Fri, Mar 26, 2010 - Page 14 News List

RESTAURANTS : Ching Chun 清泉



Choosing from among the teahouses clustered on the hillsides of Maokong (貓空) can be a daunting task, and even more so if the expected hordes

of tourists return when the

Maokong Gondola officially reopens on Tuesday.

But you can’t go wrong with Ching Chun (清泉) if you’re looking for a place to relax with a good brew and a spectacular view of Taipei.

Dining at Ching Chun can last two to three hours, as each set menu comes with an ample serving of tieguanyin (鐵觀音), a type of oolong tea cultivated in the area, and food piled so high you’ll have trouble finishing it. An early evening supper can soon become a night cap, as candles are lit, insects begin to chirp, and Taipei 101 glitters in the distance.

Ching Chun offers an extensive menu including several set meals for groups of various sizes. My dining partner and I ordered a set for two (NT$1,000), and the portions turned out to be enough for three.

Our meal included several of the teahouse’s signature dishes that incorporate tea as an ingredient. Among the most memorable was the chicken soup with tea and clams (冷凍茶蛤仔雞湯), which was delightfully light in flavor and seasoned with ginger slices and fragrant tea leaves. De-boned chicken leg with tea (茶油雞) offered a pleasant aroma of Chinese herbs, with dried longan and Chinese red dates sitting on top of the meat, while the fried tea leaves (炸茶葉), a rather curious creation, was mildly sweet.

Fifty-year-old proprietor Chang Ching-te (張慶得), also known as Fourth Brother (四哥), loves a good chat and is happy to instruct diners on the art of tea preparation. He also will read your palm or face for free if he has time.

When asked what he thought of the reopening of the Maokong Gondola, Chang said it would definitely bring in more customers. But he prefers tourists who take time to appreciate the area’s natural beauty to those who just want to eat and move on to the next attraction.

Ching Chun 清泉

Address: 33-1, Ln 38, Zhinan Rd Sec 3, Taipei City (台北市指南路三段38巷33-1號)

Telephone: (02) 2939-2832

Open: 11:30am to midnight

Average meal: NT$500

Details: Chinese menu. Credit cards not accepted

On the Net:

Chang said the best time to visit is at dusk, when the setting sun paints the sky with kaleidoscopic colors. Weekdays and Sunday evenings are better for those who wish to avoid the throngs of tourists.

To get to Ching Chun, look for billboards indicating various attractions including restaurants after you exit Maokong MRT Station (貓空捷運站). These will lead you to a very inconspicuous sign that reads Ching Chun Pen Tien (清泉本店). Enter the teahouse on the second floor and ask for a table on the third. That’s where you’ll find the

best view.


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