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 guess what’s used in the filling for the kueh kapit. And honestly… I 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