Walking into Sui Shin, you feel like you're in Kyoto, Japan: the black stone floors, the simple but elegant pottery tableware, the zen-style bonsais, all give a flavor of Japan's ancient capital. So does the food. \nIt is one of the few places in Taipei to cook up authentic Kansai style (Japan's main western island) Japanese cuisine. This cuisine, generally speaking, uses lighter coloring and has an emphasis on the original taste and color of the ingredients \nThe owner, Tatsuyuki Matsumoto is from Hiroshima, also a major city in Kansai, the birthplace of Japanese culture. His 23 years spent working around the world as a manager at the Regent Hotel Group makes him a meticulous manager and a demanding boss. The results are authentic Japanese food and quality service. Being a Japanese in Taiwan for 10 years, the last thing he wants is to create yet another "half Taiwan, half Japanese" restaurant. \nAn obvious example is Matsumoto's insistence on seasonal cuisine. Now, in early fall, the restaurant is serving up duck and crab dishes, as the meat is fattest before winter. \nTanaba kani ten-raku yaki, or grilled crab with miso sauce is a delightful starter. The tanaba crab from Hokkaido is famous for its abundant meat. The crab's foot is first seasoned then topped with miso sauce and scallions, then grilled. The fresh crab flavor and rich miso sauce make the dish good company for wine, sake or beer. \nAigamo mino age, or fried mashed duck breast wrapped with day lily, is a delicate fried dish. The duck breast is minced and ground finely, wrapped with day lilies in a roll and wrapped with seaweed. The dish looks like the Japanese version of spring rolls, with a twist of duck breast and more sophistication. When serving, dip the fried roll in the sauce made of soy sauce, spicy radish mince and scallion shreds. \nExecutive chef Su Jung-hua (蘇榮華) creates eight to nine dishes each month, for the three months of Autumn. Another of his autumn creations is kamo nabe, or duck hot pot, a unique hot pot dish that you cannot find elsewhere. \nMinced duck is placed in a bamboo bar for you to make meatballs with a tiny bamboo spoon and throw into the soup. The soup is a fish stock, with strong soy sauce and duck oil. Accompanying the duck meat balls are more than six kinds of mushrooms, glass noodles and fish cakes. \nThe best way to enjoy seasonal dishes at Sui Shin is to let the chef arrange things for you. Simply tell him what your budget is. For a budget of NT$800, the chef prepares seven to eight items including sashimi, grilled and fried dishes and soups.
PHOTO: YU SEN-LUN, TAIPEI TIMES
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