Wei Lu (Pickled Veggie Pork Hotpot), Taipei
This was different. This place, tucked away in a back alley off Section 4 of Ren Ai Road (lane 345, alley 4, #36, 02-2752-9439) specializes in hsuan tsai bai rou guo, or literally translated, sour vegetable white meat pot. It doesn't sound appetizing (literal translations rarely do), but it was quite a suprise and refreshing change from all the other stuff I usually eat in Taiwan. I thought that this would be a stew of sorts, but it turned out to be a hotpot again, except this time, it's not spicy - it's sour (mildly, anyway). The pot is filled with thin slices of pork and finely shredded and pickled cabbage - almost like a sauerkraut soup, if you will. You can order other meats like lamb and dip it in for cooking too. It was pretty mild, in stark contrast to the ma la hotpot so common around here, but still tasty. There is a pretty huge dipping-condiment selection too (I should not have grabbed that darned peanut sauce). I ended up not really using the dipping sauce though as it overpowered the mild flavor of the pork and cabbage.
This mild taste reminded me a bit of Chinese Islamic (Western China) food, with the obvious exception that it had pork in it. Will I get cravings for this place? I doubt it. Will I want to come back? Maybe once a year at the most. Do I regret coming here though? Absolutely not. It was refreshingly different and unlike most food I've had in Taiwan, and a nice break from the norm.
On a side note, I stopped at a convenience store on my way back to the hotel and bought a "Lactic Drink." Again, it sounds nasty, but it's one of the things that I always try to get when I'm in Taipei; it's kinda like a big Yakult or Calpis Water - a mildly sweet yogurt-based drink of sorts but watered down. They should have come up with a better English name though.