Red Lantern (紅樓中餐廳) is located at the 6th floor of the Silks Place Yilan (宜蘭晶英酒店), which is the only international 5-star hotel in Yilan County of Taiwan. Maybe some of you have not heard of Yilan. It’s situated at the north of Taiwan, right next to Taipei. Yilan has been a popular short getaway destination for people living in the north. There isn’t much constructions, hence the natural sceneries are still well-preserved and not so polluted. I strongly recommend a visit to Yilan (or the east of Taiwan) if you have time! Okay… Back to the main topic..
Before visiting, I have already heard a lot of good things about the roasted ducks at the Red Lantern from my friends, food bloggers, and even seen on various TV shows. As soon as I know my family is planning a trip to Yilan, I suggested to book the restaurant as soon as possible, because it could be booked up. And here we are, booked it two months ahead. There weren’t a lot of tables left when my mom called as we were only given few time slots to choose from, so I encourage you to book early if you know you want to go.
As the name of the restaurant, the main focus of the decor is the color “red”, and Chinese lanterns (not shown in the photo above since they are attached to the ceiling). The space is a bit smaller than I thought. Since they have such a high demands, I was expecting a huge venue with a lot of tables.
They offer set menus depending on the numbers of people, or you can order à la carte if the set is too much. My family settled for à la carte, because we would like to save some tummy spaces for local Yilan snacks too! Therefore, we ordered the must-east – Yilan Cherry Roasted Duck, prepared in 4 ways, and two appetizers.
Su au smoked fish (蘇澳燻魚) – “Su au” is a township in Yilan, and this is one of their well-know dishes. This is the appetizer. The sauce is sweet. The fish is so tender, and the flesh comes off the bone easily.
Here comes the star of the day – the roasted duck that has been awarded as the best Taiwan roast duck in 2012. Whenever people talk about roast ducks, the first place that pops up is Beijing. However, Taiwan has some awesome award-winning roast ducks too! These ducks are raised locally in Yilan. The Silk Place has its own farm, hence the quality of the ducks are well-controlled to ensure nothing goes wrong.
The chefs are so fast at slicing the duck skin, because according to the head chef, the slicing has to be done no more than 15 minutes upon serving. This is to ensure the duck is still juicy and skin is crisp.
First eat: Roast duck skin with Sanxing green onions wrap (片皮鴨捲三星蔥餅)– This is a classic way of eating roast duck. However, Red Lantern puts a bit of twist by incorporating local ingredients. The township, Sanxing, is known for its green onions. It’s sweet and crisp. The wrapper is made with Sanxing green onions, and the filling has duck skin, fried green onion, and house-made sweet-spicy miso paste. Have this in one bite! Otherwise it’s going to be messy, and you’ll want to lick all those juices that leaked out. The duck skin is so thin and crispy that you can feel its texture, and the juice/fat just spread out in your mouth.
Second eat: Roast duck skin nigiri (櫻桃鴨握壽司)- The most anticipated dish of the day, which still makes me salivate while writing the post. Once again, eat this in one bite! No one looks at you while they are all focusing on their own food too, so don’t be shy. The fragrance and the duck fat exploded as soon as you took the first bite, and soon diffused in the mouth. I can definitely have the entire by myself!
Third eat: Stir-fried duck with lettuce wrap (生菜包鴨絲)- Another classic way of eating roast duck. However, this was a bit ordinary. Just regular duck with bean sprouts, leek sprouts, and diced apples. The other option for third eat is “san bei” ducks. “San bei” is seen in a lot of Taiwanese cuisines, which the sauce is in 1:1:1 ratio of soy sauce:rice wine:sesame oil.
Fourth eat: Cabbage duck stew (慢火白菜燉鴨湯)- This soup is full of flavors. It has been slowly cooked for 10 hours (so obviously not from the same duck as we had). The essence from the bones and cabbage have fully integrated. It’s smooth, sweet, and thick. Definitely a heart-warming soup for winter! (Yes.. we visited during Christmas in 2014..)
Overall, it was a really satisfying meal. It definitely lived up the hype and the reputation of serving the best roast duck in Taiwan. I recently found out that they have expanded to Tainan! Will see if I can visit soon, since Tainan is a lot closer to me compared to Yilan.
Red Lantern – Silks Place Yilan (宜蘭晶英酒店紅樓中餐廳)
Address: 36, Minquan Rd., Sec. 2, Yilan City, Taiwan
*Reservations can be done through their website, however, Mandarin only.