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Family-style Spanish charm at Plaza De Espana

By Douglas Habecker
Translated by Sho Huang

(04) 2473-5315
3, DaYing St, Nantun Dist.
Hours: 12-2:30 pm, 6-10 pm (last order 8:30 pm), closed Mondays
English menu available.
Credit cards accepted.
10% service charge.
Parking lot available.

Like people, restaurants often gain a deeper, distinct character and appeal as they age, mellowing into a comfortable, familiar state of existence. Such is certainly the case with EI Meson Plaza De Espana KM.O Spanish Restaurant, which is about to mark its 10th year--positively ancient by local standards.

On a quiet side street, this quaint-looking little eatery today feels like many of its family-run Old Country counterparts, casting a warm glow through its windows as regular customers come and go. Inside, chef/owner William Cheng and his wife do all the cooking and serving themselves.

William wants to promote a family-style ambiance and effectively does that by offering multi-course, non-menu meals that can change daily, depending on what's in season, what's in stock and what customers feel like eating. Many of his regulars simply leave the meal to his discretion, confident that they'll be satisfied. And they only spend about NT$450-550/person to do so.

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Left: Chef/owner William Cheng

A friend and I decided to try this and weren't disappointed. First came a savory, tomato-based vegetable soup, followed by a generous Grilled Chicken Salad filled with cherry tomatoes and orange slices for a refreshing citrus edge. The next dish was a thick, hearty classic Spanish Style Meat & Bean Stew, sopped up with pieces of bread.

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Left: Seafood Paella
Medium: Grilled Chicken Salad

Right: Spanish-Style Meat & Bean Stew

Warming us up even further, the Fried Chorizo with Green Peppers had a nice spicy edge to it. Already starting to feel full, we came to the main course, Seafood Paella, loaded with big shrimp, clams and other seafood. This dish, Paella De Mariscos (NT$260), can also be ordered off the menu with four other paellas, from the classic Paella Valenciana (NT$980, 3-4 people) to the Paella Calabaza (NT$260), with pumpkin, ground pork, mushrooms and veggies.

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Left: Fried Chorizo with Green Peppers
Right: Sliced Lemons with coffee and sugar

Our meal ended with a nice little, European-style touch--thin lemon slices sprinkled with a mix of coffee and sugar, eaten peel and all for a refreshing sweet/sour palate cleanser. Meals can also be enjoyed with a reasonably-priced beer, wine, sangria and coffee selection, and William is now introducing a fresh menu, adding more tapas and other main entrees.

However, to really experience the essence of Plaza Espana, nothing beats simply sitting back and allowing the chef impress you.

Compass Magazine is required by law to remind you not to drink and drive.

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