Taiwan is known for some of its more interesting food, like stinky tofu, but there’s a  community of chefs and people who appreciate fine cuisine, too. I’ve had some incredible meals here, and their plating was delicious visually, and the food itself was a wonder.

When I went to Tainan with Yvonne and Larry to visit her parents, we were treated to a meal at a restaurant up in the foothills of the Central Mountain Range. The decor was a stark contrast to its natural surroundings, but the multi-course meal was a revelation, at least to my naive palate.

What follows is proof that while Taiwan has some interesting dining options, it absolutely holds its own in the international fine dining community.

Too bad the internet isn’t scratch and sniff.

We chose our soup, entree, and post-lunch beverage, but the rest of the courses were chef-selected. The per-person cost: $30-40 US.
No large napkins, just wet wipes above the spoon and a plate of cocktail napkins.
Mango shaved ice with a tiny twist of lime on top
A fork skewering a shrimp over a goblet of scooped mixed fruit with yogurt.
A bite-sized sweet potato tart. I ate the garnish, too.
Mushroom with… stuff on top. I don’t know exactly what this was, but it was divine.
I don’t know what the far left was, but I liked it. Do you think they have to special order those forks?
Crunchy yellow stick: I have no idea. I forgot to taste the sauce at the bottom of the plate… I was too busy making inappropriate noises as I ate.
Thank you, Mr. Snail, for your sacrifice. I absolutely appreciated it. Light mashed potatoes complemented the snail and inner-shell sauce nicely.
Soft dough surrounding a seafood mix inside. I would’ve taken another picture of the seafood, but I mangled the dumpling when I sliced it open.
Mussel and onion soup and a roll. It was good, but the least creative part of the meal. Really, though, how do you jazz up soup?
A glass for ants? How can we be expected to enjoy the palate cleanser? The glass has to be at least… three times bigger than this!
Small chunks of pear (assumed) in a light pear vinegar (assumed) that was delicious (confirmed).
No. You can’t have any. Mine.
We interrupt this broadcast to show you exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of what happens when three photographers go to a fine-dining establishment.
Duck. It slid off the bone and nearly melted in my mouth. The ONLY thing I didn’t completely finish were the veggies on the side. Who invites peas to a party?
That’s cabbage under a thick blanket of melted cheese. Next to it, salt that I dipped each bite of duck into. The red berry burst when I tried to chew it, and I don’t know what it was.
This was considered the salad course. A bit of roe atop spun noodles and greens with a vinaigrette. Thanks to my etiquette courses, I remembered not to slurp the noodles.
Peach custardy-thing and a chocolate mousse with lemon and raspberry sauces. I think. I need another for verification.
Mousse and berries inside a dark chocolate shell shaped like a teacup. I did not use my fork or spoon; I picked it up by the handle like a lady and ate it. Pinky finger UP.
Cakey on the outside, custardy on the inside. Swoosh of chocolate I couldn’t fit in the frame on top. Mouth-watering all around. And yes, once again, I ate the garnish. Leave no food behind! (Except the peas. Buzz off, peas.)
Leaning glass of passion fruit juice. Probably not from concentrate.
This is the inside of the restaurant. The waitstaff wore white cotton gloves on their serving hands, and each course came as soon as we all finished the course before. I was full in the Goldilocks kind of way: I felt just right. And then I fell asleep in the car on the drive back into town.