Along the charming scenic route of the Tam-Jin Highway (淡金公路) on the northeast coast it can be rather difficult to find a decent restaurant. This could be a problem for the visitors who will be thronging to the annual International Kite Festival at Wanli (萬里) and Shihmen (石門) this weekend and next.
If you drive from Jinshan toward Shihmen and look a bit harder, however, you may find a restaurant sign with large Chinese characters saying, "Japanese-Style Cuisine (
The Yuan Dao Activity Hall offers a spacious and elegant dining setting, unlike those long and narrow cafe shops lined up by the coast. Most of the dining tables in the restaurant are arranged by the glass windows on the side facing the sea. The dining rooms on the second floor, which are limited to group dinners with a basic cover charge of NT$10,000, provide a magnificent ocean view.
The restaurant started to operate two years ago and is well-known locally for serving a Japanese-style set menu all year long. The "cherry-blossom" (櫻花套餐) and "kaseki-ryori" (懷石套餐) set dinners are highly recommended. Both come with a light salad dripping in home-made Japanese dressing. For the cherry blossom set the two main courses include top-grade sirloin beef and imported soft-shell crabs. For the kaseki-ryori set there is an emphasis on local and seasonal seafood, such as steamed grouper with shredded green onion and sauce.
As to beverages, iced milk tea stands out for its unusually smooth taste. The red-bean sticky rice for dessert, rather than the cheese cake or coffee jelly, would be the right choice for a perfect ending to your meal. The Japanese-style hot pot with lots of vegetables and seafood is very popular among light-meal eaters. The restaurant also offers vegetarian foods.
David Lin (林大維), manager of the restaurant spelled out why people enjoy dining at Yuan Dao. "People enjoy the relaxing atmosphere in the restaurant and love our hot pots. I guess they enjoy having their food at their own pace. Nothing is to be rushed while they are looking far away at their wide-open ocean view."