Shin Yeh – Taiwanese Food Elevated

22 Jan

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While Din Tai Fung is Taiwan’s most famous restaurant, and the one all the ABCs flock to, Shin Yeh may be Taiwan’s best Taiwanese restaurant.

We went to the flagship restaurant in the Zhongshan district of Taipei. Shin Yeh is always bustling with families celebrating special occasions or business people carrying on. Started in 1977 as a regular back alley restaurant, Shin Yeh has grown in reputation and price point into an elegant place with excellent service and, like Din Tai Fung, elevated versions of familiar (to local Taiwanese) dishes.

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The drunken chicken. Never among my favorite dishes, but Shin Yeh’s version is well-made.

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This is this the braised pork, which is very similar to the Shanghainese dish ti-pang. Incredibly fatty like pork belly and really good.

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Wow, this clam dish is really great. With Thai basil and chiles and a dark soy-based sauce, this dish is full of flavor.

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This is Shin Yeh’s signature sweet potato rice porridge. This is served like a side of rice, but you get the sweet treat of the potatoes.

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The pan-fried fragrant turnip omelette. This is another signature Shin Yeh dish. It’s a very traditional Taiwanese dish. That means it’s essentially a home-style peasant dish, the kind most people who remember the mass migration to Taiwan remember from home. Shin Yeh’s version is, of course, excellently made and seasoned perfectly. The eggs were also expertly fried so that it was almost like a soufflĂ©. I’ve been told that this is much better than the version most people grew up with.

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This is a local fish, whose name I didn’t catch. Tasty.

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And these lightly seasoned, lightly fried shrimps were really good.

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A braised tofu dish (not stinky!), I think in a oyster sauce.

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Another local dish, a green like spinach stir-fried in garlic.

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Another home run dish, the eggplant and Thai basil. In another restaurant this would be a simple stir-fry. At Shin Yeh it was one of my favorite dishes, with a wonderfully complex sauce, lots of flavor, without feeling overly oily.

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Because we were celebrating a birthday, they brought out bowls of red bean and tapioca soup. The fresh mochi balls are the usual complimentary dessert. The soup was very good – nothing unusual, the same ingredients in this kind of dessert soup I’ve had a hundred times, but they do a good job of sweetening it just right.

The mochi balls are a real achievement. They make them constantly throughout the day so they are always served super fresh. They won’t sell you an order, otherwise we would order at least three times as much.

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I would say Shin Yeh is a must try when you visit Taiwan. While Din Tai Fung is incredible, it is not really a Taiwanese restaurant. People who grew up in Taiwan don’t recognize DTF’s food as Taiwanese – it’s from Southern China, even if DTF arose in Taiwan. Shin Yeh, on the other hand, reflects more accurately the generation of Taiwanese (Chinese) who fled China and turned Taiwan into the modern capital it is now.

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http://www.shinyeh.com.tw/

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