Friday, January 18, 2008

Fung Ya Xuen - Review

Fung Ya Xuen - Highly Recommended

No 5-1, Sec 2, Din-Ge Rd, Shih-Din Xiang, Taipei County

Phone: 26651891

The two times that we visited Taipei, our friend Paulina totally hooked us up - taking us to some phenomenal places to eat. This time she really outdid herself taking us to her brother's restaurant in the mountains. Great story here...basically every foodie's dream if we had the cajones to do it. Her brother Bruce and sister-in-law Candy used to work the 9-5 job, but decided they wanted to live the mountain life. So, they quit their jobs and got a place in the mountains and opened up this restaurant...she's the chef, he runs the front of the house. Everything they source is grown locally in the mountain - from the tea leaves to the veggies. Any who, phenomenal place and experience.

My Menu

Since I don't read Chinese, this is just my description of the meal. I probably mislabeled things, so I apologize in advance.

1) Rice with Tea, Dried Salmon, Seaweed, Sesame Seed, Scallions
2) Pickled Radish with Chili
3) Stewed Tofu
4) Pickled Big Head Cabbage and Rice Noodles
5) Tofu, carrots, and celery
6) Scrambled egg with a flower herb
7) Lotus root in sesame sauce with apples
8) Shanghai Tips and Tofu Ham

9) Medicinal Soup with Tofu

10) Tomato and Gelatin
11) Tempura Baby Corn and Taro
12) Dorayaki

Dish Comments
1) Interesting dish with tea poured over rice. The combination of the ingredients had a little salty and savory thing going with the tea and salted salmon.
2) A nice almost palate cleanser. The radish was crunchy, refreshing, and slightly sour.

3) They are famous for their stewed tofu dish and it's easy to see why. This thing is definitely one of the top things I've eaten on the trip to Taipei. The broth is so rich and subtly sweet and the tofu had an amazing texture...almost meaty.
4) The cabbage had very similar qualities to dish 2. Crunch and refreshing.
5) Good and simple dish. Crunchy carrots and celery with very good firm tofu.
6) This dish was extremely interesting and very good. I've had a lot of scrambled eggs on this trip and this is yet another preparation. They used a floral herb and the egg oddly enough did taste almost like some type of flower. It was so good, since the egg was rich and the floral herb cut the richness.
7) Another thing I've learned on the trip is that I've eaten a good amount of dishes with sesame paste. Adds a richness to the lotus root that was completely unexpected and the sweet apple cuts it nicely. Now, I've learned I can use my tahini for something besides hummus.
8) Never had tofu ham, but you know what - it really tasted exactly like ham. I still think real ham is better, but this was pretty good.
9) This soup must have taken the whole day to prepare. Incredible depth of flavor here. It was slightly bitter, sweet, and very rich. Amazing soup and the tofu inside had a texture like chicken. It was uber tasty in the soy chili. This was out of control good and surprising it can be done without any meat.
10) Another first time for me. Seemed like cherry tomatoes pumped up with sugar, served in a sweet liquid with gelatin. Great, great dish. Like everything else in Taiwan, sweet enough, but not disgustingly sweet.
11) First time having tempura taro and I kinda like it.
12) Home Made dorayaki. Very satisfying.

Overall Restaurant Experience

  • Food – Very odd that I was so happy with basically a vegetarian meal, but this was probably the most memorable food experience of Taipei. Sourcing local ingredients and cooking them well is always a winning combination.
  • Service – Paulina's brother basically serves the entire 3 table place. Very nice and food comes out at a good pace. Everything is served family style.
  • Atmosphere – First the place is in the mountains and you really can't hear anything there. It's such a calming wonderful experience. When you first sit down outside, you are served some tea and the one we had that night tasted like was amazing and I was told it was really just tea leaves. Also, there are two shiba inus (dogs) on the premise that keep you company...adds to the feeling of happiness. Once inside the restaurant (no dogs obviously), you find out there are three tables only. Basically how it works is there are no walk ins and there are three tables served the whole night. The last dish served will be around 9pm. Beautiful calming Japanese inspired interior with some jazz music playing lightly in the background. So, peaceful and relaxing and gets you in the mindset of having a great peaceful night.
  • Price – Ok, so like I said everything is hella cheap...well I believe the basic tasting menu is 350NT or $10.93 US per person. I am not kidding. I believe there are some extras for the soup, but either way this maybe the best deal on the planet. I guess they want to charge a fair price and aren't about ripping people off. So funny, considering we went to French Laundry last year and paid $350 a head for 8 or 9 courses...

Closing Comments
This place is very difficult to get to (40 minutes outside of Taipei) and you'll definitely need help getting there. However, if you're ever in Taipei, I highly, highly recommend paying a visit.

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