Chinese Cookbook

Chinese Cookbook, an unpretentious local-style restaurant walking distance from Taipei 101, dishes up family-style dishes at a reasonable price.  This restaurant stands out for several things, one of which is cleanliness.  Unlike some family restaurants in Taipei, this restaurant is scrupulously clean.  I watched as they diligently (and briskly!) cleaned tables between sittings – no sweeping things under the carpet here. 

Toffee sweet potatoes, a complimentary dessert at Chinese Cookbook

The service at Chinese Cookbook is also first-rate, and they go out of their way to welcome families.  The first time we visited – without a reservation on a packed Friday night – the owner calmly rearranged seats to make room for an extra high chair for our son.  (Nor did she flinch when he dropped rice on her clean floor.)  We visited last Sunday (Mother’s Day), and while they were fully booked with cake-clutching families waiting patiently outside for the first round of patrons to finish, the owner still ensured everyone – including the two toddlers on our table – was treated as a valued guest.  And the food was served quickly, despite the full house. 

Austin enjoying his meal at Chinese Cookbook

But what really makes Chinese Cookbook a great restaurant is the unexpected extra dishes.  The meal starts off with a fresh and tangy complimentary cabbage salad topped with roasted peanuts. 

Cabbage Salad

And then the restaurant marks the end of the meal with a gift of toffee sweet potatoes.  These are delicious: a thin, crispy toffee covering golden, pillowy sweet potato with sesame seeds.  It is worth dining at Chinese Cookbook just for this. 

Golden Tofu and Seafood Clay Pot

Toffee sweet potatoes aside, my favorite dish is the golden seafood and tofu clay pot with crab eggs (number 4 on the poster wall chart).  My fellow diners raved about the Three Cup Chicken (三杯雞, sān bēi jī ), which I found a little oily despite it being typical of the dish. 

Mapo Doufu (spicy bean curd)

But we unanimously enjoyed the mapo doufu; while not authentic (no prickly ash), it was a mild-mannered rendition of the classic in a flavorsome sauce. 

Stir-fried tender beef with shallot

I also liked their beef with shallots.

Stir-fried purple eggplant with basil

Their fried eggplant with basil was a little oily, but as you can see from this picture, it disappeared quickly.

Hakka-style stir-fried celery with dried squid and bean curd

I enjoyed the Hakka-style fried celery stalks with dried squid and bean curd.

Boiled pork, drizzled with caramelized soy sauce and topped with coriander (cilantro)

I don’t usually like fatty meat, but these boiled pork slices topped with cilantro were surprisingly good.

Chinese Cookbook (京宴小館) is walking distance from Taipei 101 at 194 Songren Road, Xinyi (信義區松仁路194號, Tel: 8789 2008), a five minute walk down from the Xinyi Road/Songren Road intersection (near Jasper Villa).  The restaurant has menus in English and Chinese, and a poster on the wall to provide guidance for banquet choices.

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About taiwanxifu

‘Taiwanxifu’ (pronounced ‘shee foo’) means ‘Taiwan daughter-in-law’ in Chinese and has been my nickname ever since I married my Taiwanese husband, Sam. I love sampling Taiwanese food, even local specialties such as stinky tofu, pigs blood cake and Taipei beef noodle soup with offal. But there are many other options on the menu. Promise!
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2 Responses to Chinese Cookbook

  1. I lived in Taiwan with my daughters, 9 years ago it was difficult to find a clean tasty family restaurant like this. I love Taiwanese food so thanks for sharing this great place. I do remember a lot of MSG in their food though, has that changed?

    • Taiwanxifu says:

      Hi Sandra, where in Taiwan did you live? How long were you here? I live in Taipei now, but was a student in Tainan back in the late 1990s.

      I find most restaurants here will welcome children, but not all are very clean (the high chairs in particular can be a bit grotty). And some of the entrances are difficult to navigate with a pram. I have recently written an article on eating out in Taiwan with kids, which will be in the next Centered on Taipei magazine. Had to do a bit of thinking first about what makes something suitable, though.

      Unfortunately, a lot of places here still use MSG. But I have noticed that there is now a heightened food consciousness here. People are really concerned about food quality (and safety), and there is a move towards fresher, healthier food. Still, even if there is no MSG there is generally a lot of salt. I find I need to finish meals with fruit or else I want to nibble on cakes and biscuits.

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