CS was beyond persuasion. Ever since he got wind of the many Yilan BBQ buffet houses, he insisted that we must make a stop at Yilan town, on our way back to Taipei. His face fall when I said we might not have time for it. I had to make amendment to our itinerary, which soon included Memorial Hall of Founding Yilan, Jimmy Park and a Yilan BBQ Buffet (原田屋).
We started from Luodong and arrived at Yilan Railway Station by noon. Soon, we stashed our backpacks into lockers to avoid lugging the heavy burdens around. Surprised! The medium size locker fit everything.
Unlike Luodong, Yilan’s bus service is non-existent here and people rely either on taxis or foot. In the name of CS’s gluttony, we took a 30-minute walk to this Yilan BBQ Buffet 原田屋 and on our way, almost got pounded by a giant dog and narrowly avoided falling into uncovered pothole. Who the heck tied a dog by the roadside?!
Yilan BBQ Buffet @ 原田屋
But in the end, we arrived at BBQ house 原田屋 safely. I had made a reservation earlier and the staff quickly recognized my slang and tone. We speak Chinese very differently from Taiwanese.
Then we were briefed by the friendly staff about 3 different type of buffet price:
TWD388 – Which includes all the meats and seafood we need for a good grill, except for lamb, mutton and fish slices. Also included, are everything on the buffet line, bottled drinks in the chiller on the right and Meiji ice cream.
TWD468 – With the exact same meat as above but with more seafood selection (fish jaws and white prawn), a steamboat soup pot and thinly sliced shabu-shabu meat. Everything in the line, freezers and chillers are accessible and… Haagen Daz ice cream.
TWD688 – No doubt, TWD688 offers more types of meat, including one serving of thick steak cut, mutton, duck (which mistakenly listed as ‘mutton’ in the menu) and even more seafood.
All are subjected to 10% service charge.
Dining hour was set at 2 hours for each table, but with Yilan BBQ Buffet opens at 12pm and closes at 2.30pm, the rule seemed irrelevant.
We took the TWD388 package. The long walk had diminished my craving instead of accentuating it, and we preferred Meiji to Haagen Daz. Meiji ice cream is considerably more expensive in Malaysia.
We were given paper slips for ordering up to 8 items/servings each time. The staff offered to order the first batch of food for us, and complimentary lamb shanks. The idea of multiple layered tray was a space-saving genius!
While I was tempted to describe each and every taste we savoured, I should keep this post short (or I will never finish) and let the pictures do the talking typing.
Squids and octopus should have been tossed into shabu pot (a good reason to take TWD468), as it takes eternity to grill them.
Surprisingly, some Meiji ice cream managed to disappoint us so I will pinpoint what were good. Those are the green tea, choc mint and cookies & cream. Stay clear of the yellowish ones.
We didn’t have time for other desserts but I managed to take a piece of cake (literally!). Wasn’t bad, just forgettable.
Overall, Yilan BBQ Buffet (I just call it that because 原田屋 does not have an English name) offered a satisfying buffet at a reasonable price and we would come back again anytime we have a chance to be in Yilan. I just wish it is nearer to the railway station.
With all the indulgence, it’s only appropriate that we try to burn off some calories, and guilt. We embarked on another walk to Memorial Hall of Founding Yilan.
Memorial Hall of Founding Yilan
Built during the Japanese Colonial period, Memorial Hall of Founding Yilan used to be the official residence of the Japanese installed Administrator. The entrance fee is TWD30, rather minimal compared to how much effort were put to preserve and maintain this historical piece of beauty.
We entered the main building first, before admiring the carefully-manicured garden, and changed our shoes for their slippers. Slippers were rather obtrusive, we had to walk so lightly to prevent the pit-pat noise and they looked like they’re going to scratch the floor. I would have preferred to walk around wearing socks.
My favourite part of the house was this corridor – the glazed wooden floor, hemmed with shoji glass door and overlooking the zen garden. I could have sit on the floor and stare out the whole day!
Perhaps because the house was built using good quality cypress wood, we noticed a light fragrance in the air. Or was it a potpourri?
Of course, CS was again, curious about how people go on their business in the old days.
The memorial hall houses a century old Whomping Willow camphor trees.
Not far from Memorial Hall of Founding Yilan, is a shopping mall. If you’re used to shopping malls in Malaysia, you will be disappointed with this one. But we popped into Mister Donut anyway, to polish our sweet tooth. 😊
Taiwan’s Mister Donut easily made me a fan of theirs. The Ponde Pinako (left) was made from soybean flour, gave it a soft chewy (like gummies) texture. Subtly sweet and very addictive. Since then, I had eaten a few more of it throughout our Taiwan trip.
Right: Forgive me but I forgot its name and could not find it on their website. It tasted like crumbly cake but soft and moist in the mid-section. Delicious!
The square is named after Jimmy Liao, a famous Taiwanese and Yilan-born illustrator, creator of A Chance of Sunshine (向左走 向右走).
It wasn’t part of our itinerary. We were there simply because of convenience, being so close to the railway station. Hence we took a few pictures along the way, but I wished we had not missed the ‘flying’ train.
Stomach fulfilled and Yilan enjoyed, we make it back to Taipei. We opt for Tze Chiang express train again, and bought the seat-allocated tickets from counter. It was a Saturday, and the journey is 1.5 hour so getting a reserved seat would be wise. Normal train would take almost double the time to travel.
Upon reaching Taipei, we claimed our luggage from Taipei Railway Luggage Center (TWD50 per day) and failed to notice that our luggage wheel had deteriorate. The rubber layers were falling off, piece by piece. Unfortunately, travel insurance only covers luggage damage by airline handling.
Mood dampened, we made our way to our Airbnb. The good news: Jingan MRT station was only a 20 metres from our AirBnb. The bad news: although Jingan station is on MRT red line (the best line to access all tourist spots), it is the last second station. So it took time to get to our destinations and usually involved changing lines.
Our Airbnb is on the 4th floor of a shoplot and we had to take an unwelcoming, dusty staircase to reach it. It’s converted from a single apartment unit by dividing the individual rooms, and equipped them like a Soho. Each room have their own TV, fridge, washing machine and bathroom so we did not have to meet the other guests. The main door is not locked and the only common area is a brightly lighted corridor.
Our host, Fanny was very accommodating and answers all our question promptly. Check this apartment on AirBnb.
WHAT? We still had space for night market?
Why not? Taipei has so many notable night markets and we intended to visit as many as possible.
Ningxia isn’t big, but gathers plenty of food stalls and eateries in a compact way. It took a while to make it to its end of the street, the crowd is overwhelming.
The food was hit and miss. We skipped the popular stalls with long queues.
The first disappointment was the shaved ice. The ice could have been finer, the black syrup is like a bad version of gula melaka. Forget about the tapioca bubbles, taro balls, pumpkin balls. All of them taste the same – rubbery, starchy and bland. I was very disappointed since I am a fan of Taiwanese brand Snowflake in Malaysia. We’ve only managed to finish 1/3 of each bowl, bloated from all the starches.
The Oyster Fried Bun actually looked better before it was fried. A raw piece of pastry spread over on iron bowl, layered with pieces of oysters and a dollop of raw egg. Then the pastry edges were brought together and twisted to seal before deep fry.
The crispy pastry is very likeable to taste. However, the egg fillings seemed to overpower the oysters’ taste.
Super big Takoyaki Ball. Each were filled with one whole octopus tentacles.
Saw this Oyster Omelette King, but no thank you. Not a big fan of gooey omelette.
Soon we got tired of browsing and queuing. To be fair, Ningxia has an assortment of food to offer but weekend is simply not the best time to be here. People brushed their shoulders with yours and jab you in the back with selfie sticks.
Before we retired for the night, we detoured a little to 7-Eleven (TWD79) and discovered this little delight. Pasta in Pesto Sauce with Clams at the heat-to-eat section. The clams portion was generous and very fulfilling.