Johor Kaki Travels for Food

Singapore based personal blog of true stories by johorkaki@gmail about best food, people & places around the world

Monday, 24 July 2017

Yin Yih Silver Wings Restaurant Taipei 銀翼餐廳


This dish used to be eaten to rancorous shouts of "Bomb Tokyo! Bomb Tokyo!". 

We were at Yin Yih 銀翼餐廳 or "Silver Wings" restaurant in Taipei which started life in 1928 as the dining hall serving pilots and officers at the Republic of China Airforce Academy in Nanjing.


Yin Yih staff came to Taipei together with the Republic of China Airforce which retreated to Taiwan in 1949. Previously, the exclusive privilege of pilots and Airforce officers, Yin Yih was opened to all, including the public in 1953.

Yin Yih is an old school restaurant. The decor looked dated from the 60s era - no slick and shine but it is comfortable and has it's own charm. Yin Yih has its loyal following as much of the dishes from it's Airforce Academy days are still on the menu (with emphasis on Huaiyang, Zhejiang and Sichuan cuisine).


Yin Yih general manager Mr 蓝, shared with us the restaurant's history and explained the background stories of the dishes.


Many Yin Yih staff are related to the airmen that escaped the fall of Kuomintang on the Mainland in 1949. Ms Lu 吕 has been a waitress at Yin Yih since she was a teenager. Today, she is still with Yin Yih, now a manager and a grandmother soon.

Not surprisingly, Yin Yih faces challenges of succession both in the kitchen and at the front. Yin Yih launched a scholarship program to help recruit and nurture the next generation. It will be challenging, particularly for quality customer service crew.

So if you love classic, ancient Chinese dishes, you gotta come to Yin Yih soon.


文思豆腐 Four inch square soft tofu hand cut into five thousand fine threads served in a bowl of chicken stock. This is one of the dishes served during royal banquets in the Qing Dynasty palace of Imperial China.

Just one smooth savoury soup with silky tofu that goes down easily with all the meaty dishes. This dish is memorable because of the amazing craftsmanship and knife skill 刀功.


樟茶鸭 Camphor Tea Duck, a Sichuan dish, is one of Yin Yih's signature dishes. The preparation process is rather elaborate and hence rarely found in restaurants. The duck is marinated in salt, pepper, garlic, wine etc and then smoked with camphor tea leaves. That done, the smoked duck is cooked by steaming. The final step is to deep fry the smoked, steamed duck in hot oil to crisp and brown the skin before serving.


The skin is crisp, the meat a little dry and the main flavour is mainly salty.


鍋巴蝦仁 is one of Yin Yih's signature and most interesting dishes.

According to legend, Emperor Quan Long (lived 1711 - 1799) during the heydays of the Qing Dynasty walked incognito into a humble eatery late one night. As there was no food left, except for hard charred rice sticking to the bottom of the pot, the chef decided to use these leftovers to make a dish for his guests. The chef didn't know it was the Emperor in his eatery 😄

Fortunately, Emperor Quan Long enjoyed the crisp rice so much that he declared the dish the "Best under Heaven" 天下第一.


The rice crisps come with a big bowl of sauce made with tomato puree and shelled prawns. The thick sauce is tipped into the bowl of rice crisps making crackling and popping sounds (especially when the crisps are hot).

To the crackling and popping, ROCAF airmen during the war with Japan used to shout "Bomb Tokyo! Bomb Tokyo!".


The rice crisps are an interesting jumble of crispy and wet rice crackers. The toasty tasting dry crisps snap and shatter when we bite into them. The wet rice crisps absorbed the robust sweet tangy savoury flavour of the tomato sauce.

Remember to eat the rice crisps quickly as otherwise the dish will become a porridge 😂


紅燒獅子頭 Most traditional restaurants in Taiwan serve this "Lion Head" dish. It's a tennis ball size minced pork ball. Here at Yin Yih, the pork balls are pan seared like meat patties at burger joints. It is then braised in a savoury sweet stock before serving. The dish got its name because the rough outside surface of the pork balls looked like the rough surface of the auspicious granite lions guarding many important Chinese buildings.


The tender meaty ball is a mix of fat and lean meat. The juicy balls tasted mildly savoury sweet.


洋芹海蜇, 風雞與鎮江肴肉三拼 Jellyfish, "Wind Chicken" and "Zhenjiang Meat" combo.

Crunchy strips of jellyfish 洋芹海蜇 flavoured with sugar, white vinegar, salt, pepper and a bit of aromatic oil is a nice appetiser. 

"Wind Chicken" 風雞 is a northern China style salt and air cured chicken. The cured chicken is steamed and it's meat is pulled into tender mildly salty savoury strips for serving.

"Zhenjiang meat" 鎮江肴肉 is ham (pork) cured with wine, ginger, pepper, salt etc. The tender meat has a soft crunchy texture and mild salty savoury taste.


韭黃炒鱔 Eels stir fried with chives in a savoury greasy sauce. The eels are limp, soft and it's slight earthy taste is almost completely masked by the savoury greasy sauce.


肉絲炒干絲 Lean pork strips stir fried with julienned bean curd in a savoury spicy sauce. A homely dish that goes well with simple white rice.

A post shared by Tony Johor Kaki (@johorkaki) on

👉 Yin Yih is an old institution with a mainly middle aged, loyal following. It focuses on old school traditional dishes, many of which are tedious to make and so rarely found elsewhere. Yin Yih is a good place if you are a fan of such old style dishes, some like the rice crisps are probably unique here. Needless to say, these are just a small sampling of Yin Yih's extensive menu. They have other popular dishes like their famous 肴元寶 pork trotters. Most of the dishes are hearty and greasy 大魚大肉.

Disclosure: My thanks to China Productively Center for this opportunity.


Restaurant name: Yin Yih (Silver Wings) Restaurant 銀翼餐廳
Address: No. 18, Section 2, Jinshan South Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 台北市大安區金山南路二段18號 (roughly 10 minutes walk from Dongmen MRT station)
GPS25°01'59.7"N 121°31'37.3"E | 25.033251, 121.527022
Tel: (02) 2341 7799
Hours10:00am - 2:00pm | 5:00pm - 9:00pm

Non Halal

Date visited: 20 Jul 2017

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