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More than just a place for Argentine cuisine

More than just a place for Argentine cuisine

Taipei, Feb. 23 (CNA) Among the few places in Taiwan that serve authentic Argentine cuisine, the restaurant "Gaucho" in Taipei goes beyond cooking traditional dishes by standing out as a base promoting Argentine culture. Located in the Taipei Expo Park, the restaurant aims to offer a taste of traditional Argentine food. On the menu are milanesa -- a deep-fried meat fillet and baked with tomato sauce and cheese on top -- and flaky baked empanadas, a common Argentine staple. The restaurant's name refers to a resident of the South American pampas similar to the North American cowboy whose duty is to herd cattle. It evokes Argentine tradition and the food that ordinary families share. "These are the common dishes you can easily find at each home in Argentina and also on the street," said Kevin Tan, who runs the restaurant with his older brother and friend. The three Taiwanese have all lived in Argentina for an extended period of time. Tan returned to Taiwan in 1992 after spending much of his childhood there, while Tan's brother and a friend returned to Taiwan to open the restaurant in October 2013. When it comes to Argentine food, one "must" is grilled beef, Tan said, pointing to the brick oven near the entrance of the restaurant. The oven is surrounded by transparent glass, through which diners can see clearly how the steak and ribs served at their table are cooked. "Grilled beef is the most popular dish in Argentina and is often served on special occasions, such as New Year's celebrations," the 41-year-old told CNA. The Argentine way is to grill the beef without too much seasoning, rubbing only a little salt around the meat before cooking it, he said. After the beef is cooked, it is served with chimichurri, a green sauce made mainly of basil, chili flakes, olive oil and vinegar, to give it more flavor, he said. To ensure an authentic Argentine taste, the restaurant has hired an Argentine chef. "My brother brought the chef from Argentina," said Tan, who immigrated to Argentina in his childhood and returned to Taiwan in 1992 to study at National Chiao Tung University at the age of 19. His love for cooking and a craving for Argentine food led him to open a restaurant to introduce this simple but exotic cuisine to the people in Taiwan, according to Tan. But it is more than just a place for good food. The interior design and decorations are steeped in Argentine culture. The uniform of Argentina's national soccer team and photos of Lionel Messi -- one of Argentina's star soccer players -- are draped on the wall. As Argentina is known for the Tango, clothes for the traditional dance and photos of Tango dancers are also displayed around the restaurant. "We have also invited dancers from Argentina to perform with their Taiwanese counterparts," Tan said. Another special feature of the restaurant are the pillars covered with wood. "The idea came from the traditional wooden structure in Argentina, where local people gather to eat grilled beef," he explained. With a focus on Argentina, the restaurant has also become a place for soccer fans gathering to watch games and cheer for the team they support. For example, fans of the Argentina team -- Taiwanese and foreigners -- showed up at the crowded restaurant to cheer for the team during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. "Our restaurant also sponsored a film on Messi that will hit the cinemas this year, and it provides funding to two Taiwanese soccer teams to promote the development of the game in Taiwan," Tan said. (By Elaine Hou)


Updated : 2021-09-27 10:27 GMT+08:00