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Yangmingshan Old House


29, Alley 81, Lane 25, DongShan Rd.
(02) 2873-1081 Fax:(02) 2876-5051
Hours: 11:30 am-12 am
(closed Mondays )


Modern and industrious Taipei is a surprisingly green city but, besides a few temples and museums, traditional Chinese architecture can be hard to find in a natural setting. At the base of Yangmingshan, five minutes' drive from the TianMu baseball stadium, is a very special restaurant that is rich in architecture, tradition, and nature. For generations, the Jian family has been living in this red brick Taiwanese court yard-style home. For the last 10 years, they've opened it to the public for dining. Grandmother still cooks while eldest son Jian Ming Hong hosts. To access the restaurant, you will have to walk across a short wooden bridge and climb some steps up the mountain. At the top of the steps, illuminated by red lanterns and set in a garden, you'll find the "old house".

Inside, all the furniture is antique and the traditional red brick kitchen is probably one of the oldest of its kind in town. The place is large enough to accommodate some 50 to 80 people, or a nice wedding banquet. Diners are treated to an old radio, tuned to a classical station and spilling soothing erhu vibrations over the buzz of muted conversations. Three court- yard terraces are set with benches and tables, and two rooms on the left flank of the house are reserved for private dining by 10 to 15 people.

The Taiwanese cuisine here is delicious and affordable. The specialty is Kong Rou (NT$350), and it is a doozy. Boiled in a unique sauce, the fat and tender pork is cooked to perfection. Delivered hot and steaming, the pork went down like honey and one bowl of white rice mixed with the succulent sauce was not enough; I had to have a second bowl and half of a third. Thus sated and satisfied, and now with a cold beer in hand, I took in the setting as the conversation of our dinner guests stole the night away.

By Roman Crozier/Joe Duffer Translated by Shanzi Chang