Local Dining Elegance Non-Pareil at the New Palace Restaurant
Just a few doors from Taichung Harbor Hotel is the “original” outlet of the New Palace restaurant chain, among Taiwan’s best-known names in seafood. Management here proudly proclaims this is the Taichung region’s oldest seafood restaurant. The chain started as nothing more than a small, simple eatery with fish tanks out front, opened in 1947 – this, the “true” original outlet, was located not far away, a bit closer to Wuqi Harbor, and was moved to this much larger, dedicated facility 16 years ago.
The exterior of the multi-story building echoes that of a French chateau. Inside, the elegant décor evokes the sumptuous banquets of Versailles. The first delicious thing you’ll find before you is a tall glass of coconut milk, a New Palace signature. Be careful – it is soft and silky with just the right sweetness, refills come quickly, and it is near impossible to stop yourself from filling up just on this, before the courses come.
The extensive array of dishes is primarily Chinese, but the well-traveled owner is fond of other cuisines, and incorporates favorites. The Thai coconut milk is but one example. The menu is rolled over every three months, in accordance with the regional seasonal changes in fresh seafood catch, and also to keep loyal clientele happy; many have been frequenting New Palace since their youth. Recipes are built around the head chef’s best finds at the local harbors. The dishes that have left the longest-lasting impressions on this writer are the buxom batter-fried oysters (the head chef’s personal favorite), the squid served with juicy fried sugarcane sticks, the halibut, in which the fish is quick-fried in oil then smoked over Taiwan tea and sugarcane, and the seafood “pizza,” featuring a medley of seafood chunks served in a tart-like shell and covered with melted cheese.
(Dining is banquet-style; expect to pay NT$500~$800 per person.)