Located on Yunhe Street, a boutique-lined alley that is inexplicably neglected by the hordes of shoppers in nearby Shida night market, Showa is a Japanese restaurant that specializes in hearty, Osaka-style dishes. It’s moderately priced signature omelets and stir-fried noodles will leave both your wallet and belly full. Your arteries, on the other hand, might end up screaming for mercy.
Showa’s interior is cozy without being cramped and the restaurant is outfitted with several tables, a narrow bar and the decor’s piece de resistance, a corner where diners can eat in traditional Japanese style, sitting cross-legged in front of low tables on tatami. On one of our visits, a boisterous group had commandeered the corner, which can be sequestered from other diners with roll-down shades, for a birthday party.
We started our meal with the delicious saikoro steak appetizer (骰子牛排, NT$180), cubes of juicy beef sauteed in a spicy-sweet sauce with onions. Every piece was tender and just a few had luscious bits of savory fat.
My friend ordered the stir-fried kimchi yaki udon (泡菜燒鳥龍麵, NT$150) for his entree. The thick noodles are first cooked al dente and then stir-fried with vegetables and slices of pork in a tangy-sweet sauce. The combination of the thick, white noodles with the rich sauce and large slices of fatty pork was overwhelming and a bit too oily. We preferred the yaki soba dish we had on a previous visit. The soba noodles are prepared and stir-fried in the same way, but the thin, buckwheat noodles complement the fatty meat better than the udon version. Our classic yaki soba (燒麵, NT$170) had crunchy slices of cabbage and succulent strips of pork, and was good enough that we were picking the last tiny bits of noodle off the plate.
Address: 9, Ln 75, Yunhe St, Taipei City (台北市雲和街75巷9號)
Telephone: (02) 8369-1220
Open: 5:30pm to 10 pm (kitchen hours); 10pm to midnight (sake menu)
Average meal: NT$250
Details: Chinese, English and Japanese menu; credit cards not accepted
Showa’s signature dish is its daban shao, or thick, multi-layer Osaka omelets topped with bonito flakes that dance and curl from the warmth of the dish and melt in the mouth. The mentaiko omelet (明太子大阪燒, NT$250) is made with substantial chunks of fish roe, which added a burst of saltiness to the dish. On a previous visit, we tried the classic mixed meat (綜合大阪燒, NT$180) and modern (現代燒, NT$180) omelets. The mixed meat version featured huge slices of pork that covered the top of the omelet, while my modern omelet had udon noodles layered inside, which gave some much appreciated texture to the layers of fluffy egg.
Showa boasts a fairly extensive drink menu of sake and fruit liquors (the restaurant transforms into a sake bar after the kitchen closes). I ordered momo syu or peach liquor (桃酒, NT$160), which was served in a lowball glass over ice. Its cloudy pink color and sweet fruity flavor is reminiscent of Calpis, the Japanese soft drink, and is more of a dessert liquor that did not pair well with my rich, savory meal, though it would have been fine as a palate cleanser afterwards. A beer from Showa’s selection of Japanese imports would have been a better choice.