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HOME > TAIPEI > DINING

TAIWAN FUN MAGAZINE > July 2008
 

Black Pepper Prawns--Jin Hai An, Chang An Pepper Prawns, Hei Chao Feng, Bai Jia Ban

By Courtney Donovan Smith
Translated by Ann Lee Photos by Andy Lin

Summer is here and it's time for beer. Without a doubt one of the best treats to pair with beer is Black Pepper Prawns, a spicy dish nicely cooled off with a quaff of your favourite brew. The trend started in south Taiwan and in the 1990s arrived in Taipei. For those who haven't had this dish before, first lick the sauce off the prawn, then dig into the succulent meat. All establishments pull the prawns live from tanks to ensure freshness.

 

Jin Hai An

Jin Hai An

 

Jin Hai An

126, JiLong (Keelung) Rd, Sec 1 (Map H4); (02) 2763-0560
Hours: 4 pm-4 am
MRT: Taipei City Hall
Credit cards accepted.
Smoking section available.
Menu in Chinese, English, Japanese.

Jin Hai An (Gold Coast), open since 1996, features traditional decor with plenty of bamboo, an open kitchen and live prawn tanks. This place is very popular and is packed Friday and Saturday nights--so be sure to reserve tables after 7 p.m. The kind and knowledgeable manager, Ms Wu, showed Taiwan Fun a special treat--order both the Black Pepper Prawns (NT$620) and the Special Barbecued Prawns (not on menu, NT$620) together. The fragrant spicy pepper contrasts beautifully with the salt-encrusted barbecued prawns, and the beer (NT$70-120) really comes to life in this mix. The meat is different in both, with the black pepper prawns made from soft, juicy female prawns and the barbecued prawns made from the more chewy male prawns that don't shrink on the barbecue. Their black pepper is very fragrant and is sourced from a secret location overseas. Customers often comment that their Pepper Escargot (NT$580) is, as the Taiwanese say, "QQ"--not tough like at other restaurants.

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Chang An Pepper Prawns

Chang An Pepper Prawns

 

Chang An Pepper Prawns

182, JiLin Rd (Map D4)
(02) 2521-9605
Hours: 5 pm-8 am
MRT: MinQuan W Rd
Credit cards accepted.
Smoking section available.
Menu in English, Chinese and Japanese.

Chang An claims to be the first of its kind in Taipei, and is certainly well known for its signature Black Pepper Prawns (NT$550). The friendly owner explained that originally they were a prawn fishing establishment on ChangAn Road. Then a Thai friend suggested that they start cooking the prawns caught by customers in Black Pepper style. Opened in 1992, they are now a restaurant only. The decor is plain, but the food is anything but. Their black pepper sauce is strong and strikingly tasty, and the prawns especially large. They also serve 13 other prawn dishes (NT$350-700). For those who don't like spicy dishes but like prawns, try the Lemon Shrimp (NT$550 large, NT$350 small), which has a summery flavour, lemony with a hint of sweet. Another popular dish to pair with beer is the Pepper Shell (escargot, NT$400). Beers are NT$70 or NT$80. They have a second location located on MinQuan East Road.

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Hei Chao Feng

Hei Chao Feng

 

Hei Chao Feng

169, SongJiang Rd (Map E3)
(02) 2502-3068
Hours: 11 am-2 pm,
5 pm-11 pm
MRT: ZhongShan
Credit cards accepted.
Smoking section available.
10% service charge.
Menu in Chinese, English, Japanese

Unlike most black pepper prawn places that stay open very late, Hei Chao Feng targets a younger, fashionable audience and closes earlier. Currently undergoing a complete renovation, it will re-open in mid-July with a new Japanese-style decor. The friendly manager, Mr. Ong, describes their Black Pepper Prawns (NT$360) as stronger flavoured and "addictive", and that they certainly are! Head chef Mr Chen takes special pride in the powerful aroma released when the pot is opened at the table, a flourish that certainly whets the appetite. Also try out their Hot & Sour Prawns (NT$380), a Thai-influenced dish that nicely balances light spicing with the sour, and has a hint of sweetness. This dish is served with rice and a sauce for dipping the prawn meat in. For a Taiwanese taste, try the Three Cups Prawn (NT$380). As an appetizer, go for the Japanese Style Eel (NT$120), a cold dish good for summer. Beer is NT$70 to NT$90.

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Bai Jia Ban

Bai Jia Ban

Bai Jia Ban

22, LinSen N Rd (Map D4)
(02) 2392-6800
Hours: 5 pm-4 am
MRT: Shandao Temple
Credit cards accepted.
Smoking section available.
Menu in Chinese, English, Japanese.

Bai Jia Ban is a two-floor establishment mostly decked out in wood and Taiwanese antiques. The kitchen is behind a glass wall, allowing guests to watch the entire cooking process, from pulling the live prawns from the tank to putting the final touches on the dish. Their Black Pepper Prawn (NT$620) is made with quality pepper sourced from Taichung and tasted medium spicy by standards of this dish. They make a special effort to try and use as many prawns as possible with eggs for this dish. In winter, try their Rice Wine Prawn (NT$780), made with a selection of over 10 kinds of Chinese medicinal herbs that infuses the prawns with the taste of ginseng and rice wine. Their Steamed Crab (NT$720) is very popular, but is not always in stock as they use wild, not farmed, crabs for a tastier meat to dip in their sauce. Also noteworthy are their handmade Moon Shrimp Cakes (NT$240). Beer is NT$80 to NT$100.

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