Restaurants: Da Ya Chi Canteen (打牙祭)

By HO YI  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Aug 17, 2007 - Page 15

What happens when three 20-something female fitness instructors decide to shift careers and enter the culinary business? The answer is a homelike barbecue restaurant that offers a wide variety of grilled delicacies spiced up with healthy sauces prescribed by practitioners of Chinese medicine.

Rarely adopted in other barbecue joints, Chinese herbs are key ingredients in the eatery's savory sauces, dressings and beverages. The signature teriyaki marinade, for example, is made with various medicinal herbs that are added to the broth.

For those who like their food simple and palatable, the de-shelled shrimp plate (NT$90) comes highly recommended, not just for the competitive price, but also for the simple salt and pepper seasoning that brings out the freshness of the food. The juicy boneless beef sparerib (NT$150) is another favorite that is flavored with sesame oil and the specially concocted blend of Chinese herbs.

Also not to be missed are the creamy mushrooms (NT$90), de-boned chicken leg (NT$40) and scallops (NT$80). The barbecue plate (NT$380) is the restaurant's most popular grilled dish.

Creativity is highly esteemed at Da Ya Chi. The three proprietors like to try out new ideas for their specials. One such item is the grilled glutinous rice cake with sausages - an appetizing mix of sweet and savory flavors with a slightly charred tang. The handmade ramen noodles with pork (NT$60) is another must-try special that teases the taste buds with the slightly spicy secret sauce made from eight seasonings.

To keep the place fresh and fun, new additions are added to the menu every one to two weeks and promotional events, ranging from happy hours to lucky draws, are held every two months.

Besides a decent selection of beer, the staple drink in the barbecue world, plum juice and honey chrysanthemum tea are also available. These non-alcoholic alternatives are recommended by Chinese doctors to keep hydrated in the intense summer heat.

Service here is friendly. Beyond that, the sociable owners employ their experience at Alexander Health Clubs by counseling members on diet and exercise.

For after-dinner entertainment, diners can even make use of the dart board in the back of the restaurant.