Smart Fish Restaurant 林聰明沙鍋魚頭
[Non-halal] If you’re heading to Chiayi City Taiwan, be sure to check out Smart Fish Restaurant.
Smart Fish 林聰明沙鍋魚頭 is a popular restaurant in Chiayi City, which is known for its signature fish head stew.
This restaurant was made famous when it was featured on Netflix Street Food Asia a few years ago.
Smart Fish Restaurant 林聰明沙鍋魚頭 in Chiayi City
Chiayi City 嘉義市 is a major city located in the Southwestern part of Taiwan.
The city is a popular stop if you’re planning to visit the beautiful mountains of Alishan.
During our recent Taiwan trip, we took a high-speed rail from Taipei to stay a few nights in Chiayi.
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The Alishan National Forest is very accessible from Chiayi – which is why we rented a car to drive to the national forest and stayed at an airBnB in Fanlu township.
The visit to the highlands was one of the most enjoyable trips we had, as we loved the mystical forests in the Alishan Forest Reserve, and the glorious sunset in Fanlu (see pictures below).
If you’re planning a trip to Alishan, we highly recommend staying at least a night in Chiayi – as the town has plenty to offer in terms of food.
Compared to the capital city of Taipei, Alishan has a more laid-back feel and is known for two special local dishes – turkey rice, and fish head stew.
For the latter, Smart Fish Restaurant is the one to visit.
Smart Fish Restaurant in Chiayi
Operating for more than 70 years, Smart Fish is a popular restaurant in Chiayi that specializes in fish head stew.
We first discovered this restaurant on an episode of Netflix’s Street Food Asia (you should definitely watch it!) – and made it a point to visit this place.
Despite being so popular, the restaurant has a way to manage the crowd so one doesn’t get lost or frustrated when eating here. We did arrive here for an early dinner at 4 pm and did not have to wait long for a table.
The fish head stew is special
It’s true – the fish head stew here is unlike anything we’ve eaten.
As Malaysians, we have our fair share of fish head dishes in our country – the most popular being fish head noodles cooked with evaporated milk, tomatoes, and pickled cabbage.
However, the fish stew here has a different flavour profile that was so unexpected.
Unexpected – but good.
For one – we found the broth to be slightly spicy, savoury and mildly sour with a hint of cabbage taste.
Unlike the Malaysia fish head dish, the stew here has a deeper umami as the stock is cooked with dried shrimp and pork bones for hours to complement the huge chunk of deep-fried fish head.
The stew is served with lots of wood-ear fungus, tofu, beancurd, and even pork belly. The addition of chilli to the stew gives colour and also a hint of spiciness that really rouses the appetite.
We really enjoyed the softness of the fresh tofu and the sweetness and freshness of the fish head.
Turkey rice was decent
Locals would say that the Turkey Rice here is not the best, as Smart Fish specializes in fish stew after all.
While we’ve tasted better ones here (as recommended by the locals) – but we honestly thought the Turkey Rice here was decent.
The calrose rice was cooked really well, and beautifully flavoured with lard, soy sauce, and tender turkey meat slices. We did find the soy sauce here to be slightly heavy – but you won’t be faulted to eat it here if you only have one meal in Chiayi.
Address: No. 361號, Zhongzheng Rd, East District, Chiayi City, Taiwan 600
Hours: 12pm-9pm (Closed on Tuesdays)
Phone: +886 80 052 0166
Here’s a bonus tip: Check out 嘉義品安豆漿豆花 just a few doors down the road from Smart Fish for some delicious Taiwanese dessert.
While tofu pudding (tau fu fa) is a popular dessert you can find in KL, we enjoyed their selection of tofu pudding ice-cream flavours, and toppings.
Address: No. 335號, Zhongzheng Rd, East District, Chiayi City, Taiwan 600Hours: 12.30pm-10pm Daily
Phone: +886 5 228 0689
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