Oh man, oh man. I don’t even know where to begin. This restaurant, Shan Lin Xiang 山林香 is now easily one of the favorite Thai restaurants to frequent in Taiwan.
It’s funny because Tainan (the oldest city in Taiwan) isn’t even known for any other cuisine other than Taiwanese food so finding a gem like this Thai restaurant was really the last thing I would’ve expected.
I stumbled across this restaurant a few months back on my way home after trying out Sam’s soft serve ice cream. At the time, Shan Lin Xiang was closed so I didn’t really have any expectations. I just took a picture of the storefront with my phone, headed up and ended up forgetting about it entirely.
Fast forward several months later, I stumbled across the picture I took of Shan Lin Xiang on my phone and so decided to give it a try. Probably one of the best decisions I’ve made this year.
The food was absolutely mouthwatering and incredible. Their signature dishes here are really 2 things, or should I say, kinds of meat: grilled pork cheek and roasted chicken. You can choose either of these meats served with either green curry, yellow curry, or alongside of noodles or rice as a Thai salad. All choices were incredible, but the highlight combination for me was really the grilled pork cheek with the noodle salad. That, was truly, truly epic.
The pork cheek was tender yet firm – you feel just enough resistance when biting into it for that satisfying crunch before the juices of the pork and the tenderness of the pork amazes your tastebuds. The pork is most likely simmered at a low temperature to achieve that juicy tenderness before being flame torched by a butane torch per order to achieve the slight smokey flavor and the colorful charred markings on the surface of the pork. Paired with oil noodles (油面), which resembles a softer spaghetti, and an amazing garlicky tangy vinaigrette, this dish is a dish to recommend to friends, family, and quite frankly, everyone you know.
The roast chicken, while also succulent, tender and full of chicken flavor wasn’t as satisfying as the pork cheek in my opinion because it lacked the chewy crunch texture that the marbled fat of the pork had. The skin could’ve been crispier but was understandable given that the chicken was cooked prior to the restaurant’s opening before being also torched with a butane torch for flavor and color.
Curries at Shan Lin Xiang 山林香 are great, but not out of the world, although easily being one of the better curries I’ve had in Thai restaurants in Taiwan. There’s an appropriate amount heat and the flavors are complex; a hint of coconut cream, a touch of lemongrass, the sweetness from the peppers, the bitterness of the garlic, everything was well done, above average.
The only thing I wouldn’t recommend is really the Thai milk tea. It’s drastically different from the real Thai milk tea – it in a way, kind of feels like a mix between the Taiwanese style milk tea and the Thai milk tea before being further diluted with milk. Stick with the food, forget the drinks.
The ambience and decor was also uniquely charming – much different from most of the traditional Japanese-influenced restaurants in Tainan, and established a lively but cozy atmosphere perfect for get alongs with friends or first-time dates.
I highly recommend Shan Lin Xiang 山林香 if you’ve never been there before or if you’re just craving Thai food in Tainan, Taiwan. I’m glad I made the decision to stop by here – this place is now easily one of my favorite Thai restaurants to visit in Tainan. Thanks for reading, catch you guys next time.
Shan Lin Xiang 山林香 泰國辛香小吃
No. 197, Section 3, Minquan Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
+886 6 220 7277