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Taiwan – A Japanese Feast at Yao Chuan Izakaya 堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 in Jiaoxi, Yilan

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)
Jiaoxi town 礁溪 located in Yilan county 宜兰 is one of Taiwan’s most favoured weekend hideouts. It is famous for its alkaline hot springs which is also known as a “beauty soup.” After a gratifying soak, indulging in a nice Japanese meal is the best way to complete the onsen experience. Our group of 10 came to one of the nicest-looking restaurants in town – Yao Chuan Izakaya.

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

The little town is surrounded by lush mountains and hot spring hotels, perfect for a weekend getaway

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

The restaurant is located below a block of flats on the street level, relatively near to Jiaoxi Hot Springs Park 礁溪溫泉公園 (you can get a free foot soak there).

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Look what I spotted out of a window, what a cute owner :)

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

The Fortune Cat outside the restaurant is a good location marker, and obviously well-loved by the people around.

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

The restaurant has an alfresco area just outside

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

The restaurant was opened in 2012 and is especially popular during weekends. It was also the scene for one of the Taiwanese idol dramas ‘A Hint of You’ 美味的想念.

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Yao Chuan serves freshly caught seafood from the same area where Japanese fishermen get their catch, so you are eating the same high quality of seafood at a much lower price.

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

I must say a lot of effort went into the decor, it’s just too pretty to be called an izakaya!

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Super love the shadows thrown out by the lamps

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Level 2 seating

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

We almost walked into this wall mural, isn’t it beautiful?

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

I was captivated by this light fixture which also doubled up as a plant container – and even a small aquarium for fighting fish!

The restaurant sure looks nice, so can the quality of the meal match up? Well let’s find out… :)

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Wafu Seafood Salad 海鮮沙拉
First up as a big plate of seafood salad. What’s interesting is the use of fruits such as apple, dragonfruit and pineapple to pair with fresh seafood such as scallops, prawns and crab. I must say the seafood was really fresh, and we enjoyed the crunchy bite.

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Yeah, it’s time to celebrate with freshly-brewed local beer
This giant beer dispenser was personally brought back from overseas by the restaurant owner, what an honour to be able to use it!

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Sashimi Platter 刺身拼盤
I almost fell off my chair (seriously) when our forest of sashimi came. The ooh-ings and ahh-ings went on for two minutes, following by endless shutter clicks. I must say am quite impressed with the food presentation, especially in a small town like this.

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Seafood Pot with White Miso, Pumpkin and Milk Soup Broth 南瓜牛奶白味噌石狩鍋
The soup broth was POWER. It was smooth, wholesome and tasted so sweet. I could finish the entire pot by myself. I don’t usually fancy prawns, but these tasted so sweet I ate a couple of them. Must-order.

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Local Fruit Vinegar 宜蘭員山金棗醋
Mid-way through the meal, a fruit vinegar was served to help cleanse the palate and get rid of any ‘oily’ feeling. We are ready for more!

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Cherry Duck Roll 櫻桃鴨肉捲
Cherry duck is a local specialty dish of Yilan, so no visit is complete without tasting this dish. The meat was tender and paired well with the cucumber and spring onion strips.

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Grilled Lamb Chop 烤羊排
I normally don’t eat lamb cos’ I am afraid of the smell, but these tasted great. I didn’t even need the rose pepper salt to eat with.

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Grilled Deepsea Prawn 龜山島鹽烤角蝦
This is another must-order dish. These yummy crustaceans were caught off local Turtle Island, 200 metres below sea level. Their shells were rock hard, the service staff offered to peel them for us. I feel so pampered…now if someone would feed them to me… ;)

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Sushi Platter 創意綜合壽司
And the feasting continues…I went straight for the salmon belly sushi

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Scallop Temaki 干貝手捲
It’s a simple scallop handroll, but nicely executed.

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Steamed Local Fish 清蒸多寶魚
This was another favourite dish of the day – it was gone within 1 minute. The meat had a creamy texture, and I liked it cos’ it was steamed with my favourite Taiwanese ingredient 破朴子.

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Matcha Cake 抹茶黑糖糕
The finale came in a theatrical presentation of matcha cake. We were all intrigued how the forks could stay on the self-designed log (magnetic force!).

We went home feeling uber well-fed and satisfied. It’s a meal that will definitely be remembered and gushed about for a long, long time (I am still reminiscing about my sashimi forest). The price is also reasonable – you can order ala carte from the menu, or opt for omakase (no menu; catch of the day) which is 680NT/pax for lunch, and 880NT or 1280NT/pax for dinner. Definitely reasonable for couples, family/social gatherings and presentable for business entertaining. And, best to call to reserve on weekends, as well as to reserve beforehand if you have any particular seafood in mind (they sold out on my fave uni that night). Itadakimasu! :)

Yao Chuan Izakaya 堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋
Address: 宜蘭縣礁溪鄉健康路38號
Tel: 03-988 3258
Opening Hours: Monday: 11:30AM – 2:00PM, 5:30PM – 10:00PM; Wed – Sun: 11:30AM – 2:00PM, 5:30PM – 10:00PM; Closed on Tuesdays
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/gyo.u.kawa
Read more of my travels in Taiwan

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The Sushi Bar, Far East Plaza – the Japanese you can have everyday

The Sushi Bar

I’m in love with this negitoro don ($24.90)…I have eaten this 4 times this month, and still thinking about it. Luckily it doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg :)

The Sushi Bar

Hidden amidst hair salons, tattoo parlor and fashion shops, I discovered this hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant on my way to the toilet at Far East Plaza in Orchard. The queue could rival those for H&M’s designer collabs, and that made me curious. I have quite high expectations of the quality of Japanese cuisine, so I tried The Sushi Bar with a tinge of skepticism – can you really find good and affordable Japanese food in a fashion mall?

The Sushi Bar

The Sushi Bar

The Sushi Bar only takes reservations on weekdays before 5:30PM, so come prepared to queue for at least 30mins.

The Sushi Bar

Converted from two shop spaces, the restaurant is small and there’s not much decor nor ambiance to talk of. But who cares if the food is good.

The Sushi Bar

Restaurant seating area

The Sushi Bar

Restaurant area on Level 4 of Far East Plaza

The Sushi Bar

Restaurant area on Level 4 of Far East Plaza

The Sushi Bar

While waiting for a seat, have a look at the menu and hey, you can learn the proper way of eating sushi

The Sushi Bar

Two of the dishes you should eat at The Sushi Bar are their value-for-money sashimi and chirashi. I heard they do a mean spaghetti too.

The Sushi Bar

The tiny kitchen is always busy and the culinary team headed by Chef Eugene Heng are all so young, I felt like a relic.

The Sushi Bar

Check out the specials on the board. That’s where I usually order from.

The Sushi Bar

Pitan Tofu ($5.50)
This was yumz. I licked the bowl clean.

The Sushi Bar

My perennial fave: Uni Ikura Don ($38.90)
One little detail to mention – they use fresh wasabi, not the powdered version.

Salmon Head Miso Soup

Salmon Head Miso Soup

The Sushi Bar

Scallop Mentaiyaki ($13.90)
This was delish. I finished an entire plate by myself.

The Sushi Bar

Their signature Salmon Aburi Sushi ($14.50)
A mouthful of goodness. I want more.

The Sushi Bar

Itadakimasu! ;)

The Sushi Bar is a great place to satisfy your Japanese food cravings – the fish cuts are fresh and portions generous, and most importantly wallet-friendly. There’s certainly room for improvement in their service and long waiting time, but I ain’t complaining yet if that means I can have quality sashimi on a shoestring budget. :)

The Sushi Bar
14 Scotts Road #04-28 Far East Plaza, Singapore 228213
391B Orchard Road #05-35 Ngee Ann City Singapore 238873

Tel: +65 9653 6464 (Far East Plaza); +65 8818 3535 (Ngee Ann City)
(SMS for reservations, no reservations on weekends and PHs)

Opening Hours (Far East Plaza):
Mon to Thurs 12:30PM-3:00PM; 5:30PM-9:00PM
Fri to Sat 12:30PM-9:15PM; Closed on Sundays
Opening Hours (Ngee Ann City): Daily 11:30AM-9:00PM

Website: http://thesushibar.com.sg
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/thesushibar.sg


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For the love of fish – Fish Mart Sakuraya

Fish Mart Sakuraya

Two of my super fave foods – uni and ikura!

Ever since getting injured, mum has been feeding me fish everyday to ensure that I heal well. I got a bit sick of having steamed fish everyday, so I decided to show her my kind of fish :)

Fish Mart Sakuraya

Fish Mart Sakuraya @ Parkway Parade
This shop is a little gem located in a neighbourhood mall which I will go to to satisfy my sashimi cravings. It looks like a typical Japanese grocery store selling imported Japanese snacks, frozen food, fresh fish and sauces from the shopfront, go to the back and you will find a restaurant area where you can have your selected seafood freshly prepared by the chefs. The restaurant is highly popular with patrons who go there specially for their sashimi.

Fish Mart Sakuraya

The attractive display of the day’s catch has already set my tastebuds salivating.

Fish Mart Sakuraya

Fresh Sashimi – Take your pick
Pick your sashimi from this counter and ask the chef to prepare it for you on the spot. I like being able to choose my fish since I don’t eat some fish, just too fishy for me. Tuesdays and Fridays – these are the two days that Sakuraya Fish Market gets their fish freshly delivered to their outlet, so are also the best days to visit. Just don’t get too carried away when selecting – you can end with a super huge platter and a hefty bill!

Fish Mart Sakuraya

Asari Miso Soup
These clams have to be fresh to have a sweet soup taste

Fish Mart Sakuraya

Fried Kaki
The only sinful indulgence of the day

Fish Mart Sakuraya

My favourite – stinky Natto Maki

Fish Mart Sakuraya

California Maki

Fish Mart Sakuraya

And the star of the day – Sashimi Platter
I had the ika squid (crunchy), salmon belly (melts in your mouth) and mekajiki (so creamy and good). Any fresher and you will have to fish them yourself. Mmmmmm, craving satisfied :) I wanted the ootoro as well, but mum shot me a killer stare, hee.

We had a good meal, and the fish were as fresh as expected. Cooked food-wise, it was normal and nothing to complain about. The meal wasn’t budget, but definitely value for money. I’m already craving for another bowl of uni and ikura don. Yuuuuuummm, oishi ne!

Fish Mart Sakuraya
Parkway Parade
80 Marine Parade Road #B1-84D Parkway Parade
Singapore 449269
Tel: +65 6345 4714
Opening Hours: 11:00AM – 9:30PM (Mon-Thu, Sun & P.H.); 11:00am-10:00pm (Fri & Sat)

West Coast Plaza
154 West Coast Road #B1-50/51/52 West Coast Plaza
Singapore 127371
Tel: +65 6773 6973
Opening Hours: 11:00AM – 10:00PM