Feb 19, 2011

Beautiful Garden 美觀園

Website: N/A
Price Range:   $$$
Accepts Credit Cards: idk
Attire: casual
Good for kids: yes
Take out: yes
Waiter Service: yes
Outdoor seating:  no
Alcohol: yes


Food Quality: 3.5 out of 5
Decor:  3 out of 5
Service: 3 out of 5
Overall: 3.16 out of 5
Recommendation: Old-school Taiwanese-Japanese Fare
Beautiful Garden is an old school Japanese restaurant located in the heart of Xi Men Ding. They have been open since 1946, which is when the first generation owner learned his craft from a Japanese chef who was around during the time Taiwan was a Japanese colony. Although the restaurant has passed hands to the new generation, their menu items are made in the spirit of their ancestors. Their sashimi is cut very thick and meaty. It is not a good entry level place for sashimi virgins, because their cuts make each bite undeniably fishy. The menu items can be very cheap with set meals for under 300, but if you want to splurge and get sashimi or rare nigiri like sea urchin, then your bill can rack up to the size of your belly. I think an average person can be satiated for under 1000 NT. This is the right place to try traditional Taiwanese-Japanese Fusion. I would not recommend this place for delicate Japanese food, but would guide hearty eaters towards this place. The decor and service are subpar, since they are super busy and don't have the time to remodel. However, bring your non-picky tourists here to get a feel of old-school fare and enjoy the bustling Xi Men Ding while you are at it.
 Beautiful Garden operates on all 3 floors with the central kitchen located on the first floor. They are not so good at waiting on and catering to each table because they are too busy busting tables, ringing up orders, settling checks, sending out food, and seating new customers to spend time to observe which table requires service. You really need to flag the servers down or just go up to them for your queries. Their decor is very plain and old too, but that is part of their charm I guess. The stairs are very small like it was during the Japanese occupation. However, they will lose a ton of money i opportunity cost if they spend time to remodel. Therefore, I don't think they will ever remodel unless there is actual danger or sufficient customer complaint. Even with all these shortcomings the place is packed with a seemingly endless flow of patrons crowding the area.
 Each meal comes with miso soup, but I wanted to try the red snapper miso soup to see how special it is. It is indeed a lot tastier with the fish broth infused in the miso soup. It is also heartier for those who like more bite. The red snapper seemed very fresh and tender. The meat melted right off the bone. However, this is very rough rendition of miso soup. The soup is more of a working class fare than a delicacy that is pleasing towards the eyes as well as the palate.
 The salmon chirashi bowl is also a good example of the rugged/hearty fare this restaurant offers. This picture isn't a very good view, but each slice of salmon is thick and seems very fresh and nicely marbled. Each bite has that oily taste and the color of the meat looks great.
 I had to try their sea urchin to see if they offered decent special nigiri. They have a decent sea urchin nigiri. There was no hint of bitterness, but it had the creamy buttery notes with its seafoody taste. It is definitely not the best sea urchin, but it compares to most sea urchin in the states that cost around 15 USD for two. At Beautiful Garden, you need only pay 240 NT. Don't think sushi express is a viable way out for your sea urchin fix either, this place's is thicker wider and a lot fresher. It is worth the money.
   The sashimi plate looked very unappealing at first, but the cuts are actually very generous and from very good cuts. The salmon and tuna come from the belly portion of the fish. This whole place cost 460 NT, and is worth the price. You get 3 slices of salmon, 3 slices of tuna, and 3 slices of amberjack, 1 raw shrimp, and 3 pieces of raw squid. It seems like a small portion at first sight, but these slices were cut very thick and it is indeed extremely filling. The fish seemed fresh, but the I wasn't used to such thick cuts. I am accustomed to slimmer rectangular cuts rather than elongated loglike chunks. It was a different experience when I have to take a few bites to finish each piece rather than being able to down a slice per bite. The flavor of the fish is a lot stronger and prominent when eaten in bigger chunks. You also get more of the texture of the meat with thicker portions. You definitely get what you pay for in this restaurant, which is why I suspect they get hoards of locals swarming here to get a hearty japanese meal. You don't see a lot of the high brow types slowly enjoying their meal here because the decor is very bunk, atmosphere is rushed, and the food is very clunky.  For those who put quantity over aesthetic quality, Beautiful Garden is just the place to order a mug of beer and wash down slices of sashimi.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...