Hsiao Tong Yi Steak House (Taipei)
It was a special occasion, so we decided to go to a famous restaurant in Taipei’s Songshan district called Hsiao Tong Yi Steak House (小統一牛排館). You can kind of tell from the name that it’s probably been around for a while, and that’s certainly the case as the place has been serving top quality steaks to customers for decades and is well known among Taipei’s older generations.
The restaurant is fairly big. It’s dimly lit and the decor is old, as are the waitresses, so it definitely has a more of a traditional feel to it.
The menu is quite extensive, with a large selection of steaks and seafood. Most people opt for the set meals, which include a dip, house bread, a soup, a main course and a dessert. It’s a fairly standard thing for steakhouses these days. Price-wise we’re talking about NT$1000 a head, minimum, plus a 10% service charge. As I understand it they also have cheaper business lunch menu and special set courses for special occasions such as Valentine’s and Christmas.
The lighting isn’t very good and I resorted to using to different iPhones (those short-lifed batteries!) so I apologise if the photos are crap (I already tried to fix the exposure a little).
First up, which I didn’t bother photographing, was some carrot, celery and cucumber sticks and a thousand island dip. It wasn’t bad, I suppose, but a pretty no-frills starter for what is a relatively pricey meal.
Next, some house bread rolls and garlic bread, which came with a cheese spread that had a bit of an unusual taste. There is also regular butter if you ask for it. None of the bread stood out as being anything special.
Then came the soup. We had a choice of corn soup, seafood soup, onion soup and borscht. If you pay an extra NT$50 you can add a baked pastry to the top. We tried the corn, seafood and onion. The corn was regular, the seafood underwhelming and the onion was decent.
The salad was next. It was pre-prepared and had lettuce, cucumber, tomato, carrot and sultanas. The dressing was thick and creamy and reminded me of thousand island but wasn’t quite the same. I didn’t mind it, but it was another unimaginative appetizer.
Finally, the main courses arrived. The first one here is a steak with a fish fillet.
The next photo is of the highly recommended steak with abalone.
The one below is what I ordered, the Kobe “fatless” steak.
For the steaks you have an option of either mushroom or black pepper sauce. I chose the mushroom but also sampled the black pepper, which was quite spicey and suitable for those with strong tastes.
I will speak for the Kobe “fatless” steak I got and admit it was a very high quality steak — extremely soft and flavoursome, even without the mushroom sauce I added on top. It came at medium, though with the hotplate below if could soon become well done if you take too long.
I thought my steak was the nicest. The others were a little chewier but also quite good, and the abalone was somewhat overcooked, making it tougher to sink my teeth into it. The fish was nothing to write home about.
Last, but not least, the dessert, which was a caramel pudding with a slice of watermelon.
The overall experience was not bad, and the steaks were indeed wonderful, but the other things that came in the set meal lacked freshness and innovation. While newer competitors like Wang Steak are coming up with creative dishes, comfortable modern decor and ridiculously well-trained staff, Hsiao Tong Yi feels sadly stuck in the past. If you’re after a good steak, then sure, it’s a good choice, though it you are after a total package experience then there are definitely plenty of more exciting options available.
Hsiao Tong Yi Steak House (小統一牛排館)
Address: No. 174 Jiankang Road, Songshan district, Taipei (nearest MRT is Songshan Airport or Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, but it’s a fair distance if travelling by foot)
Phone: +886 2 2760 8027
Hours: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm, 5:00 – 9:00 pm