I was recently invited to visit Sino Chai Teahouse Restaurant which is located in Healthcare City. I had heard of Sino Chai from my account on twitter. I think the restaurant started following me a while ago and I remember tweeting with them during my trip to the UK when they were tempting me back to Dubai with tales of their beautiful ice-cream.
Sino Chai focus in on traditional Taiwanese cuisine along with a oriental teahouse. Felice Liao who is the General Manager is passionate about healthy eating and this is seen throughout the menu. In particular the restaurants uses fresh and organic products as well as an in-house brand of Germinated Brown Rice and Whole Grain Rice.
I visited with a few other invited guests and Felice had put together an interesting tasting menu for us which she had selected to show as a whole host of the restaurants signature dishes as well as some of her personal favourites. I love it when someone else orders for me from a tasting perspective as it gives me the opportunity to try new flavours and tastes, and takes me somewhat out of my ‘comfort zone’ of being in control.
Our first course was a GBR Vege Tofu Soup which was tasty and clean but also had the potential to be a meal in itself.
This was followed by starters consisting of Garlic Tofu Cubes, Seaweed with A Sesame Sauce and Long Tofu. I must admit, I would never order Tofu on the menu and was pleasantly surprised how good the Garlic Tofu cubes were – although I must admit I wasn’t keen on the texture of the Long Tofu.
Our next course was Dim Sum where we tried Osmanthus Tea Vegetarian Dumplings, Jasmine Tea Prawn and Chicken Shu mai, Oriental Beauty Spring Onion Pan Cake and Chin Hsuan Tea Seafood in Tofu Skin. All of these were really lovely and light and delicate in taste with the Prawn and Chicken Shu mail being my personal favourite followed jointly by the Spring Onion Pancake and Seafood in Tofu Skin.
For main course we were served up a banquet of different meals including Pineapple Fruit Prawn, Sweet & Sour Shrimp, Chinese Kale with Garlic, Hakka Stir Fried nooeds with Chicken & Squid, Shredded Beef in BBQ Sauce, Ginger and Spring Onion Fish, Chicken and Tofu in Black Soy Bean Sauce, Mixed Vegegables with noodles, a mixed mushroom stirfry and Germinated Brown Rice and Mixed Brown Rice. Wow – what a selection !
My personal favourites were the Pineapple Fruit Prawn which is something I would never had ordered if I’d read it on the menu, but it worked really well with the blend of fruit and prawns in a creamy sauce being really unusual yet delicious, I also loved the Ginger and Spring Onion Fish and the mixed mushroom stirfry. I’m not a fan of rice, though did try both types and can confirm that I’m still not a fan of rice ! – it’s not a taste thing – its a texture thing for me – but I did try !
After a suitable long gap, where we let our food digest some, we then had two puddings – the first was a selection of home made Ice-creams including Purple & Yellow Sweet Potato, as well as the restaurants best selling ice-cream Black Sesame. My personal favourite ice-cream was Pomelo which was delicious as it was tart and tangy and I love this in a pudding. The sweet potato ice-cream intrigued me although I must admit I wasn’t so keen on the texture of these. I hear they make a great green tea ice-cream so will need to go back to try this one.
Our final course was Snow Flower Cake – which I loved. It’s a very delicate pudding but oh so lovely and I was fortunate enough to take some of this home with me for later.
After all of the excitement of our food, we were treated to a tea ceremony with some beautiful PU-ER tea which was delicate and light in flavour and said to have many health benefits including the non absorption of fat from food – that’s it I’m hooked !
I was also fortunate enough to sample some Jasmine Bubbletea which had intrigued me and I loved as well as some Taiwanese Superior Light Mountain Oolong Tea which was not to my taste as I found it very bitter.
If you are looking for an unusual gift or two the restaurant is also stocked with a variety of traditional Taiwanese food items as well as a vast array of tea and some stunning beautiful traditional tea sets.
I will definately visit Sino Chai again the food is vibrant and colourful and most of all, a bit unusual particularly the way in which tea and food are brought together in an interesting combinations and how foods are used in unusual but interesting ways.
I want to sample Machha Latte which fascinates me and double check that I still like the Snow Flower Cake !! I will definately be ordering the Pineapple Fruity Prawn again as I loved this and then, who knows, maybe I’ll ask the staff for their recommendations, and explore some more Taiwanese food – live wild – and out of my comfort zone. My only tip from what I sampled is that none of the food was particularly spicy, so I will personally ask for it to be cooked a little more spicy when I visit next, something which Felice assured me would not be a problem.
Thanks to Felice for sharing her passion for tea and Taiwanese food with us and introducing me to some new and exciting cuisine.