If you plan to take a trip to Taiwan's picturesque east coast this summer and are looking for something healthy and different to chow down on while in the Hualien area, then a visit to the Fuli Fish Farm Restaurant (富麗漁村餐廳) is a must.
Along with serving up some of the most pollutant-free freshwater fish to be found almost anywhere in Taiwan, the ingredients of every dish that comes out of its kitchen -- whether it's steamed chicken, bitter gourd salad or clam soup -- has been organically cultivated or raised by local farmers.
Located 10km south, or roughly 20 minutes drive from downtown Hualien and near the township of Fangshan, the restaurant might be sited in an out-of-the-way part of the verdant east coast countryside, but if it's healthy and genuinely chemical-free food you're after, then the drive is well worth it.
Opened by ever-jovial organic fish farmer, Chen Wei-liang (陳威良), the place isn't much to look at. In fact, from the outside it resembles a makeshift shed and the interior is as bland as the exterior, with little in the way of decor.
There is no menu and the choice of food varies from day to day depending on what seasonal ingredients Chen has managed to purchase from the local organic farms. The lack of a menu is not something to worry about, however, as whatever you're served will be tasty and wonderfully edible.
Diners with strict dietary needs or those who don't enjoy certain local delicacies should inform the chefs in advance, as Chinese medicinal herbs are an integral part of some of the dishes.
Meals come in several sizes with the cheapest combination costing NT$1,000, which includes five dishes, enough food to feed a party of two to four people. Larger groups can order the 12-dish meal, which at NT$4,000 offers diners the chance to sample a heap of locally produced organic foodstuffs.
Regardless of the number of people in your group, any meal at Fuli is one to be savored. Some of the house specials include a rich creamy pumpkin and clam chowder, fresh chicken spring rolls and an astringent yet mouthwatering bitter gourd and red pepper salad.
A great accompaniment to a meal at the Fuli Fish Farm Restaurant is a pot of Chen's homemade lotus tea. Made from fresh organic lotus buds that grow wild in his fishponds, the beverage is both refreshing and satisfying and contains nothing but natural ingredients.