New Taipei City – 欣葉小聚 ShinYeh Mitsui Outlet Park, LinKou

ShinYeh might be one of those restaurants that you may have heard been mentioned in the same breath as DinTaiFeng or 3 Coins. It’s one of those classic staple restaurants where you may be dragged along to, to sit on a massive table and pass around the plates to help yourself to some incredible, flavourful food.

We took a trip out to the LinKou outlet (honestly, I wouldn’t bother going there to shop, it isn’t much of an ‘outlet’ that you may be hoping for), and decided to stay for some food. We got lucky and there was a couple of spare tables, because it was a week day. However, I would strongly recommend you call to book a table in advance – +886226084988.

So, if you head to the top floor of the LinKou Mitsui Outlet Park and walk through the main outside seating area of the outlet, you’ll eventually find this ShinYeh restaurant on the right side.

So, as we first sat down we were presented with the appetisers that we ordered, which were: wood ear fungus (sounds nasty, right?) and cherry tomatoes – both cold dishes. We were also presented with the sweet potato rice we had ordered, having some huuuuge portions of sweet potato served with delicious rice.

Now, if you’re hungry, definitely get the sweet potato with the rice. I am a huge fan of sweet potato, and will actively search it out around the markets at the weekend. But, it’s rather filling as the portion size is massive. So, if you’re wanting to fill up on some veggies or meat instead, then perhaps give the sweet potato a miss.

A little while later, dishes began to trickle out of the kitchen and the aromas started to fill the air. First to come was the incredible smells of Thai basil from the ‘3 cup pork knuckle‘. The more popular of the ‘3 cup’ series of foods is perhaps ‘3 cup chicken’. ‘3 cup’ is a pretty simple idea, really, it’s 1 cup of soy sauce, 1 cup of rice wine, and 1 cup of sesame oil. Of course, there are many variations, but this is the classic recipe. The pork knuckle here was ok, but I’m not a huge fan of having to gnaw at the side of a bone just for a bit of chewy skin that holds little flavour…

However, the stir fried chillies and the fried pork were both on point. Now to say stir fried chillies perhaps conjures up ideas of there being lots of heat – there isn’t. There’s a faint heat in the background, but nothing to get you reaching for that water (or beer) after every mouthful. The pork with the avocado is just a triumph and something I will look to start doing at home, for sure!

Pickled radish cake just sounds a bit weird. But it is essentially a fluffy omelette with some very small pickled radish cubes dotted inside. It’s alright, but I don’t go mad for it.

Now I am a keen consumer of the Korean rice cake – Toppoki, but this rice cake is more of a traditionally Chinese style of thinly sliced rice cake often stir fried. I wouldn’t order this again, and I didn’t care much for the flavours, either. The pickled veg is OK but then with the chewy rice cake and the gloopy sauce made this way by the rice cake thickening it just wasn’t doing it for me. Pass.

I was absolutely buzzing for some tomato stir fried cauliflower, and I really have no idea why. When it came I felt deflated, but I don’t really know what I was expecting.

Dish of the day for me was perhaps the pan fried pork liver. I could eat liver every day, and when it’s dropped into some delicious sesame oil soup for winter I am all over it like a rash. But here, pan fried, in a sticky sweet sauce paired with that delicious sweet potato rice – bravo. Big fan, would order again.

The seafood here was fresh and bursting with flavour, and these shrimp didn’t dissapoint. But, I do feel like seafood can sometimes come with a premium price tag and you’re left wanting, more often than not. This was the case here. Maybe it’s because it was so delicious that you just wanted to pig out in indlugent greed, or maybe the portion size wasn’t big enough…

Another of my favourite Taiwanese classics right here is the GuaBao. I’ve been vocal in my love for this incredible snack, and I will continue to be for as long as I live. Delicious fatty pork gives way to crunchy pickled veg, with a kick of corriander and a sweet finish of peanut sugar, all wrapped in a fluffy cloud of a steamed bun. But here, the Guabao was different. Did I love it as much? Perhaps not. The steamed bun wasn’t as fluffy as most I have had elsewhere. The pork wasn’t quite as fatty as I am used to. But, overall, the flavours were spot on. I mean, it’s damn good, but is it LanJia good?

Overall, I’d say ShinYeh is a good spot for a nice lunch if you’re ever in the LinKou outlet mall. I have heard great things about the other branches dotted around Taipei City, so maybe I will give those a go at some point as well, to contrast and compare. It was good, but it didn’t blow my mind.

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