If you are a foodie, you have definitely long regard Taiwan as one of the world’s great food destinations. There are much more to eat besides the usual night markets which many of us are familiar with. The restaurant scene has been gaining popularity for its diversity and exotic offerings.
Taiwan is a very competitive market and they have smart and innovative luxury restaurants that impress travelers with taste, service, décor and of course, style. People are no longer only looking for good food, but more importantly, it is the dining experience. This burgeoning epicurean scene gets a major boost from iSee Taiwan Foundation, when they have recently organized a Food For Fun (食在有趣) competition to promote some interesting dining experiences available in Taiwan.
The foundation have received thousands of applications from bloggers all around Taiwan and the team has eventually picked out the best 10 restaurants based on their experiences. I am honored to be invited by iSee Taiwan Foundation to embark on a 5D4N Food For Fun (食在有趣) trip around Taiwan. And for this trip, we are gonna try some of the restaurants in Taipei and Taichung!
My first Food For Fun restaurant visit is this Japanese restaurant called Tien Ming An (天命庵) in Taipei. A former National Taiwan University teachers’ dormitory, Tien Ming An is situated in a quiet school district near the Shandao Temple MRT station (善導寺捷運站). There are almost no shops around the area and I was attracted by the quiet charm of the neighborhood.
The restaurant itself is within a Japanese-style house built during the colonial era. The house is well preserved structurally and the owners have tried their best to maintain the decor of traditional Japanese houses such as the sliding doors, narrow corridors and wooden floors.
Here, they specialized in their yakitori. You can expect a great variety of vegetables, pork and chicken skewers, grilled to perfection. Unlike some restaurants which rely heavily on sauces, Tien Ming An focuses on offering original flavour of the ingredients.
Among the skewers we sampled, 天梯 (NT$100）was the most interesting skewer. It sounds like some atas name, isn’t it? But it is actually the gums of pig! It was very chewy, in fact too chewy for my liking, and tastes somewhat like cuttlefish. My favourite was 鸡肉腿葱串 (chicken leg with scallions, NT$120) which was tender and pleasantly flavored with teriyaki sauce.
In addition, we ordered a 蔬菜组(vegetable set, NT$200 for 6) which includes tomatoes, ginko, corn, mushrooms etc. Each skewer has slightly charred exteriors and a mild charcoal taste.
Besides the yakitori, we also had 鸡软骨 (NT$120) where the chef will get rid of the fats from chicken knuckles and deep fried till crispy. While I appreciate their hard work, but I feel that the fried skin was pretty hard and old on that day.
One of their signature is 猪尾巴 (pig’s tails, NT$120) where the pig’s tails are first braised before grilled. Look at the beautiful shiny skin, the meat retains the flavour from the braised and added the smoky flavor from the grill.
My dinner ended with a bowl of 酒蒸蛤蜊汤 (NT$80) where the clams are steamed with wine.
In my opinion, the yakitori has a nice charcoal grill but I felt the meats were not juicy enough. But the cozy atmosphere kinda make up for the food and you feel like you have been transformed back to the olden days Japan. The restaurant also offers beer, sake, whisky and wine.
To let you have a feel of how the restaurant looks like, I did a mini video clip, together with a small interview with the owner. This is my first time trying to do a video on the blog. Despite being a broadcast student for 4 years, I have totally lost touch with it after I leave school. My Olympus XZ-1 camera is definitely not the best tool for video taking and I have only just started to meddle with iMovie, so please pardon me for this very amateur video. You can also read the review on iSee’s micro site (in Chinese).
Tien Ming An (天命庵)
Address: 34 Xuzhou Rd, Taipei City (台北市徐州路34號)
Tel: 02-23225642 (Reservations recommended）
Opening hours: 5pm – 1am, closed on Mondays
* Food for Fun (食在有趣) gourmet tour is proudly organized by iSee Taiwan Foundation. Only airfare, hotel accommodation and selected meals are sponsored.