When Art Meets Soul
Food and beveragesa?�a?�a?�a?�a?�
Rather than moving to China like other manufacturers, the owner, Yin-Hsien Wu, insisted on staying in Taiwan and later opened a unique restaurant called Formosa Pearl with the displays of antiques and artifacts. The employees are required to learn traditional arts of tea, flower and calligraphya��even the menu is handwritten in the calligraphy by staffs. Recently, a gallery was built next to the restaurant to display marvelous works. It is thus worthwhile to have a wonderful dining experience in this cultural and artistic place.
Yin-Hsien Wu, a resident of Yilan County, started out as a manufacturer. Although many other manufacturers moved their companies to China, he chose to return to his hometown and opened Formosa Pearl. Combining cuisines and cultures, spaces and services, Wu said he wants every guest feels as if s/he is treated preciously like a real pearl, hence the name.
At the entrance of the restaurant, there is a wooden Chinese carriage, adding an ancient taste to the heavy wooden gates. You might think that to open the gates, you need to push really hard, but actually, when you approach, the gates will slowly open themselves. Once you pass the eight gigantic traditional folding screens in front of you and take a turn, you will immediately see an archaic zen-like room. It is almost like an antique museum, decorated with artifacts, furniture and Chinese palace lanterns which were specifically made to match the surrounding stone statues, screen doors, Chinese window grilles, antiques and wooden tablesa��such a simple and plain room.
On the second floor is the Tea House, offering mostly Taiwanese teas. You can brew your own tea here while savoring delicious tea snacks and the tranquil zen-like room. Enjoy the best tea time you will ever have.
Fresh Seasonal Flavors
Formosa Pearl restaurant has no preset menu and mainly uses fresh seasonal seafood which is presented in simple pottery wares. As ingredients vary by season, so does the head chef create new menu every month, integrating Chinese, Western and Japanese style into a new one. The restaurant pays much attention to its employee training: teachers of flower, arrangement are hired and the staff is required to learn calligraphy and Tea Zen as well. Every one of them serves from the bottom of his or her heart, so no wonder that you feel at ease and at home when you dine there.
The garden outside the restaurant combines traditional Chinese elements with Japanese zen-like style. You can even see some chickens strolling around in the garden. It is a totally different experience to dine inside the zen-like restaurant and listen to soothing music with occasional crows from outside.
No Preset Menu
NTD$1500 / person
(Special set: NTD$3000 / person; by reservation only)
Service hours: 11:00 a�� 20:00
1 Appetizer: Lobsters with Sweet Potato and Avocado Puree
The local wild lobsters are fresh and al dente, tasting even better with sweet potato or avocado puree.
2 Sashimi: Various Sashimi with Fruit Vinegar and Sake
You can savor beautifully sliced deep-sea fish of different kinds each season along with high-quality sake. A black scraper slice, full of protein and omega 3, wrapped with a small piece of spring onion, will give you a crunchy bite. All fresh seafood can either be eaten with thin daikon strips for sweater and more refreshing taste or be relished with a shiso leaf for a special smell.
3 Roasting dish: Rosy Seabass with Organic Aloe and Kumquat Vinegar
The delicate, sweet meat of wild rosy sea bass tastes best without any sauce but is good as well with a pinch of salt and a bit of lemon zest. The side dish, rice popcorn, looks good and tastes good. The organic vinegar fermented from local kumquat and aloe for at least two years is not only refreshing but also appetizing.
4 Steamed dish: Hokkaido King Crab
King crabs from Hokkaido with thin strips of Chinese yam and wasabi are simple but rich in flavors, and even the remaining liquid beneath tastes like heaven.
5 Specialty: Green Curry Beef
Shortly braised in a stone pot, the chefa��s special Thai green curry with Australian short ribs and fresh vegetables is all yours. A bit spicy green curry matches perfectly with smooth and soft beef stripsa��a wonder you will never forget.
6 Meal: Japanese-Style Steamed Rice in Lotus Leaf
Rice from Japan is cooked with seaweed stock and then mixed with ginkgo seeds and French horn mushrooms. The ingredients are all wrapped in lotus leaf before steaming, so each tender mouthful is full of lotus aroma.
7 One-pot dish: King Grouper
The stock, made from dried fish and clams, is stewed with local Chinese cabbages and handmade tofu. Put a piece of king grouper, straight from Yilana��s harbor, in for about six seconds and enjoy the freshest fish taste.
8 Dessert: Orange Panna Cotta
The panna cotta is made with fresh seasonal fruits which are rich in vitamin C and good for your health.
Formosa Pearl stands out among other no-preset-menu restaurants, because it provides not only delicate dishes, but also a one-of-a-kind art feast. After years of preparation and planning, the gallery was finally opened in 2013; it is meant to provide a platform for artists and art enthusiasts alike. With a high ceiling and simple, classic decorations, the gallery invites visitors to have a comforting and leisure tour. Since the purpose of the gallery is to promote culture, Wu moved the gates and the parking lot to the front of the gallery, so every Formosa Pearl guest can pass the gallery before entering the restaurant.
The gallery is open to the public for free, so even if you just walk by and are not there to dine, you are welcome to take a visit. The current special exhibition displays the paintings, of Quenten Lee, whose expertise lies in calligraphy, ink wash painting and chromatology, until 28th April. Oil paintings by Gaston Huang, who is good at portraits, will start exhibiting from 1st May. The permanent exhibition of handmade pottery and liuli (colored glaze) are in the glass display cabinet next to the counter. If you are an avid art enthusiast, dona��t miss this wonderful place.