Taiwanese Restaurant: Generic Name, Homegrown Comfort Food

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Restaurant Taipei

Hotel dining has a stigma as being generic and overpriced, but that doesn’t have to be the case, as I learned at a series of distinctive restaurants in Taipei, Tainan, and Kaohsiung’s Grand Hi-Lai Hotel. Their dumpling house is apparently the best in the city, and even though Taiwanese Restaurant has a generic name, they serve a variety of homegrown dishes that haven’t made their way across the Pacific Ocean yet.

Taiwanese Restaurant, aka Fu Yuan (Lucky Garden), has prospered on the hotel’s ninth floor since 1996. General Manager Andy Chou described the concept as “Japanese cuisine combined with Chinese cuisine,” and since its near the ocean, seafood shines. Chef Chin Wan Chen, with first a name that translates to English as 10,000, presides over the kitchen, though he was in mainland China during my visit.

Taiwanese Food Taipei
Our Amuse consisted of cold, soy marinated mackerel and sweet-savory plum.

Taiwanese Food Taipei
Bamboo is revered in Taiwan, and almost every part of the seasonal plant makes its way onto local plates. Taiwanese Restaurant has a series of bamboo dishes, including firm slices of Sautéed Water Bamboo with Golden Salted Egg Sauce (NT$ 280 ~ $9).

Taiwanese Food Taipei
Chinese Style Stewed Pork Belly (NT$ 280), braised in a sauce of soy, sugar, garlic and medicinal herbs for six hours and sporting a tender fat cap, is the kind of soulful, labor intensive dish that’s normally only served in Taiwan for family reunions. At the Grand Hi-Lai, the juicy pork’s topped with shaved scallions for texture’s sake and served with broccoli.

Taiwanese Food Taipei
Deep Fried Crispy Chicken (NT$ 300) arrived in bone-in chunks that were a bit too dry since, but still compelling thanks to medicinal camellia oil and fried strips of ginger that could someday become as addictive as potato chips.

Taiwanese Food Taipei
Braised Sponge with Bamboo Fungus (NT$ 220/320) featured tender cuts of gourd (aka loofah) and supple strips of delicate, gauze-like fungus, all served in a thick, murky broth.

Taiwanese Food Taipei
Fried Rice Noodle with Pumpkin (NT$ 200) featured airy rice vermicelli sourced from Shin Chu, a county famous for wind, which dries the rice noodles. The noodles, tosses with an earthy pumpkin puree, also contained scallions and pork squiggles.

Taiwanese Food Taipei
Fried whole fish (MP, NT$ 300) resulted in crisp-skinned snapper bathed in soy sauce, shaved garlic, scallions and chile, with meat easily pluckable with chopsticks.

It was good to try a selection of seasonal bamboo and vegetable dishes. If Chef Chin Wan Chen was on-site for my meal, the chicken may have been juicier, for example, but Taiwanese Restaurant still helped me gain a better grasp on the nation’s cuisine.

Note: My meal at Taiwanese Restaurant was part of a government sponsored tour to promote Food Culture in Taiwan.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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