(BAI GU YUAN) or MUSHROOM PARK
17, Lane 71, Ren Ai Rd., Section 4
baigu.com.tw website in Chinese only
kid friendly?: high chairs available, though no room to put them in some booths. a lot of things on the table including hot pot so not for antsy kids who can't keep their fingers off the table.
date visited: 12/16/2006
Sorry for the lack of posts. I wanted to try and put up posts more often in 2007, but traveling back to LA, jetlag, getting sick and work has put a dent in those new year's resolutions! Plus I don't have all the business cards/addresses translated - but I know you just want to see pictures! So I will do my best to catch up on my backlog of half-written posts and update with the other information later.
The winter weather is the perfect excuse to go out and eat hotpot, not that you really need an excuse to eat hotpot. Maybe known to some as "shabu shabu," if it's not all-you-can-eat buffet style, then you basically order your options from the menu, and cook it yourself in a pot of hot boiling water (or broth) on the table. The options can range from spicy hot "ma-la" hot pot to a place like this- with over a hundred of types of mushrooms! We had mixed up our reservations for a busy Saturday night (the restaurants named "Orange" (the fruit) is not the same as "Orange" (the color)- a subtle but distinct difference in Chinese- left us without reservations at the trendy Orange hotpot restaurant) so we ended up finding space at the Mushroom hotpot place.
They start you off with a pot of broth with some herbs and then bring over a tray full of various vegetables and more mushrooms than you could imagined existed. There are fat, skinny, long, short, spidery, stubby, crunchy, chewy- all sorts of mushrooms that go into the mushroom broth.
so lonely and empty, just waiting for its mushroom friends
The different set menus offer different choices. I love mushrooms, so it was very exciting for me. The servers put all the mushrooms and vegetables in for you and then set the timer, which will let you know when the hotpot goodness is ready to eat.
They also gave us mini dishes of dried mushroom and mushroom floss, both which were really addictive.The floss was chewy and salty and the dried mushroom had a good crunch with an intense flavor. Both of these are also available for sale to take home. I ended up buying both and eating the dried mushroom as a snack- perfect for when I wanted something to munch on, while being relatively healthy!
In the meanwhile, we chowed down on our abalone mushroom, which was a giant long (and yes, very phallic looking) mushroom that did have a meaty texture like abalone.
Our set menu included these two appetizers, while our friends set menu included mini mantoh or steamed buns with a sweet condensed milk dipping sauce. They came in assorted flavors and were soft and warm. I wasn't really used to the condensed milk eaten with mantoh- it belongs on shaved ice!
While the mushroom hotpot is perfect for vegetarians, they also do serve meat, so we had some sliced pork for our hotpot! They came in perfect frozen curls, like the kind you see at Mongolian bbq places that don't want you to pile a lot of meat into your bowl before it's stirfried.
They also had a little pot of meat mixture that we could scoop up into little balls and drop into the soup. This was one of their signature dishes- they were like chewy meatballs with the starchy fishcake texture. We also had dumplings, but they were not as tasty as all the other dishes.
At the end of your meal, you have a perfect broth to sip from to keep you warm to go back out into the cold winter air and all the mushrooms don't get mushy, but just get more flavorful. If you don't finish, you can even take it home- they will give you a sturdy plastic bag to put it in.
The restaurant is very clean with separated areas for seating. It's perfect for families or friends- it's not as trendy with dark decor/lighting as Orange or even Buffalo Yakiniku, but it's good. Their menu is only in Chinese, so you might have to go with the pictures or bring someone who speaks Chinese to help order. You're going to get mushrooms, any way you order! They do talk a bit about the mushrooms and their benefits which I missed out on.
This mushroom hot pot restaurant is actually a part of a chain, so there are quite a few locations around Taiwan. It's been very cold in LA, so I imagine it's been cold in Taipei still- the hearty hot broth and mushrooms will definitely help.
others who recommend eating 100 Mushroom Garden
-Jim Standard from Food and Wine Magazine
- Bayside Village Diary
More locations (in Chinese) on website here
Tien Mu location
No. 91, Chung Cheng Road, Sec 1
No. 60, Ming Sheng E Road, Sec 5
No. 16, Jin Shan S Road, Sec 2
No. 67, Mushin Road, Sec 3