There are times that you step into a place and you know instantly that you’ll remember it the rest of your life. The vibe is friendly, the atmosphere is so home-like, you feel like you’ve already been there many times. Such is the atmosphere at Taiwan’s Sun Moon Lake Full House Resort. It was apparently “discovered” a few years ago by a few news outlets and actor Rob Schneider, but it’s still a hidden gem. I was very happy to be hosted to experience it by the Taiwan Tourism Board!
The place is a bed and breakfast, as well as tribal cuisine restaurant on the peaceful and scenic Sun Moon Lake. It was built from American timber with wood beams, so it does have that look of a cabin one might rent in Western Maryland. Of the couple who owns the place, the wife is the chef and resident artist. She has painted stylized self-portraits that adorn many of the walls. Also, the place is filled with collectibles and interesting artifacts, like antiques, favorite books, candles. The ambiance is more like a university coffee shop where everyone hangs out, rather than a resort — it’s that relaxed. The front doors/gates remain open, like a Fells Point destination. There’s also seating in tents outside. Classical music plays lightly in the background. With the relaxed, homey atmosphere and the ability to stay upstairs, I asked if it were difficult to get those people out of the restaurant at night. The owner, Mr. Lin, seemed to feel confident that when the restaurant closes at 9 pm, he knows how to get the guests to go upstairs.
The food is made from simple recipes and local ingredients of the Shao tribe, an aboriginal tribe originally from the South Pacific, rather than from mainland China. Mrs. Lin has made a modern innovation in that she loves to combine fresh tropical fruits in most of her savory recipes. Now, in the United States, we’ll see apples and raisins with chicken salad, occasionally mango. We see cherries paired with duck or venison. Pineapple with pork is commonplace. But Mrs. Lin goes beyond that, pairing pineapple and melon with egg, passionfruit sauce with salmon (passionfruit is common here), as well as from-the-garden mango, pine nuts and mushrooms.
In case you’re thinking it’s mostly vegetarian, it’s mostly not, but it’s quite vegetarian-friendly. Omnivores will enjoy the shabu shabu: the famous Japanese style of self-cooking in a hot pot at the table. Theirs contains the freshest scallops, oysters, chicken and thin, fatty pork slices to fix yourself.