When I moved to Taiwan I planned to spend a maximum of three years on the island. I thought this would enough time to explore Asia from my base in Taipei – and for the most part, it was. I have had the opportunity to visit most of Asia, and Oceania, and have made many return visits to my favorite destinations. After three years I planned on moving to either Prague or Costa Rica to start a new round of exploration.
I’ve been here 4-years now.
During my second year here, I met someone who made me extend my time in Taiwan. We’ve had an exciting life so far with plenty of ups and downs. We first met on vacation and decided to move forward with a relationship despite the fact that we lived on different continents. I was an American living in Taiwan, Corina was Taiwanese living in Australia. One thing we had in common was that we were both experiencing a different lifestyle and culture. We quickly fell in love and Corina soon decided to move back to Taiwan. Before that happened, we met in a variety of countries – collecting passport stamps as a side effect of seeing each other.
We’ve been together 3-years now and we are at a point in our life where we are ready to settle down. Perhaps even travel less and start a family – unthinkable, I know!
Setting up for the birthday dinner
I decided to pop the question on her birthday as it would be easier to pull off the surprise. A month or so before her birthday I went to a shop called Wedding Code and selected a ring that I knew she would like.
I wanted it to be a surprise so planning everything had to be taken care of discretely during breaks in my work schedule. There were a couple of times where I thought she would catch on, but thankfully things worked out well!
Choosing the venue
Doing a proposal on your girlfriend’s birthday is pretty common, I think, but it’s an easy day to pull off a surprise. I figured that treating her to a good birthday dinner could help set things up nicely. We are both huge sushi fans so we decided to have a celebratory birthday dinner at Shintori in Taipei. I had never eaten at Shintori, but the restaurant was given rave reviews by several friends here in Taipei. The reviews match up on Trip Advisor as well. The photos and reviews online made it an easy choice.
As an upscale sushi restaurant I had high expectations of Shintori, but I was still blown away by the experience!
I first stopped by a few days early to make the reservation and plan some of the details. The staff at the restaurant were more than helpful and worked with me to make everything special. The first thing they did was to help create a custom menu offering just for the two of us that would fit in our budget. This menu included a few unique offerings such as a small cake made of sushi, and a special dessert just for the birthday girl.
In addition to the custom menu, the restaurant also helped prepare a variety of decorations for our dinner. I planned to stop by a few hours early with a bouquet of flowers and the ring, but the staff offered to take care of the floral arrangements and decorations for me.
By the end of our meal, I was extremely satisfied with the restaurant choice. Not only was the food quality top-notch, the atmosphere, and service provided were unbeatable.
The big day
When we arrived Corina was, I think, expecting nothing more than a birthday dinner. I was a bit nervous when we were escorted to a private room with a large bouquet of flowers, and rose petals scattered across the table. Thankfully a cluster of “Happy Birthday” balloons was able to tastefully shift the focus to the birthday aspect of the evening.
It had been a while since our last fine dining experience so we were both excited to try the various steak and seafood dishes listed on the menu. Each dish was delicately balanced and delicious but a couple of things stood out:
- Red snapper sashimi
- Baked Lobster
Seriously, these are must order items if you eat at Shintori!
Throughout the evening several of the staff stopped by to wish us a happy birthday. We also got a special birthday dessert at the end of our meal even though it wasn’t on the menu. These touches gave us the chance to take “birthday” photos throughout the dinner without raising too much suspicion.
At the end of our meal, we were brought a special ‘dessert’ which of course was an excuse to present the ring! The was really just a glass of wine with a covered bowl next to it. When Corina opened took the lid off the bowl she could see the ring nestled inside. Thankfully she said yes!
Last but certainly not least: the food! Eating at Shintori is what you would expect from a fine dining experience. Great taste, combined with excellent presentation, in a romantic atmosphere. The portions at Shintori were small, but I actually lost track of how many courses we were served. The plates just kept coming, and by the end of the meal, we were both stuffed!
Each dish that we were served combined a variety of exotic ingredients in mouth-watering ways. My standard for seafood is pretty high but they still managed to impress me with both the plating, which was beautiful and the taste.
Our birthday/proposal dinner was amazing, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I owe a big thank you to everyone at Shintori for their help in planning, setting up, and taking photos during the big day!
It’s now time to plan the next big step in our life together – a wedding and a (long) honeymoon!