(Click to Enlarge) Taken inside aThai, the excellent Thai restaurant that's part of The Aegius Club, a hot springs bath/day spa/health club in Xin Beitou, a sort of Northern suburb of Taipei known for its hot springs and general beauty. Thai food is really popular in Taiwan and, based on this experience at least, the Thai food there seems to be far better than most of what's offered in North American Thai restaurants. The food we had was spicy, more complex in flavor, and involved none of the gloppy, greasy, sweet American-Thai standards like Pad Thai noodles.
The first of the dizzying array of family-style courses to go around the table were a Papaya Salad - somewhat similar to the version typically found in American Thai restaurants but with a more complex, more bitter flavor - and a lovely green salad. Next was a huge whole fish (the whole animal is almost always served in almost any Asian country) served in a lemony/lemongrassy broth that put you in the mind more of Vietnamese cuisine than Thai. Still, delicious. Next were some juicy, succulent skewers of chicken and pork with a variety of spicy sauces to dip them in, and none of them that overly-sweet crap (What do they call it, peanut sauce?) that they give you in the US. Then it was time for the main course of two different coconut-milk-based curries served with pork and beef, each perfectly creamy and spicy. After that there was something I'd never had before in any type of restaurant, squid wrapped around meatballs. The combination of the rubbery, unyielding texture of the squid with the softer meatball inside - and the different tastes - made for a hearty, slightly spicy treat.
The dessert was one of those things that I love about being in virtually any Asian country -or in an Asian neighborhood in the States - one of those shaved ice/condensed milk/fresh fruit concoctions, a perfect refreshing counterpoint to the heat and humidity outside and to the somewhat heavy meal.
(Click to enlarge) This is a picture from outside of the restaurant/spa/health club/whatever so you can see how cool it looks. The people in the picture - whom I caught unawares - are our friends' Uncle and Aunt, the coolest funnest people I've ever met. It was their idea to go to this restaurant.
I got a card from the restaurant. The English part of the card (I can understand and speak a fair amount of Chinese but I'm close to illiterate) says:
No. 6, Lane 20, Chung-Ho Street, Pa-Tao, 112, Taipei, Taiwan
All I know is that it's very near the Xin Beitou station on the MRT. If you get out there and walk around you see a 10 story or so building, taller than the ones surrounding it, which says "Aegius". On the ground floor of that building is where you want to go. (Yes, I think what they're going for is "aegis").