Jul 3, 2019

The Landis Taipei Hotel Tien Hsiang Lo - C'mon, Stop Exaggerating

Tien Hsiang Lo, a one Michelin starred restaurant specialized in Hangzhou cuisine. However, besides dining at the main restaurant inside The Landis Taipei Hotel, they also established a mini version at a department store's food court. 

I had way too many unsatisfactory experiences dining at subsidiary branches. So I'm not going to risk my special first time moment with Tien Hsiang Lo. I can wait.

And that day finally came. A group of us, four girls total, had a wonderful night at Tien Hsiang Lo, the main one at the hotel.

However, the restaurant was undergoing remodeling, perhaps all the way till end of July. I was semi-lost following the old sign inside the elevator. Luckily, I kind of remembered the lady on the phone when confirming my reservation. She mentioned something about the venue change. Followed by my vague memory, finally found a way to the restaurant.

We brought our own wine, including the local variety by Weightstone vineyard estate & winery. 

(Drink responsibly, we either took MRT or taxi home that night)

It's going to be a longer night, too many stories need to update with the crew. In order to stay alert, I ordered something friendlier, oriental beauty tea, a local tea variety.

However, there was a two-hour dining time limit that night. My friend said there wasn't such rule during her previous visits. What a shame, we couldn't get to finish our dessert by the time Tien Hsiang Lo was about closed.

Despite the time limit, there's still something nice to dine here at night. They have a Chinese calligrapher on site who writes down what have been ordered in a little scroll that customer can bring home with.

A wonderful gift especially for western visitors. Keep in mind, this service is only available during dinner hours.

Marinated duck breast with soy sauce -

Usually for this dish, the duck can be heavily seasoned with dense sweet and salty flavors. But the one presented by Tien Hsiang Lo was leaning toward the elegant side. A gentle touch of soy sauce aroma, but what prevailed was the scent from Chinese leek below.

So strong, we could smell the Chinese leek before it arrived to our table. When the chef came out towards the end of the meal, we asked about the Chinese leek. He said it was specially sourced from Yilan, a variety called "san shin leek," direct translation "three star leek." The Chinese leek had a crisp crunchy bite, like it was just picked from the farm.

The duck was supposed to be the star, but the Chinese leek underneath was too hard to ignore. A pleasant surprise, and perhaps the most "watery" leek I've ever had.

Stir-fried river shrimps with "Long Ching" tea -

I actually had the actual, if you can call it that way, Long Ching river shrimps from where it was originated. The river shrimps in Hangzhou was smaller than the ones served here. But the flavor was great, even better with Tien Hsian Lo's own vinegar.

Already sweet with a smooth coating thanks to a good number of egg whites involved while prepping the shrimps, the vinegar on the side can further brought up the aroma. First providing a dense scent similar to balsamic vinegar, then quickly evaporated, more so faded into airy aroma.

Water shield soup "west-lake" style -

A type of aquatic plant with a gooey, almost gelatinous coating. Its smooth texture echoed the soup below, which had pieces of chicken that one couldn't tell if not mentioned beforehand. 

The soup may appeared plain, but it was filled with savory Chinese ham and chicken stock aroma, and packed with umami. Both the flavors and the texture can gently warm up the body, perhaps soul that's seeking some comfort too. Highly recommended.

Stir-fried pearl pea and bamboo shoot -

Crisp kind of crunchiness from the peas, but the very outer skin still covered with a thin layer of silky coating, felt like the peas can just slip down the throat. This dish also carried an earthy sweet note, partly due to the high heat stir-fry technique and how fresh these ingredients were.

It's amazing that the chef and turn such simple ingredients to shine like stars. But what's more surprising was the fried tofu skin -

I was busy taking pictures while overhearing my friend who already took the first bite. She kept saying "oh my god, oh my god." I was like "pssss can you be even more dramatic?"

Once done with the pictures, I took a bite myself.


"Right!? My friend was nodding and reconfirming with me at the same time.

What sorcery is this? Right at the moment I picked up the fried tofu skin with my chopsticks, I can already tell that there's something unusual going on here. The fried tofu skin may looked crunchy and somewhat sturdy, but it was airy and fragile when I put some force through the chopsticks.

And when the fried tofu skin hit my moth, it just shattered, literally. Can you imagine something crunchy can also provide a melt in your mouth sensation? The feeling was like a piece of thin glass shattered into a thousand pieces instantly. Simply unbelievable.

Three different seasonings were also served on the side - Sichuan peppercorn with salt, white section of the scallion, and fermented sweet flour paste.

I especially enjoyed the fermented sweet flour paste. They made it in-house here, simply by boiling down some kind of Chinese alcohol and sugar, but can ended with orange peel aroma in the end. So when the fried tofu skin already melted away, some fermented sweet flour paste still lingered on my tongue, and I love that dense sweet note prolonging such enjoyment.

Slowly braised pork "Don-Po" style, served with steamed rice with pickled radish, steamed rice with ham/mushroom/bok choy, and Tien Hsiang vermicelli -

Possibly the most famous dish from Tien Hsiang Lo, but the wowing effect was much low-keyed compared to the earlier fried tofu skin.

It was good, with melt in your mouth braised fat, but came after that fried tofu skin, all the glorious moment had already been taken away.

Noodle soup with bamboo and shredded pork -

Pretty comforting, especially when slurping noodles covered in chopped leafy greens and slightly gooey stock.

Pancake with date paste -

Without that distinct strong earthy tone from date, this one was only left with gentle aroma, considered it a more acceptable date sweet treat for me. Never a big fan of date here, but for this one, I had two slices. 

Small red bean paste pancake -

After two Chinese sweet pancakes, suddenly realized that there was complimentary dessert in the end -

Remember the dining time limit mentioned earlier? We couldn't finish our sweet ending with such time frame, but the staff handled it very professionally and friendly. They called the bar, more so a brasserie on the first floor, helped us bring the sweet treats there, including our wine, so we can continue our chick chat throughout the night. That's service beyond the norms and way over our expectations. Very thoughtful and heart-warming too.

On top of such great service, considered it lucky that the restaurant was undergoing remodeling during my visit. We all got a little gift to take home with - fried lotus roots coated with sugar. The manager said it's a thank you gift showing their appreciation for our support and visit even when Tien Hsiang Lo is going through a make-over at the moment.

Either way, I did enjoy my first visit here at Tien Hsiang Lo. Future revisit is a must.

Tien Hsiang Lo currently holds one Michelin star status.

Tien Hsiang Lo - The Landis Taipei Hotel 

No. 41, Sec. 2, Min-Chuan East Road, 
Taipei, Taiwan
+886 2-2597-1234
Hotel website: Tien Hsiang Lo
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TienHsiangLo/

Opening hours: 

Lunch from 11:30 a.m. ~ 2:30 p.m. 
Dinner from 5:30 p.m. ~ 10:00 p.m.

Other Taipei Michelin restaurants visited this year:

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