November 29, 2011
Tea with a Rack of Lamb
Now you know how to make tea (http://www.go2taiwan.net/blog_content.php?sqno=94), the question is where can you go to practice. Fear not as there are many many tea shops in Taiwan, and one of my favorites is called Wisteria in Taipei.
One of the benefits of drinking green tea is that it is supposed to aid in the digestion. So I would suggest that a combination of a good meal followed by plentiful cups of green tea will make for a very pleasant evening.
Luckily, there is a great restaurant very close to Wisteria which will give you a taste of Taiwan.
The restaurant is called Lamb Night (although the sign is in Chinese) and as the name suggests specializes in all things lamb (with apologies to our vegetarian readers). Actually there are a couple of branches throughout the city run by the sons of the original boss, but I'll focus on the branch near Wisteria (map). Lamb is not commonly seen on menus in Taiwan which is another reason to give it a try.
There is an English menu and Eric the boss speaks excellent English. My personal favorite is the lamb fried with basil, although the kebabs are also good and the hotpot great on cold days. If you have tried the local sausage and enjoyed then I recommended you try their lamb sausage. They are richer and perhaps gamier than the regular sausages and all the better for it.
There are vegetable dishes which include specials available per season as well as the standards. However, these are really meant to accompany the lamb dishes rather than providing a vegetarian option (again, my apologies to our vegetarian restaurants - you can find information on places to eat here http://www.go2taiwan.net/blog_content.php?sqno=78).
The restaurant itself is lively and informal in the manner somewhat of a traditional Taiwanese beer house. And this in my mind is a good thing. If you haven't tried Taiwan beer before, this would be a good place. It's a great place for a group of people but perhaps not ideal for a romantic date. The prices are very reasonable as well.
After you have eaten and enjoyed the livelier side of Taiwanese night life, Wisteria provides a more peaceful environment in which to retell the events of the day and is just a five minute walk away (the address is (click for a map) Xinsheng South Rd., Section 3, Lane 16, No. 1).
I have mentioned Wisteria before (http://www.go2taiwan.net/blog_content.php?sqno=90) as it is one of my very favorite places to go. It is well known although it is surprising how many people living in Taiwan have never been there. The area around Wisteria used to be housing for professors at TaiDa university, and some of the Japanese-style buildings still remain, although most likely not for long. Wisteria is listed as a "historical site", and one would hope this will keep the developers at bay.
Wisteria was a meeting place for political activists during the more turbulent times of Taiwan history, and a scene from the Ang Lee film "Eat Man Drink Woman" was allegedly shot there. A lot has been written about Wisteria and if you search online you will find a lot more on the history.
There are two main areas to sit; at tables and on tatami mats (towards the back). The tatamis can take a bit of getting used to (there are cushions) but I think you get more of an effect if you sit there. The staff are very friendly and will guide you through choosing a tea for your taste (there is an English menu) then help you make it if you ask them to show you. As you pay for a set amount of tea leaves, you can keep any that are left. There is also a small art gallery and a small selection of teapots and cups which you can buy (credit cards are accepted here but not at Lamb Night).With cooler weather due to hit this weekend, I'm already looking forward to a warming lamb hot pot followed by warming fragrant green tea. Hope to see you there!
•Previous article: Traditional Chinese Tea
•Next article: Kaohsiung - It's All in the Water