May 19, 2011

Shin Yeh 欣葉


Address: 台灣台北大安忠孝東路四段112號2F
                 No. 112 2F, Section 4, ZhōngXiào East Rd, Daan District
Phone #: 02-2752-9299
Business Hours: 11:00-15:00, 17:00-22:30
Price Range:   $$$
Accepts Credit Cards: yes
Attire: casual
Good for kids: yes
Take out: yes
Waiter Service: yes
Outdoor seating:  no
Alcohol: yes


Food Quality: 4 out of 5
Decor:  3.5 out of 5
Service: 3.5 out of 5
Overall: 3.67 out of 5
Recommendation: Upscale Traditional Taiwanese Restaurant


Shin Yeh is a popular upscale Taiwanese Restaurant offering premium traditional Taiwanese fare in a comfortable surrounding with speedy service. Most of the dishes are around 400 NT, so you can probably get by with 600 NT per person. There are three other locations with the best one supposedly being the original location. The location in the East District is really packed and if you go without a reservation you will probably need to wait about 40 minutes until you can get a table, so call ahead to shorten your wait. If you want to try out this highly rated, high quality Taiwanese fare at a more traditional Taiwanese setting, pay Shin Yeh a visit.

The dining space was more of the boring old family style restaurant setting that many similar restaurants would opt for. White table cloth, beige chairs, and normal looking light fixtures. There were a couple inner table space which were more opulent, but the general dining space is rather bland and uninteresting. It's just comfortable and clean. This restaurant is very busy with people constantly flowing in during dining hours. As a result, the service here is very rushed. It is a good thing if you desire a quick meal, because the speed in which the dishes are brought to you is very fast. For a more chill and modern Taiwanese dining experience, try their other restaurant Onion Flower aka Shin Yeh Table. The food here is about the same quality as Onion Flower, but they are given regular names and have seasonal items. 
 This is a dish that the original restaurant was famous for since their Congee Bistro days (清粥小菜).  It is a meatball marinated in their light soy sauce based soup, and topped with 3 salty egg yolks. This is another traditional Taiwanese dish that pairs very well with rice. Most Taiwanese dishes are not very exquisite and aesthetically pleasing, but more like cheap ingredients prepared well to complement rice. So most of the food will be more salty and "rice-friendly." This dish is no exception. It is salty, oily, and the meat ball is probably 50% lean meat and 50% fat / vegetables. The sauce is flavorful, and fit for drizzling over rice.
 They also have the garlic filet mignon dish, but in order to give another beef dish a try, I ordered the Green Pepper Beef. This goes for 395 NT I feel like they were a little light on the seasoning for this dish. Even though the ingredients were fresh and prepared delicately, the sauce which is supposed to bring everything together wasn't really there. It was quite disappointing that they didn't use a heavier, thicker black pepper sauce instead. I guess this may be more traditional, but it is definitely lighter.
 This dish is the pickled vegetables omelette. It is a very traditional Taiwanese dish that is not made up of rare ingredients or extremely delicious, but it is sort of a comfort food for the older generation. The pickled vegetables are semi sour and salty. The texture is really crunchy, and it is wrapped with a thick egg with the outer skin pan fried to a perfect crispiness and oiliness. This is a good dish to try, but a little too much for a small group. I think one slice is more than enough for one person to eat during one meal, and so a group of six would be more suitable to try out this dish.
 This is my favorite dish that was ordered today, and it is the tree seed cod. This is prepared in the tradtional way using a soy sauce based broth infused with the tree seeds. The cod was fresh, dense, and flakey. This was a better quality of fish than the Onion Flower version, and it is definitely worth the 420 NT for this small slab of fish. The tree seeds are very olivey and with the broth, complements the fish by adding the right amount of flavor without overbearing the fresh, oily / natural taste of the cod. I would reorder this dish if I were to revisit.
 This is another dish I liked from the meal, and it is the stir fried clams for 280 NT. They prepared it with the very common Taiwanese way: onion, ginger, garlic, basil leaves, red pepper, soy sauce, vinegar, and oil. They may have put more stuff in it like salt, sugar, pepper, or msg, but I am not sure. This preparation method is used for many seafood items and particularly good with clams because the juices of the clams mixed with the sauce combines into this sweet sea broth which is also pairs extremely well with rice. I am more drawn toward heavier flavored dishes, and this one hit the spot.
This restaurant also offers individual soups, and for 80 NT I tried the chicken soup. It is a light chicken broth with some vegetables, mushrooms, and boneless chicken slices inside. It was not very oily and the soup was clear and refreshing. After a big meal with some heavier items, washing down a healthy bowl of light chicken soup was very soothing.

Overall, I think that I would rather go to their Onion Flower restaurant where there are more variety and heavier flavored dishes prepared in a modern way. This is more of a boring traditional Taiwanese fare, where you come to get more of the original taste and flavors. I heard that the original store location prepares the food better, and maybe paying there a visit will be better than the Zhong Xiao branch. So if you are in the East District, I would recommend trying the Onion Flower branch instead. Unless you want to try the bigger ticket items like Abalone, shark fin soup, or fresh seafood items, I would recommend Onion Flower instead.
This is an ok place to eat Taiwanese Cuisine in a more posh setting.

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