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Monday, June 2, 2014

Karuizawa (Qing-jingze) – A Restaurant Review

Claire Chao & Jim Wu

       Karuizawa is a famous restaurant in Taichung. They mainly sell Taiwan-style hot pot and Japanese-style Sukiyaki. Since the restaurant is named after a place in Japan, its atmosphere and decoration are Japanese style. There are three branches in Taichung. We chose the flagship store in Gong-Yi Rd. which is the biggest one.

Last Saturday, we enjoyed dinner at Karuizawa. We were surprised by the building when we arrived. The exterior appearance was black and quite spectacular. The waiters stood in line by the entrance, saying "welcome" in Japanese. The space inside the restaurant was wide, and the raised ceiling made the space even more comfortable. The walls were made of rough grey bricks, which added a nice texture. There was a pond in the middle of the restaurant, with a large bronze ceremonial vessel in the center; this gave the restaurant a more classical feel. The lighting in the dining hall was bright, but the wooden lamps hung above the tables didn’t seem bright enough.  The decoration was traditional Japanese style throughout, which added to the atmosphere. The gorgeous interior decoration and delicate partitions impressed us a lot.

The waiter took us to a single table beside the wall. The space was a little crowded, but still comfortable. Several semi-open booths for 3 to 6 people surrounded the pool, and larger areas for more than 8 people were in the corners. All of the chairs and sofas were covered with black leather. The table was set with chopsticks, soup spoons, bowls and plates; the style of the tableware was plain, but the whole setting looked clean and bright.

We opened the menu to order our meal. The set meals were classified as hot spot menu and Sukiyaki menu. Set meals included a bowl of rice, an egg, a plate of vegetables, a drink and a dessert. The vegetable dish consisted of various kinds of vegetables and hot pot ingredients. The drink was ice lemon tea or smoothie. The set meals were truly a good deal as they included lots of food. The most important dishes were the main courses and soup stock. 

There were different kinds of main courses on the hot pot menu such as pork, beef, mutton and seafood, each of which was served in its own soup stock. What's more, each soup stock had been cooked for more than 12 hours with many herbs and spices. There were only four dishes on the Sukiyaki menu. Compared with the soup stock of the hot pot, the stock that the Sukiyaki came in tasted sweeter; it would be suitable for people who prefer to eat heavily. There were many other dishes on the menu such as egg dumplings, tofu, spicy duck blood and different kinds of meat. The dipping sauce was “DIY, so we used the ingredients we liked best, including hot pepper, onion, and black vinegar; making our own sauce made our food even tastier!.

We ordered a pork hot pot, a beef sukiyaki, and a plate of spicy duck blood. The stock of the pork hot pot looked clear, and we didn’t see much oil floating on the surface. The flavor was a bit sweet, but tasty. The sliced pork looked fresh and tender but not so special. The pork cooked quickly after we put it into the pot. The stock of the beef sukiyaki looked dark, like soy sauce, but not that thick. The bit of oil that was left in the stock made the beef more delicious. The spicy duck blood was covered with chopped green onions and chili; it was salty and very spicy, but we just couldn't help eating more.

The service from the Karuizawa waiters was also perfect. They were very polite and gentle from the moment we stepped into the restaurant. Moreover, they were all well-trained and professional. When we were looking over the menu, they just squatted beside the table and introduced each item quite clearly. Then, when we were trying to decide which items to order, they stood by patiently. They also served the order fast and cleaned the table quickly.

Our experience at Karuizawa was awesome. The perfect atmosphere, which included ample space, beautiful artificial landscape, and fine lighting, makes a wonderful impression on first-time visitors, and the delicate food and prompt service is sure to bring people back. Karuizawa is a great restaurant with very accessible prices. Both students and families will enjoy a great dinner at Karuizawa.

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