Had a really nice dinner experience at this place up in Maokong this weekend. Many people have lamented the dearth of alfresco dining in Taipei but I had a really nice and unusual one at this place some Taiwanese friends introduced me to. There’s no English name but I’m told the Chinese name (松園茶藝) translates into Pine Tree Tea House and Art Garden.
Up in the mountains in Maokong it’s nice and cool here in the evenings of the dog days of summer. The staff provided us with fans to help the breeze along and mosquito coils to fend off biting critters which I didn’t notice any of anyway.
We sat on marble slab tables and chairs with a gorgeous, unobstructed view of the Taipei basin stretching from the Mitsukoshi tower to Taipei 101. It’s great to get there just at sunset and watch the lights of the city come up. To my surprise it’s very quiet and peaceful up there too, even with all the restaurants and diners.
Never having eaten up in Maokong I worried that the restaurants might be tourist traps but this place offered really good traditional dish food (and I’m discriminating about quality). Maybe not 5-star but really good quality and the prices were more than reasonable at something like NT$200 - $500 a dish, depending on if you order large or small portions.
I was offered what may be the lone English menu but let my friends do the ordering anyway. However, it’s available if you don’t read Chinese, which I don’t. I can’t remember the exact names of everything but we had a very good 3 cups chicken dish, another chicken soup and a bamboo soup they brought a burner out for cooking. Really good garlic cabbage and a spinach-type vegetable that they grow on the premises. A beef and green pepper dish that I liked but my friends found overcooked. And some really good noodles made with tea oil.
One really big plus is that we brought our own wine and they apparently don’t charge corkage (my friend paid the bill but said there is no charge to bring your own). They did have Taiwan beer on the menu for what I thought was a very reasonable NT$70 in that tourist area.
After a nice leisurely dinner we took a stroll around the hills to walk off the meal and soak in the cool mountain air and more views of the city. One of the nicest evenings of dining I’ve had in Taiwan.
With the gondola in cold storage it’s a bit of a ride up the mountain but worth it, about 15 minutes. The place is a little tricky to find as the stone path leading to it first leads to another restaurant before veering to the left. If you have a Chinese speaker you could just call on your cell phone and ask them to make the short walk out the road to meet you if you can’t quite find it. The numbers on their card are: land line (02)2936-7117 or cell # 0921070938. The address is only in Chinese: 台北市文山區指南路三段38巷32-1號. You can find it on Google maps.
Now is the perfect time to enjoy this place. I almost hate to post this but it’s too good not to share and these places can use some business since the gondola shut down has hurt them all. Go and enjoy!