Thursday, October 2, 2014

Restaurant Review: Moon House 月盧 (Hualien, Taiwan)

I don't quite remember how I stumbled upon this restaurant when researching places to eat in Hualien, but it is actually a pretty well-known restaurant among the locals (and apparently local tourists). That said, I would not classify it as a tourist trap at all!

I found English reviews on Taipei Times, Trip Advisor, and this blogpost. You can also check out this post in Chinese with Google Translate.

The location is about an hour’s drive away from Hualien, so it’s best to arrange a flat-rate taxi ride and have the driver wait for you. You drive through a pretty dodgy looking area before heading out into the mountains, and it seems very surreal as you drive up the winding path towards the restaurant. There are signs along the street as you get closer, which is helpful (if you are paranoid like me, and worry your driver is taking you to the wrong place).

Moon House entrance

The restaurant has mainly family-style seating, and the patrons seemed to be mainly large families and groups of friends. You go to the front to order and settle the bill (so you don't sit there like a doid waiting for a waitress to come take your order!).

The decor is very nice and there is strong air conditioning (almost too strong if seated directly beside one of the two large units). There was an enormous insect in the dining room the entire time, and none of the staff seemed to care. It didn’t seem to irritate any of the patrons, so perhaps it just looked scary to us foreigners.

Main dining room

A pot of tea at our table

Their signature dish, the plum roasted chicken (梅子雞), is a must-eat. Based on reviews online, I expected to be able to select a local/free-range chicken (for 800 NT) or a more conventionally raised chicken (for 550 NT), but the menu only listed 1 chicken for 650NT, so they must have changed this in the last year or two. The skin is ultra crispy like Peking-duck, and the sauce is extremely flavorful without being greasy. Extremely fragrant. They provide gloves to let you tear it apart. In my personal opinion, parts of the chicken were overcooked and tough (particularly the wings), but still extremely delicious and memorable. This dish must be pre-ordered (I believe at least 2 hours in advance).

The beautiful Plum Chicken!

They give you gloves and you are to tear it apart yourself :p

The wild vegetable soup (野菜湯) is very refreshing and a good complement to the roast chicken. The stock seems to be fish based.

Wild Vegetable Soup

We also ordered the Hakka Stirfry (客家小炒), but found it to be lackluster. There was a wild celery (nice flavor), some octopus, and other vegetables in the stirfry.

Hakka Stirfry

We ordered two bowls of rice, which came as mostly white rice and some wild, purple rice (not pictured).

A nice view from their garden area:

Lots of customers taking pictures

Including me!

Some pictures while I waited for my husband to use the restroom. (Sidebar: it also looked like the kind of place that might only have a squatter, but I could be wrong!)

Employees taking away dirty dishes

The entrance after dark

The front entrance from the parking lot after dark

Our bill for 2 came to 1100 NT (plum chicken, vegetable soup, stirfry, and 2 bowls of rice). We polished off the chicken, but didn't manage to finish the soup or stirfry. It's probably better to go with a larger group to try more things, if possible! The menu is entirely in Chinese characters, and they have two set menus for large groups (probably for parties of 8+) for around 3000-4000 NT.

Bottom line: Highly recommended!

Basic Information:

Moon House 月盧 (Yuè lú)

Address: 花蓮縣鳳林鎮鳳鳴一路71號
71 Fengmin 1st Rd, Fenglin Township, Hualien County

Telephone: (03) 876-2206

Open: 11am to 2:30pm (3pm weekends), 5pm to 9pm (weekdays)

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