Dinner @ Tairroir 態芮 (Taipei, Taiwan)

September 26, 2018 in Asian by thywhaleliciousfay

The main intention of my August 2018 to Taiwan was to pray. Within 2.5 days, we covered 17 temples in Taipei and Taichung. But as a foodie, it’s really hard for me to travel without striking a restaurant off my to-try list. Thus, I went to JL Studio and Sushi 27 in Taichung and Kaohsiung respectively. And upon my friend’s recommendation, I decided to try Taïrroir for Taipei.

After working at Guy Savoy and JAAN in Singapore, head chef Kai Ho returned home to open Taïrroir in Taipei, which restaurant’s name plays off Taiwan and terroir.

Reservation was made through email with 1.5 weeks advanced notice. And the day before my dinner, the restaurant sent me another email to re-confirm my reservation

And it was only when I was making my way to Taïrroir that I realised the restaurant is located in the same area as RAW and Nihonryori RyuGin. To be exact, it was in the next building.

Located at the sixth floor, the lift opened directly into the restaurant. And the first thing that caught my eye was the many fluttering copper tiles hanging from the ceiling. 1876 to be exact. Wow. The interior was really chic and modern. There was only 1 menu. And with that, I started my “qiu lu cai” menu (NT$3650) dinner with:-

1) Amuse bouche (above)


2) 碳水豆合物 (above) – Edamame potage, Taiwan beer tofu mousse, “cornmeal” ball.

  

3) Bread, Complimentary (above)

4) 里山里海 (above) – “Bouillabaisse”-guisgan island carabinero, Hokkaido uni, rouille, Chinese yam.

5) 你的冬天, 我的夏天 (above) – Salt-baked summer bamboo shoot, manjimup winter truffle, silver herring tempura.


6) 休息站的回憶, (+ NT$380, supplement) (above) – Pu’er tea silkie egg, “congee”, sweet potato fondant, buckwheat tuile.


7) 寶鮑不說 (above) – Chicken wing stuffed with braised abalone, “li-vert”.

8) 魚啵盪漾 (above) – Le poisson du jour, chick pea, pickled cabbage bouillon.



  

9) 鴿薏精湛 (above) – Pingtung pigeon in 2 ways, pearl barley, aged mandarin peel.

10) Taiwanese noodle, Complimentary (above)


11) 金枝玉葉 (above) – Calamansi sorbet, jin xuan-ai yu jelly, lemon, ilha formosa white wine, “crystal”.

12) 態芮鳳梨酥 (above) – Taïrroir’s pineapple “cake” – Pineapple, baba, camellia oil ice cream, rum and raisin cream. There were 2 options for the desserts. And since Taiwan is synonymous with pineapple tart, I naturally chose the pineapple cake over the other (irwan mango, orange, guava, passion fruit, red dragon fruit).


13) 茶車金金, 茶點甜甜 (above) – Taïrroir mignardises. My eyes lit up when the petite fours push-tray headed my way. Although my heart dropped when the staff said we could choose only 3. 3 per person… Sob!

14) Tea or coffee – I went with tea and was told it was made with red leaves.

I enjoyed my meal at Tairroir very much. In addition to the delectable dishes, service was very professional. As my stomach wasn’t in the best condition that night, I requested for warm water. But halfway through the dinner, I requested for hot water. And at the end of my dinner, when I opted for tea to go with my petit fours, the staff said the tea is best appreciated at 60 degree and asked if that was fine with me. I was surprised when she went on to explain it’s because she noticed I enjoy my water hot. Thumbs up for the attentiveness.

It’s also an interesting read to know that head chef Kai wrote the menu in English before thinking of the Chinese translation. He didn’t do it the other way round because the composition of each dish was French-based.

I definitely recommend Taïrroir, which was also awarded 1 star by Michelin Guide Taipei 2018.

TAIRROIR 態芮
No. 299, Lequn 3rd Road, 6F, Zhongshan District, Taipei, Taiwan
+886 2 8501 5500, Website, Facebook
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sun : 12:00 – 14:30
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sun : 18:30 – 22:30
Value: 8
Service: 8

Dinner @ JL Studio (Taichung, Taiwan)

September 16, 2018 in Asian, Mod Sin by thywhaleliciousfay

After trying Le Mout in my previous trip to Taichung, I was ready to conquer visit another (fine dining) restaurant in Taichung. And thus, I started researching for my August 2018 trip. And that’s when I chanced upon pictures of JL Studio on instagram. Mod-Sin cuisine? Eating modern-Singaporean cuisine in Taiwan? I mean… I would prefer to try Taiwanese cuisine. But the food looked so good in the pictures.

So reservation was made by dropping them an email. During which, I was asked to choose between discovery menu (NT$2800) and experience menu (NT$3800). And, yeah… No surprises. I went for the latter. Keke. JL Studio also offered non-alcohol pairing. NT$980 for Asian herb tea as welcome drink, Taiwan pineapple ice tea and longan tea, or NT$1200 with the mentioned 3 drinks and oriental beauty tea.


To arrive at the restaurant, I made my way by taking the bus. Taking the bus was really straight-forward, but the journey took time because the restaurant was not exactly located in the city centre. Although one could also take the taxi; I took it for my first time ever in Taiwan Taichung to return home after my meal at JL Studio and realised it’s actually pretty affordable.

And upon arrival at the building, I was led to second storey which JL Studio occupied. Having pre-selected my menu, I started my experience menu (NT$3800) dinner with:-

1) Kueh pie tee (above) – Rose shrimp, cuttlefish, Chinese radish. This was a challenge to eat. The herbs were piled really high. I concentrated too much in trying to stuff the kueh pie tee into my mouth in one go than to savour it properly. Oops.


  

2) Rose kueh (above) – Turmeric-yellow pepper sambal. Was surprised to taste liquid when I bit into it. Such a brilliant idea to inject turmeric-yellow pepper sambal sauce beneath the honeycomb cookie.

  

3) Satay (above) – Chicken skin, cucumber, peanut. Served on a bed of dry ice fog, JL Studio did a cold rendition of satay. Satay sauce was made into ice cream before it was shaved onto frozen foie gras, salsa of onion and cucumber, and fried chicken skin. This was honestly brilliant.


4) Lamb (above) – Glutinous rice, curry leaves. Another favourite of mine. Not sure which Singaporean dish this was inspired by, but it was so good. The dough-skin was so thick and chewy. Or could this be a savoury take of our 汤圆 (glutinous rice ball)?

  

5) Rojak, Complimentary (above) – I think this was a complimentary dish because it’s not indicated on my menu. Made with green mango, cucumber, tau pok, shrimp paste and peanut, owner-chef Jimmy Lim replicated our rojak dish to the dot. If not, better. I liked that there was sufficient peanuts within to add a crunch in the one mouthful. Superb.


6) I ❤❤❤ this roti (above) – Mint chutney, jackfruit curry. And instead of the familiar crispy roti, I was told this was made fluffier such that it was more like a naan. I enjoyed the addition of jackfruit which introduced a natural sweetness to the curry. But hey, I may be bias since I love jackfruit. Hee. And I honestly felt the dipping sauce of mint chutney and yogurt complemented the jackfruit curry well as it allowed one to refresh one’s palette if one was getting tired of (the heavier) curry. Unbelievably, I managed to finish the naan on my own despite my shrinking appetite.

7) Orh luak (above) – Lard, preserved radish. Preserved radish, which is an ingredient in oyster omelette, was made into ice cream which the staff recommended me to start with. So good! And it was this dish that made me realise I had been taking the dishes which I grew up on for granted. In the sense of… I always craved for Japanese and French cuisines, but never quite truly appreciated what our little island has to offer with her wide variety of Chinese, Malay and Indian food. And I was impressed by the attention to little details where the oysters were sliced into 3s for easier consumption. Egg shells were also made out of egg white. Wow.


8) Seafood ho fan (above) – Wok hei kai lan. It was amazing to see how our street food was upgraded simply by improving its plating where the flat rice noodles were intricately weaved together. And JL Studio’s was like the healthier version because of the equal ratio between noodle and vegetables. Since you know… Our hor fan isn’t normally served with so much vegetables. Keke. But I like. Especially with their thicker seafood sauce.


  

9) Chicken (above) – Pandan, ginger, chili. When this was served, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Den’s DFC which was inspired by KFC. So yes, this was JL Studio’s Hainanese chicken rice inspired by McDonald’s apple pie. However, when I bit into it, I couldn’t quite taste the pandan-flavoured rice because of the buttery-good pastry puff. Unless I put the chili. And I recommend drinking the soup first because drinking it in-between was like a clash of Chinese-styled soup and Western-styled pie.


  

10) Yilan duckling (above) – Red curry leg, fragrant rice, crispy duckling, hae bee salad, green sambal. 30 days old duckling served in 3 ways. Beside the thigh cooked in Thai curry and duck ‘sausage’ which was made with the duck’s head skin, I really enjoyed the breast (and bones) which was fried to crisp.

11) Summer mango, salted egg (above) – And I was told 2 types of mango was used for the palate cleanser. I didn’t catch the mango name (cause the staff explained in Chinese and I ain’t too good with my Chinese. Oops.) but she said 1 was famous for its fragrance while the other was famous for its sweetness.


12) Milo dinosaur (above) – Beneath what-looked-like-a-crisp-cracker-but-was-a-soft-biscuit dusted with milo powder were foam, mousse, ice cream, cookie and… Jumping candy. Jumping candy was a surprise since I haven’t had it (in my desserts) recently. Haha.

  
  

13) Kueh kapit, kueh ambon, peanut & banana, bandung (above) – After I finished my petit fours, the staff asked me to guess what’s used in the filling for the kueh kapit. And honestly… It tasted really familiar. I wanted to guess durian but I said jackfruit cause durian is actually a very bold choice of ingredient to use since not many know how to appreciate it. And surprisingly, it was durian! With some longan too. The staff explained they would only announce it’s durian after customers finish it in order to remove their stigma. A bold move on their end, she admitted.

14) Coffee/tea – And I went with tea.

It was also through conversing with the staff that I learnt JL Studio only opened a year ago. No wonder I didn’t read about it when I was doing my (food) research for my September ‘17 Taiwan trip since it takes time for word to get out. =p

I enjoyed my meal at JL Studio very, very much. I haven’t tried many mod-Sin restaurants, but I dare say JL Studio is my favourite of all. Every dish was a surprise. One could see how much planning went into every dish. Through his dishes, I even got to understand our (Singaporean) cuisine better. And one could also say it’s an experience in itself to be eating our Singaporean cuisine outside of Singapore and to be on the end of interpreting what non-Singaporeans would imagine our dishes are based on owner-chef Jimmy’s presentation. A must try.

And to learn more about owner-chef Jimmy, one may also read the Chinese article written by selftaughtgochefgourmet. I got to learnt that prior to opening JL Studio in 2017, owner-chef Jimmy was at Le Mout for 7 years where he worked his way up to be the head chef. During which, he did short (3 months) stints at The French Laundry, Per Se, Noma and Geranium with the support of Le Mout’s owner-chef Lanshu Chen. Much respect to her too cause to have a supportive boss is also one’s good fortune. And it’s not often we meet such bosses.

JL STUDIO
No. 689, Yifeng Road Section 4, 2F, Nantun District, Taichung, Taiwan
+886 4 2380 3570, Facebook
Overall: 8.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 9
Tues – Sun : 18:00 – 22:30
Ambience: 8
Value: 8
Service: 9
* Closed on Mon

Dinner @ Restaurant Labyrinth [Revisit]

September 9, 2018 in Asian, Mod Sin by thywhaleliciousfay

Saw a picture of Labyrinth’s gorgeously-plated lala dish on instagram and was dying to revisit the restaurant since. My previous visit to Labyrinth was in 2015 when the restaurant was at their previous location (Tanjong Pagar) and before they were awarded a Michelin star. So yes… I was excited to try the new menu.

Reservation was made with Chope. And a few days before our dinner, the restaurant emailed us with the menu and requested for us to confirm our reservation. Confirmation of reservation is required cause I missed out their first email, and was sent a reminder email.

Upon arrival at the restaurant, my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) and I were led to our table before starting our $178 dinner menu with:-

  

1) Appetiser (above)


2) Heartland waffle (above) – Local duck liver pate & goji berry jam.


3) “Nasi lemak” cheong fun (above) – Chicken skin, ikan bilis & egg yolk gel.

4) Braised baby abalone (above) – Homemade oyster sauce & fatt choy tart.

5) Ah hua kelong lala clams (above) – XO sambal, deep fried wonton skin & Chinese spinach.


6) Labyrinth rojak (above) – Edible garden herbs, natural stingless bee honey & cempedak sorbet. And for this, 10 different herbs, flowers and sprouts from locally-based Edible Garden City was used.

7) “Ang moh” chicken rice, kin yan abalone mushroom (above) – Home-milled rice flour, grandma’s chili sauce & braised chicken. Presented as a dumpling, I enjoyed this dish.

8) Grandma’s fish maw soup (above) – Yellow tail snapper fish cake, textures of fish maw & tofu puree. When the dish was served, one would noticed the fish cakes were thinly sliced and put beautifully together as a rose. And it’s a pity that the staff poured the broth over the ‘fish cake’ rose, instead of beside. Hmm…


9) Local wild caught crab, sustenir farm strawberry (above) – Signature chili ice cream, egg whites & salted mackerel.

10) Nippon koi farm silver perch (above) – Herbal pepper broth, ulam rajah & textures of black garlis.


  

11) Uncle William’s quail (above) – Satay espuma, muah chee & pearl onion.

12) “Lost grain” fried rice (above) – White bait, dried scallop & local “dashi”.


13) Bean to bar (above) – Artisanal dark chocolate & 8 year aged shaoxing wine.


14) Clam lead snow (above) – Rosella meringue & textures of grapes.

15) Soy bean curd (above) – Bird’s nest & burnt yogurt espuma by Hay Dairies goat milk.

16) Cristal de chine caviar (above) – Kaya ice cream & Sing Hong Loong toast.

17) Petit fours (above) – And it’s a bold move that the macaron was durian flavoured such not everyone could appreciate durian.

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy our dining experience. So no, I won’t recommend Restaurant Labyrinth; It’s no surprise that first impressions are very important. And unfortunately for us (or for the restaurant), a really snobbish waiter attended to us for the first half of our meal. He was extremely ‘bo chap’ with the dishes’ introduction; Presentation was brief and he was basically just muttering to himself. My IGGF and I couldn’t make out what he was saying. His I-don’t-care attitude made us feel very unwelcomed.

Halfway through our meal, two other staff stepped in to serve us because the snobbish staff was tied up with other tables. I was glad that happened because they were so much more professional. One in particular stood out with his detailed presentation. In a good way of course since we love to better appreciate the dishes by understanding the story behind.

And food wise… Oddly, I wasn’t too impressed. It just lacked the ‘wow’ factor. I preferred days when they were at their previous location where their dishes leaned towards molecular cuisine.

  

Upon settling the bill, we were given small tokens before we left the Michelin-starred restaurant; A small bottle of chef-owner Han Li Guang’s chicken rice chili and a set of postcards which were used as props for the dishes’ introduction.

RESTAURANT LABYRINTH
8 Raffles Avenue, Esplanade Mall, #02-23, Singapore
6223 4098, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tues – Fri : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Tues – Sun : 18:00 – 23:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 6
* Closed on Mon