Fri, Sep 14, 2007 - Page 15 News List

RESTAURANTS: Tien Chuan (佃權)


Tien Chuan is a taste of Japan, right on Yanji Street.

Photo: Ho Yi, Taipei Times

Joining the ranks of restaurants that have successfully updated tradition with distinctive design and fresh ingredients to appeal to urban hipsters, Tien Chuan, an oden-cum-sake bar situated at the heart of Taipei's East District (東區), has become a popular spot attracting diners with its quality food, wide selection of sake, service with a smile and a cozy atmosphere.

Seating around the wooden bar accommodates around a dozen patrons. The Japanese stewed snack food served at the warmly lit sake bar seems to be transplanted directly from Japan. Mellow jazz tunes set the mood for a night of imbibing, which could easily end in inebriation as the bar stocks more than 80 varieties of sake as well as Japanese plum wine and beer.

The more than 40 kinds of oden dishes on offer - most of the ingredients are imported from Japan - are served in three ways. A combination of six stewed tidbits costs NT$250 while nine is NT$350. Diners can also order ingredients individually, priced at NT$45 each. Besides seasonal vegetables such as Chinese cabbage, daikon and asparagus, popular items include the joint's signature black sesame tofu and hot spring egg (溫泉蛋) with a half-boiled yolk.

The light-flavored broth made by boiling kelp, vegetables, daikon, shavings of dried bonito and other fish takes six hours to prepare and is the soul of a gratifying oden meal.

Though oden fare is the joint's main attraction, there is also a wide selection of grilled meats and seafood, which are equally good, if not better. Most are priced between NT$200 to NT$400 each. The grilled dishes come in big portions and the chef doesn't skimp on the thick slices of premium meat.

Tien Chuan (佃權)

Address: 136 Yanji St, Taipei (台北市延吉街136號)

Telephone: (02) 8771-8272

Open: Daily from 7pm to 2am.

Average meal: NT$600

Details: Menu in Chinese; credit cards not accepted

Lamb chops, beef, chicken and pork are grilled with a simple seasoning of salt and pepper. The chicken wings, which are stuffed with cod roe, and conch skewers are the bar's specialties, and come recommended. As does the pork neck skewer. Thick slices of streaky pork are cooked until they have a slightly charred flavor on the outside and are juicy and tender on the inside. Each bite releases a smidgen of fat, which melts on the tip of your tongue.

For people who like raw food, the sashimi plate of salmon, tuna, roe, mackerel and other seasonal seafood is served with freshly ground wasabi.

Though the traditional Japanese repast comes with a hefty bill, when compared to similar establishments, Tien Chuan is a good place to go for a real taste of Japan.

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