Restaurant review: Shin Yeh, Taipei, Taiwan
A long-standing local favourite for classic Taiwanese dishes
Whenever I’m in Taipei, all I want to do is eat Taiwanese food. The city has great international and fusion places, but I just want the honest, homestyle dishes I grew up eating. This doesn’t necessarily mean literally like my mom used to make but refers to the dishes I grew up eating while spending nearly all of my childhood summers in Taipei. Recently, I was tasked with choosing a place for dinner with my mom and grandparents and came across (ahem via scouring the Michelin recommends guide) a longstanding restaurant chain that we’d never been to before: Shin Yeh. We were in the Zhongshan Fuxing area so walked a short 10 minutes to the closest location.
First of all, even though the restaurant chain has been around since 1977, the locations still fill up! We went around opening at 6:15pm and were told they were fully booked. After checking around, they were able to seat us but would need the table back in an hour. We ordered quickly and were served quickly, though this didn’t detract from our experience at all.
My grandma chose the Soya-Boiled Pork Knuckle with Peanuts (TWD$270 or roughly $70) and everyone oohed and aahed when it came out. It smelled amazing, and the knuckle itself was meaty and fatty and sliced up so it could be eaten very easily. A great dish.
Next up was the Wok-Seared Pork Liver with Coriander (TW$280 or roughly $72). This was my choice but was too overwhelmingly liver-tasting for my liking; it was a hit with others at the table though. The sauce was sticky and very fragrant.
One of my favourite dishes as a child was shrimp with pineapple. How can anyone resist battered and fried shrimp covered with a sweet mayo glaze? Shin Yeh’s version (TW$395 or roughly $100) is excellent and more sophisticated, i.e. there’s just enough glaze and there are no sprinkles like in other places. It was a treat to have the pineapple chunks battered, fried, and glazed too.
My mom is a massive oyster omelette fan, but while she didn’t want to order that at Shin Yeh (the night market versions are the way to go!) she was game for the Crispy-Fried Fresh Oysters with Dip (TW$300 or roughly $80). This. Dish. Was. Awesome. The oysters were small but incredibly fresh and juicy even after being fried. Definitely a dish to go back for.
Of course we couldn’t leave without trying one of Taiwan’s signature dishes: 3 cup chicken (known as ‘Spicy fried chicken with garlic and basil in casserole’ on the menu, TW$680 or roughly $175). This saucy (soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil) dish is known for packing in the flavour with loads of garlic cloves, ginger, chilis, and basil leaves too. The sauce was well-done, but the chicken itself was quite bony so there wasn't much actual meat overall. I’d try the Shiitake Mushrooms or Squid versions of this dish next time.
Dish by dish, I’m not sure I’d say Shin Yeh is the best Taiwanese food I’ve ever had, but it’s definitely a solid option overall. Every dish we had was well executed and the prices are reasonable. It’s also fairly easy to find and is English-friendly which can’t be said of all the restaurants in Taipei. I’ll definitely keep this restaurant in mind for my next trip to Taipei with friends, though my mom thinks there are better value spots to be found in the city.
2F, No. 112, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Da’an Dist., Taipei, 02-2752-9299 (other locations here)