Baguashan (Bagua Hill) is one of the most interesting places around Taichung.
Baguashan is famous for tea, pineapples, for a great statue of Buddha, for a few lovely walks. Recently, also for SunnyHills.
SunnyHills is a local company, family-run, that in a few years has gained a well-deserved reputation for baking the best Feng Li Su (Pineapple Cakes) … at least many Taiwanese (including us) think so.
Are SunnyHills Pineapple Cakes really the best?
Yes, they are! At least for two reasons.
First, the ingredients.
SunnyHills Pineapple Cakes filling is made only with organic pineapple, grown on Baguashan. The crust is prepared with butter from New Zealand and special flour from Japan. There are no preservatives or artificial flavorings of any kind. For this reason, the taste of these Pineapple Cakes slightly changes how the pineapples change with the season: sweeter in summer and more sour in winter.
Second, the recipe.
For most of the bakeries, the filling for the “feng li su” consists of a mixture of winter gourd with a smaller (sometimes much smaller) percentage of pineapple. This because a filling of 100% pineapple is sometimes considered too sour and too fibrous. But, perhaps most importantly, the winter gourd is cheaper than the pineapple.
Sunny Hills, since the beginning, has only used pure pineapple for the filling. Doing this, Sunny Hills has also met the growing quest for authentic and traditional things (or perceived as such) that has conquered Taiwan.
The result is excellent. The contrast between the rich dark yellow filling, deliciously sweet and tangy, with the buttery crust, is mouth-watering and unforgettable.
More, SunnyHills pineapple cakes are baked in an attractive shape that looks like a gold ingot (in fact Pineapple Cakes are considered an auspicious dessert by Taiwanese people).
More about Sunny Hills
As I said, Sunny Hills is a family-owned company.
It was founded in 2008 by members of the Hsu family, who brought their diverse experiences and skills in the business – the uncle was a baker, the nephew working in IT, pineapple farmers, and so on.
Supply policies are inspired by fair trade principles. From the beginning, Sunny Hills has been buying pineapple directly from Baguashan farmers, that are offered a price much higher than that offered by the wholesalers.
In return, the farmers are committed to providing non-GMO pineapples of the local Baguashan strain, organically grown.
Marketing is different too.
SunnyHills Feng Li Su are only sold online, or in the two shops in Taipei and at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, or in the stores of Baguashan, located in a traditional courtyard house.
There is no direct advertising nor, as often happens in Taiwan, any commission paid to the tour leaders and bus drivers. Instead, Sunny Hills offers a complimentary Pineapple Cake and a cup of tea to each person that enters one of their stores.
It has been a great success. Now, over the weekend, at least 10,000 people a day show up in the traditional courtyard house to pick up their complimentary Feng Li Su.
Many of them have become regular customers who, after the free tasting, buy boxes of Feng Li Su, and the other things for sale. such as bottles of pineapple juice and oolong tea of Baguashan.
Because of the crowd, on Sunday the main road has become a kind of market, Taiwanese style, full of stalls selling everything.
Next to their house anyway, SunnyHills has created a space where the villagers (and only them) have an exclusive place to show and sell their products to the tourists.
How to get to Sunny Hills Headquarters in Baguashan
The best way is to use your own trasportation. Just follow #74 Expressway from Taichung to Changhua and beyond. On the hill top, turn left to the road #139 that follows the top of Baguashan from north to the south. It is a great day trip and there are many other things to see.
If you have to or want to use public transport, as far as I know, the only bus that serve the area is # 6925 (Changhua Bus) from Nantou to Yuanlin, which crosses Baguashan and has a stop nearby SunnyHills. The timetable is here.
Other shops in Taiwan
At the moment SunnyHills has no sale points in Taichung City. There are shops in Taipei, Kaohsiung, Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Sunny Hills has also recently opened a shop in Taoyuan Airport, Terminal 2. You can find the list of the shops here.
You can also order online at the following URL: http://www.sunnyhills.com.tw/taiwan/shop.php (only in Chinese).
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