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“the legend of a mother-daughter team”

I started a new venture at the age of 68. But it’s nothing compared to the 100-year- old Shin Yeh Grandma, who comes to work every day to greet customers. That’s what really deserves admiration.

Taiwan Travel : Interview - Lee Xiu Ying|TaiwanDay

Started in 1977 in Taipei with a shop on Shuangcheng Street, Shin Yeh Restaurant offered authentic Taiwanese cuisine and rejected the idea that Taiwanese cuisine has few formal dishes. Shin Yeh soon received positive reviews. Shin Yeh now builds on its legend by expanding its culinary portfolio and venturing beyond Taiwan.

Grandma’s Story

Many people have dined at Shin Yeh, but few know the hard work and humble beginnings of Shin Yeh Grandma and her daughter, Madam Lee Xiu Ying, that lie behind Shin Yeh’s success. A centenarian grandma goes to work every day. Ms. Zhang-li Bao-zhu, better known as “Shin Yeh Grandma”, will be celebrating her 100 th birthday after New Year’s Day. She is still in good shape under the attentive care of her daughter Lee Xiu Ying, and goes to the Shuangcheng Street restaurant to greet customers and dine with the employees every day. Shin Yeh Grandma cheerfully recalled her youth, “I’m from Daqiaotou. Life was hard then. We could only build a shack in the rubbish.”

Taiwan Travel : Interview - Lee Xiu Ying|TaiwanDay
Taiwan Travel : Interview - Lee Xiu Ying|TaiwanDay

Life was difficult during Japanese rule. At a very young age, Grandma had to take care of a large family’s meals. Never a quitter, she gradually acquired catering skills. When holidays were around the corner, neighbors came to her for help with food preparation… for a fee. In this way she could help with family finances. “I learned how to make zongzi by practicing with sand.” Starting in childhood, Madam Lee picked up cooking skills from her mother. Her sense for presentation, commitment to authentic preparation, and great taste in fine foods laid the foundations for her dining venture.

Shin Yeh served homestyle comfort food since its humble 11 table beginnings. Madam Lee tried different jobs but it was not until she opened a restaurant that her mother started to feel more financially stable. “Now that she ran a restaurant, I would be of more help and surely we would make it.”

The first Shin Yeh location on Shuangcheng Street only had space for 11 tables. The name of the restaurant was displayed with plastic tubes on the ceiling. All dishes were home-style comfort food, which was often ridiculed. “Why would you serve home- cooked dishes? Why bother eating home-cooked dishes at a restaurant?” The mother- daughter team didn’t take these comments to heart, instead redoubling their efforts.

Taiwan Travel : Interview - Lee Xiu Ying|TaiwanDay

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