Sunday, April 4, 2010

Traditional Japanese food at 添財 (Tian Cai)

添財 storefront

Nestled in an alleyway near the Taipei Main Station is a street called 武昌街 (Wu Chang Street). Rather unimposing, and actually dingy looking, there's not much located here outside of a few tailor shops and custom shoe places. I would never think to set foot down this street to be completely honest. There is however, a single restaurant here that makes me come back every few weeks, called 添財 (Tian Cai). Hehe, part of me just likes it for the name since it's a homonym for genius or '天才,' but part of me likes it for the traditional feel, the authenticity (the people who work here are actually Japanese!), and because it's a place I went to a lot as a kid. Whatever the reason, it's my favorite Japanese places in all of Taiwan. Oh, and sorry for the pictures, they got pissed when they saw my camera so I took all of these really quickly.


On this trip I chose to get the gyu-don or 'beef bowl.' This thing cost, I think... 110 NT ($3.50), so the prices aren't terrific. In fact, they border on the high end if you consider what a similar thing could cost in a less formal restaurant setting. In any case, it's as simple as it looks, thin beef strips marinated in teriyaki sauce is stir fried with onions cooked to transparency, peas, and scallions that are sliced into thin flattened strips. All of this is served over medium grain rice that is soaked further in teriyaki sauce sweetened with a slight bit of sugar and rice vinegar. The combined flavors of tart sweetness accented by the sweet flavor of the beef is a winning combination. No overpowering flavors, just a bunch of tastes that meld together perfectly. Simple yet effective.

Fried fish... don?

My grandmother got fried fish of some sort. I tried it. I'm not in love with fish, but it was lightly battered and somewhat soggy by the time I got to it. The fried asparagus was good though, and I for sure jacked her fried sweet potato too (I love those things with a passion). I think the price might've been slightly higher since it was seafood, but I have a really bad memory. From the parts I had, it was solid. I just don't really like fish is all.

天婦羅 (Japanese Tempura)

Final thing we ordered as 天婦羅 (tian fu luo) or Japanese style tempura. Similar in selection to the street variety I guess, you go an pick your own dish from a pot of daikon and pork broth. We got fried tofu, some daikon radishes cooked in miso, and a giant tempura disc. All of them were good, and I think the combined price of this dish was actually under 100 NT ($3). Interesting to note, the daikon radish actually managed to infuse the flavor of the miso entirely. Bonus, sweet sweet brown sauce on the side.

This is hands down my favorite Japanese restaurant in Taiwan. Disclaimer... it's not because it tastes incredible, or because the prices are so outrageous, I just happen to have a sentimental connection to this restaurant. When I was still a toddler, this was the only place I'd be willing to go to with my family, since it didn't reek of fresh fish. As such, my grandfather would take me here all the time, with my order being the same everytime... the katsu-don. So if you're gonna go here expecting the world, don't. That's not saying it's not amazing, I just happen to give it bonus points because of my childhood is all.


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