I love the name of this restaurant: ‘Satisfied House’ (滿意樓). Situated in Jiaoxi (礁溪), it serves up Taiwanese style classics at prices a fraction of what you would expect in Taipei. (Many of their dishes are NT$100 or under.) It is a good option for visitors wanting to enjoy something authentic, close enough to the spa resorts to be accessible yet just far away enough to avoid being a tourist trap. It spreads out to more than one level, so is a suitable place to take a crowd (a visiting high school sport’s team ate there the night we dined, but still it didn’t feel crowded).
Before the dishes we ordered even arrived, I got to enjoy one of Satisfied House’s specialties — rice with pork gravy (滷肉飯), which is generously provided as a self-help option next to their industrial rice cooker. My toddler loved the rich, tasty sauce on the fluffy white rice. And I do admit to stealing a spoonful or two. Okay, maybe a few more spoonfuls than I ought to have, but it was mighty good.
Then the salmon sashimi (生魚片)arrived, served on swirls of daikon curls and adorned with a piece of decoratively carved watermelon in the shape of a swan. The daikon curls looked enticing, but they were annoying to eat as they did not separate easily. Best to just treat the daikon as a bedding for the sashimi rather than try (as I did) to actually eat it.
Being summer, we ordered fresh bamboo shoots dressed with mayonnaise (竹筍沙拉). The addition of a carrot ‘tree’ was a nice touch to the dish — it even had some real foliage. The bamboo was sweet and fleshy, just like fresh bamboo shoots ought to be.
Next came a whole fish steamed with pickled tree seeds (香樹子). I must admit to having a soft spot for tree seeds. When I studied in Tainan as a student (longer ago than I care to admit), I stayed with a wonderful Taiwanese family who often served these seeds as part of breakfast. I am not sure why these pickled seeds are often added on top of fresh fish, but they pair well.
My husband’s favourite dish was stir-fried beefs with shallots (蔥爆牛肉). The best part about this dish was the spicy gravy. You know it is a good dish when people at the table get their spoons out and scramble to pour the every last dredge of sauce over rice. There was very little leftover on the plate for staff to clear. The beef itself was tender, and matched well with the shards of local Sanxing shallots.
Humble vegetables were not too bad, either. I enjoyed this simple stir-fried cabbage dish.
Satisifed House is situated on Zhongshan Road, Section 2 (滿意樓,礁溪鄉中山路二段59號), a few doors down from Eight Treasures in downtown Jiaoxi (a short walk from most spa hotels). We ate on a weeknight, and it was reasonably busy. Probably best to ring ahead on ph: (03) 988 7277 first to book if you are planning to head there on a weekend.