If we hadn’t been looking for it, we never would have known it was there: The little Triori bed and breakfast was an unassuming presence on a block of tidy homes. Overlooking a rice field, the row house was marked only with a small sign peeking out from behind a twisted bonsai tree.
After several action-packed days in Taipei, we had taken the short train trip to Yilan County along the northwest coast to experience Taiwan’s hot springs culture. Instructions were brief – get off the train at the Jiaoxi Station, and take a 15-minute walk to Qilidan Road, Lane 195.
We weren’t too worried. The town was small, and the walk was pleasant. Passing by the signs for dozens of commercial hot-springs resorts, we kept walking and soon came upon Triori.
From the start, it was obvious that the proprietors aimed to make our stay exceptional. Although we were a little early for check-in, they suggested that we explore the town on the bikes they provide to guests. We immediately set off on a quest for Yilan’s famed scallion pancakes. (You have to love a town known for its scallions!).
Parking our bikes, we joined the line and were soon seated at one of the nearby picnic tables, washing the savory pancakes down with milk tea. Satisfied, we headed back to Triori to check out the promised in-room hot spring. And wow! Our beautifully and minimally designed room included two levels – one with two sleeping areas and an outside patio overlooking the rice field, and another with a hot tub fed by naturally hot spring water.
Along with scallions, Yilan County is know for its odorless hot-springs water, which reportedly contains a host of minerals and is reputed to be wonderful for your skin. I’m not sure about that, but I do know that the ultra-hot water was relaxing in the extreme. We filled up the large square hot tub and soaked on and off all evening.
Oh, except for the time we spent downstairs in the dining room, sampling the amazing dinner that came as a part of the stay. Sashimi, duck with slivered scallions, miso soup with organic tofu, delicately creamy fish liver, hot pot with duck, cabbage and mushrooms – the list went on and on. The courses came out at a leisurely pace, and the server explained each dish.
The chef later explained that all of the food is locally sourced – within 30 minutes of Triori. He changes the menu every season to take advantage of the local offerings. With influences from Japan, where he trained, as well as from his native Aboriginal culture, the chef obviously takes immense pride in presentation. The raw seafood course came out as a bouquet of tender sashimi, octopus, fragrant homemade wasabi, shredded radish, and dainty flower garnishes.
Breakfast the next morning was nothing short of a feast of rice congee, grilled fish, scallion pancakes, and marinated tofu.
The Yilan area is a popular spot for Taiwanese tourists, and it’s easy to see why. Many shops and bakeries line the streets, offering a wide range of pastries and snacks. Scallions seemed to be the main theme, but there were also delicious custardy deserts, traditional pineapple cakes, and spicy, salty peanuts.
We were in Yilan on a Friday evening, and the bakeries were packed with people sampling and buying treats for the weekend. As it was for us, the town is known as a lovely spot to get away from the hectic city atmosphere.