Monday, April 28, 2014

japanese/sashimi: SUNFLOWER KAISEKI (SHAN HUA)

No.9-2, Jianguo N. Rd., Sec. 2, 
(02) 8978-5000

MRT: Nanjing East Road

website: Shan Hua's FB page

hours: 11:30AM- 2:30PM; dinner 5:30PM-9:30PM

kid friendliness:

The moment you step into Sunflower Kaiseki, there is a warm, golden glow. in the large dining space which uses mostly natural wood and golden accents in its interior. The restaurant used to be home to the shuttered Canoviano and has impressively high ceilings in the main dining area and open kitchen, with some private rooms on the second floor. Don't confuse this Shan Hua (opened in fall of 2013) with another Shan Hua Japanese restaurant in town, the other a sushi bar. 

Diners can sit at the sushi bar to observe the action or sit in one of the partitioned sections. 

Kaiseki style dining is almost like a ritual- with elaborate multi course meal that traditionally includes components of appetizer, sashimi, a simmered dish, a grilled dish and a steamed dish. It's a popular style of dining in Taipei as customers feel getting the "set course" is the best value. Sunflower Kaiseki is definitely on the pricier side- sets start from NT$1200 and go up to NT$3500- and portions are on the refined side. Unfortunately the menu was only in Chinese, so my hosts did the ordering, but the seven course menu changes seasonally to use the freshest ingredients.

Complimentary pickled cucumbers and radish

The first course was like a garden of delicate amuse bouches, almost too pretty to eat. 

Loved the sweet fresh crab meat with jellyfish underneath

This was sea cucumber, which I was reluctant to try since I don't usually like the soft jelly-like texture, but these surprised me with a crunchy snap that I enjoyed.

Sashimi course

Fried burdock gobo root chips

Fish bone crackers- I actually ate quite a few of these hone senbei waiting for our next course. Supposedly very good for you as they are high in calcium, and very crunchy and salty and addictive.

Tableside shabu shabu 

You know me, I wanted more than a few slices! But the slices I got were ultra tender, served a bit pink in the middle.

Sesame ice cream so nutty it almost tasted like peanut butter. Yum.

This kind of restaurant is great for people who are not creatures of habit. The menu and courses are varied and changing- even when you look at the various Chinese food blogs that have posted about Sunflower Kaiseki already, no two meals look exactly the same. You could experience and taste something new each visit. 

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