We were taken upstairs and shown to a beautifully set table.. (the table was also HUGE, tho you can't tell in this photo..)
Embroided napkin & our "menu"
Our first course: "Cause & Effect" - 酸,甜,苦,辣 (Sour, Sweet, Bitter & Spice) - All the different aspects of life.. Sour - "xhong" in vinegar syrup.. the veges themselves were quite mild.. the vinegar syrup was very sharp and tangy.. Sweet - baked tomato.. the skin was a bit tough and the leaf it came with gave it a rather medicinal taste.. Bitter - deep fried bitter melon served with some pig's liver and salted duck egg.. the bitter melon wasn't very bitter, tho the whole thing was slight oily... Spice - tofu with spicy "xo" sauce and benito flakes.. the tofu was very fresh and light offset by the saltiness of the benito and xo sauce which left a lingering spice.. by far my favourite out of the 4...
A better view of the dumpling & noodles... and the inside of the dumpling.. Malt tea was served with this course.. served in a cup with their "logo" on the side..
And also some beans and grains.. on the whole it wasn't too oily.. tho the sauce was a bit salty and slightly overpowered the dish.. but this was probably still my favourite dish... the light crispy fried prawn roll with the firm bite of the mushrooms = delectable!
"Stylishness" came next - deboned lamb, relayered into almost a gratin, then tied before it's cooked, served with taro & mushroom 'cake' along with a green pepper, pumpkin and carrot dressed with a plum and zi son leaf sauce.. the lamb could have been more tender and mine felt like it had a skin on top.. the taro cake was slightly mushy but otherwise a good pairing with the lamb...
"Fulfilment" was an extra course.. "on the house" - Congee or Asian rice porridge cooked using raw rice with chicken, whitebait, crab meat and egg.. this is all slow cooked for 6 hours until there is barely any trace of rice.. it's more a thick soup... it was delicious.. but we were already so full... we asked if we could take the leftovers but were told because it was a complimentary course, we couldn't take it to-go... :( [sidenote: I loved the bowl it came in!]
These are the other "menus" available... prices are NT$1500, NT$1800 and NT$2800, although they suggest upgrading to the NT$3200 option which has no menu at all.. not even a tile! Which we are going back for with a friend of mum's next Thursday! *does happy dance*
From our table/booth, I looked into a PDR... with funky tile walls.. (they were also used as placemats in our original table setting if you are thinking they look familiar)... apparently the chef's brother makes them.. along with all the amazing china..
You will find the restaurant:
@260 Ilan, Taiwan宜蘭市泰山路58-2號
Open Mon - Sun 11.00~22.00
You will find them here on Facebook...
Or here at the website...
It is highly advisable that you book before you go to make sure you can have the menu you would like...
The NT$3200 requires booking a week prior..
All in all it was a fantastic meal in a beautiful setting... there were plenty of other tables and diners while we were there but it never felt noisy or really "busy"... the service is attentive without being intrusive.. Tho we did lament that the wine by the glass came from "a box" for which they charge NT$90 - we passed.
As I said.. we're headed back there next week to try the EXPENSIVE menu! The fact we are driving an hour there and back just to eat lunch really tells you how good it is... and the fact that mum's been back more than once gives kudos to the place more than I can explain~
It's well worth a visit if you're in the Ilan area... or even just a day trip from Taipei... There's plenty of other sightseeing to do around Ilan if you want to make a weekend out of it too.
ps. any thoughts about my watermarking my photos?? is it super annoying or are they ok?? I'm not sure I have the patience to keep it up.. it took me forever to get through them all... XD