Mom, ever so wonderful, booked a restaurant located on the 85th floor of Taipei 101. Restaurant on a high floor in a super tall building = $$$$. But hey, we flew almost 7,000 miles to get to Taiwan, so might as well make it worth it! I don’t know why it is that fancy restaurants are always dimly lit, but they are. To be romantic or something silly like that, I guess. Makes it hard to feel your way around the restaurant though.
The views from 欣葉 Shin Yeh are as stellar as you would expect being about 1200 feet high to be. It was a rainy day in Taipei, so we couldn’t see as far. Nevertheless, it was beautiful being among the clouds and watching the rain fall below. Shin Yeh’s decor is quite modern, with lighted walking paths, soft, red mood-lighting, and black, lacy curtains. Friendly and attentive service too.
My mom first discovered Shin Yeh when she was invited to dinner there by one of her college friends. She loved it. Finding vegetarian food is usually hard enough, but finding good vegetarian food in a swanky restaurant is even harder. Yet, she found it in Shin Yeh! Shin Yeh serves very typical Taiwanese cuisine in the highest culinary fashion.
When my mom and I eat in Taiwan, our motto is “go big or go home”. If there’s anywhere we shouldn’t care about gaining weight, it’s when we’re out traveling. So we decided that 9 dishes for 2 people was entirely acceptable.
Starters were some pickled vegetables paired with a passionfruit iced tea. Then came a bowl of warm rice porridge sweetened with chunks of kabocha (japanese pumpkin). I could write a love song about kabocha, if I had the talent. The meat is always so sweet and fine; not stringy like American pumpkins. My mom also ordered a dish that I was not very familiar with at the time, called 菜脯煎蛋 [cai bu jian dan]. In Taiwanese, it’s pronounced as “cai bo neng”. Cai Bo Neng is a thick omelette scrambled with preserved turnip, so that you have this golden, crispy egg with tiny shots of salt and crunch from the turnip. So tasty.
A four-course tasting dish was then served: honey-roasted cashews; mashed kabocha topped with sliced oyster mushrooms, a dollop of mayonnaise, and a kuromame (japanese sweet black bean); steamed okra with some delicate plum sauce; and braised shiitake with stewed daikon.
Fifth dish was a bird’s nest with deep fried tasty things–I can’t remember what it was anymore. Deep fried foods are inarguably delicious though.
For a boost of fiber, we had a plate of stir-fried asparagus, 百合 [bai he] or lily bulbs, gingko nuts, and watermelon (?!). Pretty interesting combination. There was also broccoli with incredibly convincing sea cucumber imitation. Having been vegetarian all my life and having never touched meat, it looked real enough that I couldn’t really stomach it.
At this point, we were appropriately stuffed. Yet there was still more! A delicious plate of vegetable fried rice with crispy string beans, vegetarian ham, and red and yellow bell peppers. You know you have good fried rice in your bowl when each grain glistens with a bit of oil and each slightly springy when you chew. Taiwanese are all about that QQ texture. I think the closest English translation is “toothsome”?
We topped off this feast with almond milk tea, peanut mochi, and a plate of fresh fruit. Just perfect. Would go again.
Info if you’re interested:
Shin Yeh Taipei 101
85F-1, No. 7, Sec. 5, Xinyi Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei City (Taipei 101)
Let me know how Shin Yeh works out for you! 🙂