date january 23, 2011
contact No. 1, Jin Jiang Street, Zhong Zheng District, Taipei/02.8369.1785/台北市中正區晉江街1號
hours 7 days a week 11:00-21:00
rating ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 hearts out of 5)
nearest mrt Guting (古亭捷運站)
Hidden on Jinjiang Street (晉江街) off of Heping West Road (和平西路) is Jinjiang Tea House. The outside of Jinjiang is really cute; it looks like an old house. My friend Stephanie took me to Jinjiang for the first time a few weeks ago, but I couldn’t find the cord for my camera to upload photos. So tonight, Steph and I took my mom to Jinjiang for some tasty Hakka goodness.
The menu at Jinjiang is only in Chinese. So be warned those who cannot read Chinese. They have some pretty great items on their menu that aren’t super common that I love such as water lily and betel nut flower. Meat items go for about 250NT a plate and vegetable items between 100-200NT.
I had never had water lily before I came to Jinjiang a few weeks ago. Now, I love it. I have no idea what part of the water lily this is or if it is even water lily, but the Chinese name for it is water lily, so I’m going with it. For 150NT, the stir fried water lily (炒水蓮) is super crunchy and refreshing. The water lily is lightly seasoned with salt and stir fried with garlic and chilies. The chilies don’t really add any spice to the dish, so if you’re sensitive to spicy food, as long as you avoid the actual chilies, I think you’ll be fine.
I really love betel nut flower, but I rarely see it on menus. So when I saw that Jinjiang had it I was super excited. The stir fried betel nut flower (炒檳榔花) for 180NT is made with carrots, chilies, and green onions. For those who have never had betel nut flower before, it is the white strings in the picture above. Texturally it is a little similar to bamboo shoots, however the taste is not. Unfortunately I am not really sure how to describe the flavor other than to say it’s really good. Like the water lily, the betel nut flower is lightly seasoned with salt, and although there are chilies, as long as you don’t eat the chilies themselves, this dish is not spicy.
For those who love tomatoes, I highly recommend the tomato fish pot (番茄鮮魚煲) for 250NT. Served in a pot on top of a flame is pieces of fried fish, tomatoes, and tofu. While the fish in this isn’t anything that special, the tomato base is really good. Also, soft tofu is hidden under the fish which is a nice surprise.
I love eggplant. I get it anytime I see it on a menu. The basil eggplant (九層塔茄子) for 150NT is pretty good. It’s actually pretty standard, nothing special. Lot of basil, some green onion, and chilies. Again, like the other dishes with chili this is not spicy at all, just avoid the chilies. Really, I ate the chilies and they weren’t that spicy, but I love spicy food, so if you’re sensitive to spice, just avoid them.
Since this place is called Jinjiang Tea House they do sell tea, Hakka ground tea to be more specific or 擂茶 (lei cha). I’ve gone on Hakka culture trips before and made some lei cha myself. Lei cha is made by grounding several different ingredients (sesame seeds, corn, tea leaves, rice, etc.) and then just adding water. I love this stuff, and I’m so glad I know that Jinjiang sells it now. They sell it by the box for 250NT or buy 5 get 1 free. They have many different flavors including cocoa, almond, original, etc. They didn’t have any almond or unsweetened original on hand, but the owner told us to leave our number and he’d order it for us and call when it came in. Can’t wait!
While this place is a little more expensive than Double Happiness it’s total worth it for the hard to find dishes. The portions are not very big, but I think Jinjiang is a quality over quantity type of place. Highly recommend that anyone who likes Hakka food give this place a try.