Under its most infamous ruler Qin Shi Huang (秦始皇), the Qin Dynasty (秦朝) was a time marked by the centralization of government and codification of laws. According to Lin Hui-lin (林惠玲), owner of Qin Wei Guang, it was also a time when the emperor systematically categorized the history and ingredients of many dishes from the region that is today called Shaanxi Province (陝西).
Lin tells this and a bevy of other stories as she explains the origins and uses of the tapestries adorning the celebrity-signed walls, the patterns on the tablecloths covering the hardwood tables and the dishes on the menu. Even the corn, red peppers and garlic hanging out front of the restaurant serve as the foundation for a story about differing weather conditions between steamy Taipei and temperate Xian (西安), Shaanxi's capital city. It's this attention to detail that has made Qin Wei Guan a staple on many a gourmand's list of eateries to frequent.
The food Lin serves is as hearty as her stories. As Shaanxi cuisine is influenced by the numerous Muslims living in the area, the menu consists mainly of beef, lamb, broad-cut noodles and paomo — a broth stewed for a day and served with un-leavened bread. To accommodate local palettes, Lin has added fish, pork, and tofu to the menu.
We started off with Hu Pi Hui (NT$160) — a mixture of green pepper, fried tofu and hot bean sauce — and cut broad noodles (NT$90). Cut broad noodles are a staple of Shaanxi and ours were served in a large bowl with chopped green onions and Lin's special chili paste, which, when mixed together, was simple but delicious.
For the main course we ordered Zhi Zi Gu Pai, or spareribs/spices (NT$360), a dish that is marinated, steamed, fried and baked before being brought to the table. The outer skin is crispy with the meat inside moist and succulent.
Halfway through our meal two dessert pastries arrived at our table. After a minute, one of the servers noticed that the delicate desserts were getting cold and told us to eat them. Only later did Lin tell us that it is the custom to eat dessert halfway through dinner.
"The sugary dessert helps with digestion and increases the appetite so that more food can be eaten," Lin said.