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Mao Yuan 茂園
Address: 185 Chang An East Rd Section 2, Taipei 台北市中山區長安東路二段185號
Tel: (02) 2752 8587
Hours: 11:30am~2:00pm, 5:30~9 :00pm
Price: 350~450 NTD/person
Despite my usual inclination towards chic cafes with meticulously crafted cakes and pastries, my first meal in Taipei was, but of course, reserved for some good old Taiwanese food with the family. After some debate, we decided to head over to Mao Yuan, a popular restaurant that has been serving authentic, down-to-earth Taiwanese food since 1971. How was the meal? Nothing I could complain about!
Mao Yuan 茂園
A full house
Ordering at Mao Yuan is simple. Just line up at the counter, take a look at the iced seafood selections and the chalkboard menu on the wall, then let the waitress take down what your taste buds crave at the moment.
I could barely stop myself from devouring the little dishes of sweetened black beans, braised peanuts, and salted edamame. These complimentary appetizers were nothing fancy but exceptionally well-prepared.
The first dish, white salted chicken (白斬雞), was an instant hit at our table. The meat from young, mountain free-range chicken was tender, succulent, and flavorful enough without the accompanying dipping sauce.
White salted chicken 白斬雞
Next up was oysters with minced garlic (蒜泥蚵仔), a simple dish of fresh, plump oysters covered in a mouthwateringly spicy minced garlic sauce.
Oysters with minced garlic 蒜泥蚵仔
My favorite dish of the meal was braised pork knuckles and intestines (滷豬腳拼大腸). The gelatinous skin, the tender meat, the chewy intestine – everything was perfectly textured and perfectly flavored.
Braised pork knuckles and intestine 滷豬腳拼大腸
Another popular dish at Mao Yuan is braised cabbage (扁魚白菜滷) with dried shrimp, fish skin and the likes. Not a personal favorite, but it was quite well-received at our table.
Braised cabbage 扁魚白菜滷
A platter of deep-fried squid balls and shrimp rolls (花枝丸拼蝦卷) was next brought to the table. Dip these golden bits in the accompanying pepper salt, and there you have another easy crowd-pleaser.
Squid balls and shrimp rolls 花枝丸拼蝦卷
Taiwanese black pork sausage (烤香腸) was of course delicious.
Taiwanese black pork sausage 烤香腸
Stir-fried dried cauliflower (花菜干炒木耳) was something I had never tasted before but instantly fell in love with. I could probably polish off a whole plate of this crunchy, chewy, ugly-looking but delicious-tasting variation of cauliflower.
Dried cauliflower with wood ear 花菜干炒木耳
Here’s a closeup of the wiry and skinny dried cauliflower.
Dried cauliflower with wood ear
Pumpkin rice noodles (炒金瓜米粉) was moist but not runny, soft but not mushy. Having fully absorbed the sweet and aromatic pumpkin flavor, this was a memorable heap despite being one of the more subtly flavored dishes of the meal.
Stir-fried pumpkin rice noodles 炒金瓜米粉
Pumpkin rice noodles
Lastly, a complimentary bowl of well-cooked red bean soup, a simple and sweet ending to a thoroughly satisfying meal.
Red bean soup