From our archives, Compass Magazine, May. 2002:
By Chen Ni-ang Translated by Matt Godsey and Annie Chen
Feng Zhuan Shark’s Fin Restaurant is housed in a distinctive building that is especially eye-catching at night, when it casts an attractive glow onto the street.
The first thing one notices upon stepping into the dining room is a sense of space. The atmosphere is refined and relaxed, with classical music playing in the background. The gentle lighting, provided by Dutch-style lamps that hang from the ceiling, has a soothing effect. And, unlike many restaurants, Feng Zhuan does not try to cram in as many tables as possible until every square-inch of space has been filled. Instead, a large portion of the main dining room is dedicated to a gently flowing waterfall.
Shark fin is a delicacy, prized by gourmets for both its flavor and its nutritious value. In fact, three years ago former President Lee Teng-hui himself enjoyed Feng Zhuan’s shark fin. However, the prices at this restaurant are quite reasonable; you don’t need to be a president to dine here.
Since there are very few restaurants in Taiwan that serve shark fin as their main course, many customers at Feng Zhuan are curious about the different ways it can be served. Therefore, set meals are offered for customers’ convenience, making it easy to order, even for those who have never tried shark-fin before. The lunch set meal (NT$680) includes salad, appetizer, shrimp ball, shark-fin steak, Thai-style chicken rice and a choice of fruit or ice cream.
The chefs at Feng Zhuan draw their ideas from different types of cuisine, which are used to develop interesting new flavors. The main course is always shark fin, of course, but the side dishes change from time to time. For example, the current side dish is Thai chicken rice–fresh, tender chicken, cooked with a delicate sweet and sour flavor. Customer response to this dish has been overwhelmingly positive.
Since shark fin itself has a very subtle flavor, preparing it properly is not easy. Feng Zhuan chefs cook the fins in a broth with a ham and chicken base until they have absorbed the essence of the soup. They then add a French-style sauce. This complicated and time-consuming method of preparation is the only way to draw out the inherent flavor of the shark fin.
Despite the high level of preparation required, the dinner set meal costs only NT$980. Although the side dishes are similar to those served with the lunch set, the shark-fin steak served with the dinner set meal comes from the middle section of the fin, the highest quality part. Feng Zhuan also offers larger high-quality steaks (NT$1,500 and NT$1,800) for the true shark-fin aficionado. For banquets, Feng Zhuan is worth considering, with a main course of shark-fin (naturally) and a per-table cost of only NT$7,000.
One of Feng Zhuan’s owners is also the architect who designed the restaurant. When planned the layout of the building from the customer’s point of view, trying to envision the kind of restaurant that would make them feel most at home. In addition to the large main dining room, there are also six private dining rooms with total seating for 120 people. Thought was also given to the amount of parking required by so many customers; the 800 ping parking lot is sure to have spaces available, even on the busiest of nights.
Whether you want to treat some friends or have a family get-together, Feng Zhuan has the food and the atmosphere to satisfy, with prices that are quite reasonable, especially when one considers the high-quality ingredients and the amount of time and care devoted to preparation.
Feng Zhuan Shark’s Fin Restaurant
81, HuiJung (HuiChung) Rd., section 3
Tel: (04) 2258-9168
Hours: 11:30 am-2 pm; 5:30-9 pm