Salted Fish and Tofu
Clay Pot (NT$280)
Dusk Crows & Old Trees: Flying free of the culinary flock
By Niang Chen
Translated by Naomi Lai
47, CunZhong St
The free-spirited owner of the Dusk Crows & Old Trees, Tony Tsai, calls himself a "dusk crow", perching on the branches of an old traditional culinary tree. Yet, Tony did not want to be a common crow, and didn't want his restaurant to turn into just another chic-looking dining location. What he did instead was to head back in time and incorporate traditional Chinese cultural elements into his dining space, menu and even management style. The result is a place that stands out on its own.
The abundant collection of calligraphy, wood, rocks and old furniture in the restaurant was originally intended for Tony's dream house, a 1,000-ping "san ho yuan" (a three-sectioned traditional Chinese compound). Since this structure has not yet become a reality, Tony instead shares his decorative collections with his diners, offering them the historic ambiance of a "san ho yuan". This, combined with the surrounding green bamboo, running water and a general intellectual atmosphere, makes Dusk Crow & Old Tree a favorite, peaceful escape from the surrounding city.
The cuisine here combines various culinary styles, from Chinese, Japanese and Southeast Asian to Hakka. Every dish must pass Tony's careful scrutiny and only when it has met his standards for appearance, aroma and flavor can it be presented on the tables. The distinct but mixed flavors of dishes such as the Salted Fish and Tofu Clay Pot (NT$280), Taro Chicken Clay Pot (NT$280), Salt Egg and Pumpkin (NT$160), Plum Pork (NT$280), and Spicy Fennel Shrimp (NT$60) are all representative of this restaurant's creative cooking approach.
Menu selections like Tony's personal favorites--Mango and Bell Pepper Pork, Nantou Pickled Bamboo and Vegetable Stir Fry, Pan-Fried Fish, and Dried Radish Stripes and Clam Soup--all provide deep explorations of the culinary arts, inviting connoisseurs to come and stimulate their taste buds.
Left: Mango and Bell Pepper Pork
Right: Taro Chicken Clay Pot (NT$280)