Tucked inside an old wooden building framed by a thick canopy of bright pink bougainvillea, Jinjiang Tea Room has been slinging out hearty dishes for over a decade. The term “tea house” is a misnomer; Jinjiang is a full-service restaurant dedicated to Hakka cuisine—the fare of a Han Chinese subgroup known for its emphasis on salty and smoked meats and a love of pickles.
Situated in an 80-something-year-old house dating back to the Japanese colonial occupation of Taiwan, the restaurant is a quaint cottage in a forest of skyscrapers. The inside is just as charming, with outdated white ceiling tiles, wooden tables, and shelves stuffed with cute knick-knacks and miscellaneous clutter.
The food is as wholesome as the decor. They do cold poached chicken—the skin crisp and gelatinous—served with a kumquat dipping sauce. There’s a lovely salted pork, sliced into bite-sized pieces, which pairs especially well with a hot bowl of short-grain rice dressed with soy sauce-flavored lard.
The tender shoots of bird’s nest ferns are sauteed with the pickled seeds of a bird lime tree. There’s slippery noodles made with green tea, and thick belts of rice noodles with minced pork. Dessert is complimentary—usually a bowl of grass jelly, a mint-like herb beloved among the Hakka in Taiwan, or small mochi balls dressed with sweet ground peanuts.
For the full experience, finish off with lei cha, a ground tea made with pounded grains. It’s akin to matcha, but less vegetal and more toasted and nutty.
Know Before You Go
If you have a big group and can’t decide on what to order, they have set menus curated especially for groups. Just ask the staff for it before you place an order.