Monday, 27 February 2012

Restaurant Review: Cherry Blossom and Shell Temple (Sanzhi, New Taipei City)


Cherry blossom season has arrived, and various flower-lined roads in Taiwan's lower mountains will receive most of their entire year's visitors in the next few weeks. Often a short distance from urban areas, many of these routes date from the 1895-1945 occupation of the island by the sakura-loving Japanese.

Usually located on narrow, winding lanes, these cherry blossom routes (櫻花道) are ideal for bicycles (except that people in cars stop suddenly and fling their doors open to get out and take photos).

Last week, NOMM went with the Bean Power (戰豆力) vegetarian cycle team (along with the primarily omnivorous Yufeng 禦風 group) to Qingshan Road (青山路) in the hills above Sanzhi (三芝) in New Taipei City.

One additional treat of this particular cherry blossom ride is Dingshan Temple (頂山寺), better known as Shell Temple (貝殼廟). Just about every square-inch of wall, pillar, ceiling and censer is covered with shells, coral or other marine life. All the usual decorations are present--dragons, qilin, yin-yang symbol, &c.--but executed in shells and with aquatic themes. The dragons, for example, have fish tails.

And one additional treat of the Shell Temple, are the soup, noodles and warming ginger tea (薑母茶) provided for visitors, all vegetarian (素食) of course. None will win a culinary award, but on cold winter days in the mountains the ginger concoction certainly hits the spot, and the noodles provide cyclists with extra calories for the 30km ride back to Taipei.

Address: 69 Erpingding, Sanzhi District, New Taipei City (新北市三芝區二坪頂69號)

Text and photos copyright Jiyue Publications

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