Taiwan has a trillion restuarants to pick from. With this overwhelming choice, a lot of people rely on blog posts written by others to pick out restaurants to try. When looking for a spot for New Year’s eve dinner, my gf came across one such blog describing a restaurant in Taipei called 狠蝦 (Hen Xia) – literally translated, this means “Ruthless Shrimp”.
Food is generally cheap in Taiwan, but seafood is a little pricier, so when I was informed that this is an all you can eat shrimp buffet, lardbutt inside me started singing with pure joy. Done deal. We were going to 狠蝦 or “Ruthless Shrimp” for our dinner.
The restaurant is located on the 2nd floor of a building on Roosevelt Rd in Taipei. The sign outside has a big shrimp on it and simply says “Shrimp Buffet”:
As you exit the elevator on the second floor the first thing you see is the bar:
Unlimited drinks (alcoholic and non-alcohoic) are included in the price of the buffet. Selections include your standard cocktails (Screwdrivers, Blue Hawaiis, Tequila Sunrises, Mojitos, Rum/Whiskey and cokes etc). The bartender whips them up on order and he’s pretty quick (at least this one is). Behind the bar is an ode to the omnipresent Taiwanese cute love and some minor Engrish:
I want lots of shrimp, and for that, I love you too, Very Shrimp!
The interior of the restaurant was quite nice, and mostly full. We made our reservations 2 weeks in advance and had no problems adding people closer to the date. I saw only 1 or 2 empty tables, but perhaps that was reserved for another party:
The waitress gave us a tour of the food selections, and informed us on how to order. Besides shrimp 狠蝦 offers a selection of seafood, veggie and meat salads:
Soup and hot dishes which included crab soup, fried rice, tender duck in gravy, various vegetables, roast pork and fish:
And a selection of meat, vegetable and seafood to make your own soup/hotpot type meal:
Drinkwise, the restaurant offered all you can drink cocktails, beer, tea, coffee and a few soft drinks. The food and drinks were constantly being rotated – everytime I went up, there was something new on the table.
The kitchen itself was open concept, so you could see the chefs preparing the food:
And for the main attraction – the shrimp – 狠蝦 had a unique ordering system. Each table recieved a number of clips (the kind used to hang clothes on a clothesline) equalling the number of people at the table. These clips had your table number on them. You took your clip to the ordering stand which looked like this:
The sign above each of the metal bars represented a dish. Most were various kinds of shrimp, but they also had chicken, seafood, pork, beef and vegetable dishes. You put your clip on whatever bar you wanted, then walked back to your table. The chefs would grab the clip, prepare the dish and the waitress would bring the clip and dish back to your table. Efficient system, but not very effective if you have special dietary needs or preferences – there is minimal waiter/customer interaction.
The dishes were fantastic. We started off with Gong Pao chicken, sweet and sour chicken, beef veg stir fry and pork and mushroom soup:
Then came the shrimp. Some of the highlights included crab soup shrimp, fried garlic shrimp, satay shrimp:
Thai shrimp, shrimp with onions:
And my favourite, spicy shrimp:
Even Bubba and Forest Gump would’ve been impressed!
After stuffing our faces with all this, there was still dessert to get on to. The offerings included Haagen Das ice cream and a plethora of pastries. This was kept to a minimum because I was way to filled up to gorge.
Which led to make another discovery at this restaurant – 狠蝦 has nice, heated toilet seats. You’re welcome.
All of this feasting carried a price tag of NT 599 + 10% mandatory service charge equalling NT 660 (US 22) per person. Not a bad deal at all, considering it also included unlimited booze.
One thing to note, is that most of the dishes are single servings. So if you go with a large group, you have to order more than 1 of each dish and constantly keep ordering food to avoid waiting. I think we ordered around 24 dishes in 3 or 4 rounds of ordering. Everytime a dish came, we would take the clip right over and order again. This is important because you have a dining time limit of 2 hours and if it’s busy, the food won’t come out as fast.
In terms of the service, it’s quick, efficient and very courteous – typical for this type of restaurant in Taiwan – definitely worth the service charge. The bartender alone whipped up over 10 cocktails for our group.
All in all a great dining experience, and gets you well set for ambling over to 101 to watch the fireworks.
The address is:
No. 277 Roosevelt Road (羅斯福路), Sec. 3, Taipei. Phone number: 02-2367-6551
To get to 狠蝦 by MRT, get off at the Taipower Building station, take exit 2 and walk straight (along Roosevelt Rd.) for about 5 mins. The restaurant is on your left: