No.45, Sec. 2, Nanjing E. Rd., Zhongshan Dist., Taipei City 104, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Taiwanese love hot pots. In some restaurants, you can't enjoy the delicious hot pot without a reservation or long queuing. One of the restaurants is Tripod King, and another, Old Sichuan. Starting out from Taichung's night market, Tripod King used to stress that their flavorful soup stock was made completely by boiling down the Chinese medicine. The Chinese-style fashionable decor and the ninety degree bow have also become its trademark. However, it was later revealed that the signature soup stock of Tripod King was not produced in the way they claimed, and their business has been deeply affected.
On the other hand, the exterior of Old Sichuan is not as low-profile as that of Tripod King. You can see Chinese-style eaves attached to every Old Sichuan. A stone carving of a flying dragon standing at the doorway, along with red lanterns hanging in the veranda, the atmospheric at the very front of the restaurant has created a feeling of Sichuan. Entering the restaurant after a long waiting, you can still see Chinese-style painting on the wall as well as carvings and patterns on the ceiling. But the overtly pretentious decor somewhat makes customers unease. Pick up the menu and browse it, you'll find much of the dishes here are the same as those in other hot pot restaurants. Dishes worth a mention are luwei (braised snacks, 滷味) and paigusu (crispy pork ribs, 排骨酥), which are rarely seen in other places and provide delicious flavors. In addition, the Sichuan-style liangfen (cool noodles, 涼粉) is much more special. The dish is fiery red from its appearance. But it tastes numbing rather than spicy. Along with the coolness of liangfen, the flavor that literately slips through your tongue is unforgettable. Besides, the most prominent feature of Old Sichuan lies in its soup stock. Different from ordinary restaurants, Old Sichuan underscores an authentic Sichuan flavor available in Taiwan. When you first add the ingredients into the hot pot, you feel nothing special. However, after the ingredients are boiled for some time, the flavor gets stronger, the numbing and spicy feeling in your mouth piles up, encouraging those who love the spicy food to have more.
But the restaurant highly acclaimed by numerous customers does not have no shortcomings. For example, the vegetables are not very fresh. Extra sauce packed in polybags is only available after you ask for it. Unlimited supplied duck blood curds and tofu do not stand out. The most unacceptable is the dessert, which is an ice cream cone from an unknown brand with a tacky package. It makes you feel that the small details have ruined your cheerful mood created by the TWD500 meal. But on the whole, Old Sichuan is still an exceptional spicy hot pot restaurant. As long as you have a soft spot for their soup stock, you'll remain as their loyal patrons.