Shiyuan Taiwanese Live Fish Restaurant
“Waste not, want not” the old saying goes – and the next Fooding adventure definitely does just that.
As you probably know, most people outside of America are not squeamish about the fact that meat was once a live animal. In Asia, they take it to the extreme. There, the ultimate sign of seafood freshness is being able to go to a restaurant and point at living meat (future meal) swimming around in a tank and then 10 minutes later, have that formerly living meat show up at your table cooked in 5 delicious ways, head, skin, and bones still attached – almost every part of the fish utilized in some way. This is the story of my Taiwan Live Fish Fooding adventure.
The Shiyuan Live Fish Restaurant in Taoyuan (about an hour away from Taipei) specializes in serving live carp. The dining experience starts when you first enter the restaurant and are led into the back room where you pick out a fish big enough to feed your entire party. Most of the dishes use about a pound of fish, so with the 5 pound fish we picked out, they said they would prepare the fish 5 different ways. We sat down and were served veggie sides (braised cabbage, along with some bamboo shoots).
Then, the real meal began… and it was a ton of fish! We ate the following:
1. Battered Deep Fried Carp with MSG
2. Pan Fried Carp in a Brown Sauce (pictured below)
3. Braised Carp served with a tangy sweet sauce
4. Tofu with Carp in a Red sauce
5. Carp Head Soup
Every dish tasted great and was distinct enough from the other dishes so that you didn’t feel like you were eating too much of the same thing. Since the fish was as fresh as you can get it, there wasn’t any hint of a stinky fishy taste whatsoever. My favorites were the pan fried carp and the deep fried carp. Taiwan Beer was served with the meal and the slight bitterness of the beer was a great contrast to the fish.
All in all, a great meal, but it was definitely way too much fish for just 5 people… 1 lb of fish per person and sides is too much for one man to eat. I would recommend a minimum of 7 people because that 5 lb fish was one of the smallest they had. Overall this restaurant was pretty awesome and totally different from what we have here in the States. Just make sure to bring lots of friends and be prepared to take a walk afterwards!
Check out the photos below for the full details. Photographs courtesy of Peter Tsai Photography
Thanks, and happy travels and happy fooding!