Fri, Sep 23, 2005 - Page 15 News List

Restaurant: Yuan Dao Activity Hall (原道館)

Address: 176-1, Haixing Rd, Jinsan Township, Taipei County (台北縣金山鄉海興路176號之1)
Telephone: (02) 2498 5597; (02) 2498-5598
Open: Seven days a week. Lunch: 11:30am to 2:30pm; afternoon tea: 2:30pm to 4:30pm; dinner: 5:30pm to 9pm
Average meal: Lunch NT$500; Afternoon Tea NT$300; Dinner NT$600 per person
Details: No English menu provided; major credit cards accepted; free parking; weekend reservation recommended

By Derek Lee  /  STAFF REPORTER

The cherry-blossom set menu at Yuan Dao Activity Hall features soft-shell crab, and an elegant container.

PHOTO: DEREK LEE, TAIPEI TIMES

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 (和風料理)," high on a wall before you reach the entrance to the Juming Museum. The slightly curved facade of the two-storey restaurant merges into the surroundings.

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."

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