For those of you who are familiar with Taiwan, you know that Taipei is a foodie’s paradise. Particularly if you’re into street food – like me. You’ll find every strange kind of food on Taipei’s famous night markets.
From smelly tofu to pig blood cubes in soup down to snake soup or just regular dumplings. You want it, they’ll have it.
Problem is: you won’t find a lot of vegetarian stuff apart from smelly tofu.
Around two months ago I decided I try the vegetarian route. Why? Part of it was just for fun but for the most part due to my mate back in Europe. A meat lover through and through, he just became a vegan. I was flabbergasted. This guy becoming a vegan is like the Pope suddenly converting to Islam.
So if he is convinced, I should at least give it a try. And so I did.
My wife and I visited Taipei a few weeks ago. I took the chance to meet up with a university classmate who is Taiwanese. Upon hearing that I became a vegetarian she suggested a Taiwanese restaurant that is, so she said, world famous.
The restaurant my friend Kelly took me is called 鈺善閣 – “Yu Shang Ge“. And it’s not the “normal” restaurant you go to when you’re just hungry.
Yu Shang Ge not only serves vegetarian food. They celebrate it. Each dish in itself is like a piece of art. We had a 10 to 15 course meal, I really can’t remember and each one was better than the previous. It started with a delicious soup served in a papaya followed by vegetarian sushi (yes, that exists), various other dishes I never tried (I was told a sort of mushroom or some weird vegetables I never heard of in my live) and followed, a mind blowing experience, by a mushroom steak. It was delicious!
But it’s not only the quality of the food. It’s also how the celebrate each dish.
Dishes are brought in on a boat looking tray, most of the time accompanied by a bonsai as decoration.
Honestly, even if you’re not vegetarian, you have to try Yu Shang Ge when visiting Taiwan. You find “Yu Shang Ge” in Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung. Count in at least two solid hours for your culinary experience.
I’m sure you won’t find a restaurant that provides a similar experience to your culinary senses. At least not for the price. Set menus start at a very affordable NTD 1,000 per person (just about 30 Euro), a bargain for the food quality and service you receive.
鈺善閣 / Yu Shang Ge (Taipei Store)
Store Address: 1F, No. 14, Beiping East Road, Taipei City TEL：+886 2-2394-5155