauce that was really very good. Even though my dish had just arrived, the minute Dad finished his dinner he was out the door to go nap in his new Mitsubishi minivan. The rest of us stayed around the table, and I listened to V's plans for zuo yezi, the month-long post-birth recovery period, while her sister prattled on about superstitious nonsense. The apple cake with vanilla sauce for dessert was excellent. The whole meal only set me back 4k for six people, but I was the only one drinking, so we got off lightly.
It was a very good meal, and the only suggestions I would have would be to make sure the restroom (which was spotless) had handsoap, and to serve milk or cream with the coffee, instead of those horrid white-coloured vegetable oil "kreamers". There was a convenience store right around the corner, so I went out to get my own milk for the coffee. Oh, it also doesn't look right to serve only half a cup of coffee. They should fill the cups, or else use smaller ones. Half a cup makes the customer feel short-changed.
All in all, I would highly recommend Flavor. Their address is Sanmin Road, Lane 107, No 8, Taipei, close to the Minsheng East Road Section 5 traffic circle, and their telephone number is (02) 2769-1971. Click here for the map.
Tonight's dinner made me realize that I need to get a BlackBerry when they come out in Taiwan next month. Yes, I know it would be rude to use it at the table after dinner, but my rudeness would be just one out of a long litany of tableside transgressions that our family dinners seem to invite. Vanessa pointed out that in a few months I'll have a baby to fuss with, so maybe I'll just do that - I'll be the great father instead of the anti-social guy.