Monday, February 13, 2012

CLOSED! chinese/dessert: i strongly recommend SAN YUAN CHINESE CUISINE

(closed and moved to Neihu, renamed Dancing Chili)
No. 12, Song Shou Rd, 5FL
(02) 7737-5088

MRT: Taipei City Hall

website: (Chinese only)

hours: 11 AM - 11 PM

$$ (about NT$400/person)

Kid friendliness: high chairs and kid dinnerware available. lots of kid friendly items on menu

Visit reviewed: 1/29/2012

Whenever I feel like eating out last minute on a weekend, it's kind of a pain. Most places are booked in advance or have crazy lines not worth waiting in. So on a recent weekend, my friends and I figured we'd head to ATT4Fun and walk around until we saw something without too long of a wait. On the 5th floor there's plenty to choose from and we picked the first one that could seat 8 people without a wait. A few doors down, the ramen place had a line of at least ten people, so we vowed to come back to try it out at a less busy time.

With the modern purple touch, Sanjin looks like it might be too fancy or expensive to eat at, but their menu of xiao long bao, dumplings, noodles and other Chinese food are affordable and surprisingly tasty. I'd previously spotted another branch at Bellavita's food court and heard about their chocolate dumplings. Yep, you heard me say CHOCOLATE!

dinner with a view of Taipei 101
Menus is both in English and Chinese thankfully, though a few descriptions still need further explanations. There are a few unique items besides the chocolate dumplings, like spicy oil fried hand cut noodles, or rice cake with kimchi, or handmade steamed buns that look like porcupines. San Yuan's house specialties are marked with a gold character on the left of the items on the menu, and we ended up ordering quite a few of them.

super hot xiao long bao anyone?
The waiter brings appetizer dishes for us to choose from- I think the group settled on edamame, taro and fried tiny fish.

The kitchen works fairly quickly and dishes start arriving- stir fried cabbage...

ketchup fried rice (NT$ which seemed to be more popular with the adults than the kids, contrary to expectations with the sweet tang...

squishy stir fried rice cakes, cooked to the right chewy-ness...

The steamed pork xiao long baos(NT$160) arrive and disappear quickly, one per person with 8 in a basket, so we end up having to add a few baskets... Hot and juicy, it is a crowd pleaser as much as Din Tai Fung.

We also try the house specialty Lee Xue mild spicy xiao long bao (NT$320), but they look exactly the same on the outside as the regular ones. On the inside, the pork is dotted with what seems like super finely diced chilies and a nice kick. There's a "super hot" one with three chilies pictures as well as a "superb xiao long bao" at NT$520.

The other dumplings are just as good... steamed vegetable and pork (NT$160)...

shrimp and pork shumai (NT$180) which floats a shrimp above a juicy pork dumpling (unlike the ones filled with sticky rice at Din Tai Fung)...

Don't miss the handmade steamed small bun (NT$90 for 3), which doesn't describe how adorable these buns are. 

Up close, I admire the handiwork and wonder how they make all the little spikes.

We weren't full, so we ended up adding the Lee Xue spicy oil fried handmade noodle(NT$200). The pan fried knife cut noodles were thick and chewy and had a nice flavor. A bowl for one would make a nice meal.

Be sure to order the steamed chocolate bun (NT$220 for 5) ahead of time and save room. Bite sized, these are like fat mochi dumplings filled with warm, melted chocolate. Try not to fight over them, or order extra.

chocolate + dumpling = mmmmmm

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by San Yuan. Even though we ordered some of the pricier things on the menu, sharing it allowed everyone a taste and it ended up being affordable at about NT$400 a person. IS a good family style restaurant with speedy service and a nice setting, and most importantly, delicious enough to make a mental bookmark to consider another trip back, before it's as packed as the other restaurants in the area.


Bellavita, B2
28 Songren Rd
(02) 8729-2739


JCHokie said...

Wow, my cravings are out of control! I'm originally from Taiwan, moved to the States when I was ten and have been back a couple of times. I love and miss all of the food you have posted tonight. They all look SO good! I remember eating the ketchup fried rice when I was little. Yum!

joanh said...

JCHokie: Hi! Thanks for commenting and reading! Haha, me too with the ketchup fried rice.. as a kid and in college. Hope you get to visit Taiwan again soon!

Christine said...

Oh. My. You got me with the picture of the XLB, but cutely shaped steamed buns and chocolate dumplings? I'm so there - that is, the next time I'm in Taiwan!

I tried to make those cute hedgehog dumplings at home, but they didn't turn out at all. I used kitchen scissors to cut the dough before steaming them. Fail. What's in those, btw? Just meat?

Chloe Martin said...

Dumplings is my favourite Chinese food. Looks so yummy!

chinese takeaway

Anonymous said...

This restaurant def has a strong Shanghainese influence... and the cute porcupine pastry... I remember seeing them when I was a little girl in Shanghai.

Jon @ vodkitchen said...

Based on your blog, we dined here last month. We really enjoyed it, trying the chocolate dumplings, xio long bao, handmade noodles and appetizers. All very very good! The tea was great, too.

Anonymous said...

Tried San Yuan today as well because there wasn't much of a wait and the handcut noodles and chocolate dumplings were AMAZING! Definitely will be added to the list of go-to places every time I'm back in town!

mykebob said...

Its a nice information given here about the restaurants and Chinese taste of there. I would like to go there as soon as possible.

Unknown said...

Hey Joan! Unfortunately the restaurant has closed in both locations. I was planning to eat at San Yuan today with a friend until I called both locations only to be faced with the news that both restaurants were gone.

joanh said...

Tiffany- ah yes you're right!! They regrettably closed down late last year when they revamped the 4th and 5th floors. Both BANNCHAN and San Yuan were replaced by a Mr.Onion :< and the Bellavita one closed earlier than that. Thanks for the reminder to update this post