Leave behind the grit
and humidity of the city streets and open the door to Sawa Japanese Restaurant.
Enter a world where the cool mint walls are accented with a bright red
and a bouquet of pink blossoms are reflected in the mirror. Meet owner
and chef, Mr. Gomisawa who immigrated to Taiwan over three years
ago and opened this intimate-sized restaurant about a year and a half later.
Mr. Gomisawa learned the art of preparing Japanese cuisine while working
in Japan's renowned Ginza district of Tokyo.
Superb Japanese chefs follow
three basic rules. FRESHNESS is paramount. Foods harvested fresh from the
sea or the earth are used in lieu of frozen or out-of-season foods. SIMPLICITY
is important. Rather than smothering foods in heavy sauces, healthful ingredients
with complementary flavors are combined. VISUAL APPEAL is mandatory. Foods
are arranged to gratify the eye as well as the palate.
"Itadaki masu!" meaning
roughly, "I'll start eating with gratitude to all that has made this possible,"
marks the beginning of a feast, but first drink a cup of green tea to prime
the taste buds. Petite handcrafted earthen bowls and plates, works of art
in themselves, are set upon wooden trays. Start with a few bites
of lotus root and carrots in a nutty-spicy sauce, move on to green beans
in a delicious sesame sauce and try the bright orange sea urchin. While
tasting these appetizers, staff quietly and quickly refilled your teacup.
Marvel at the nonsymmetrical
ceramic bowl that resembles a flower in bloom. Within its petals lies an
exquisite composition of mountain taro, fish roe, beans, nori (dried
seaweed), pickled vegetables, wasabi (hot radish) and raw tuna.
In another tiny bowl is a swirl of squid coated with a lavender sauce on
puréed daikon (mild white radish). Next, a waiter rearranges
the crockery on each diner's tray to make room for chawan mushi, a
light, warm custard served in a cheerfully colored cup. Shrimp, mushrooms
and other morsels hide in the silky custard - but not for long, as this
is delicious. So too is the soup with hardy chunks of beef, carrots
and other root vegetables. Carefully lift the lid off the glossy bowl to
release the savory aroma of miso (fermented soybean) soup and raise
it to your lips to drink the last drop. Settle back into the chair and
mentally prepare yourself for the challenges of workaday world out there
and . . . wait! What's this? More food?
The waiter brings a crescent-shaped
dish upon which barbecued fish rests on a fern leaf. Another dish with
eggplant, fish and pumpkin tempura arrives with curry powder and
green tea powder for dipping these lightly battered treats into. At this
point, one could conceivably expect a geisha wearing her elaborate finery
to glide in and nod elegantly.
A dessert soup of azuki (red
beans) garnished with a pillow of o-mochi (sweet rice) is the signal
that perhaps this set meal is coming to a close. Ah, the final course,
two segments of honeydew melon arrives.
Gratitude for having enjoyed
an enchanting meal is expressed by saying, "Gochisosama."
The traditional Japanese set meal described above
costs about NT$490 per person. The small dining room accommodates a dozen
people. The sushi bar rseats 7 and offers 30 kinds of raw seafood.