If you asked me which foreign cuisine is the most popular in Taiwan, it would certainly be Japanese cuisine. Taiwan was under Japanese colonial rule from 1895-1945, during which the Japanese exerted great influence on Taiwanese culture. (I remember my grandma used to tell me that she had to learn Japanese in school) Despite the passage of time, we are still greatly surrounded by Japanese influence up to this day- we follow the Japanese fashion trends, watch Japanese drama, and eat Japanese food.
Kev loves Japanese cuisine, but living in Alberta makes it extremely difficult to find authentic Japanese food. I didn’t realize how intolerable that can be until I moved to Calgary. When we went back to Taiwan in April, his priority mission was to eat as much Japanese food as he could. With some research, I found a restaurant in the Taipei city that serves great okonomiyaki and is frequently visited by Japanese expats.
Tetsuwan is located in a quiet neighborhood in Zhong-Shan district. It is a great after work getaway. We arrived right when they opened for dinner hours. It was quite empty inside the restaurant, but most tables were reserved. I was glad that we went there early enough to grab a table. (Note: It is usually impossible to find a table at popular restaurants in Taipei without a reservation)
The restaurant isn’t particularly spacious so it can be quite crowded at peak hours. Additional seats are available by the sushi bar further into the restaurant. There is outdoor seating as well. Personally, I prefer indoor because it’s air-conditioned and for its modern Japanese style decor.
Instead of a restaurant, I would say this place is more like an izakaya. People come here after work to order food and drinks. This place is known for its okonomiyaki, but you can find various types of “snacks” as well. We couldn’t make up our mind on what to order so we asked the staff for suggestions.
We ordered two cold dishes to start with- the radish salad with fried anchovy and seaweed (NT$170 / CDN$5.67) and cold tofu with chili oil and poached egg (NT$180 / CDN$6). Th salad had refreshing taste and crunchy texture from the fried anchovy. The cold tofu was extremely soft. We stirred and mixed it with the gooey egg yolks of the poached eggs and the chili oil. The dish ended up looking a bit mushy. It was like eating very lightly flavored pudding. The red chili oil looked a bit daunting, but it didn’t taste spicy at all.
The tonpei-yaki (NT$160 / CDN$5.33) tasted fantastic! Basically, it is very much like an omelette with thinly sliced pork belly and cabbage. What made it tasty was the savory sauce and Japanese mayo. Yum!
Instead of the traditional okonomiyaki, we felt adventurous and ordered the tomato okonomiya with pork and seafood (NT$330 / CDN$11). This was the highlight of the day!! Tomato okonomiyaki is basically Japanese-Italian fusion pancake. In addition to the batter, cabbage, eggs and pork, the dish was overflowed with fresh tomato sauce, squid, shrimps and cheese on the hotplate. It was surprisingly good! They also serve nagaimo (Japanese mountain yam) okonomiyaki. Too bad we were too full to order more. We will come back next time 🙂
It is a great place to drop by for late night snacks and drinks. If you don’t speak Mandarin, that’s fine. They have Japanese-speaking staff who serve the Japanese customers. If you don’t speak either, body language always works 😉About Tetsuwan Address: 1F., No.12, Ln. 77, Songjiang Rd., Zhongshan Dist., Taipei City Reservation: +886 2 25182295 Hours: Mon – Fri 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 6:00 pm – 10:30 pm; Sat 6:00 pm – 10:30 pm Facebook: https://zh-tw.facebook.com/tetsuwan.tw