Dinner @ MUME (Taipei, Taiwan)

January 24, 2018 in European

In my September 2017 trip to Taiwan, I managed to make reservation for RAW, Le Mout and MUME. However, I had to cancel our reservation at MUME due to unforeseen circumstance. Sob. So when I was planning for my January 2018 trip, I knew it was time to make (it) up to myself. Keke

Currently ranked 43 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 by S. Pellegrino, reservation was made on MUME’s website. It’s a straightforward process. After choosing the party size and date, one would be informed of the offered menu (which is normally a-la carte) before going on to select the seating slots of either 6pm or 8.30pm. For the former, one would need to return the table at 8pm. And to secure the reservation, one would need to input one’s credit card details.

I made reservation for a weekday dinner 3 weeks in advanced, and decided to go with the earlier slot of 6pm.

Unlike the reservation process which was a breeze, identifying the restaurant’s shopfront was a little difficult. The name of the restaurant was craved faintly on the marble. So one can’t see the engravement from far. But thankfully I googled up the place prior to our dinner, so my Mom and I didn’t end up walking past the unit instead since I knew how the shopfront looked. And to enter, press the (black) button on one’s right.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3), my Mom and I ordered:-


  

1) Seasonal tartlets (2 pcs), NT220 (above)

2) Country sourdough, NT180 (above) – Smoked beef fat butter was stated on the menu. However, as we don’t take beef, we were given cultured butter and sea salt instead. And my Mom and I seriously loved the bread. Well-browned crispy and crackling crust with the inside being soft with attractive big air pockets. We finished the loaf easily.


  

3) Liver brulee, NT350 (above) – Chicken liver parfait, seasonal herbs. This was really good. The chicken liver parfait was creamy, thick and smooth. I enjoyed this with the sourdough. Keke. We were told Shaoxing wine was also used for the brulee layer. A must order.

4) MUME salad, NT480 (above) – 20+ types seasonal vegetables, fermented black beans. We were told the vegetables were all locally grown. Now… When a restaurant pegged their (restaurant) name to a dish, I would interpret it as the restaurant’s signature dish. However, I felt this was just passable. Wasn’t impressed.


5) Burnt cabbage, NT580 (above) – Smoked salmon roe, pine nuts, oyster emulsion. Cooked with direct heat for 1 hour, the staff told us not to eat the outermost charred layer. And the texture of this ‘burnt cabbage’ was intriguing. It’s like a cross between pickled and fermented.

6) Crispy amadai, NT1080 (above) – Aromatic broth, engawa, parsley and lemon thyme.



7) Pork neck, NT980 (above) – Clam sauce, baby cabbage, dill. Didn’t really like this.


8) Custard apple, NT330 (above) – Caramelized puff pastry, creme fraiche ice cream. My mom and I really enjoyed this bold combination of (cold) passionfruit ice cream and warm apple.

9) Frost lemon pie, NT330 (above) – Gordon’s gin, suze, lemon.

It was a pleasant dining experience at MUME. The set-up of the restaurant was suitable for friends to catch-up over food (small and big groups alike) and for couples to go on romantic dates. Food was generally good, though I must really mention the service.

Service was top notch! Our cups of water was never once left empty by the friendly staff. Although we didn’t finish 1 or 2 of the dishes (because our stomachs were bursting nearing to the end of our meal), the staff could pick up from our body language that we were done with our dishes and cleared our dishes without us requesting them to. So it was nice because my Mom and I didn’t have to wait very long for our next dish noting that they served the dishes in sequence. Ie, appetisers followed by mains, etc.

If one is thinking of checking out MUME, I would definitely say “Please do!”

MUME
No. 28, Siwei Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan
+886 2 2700 0901, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sun : 18:00 – 23:00
Ambience: 7
Value: 7
Service: 8

UPDATE: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Taipei 2018.

Dinner @ RAW (Taipei, Taiwan)

January 18, 2018 in French

When I was planning my maiden trip to Taiwan, I had 4 restaurants on my to-try-list. And 1 of the 4 was none other than RAW. Having enjoyed myself at Restaurant Andre, it comes with no surprise that I wanted to check out RAW; A restaurant conceptualized by Restaurant Andre‘s head chef Andre Chiang and his Taiwanese team.

As taken from RAW’s website, RAW is a 60-seat lifestyle restaurant serving which aims to bring ‘The New Interpretation of Taiwanese Flavor’ to the table by highlighting Taiwanese seasonal produce through innovative food and drink.

Now… While I know RAW is a very popular restaurant, I didn’t realise it was that difficult to secure a reservation till my foodie-friends gushed about how fortunate I was after seeing pictures of my meal at RAW. I guess I have to thank the kiasu-ness within me and of course Lady Luck. =) Knowing that RAW accepts reservation up to 2 months ahead, I sent my request on RAW’s website once the slot of my preferred date opened. And yes, I meant sending (my reservation request) at the stroke of midnight. I exaggerate, not.

And in our reservation request, we were also required to make our menu selection. So between the NT1850 and NT2680 dinner set menus, I opted for the latter. And within 2 days, I received an email from RAW confirming our dinner appointment. Yeah! And the countdown to our dinner in September 2017 excitedly begun.

RAW was a 8 to 12 minutes from Jiannan Road MRT station (劍南路站). Occupying the first floor of the building, one could easily identify the restaurant not only by its name printed on the full-height glass, but also by RAW’s iconic wooden structure which was visible through the window. Deliberately placed at the entrance, the soft-angled, organically sculptured wooden structure is the centrepiece of RAW. And I fell in love with the interior; Of the flowy lines and curves.

The staff greeted us at the entrance. And after confirming our reservation, my Mom and I were led to our table. Having pre-selected our dinner menu, we started our dinner with:-

  

1) Bread, NT150 (above) – Bread remained warm as it was placed on hot pebbles within the sack. Butter served with the bread had cacao nibs, sesame seeds and chopped nuts. And it was interesting my Mom and I were not given any plate; The staff appeared with a (small) broom to swipe the crumbs that had dropped onto the table which got me receiving the eye from my Mom since my superstitious Mom thinks it’s bad luck to have a broom in one’s face. Keke. And it was a nice and thoughtful gesture when the staff offered to pack our bread seeing that we had difficulty finishing ours.

2) Dinner set, NT2680 comprised of:-

  

(A) Dish #1 (above) – Fruit corn, Taiwan miso and taiken 9.


(B) Dish #2 (above) – Watermelon, tuna and beef tomato. Hidden beneath the tuna sashimi, compressed watermelon and dehydrated tomato was my favourite mozzarella cheese (skin)!



(C) Dish #3 (above) – Kailan, chick & yolk, and oyster. To avoid any confusion, what looked like oil in the third picture was actually the yolk!



(D) Dish #4 (above) – Pulled pork, potato and shichimi. We were told Taiwanese chef Andre grew up on Shilin Night Market’s cheese potato. And thus, this was his take of the night market snack.


(E) Dish #5 (above) – Octopus, sriracha and furikake.


  

(F) Dish #6 (above) – Capellini, crab fat and laksa leaf. Crab broth made with crab meat and crab shell was poured in front of us into the coconut which contained the sea urchin, crab meat and capellini. However, we were not given much broth as we were told to enjoy the noodles as a dry dish first. After we finished the ingredients, the staff continued to pour the remaining rich broth for us to enjoy it on its own.


(G) Dish #7 (above) – Veal Pork belly, yuba and baby squid.


(H1) Dish #8 (above) – Banana, toffee and espresso. It was interesting that the handmade pie crust had no bottom.

(H2) Dish #8 (above) – And because my Mom requested not to have banana, her dessert was changed to Sangria sorbet, berry ice cream and fruits hidden beneath a thin layer of herbal tea jelly. So pretty! I actually preferred my Mom’s dessert over the original dessert (item H1). The dessert even had sparkling candy in it. Wow.


(I) Dessert, Complimentary (above) – And it was a nice surprise when we were served bubble-tea flavoured wafer; Milk tea ice cream and pearl bubble. So lovely.

My mom and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I appreciate how the price is kept affordable for the masses. Service was great. Staff Oliver was assigned to us and took great care of us despite only having joined RAW for 6 months. The only gripe I had was the quantity of deep-fried dishes on the menu. Too many. So yes, it was a little too heavy.

My verdict… One should always try to make reservation at RAW despite how difficult it may be. In fact, I reckon securing a reservation at RAW has gotten harder after chef Andre’s announcement that he’s closing Restaurant Andre in February 2018 to return to Taiwan. And of course, heading back to RAW. Sob.

And if one manage to secure a meal slot, don’t forget to check out the toilet too! It’a pretty cool! ;)

RAW
No. 301, Le Qun 3rd Road, Taipei City, Taiwan
+886 2 8501 5800, Website, Facebook
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Wed – Sun : 11:30 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Wed – Sun : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon & Tue

UPDATE: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Taipei 2018.

Lunch @ Shinji by Kanesaka (Carlton Hotel)

November 5, 2017 in Japanese

Craving for good sushi, I decided to join my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) in one of her (super) regular visits to 1 Michelin star Shinji where she gets her dosage of head chef Oshino san’s sushi. And with this visit, it was also my first to dine at Shinji’s new space after their relocation to Carlton Hotel from Raffles Hotel.

My IGGF always assist with the reservation at Shinji. And what seem to be a first, I was told there’s 2 seatings for head chef Oshino san. Gasp. We were only able to secure the 1st seating at 12pm. Of which, we were required to vacate by 1.20pm for the second seating. So even before our actual lunch date, I had made up my mind to go for their sushi course once knowing that we had less than 1.5 hours. And it’s pretty seldom of me since I normally opt for omakase cause I like to have variety. Ie, not just sushi. Keke.

And at Shinji’s new space, head chef Oshino san now stood separately from the other chefs. Upon arrival, the staff clad in kimono led me down a long passage, walking by what seemed to be the main dining area where most customers were attended by the other chefs, to finally reach a room that’s small but big enough to contain a L-shaped counter for 8 and a table for 4. And yes, it’s in this room that head chef Oshino san stood alone behind the counter.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2), we ordered:-

1) Setsugetsuka sushi course set (yuki), $180 comprised of:-

(A) Appetiser (above)

(B) Sushi #1 (above) – Striped jack (shima aji) sushi.

(C) Sushi #2 (above) – Spanish macakarel (sawara) sushi.

(D) Sushi #3 (above) – Medium fatty tuna (chutoro) sushi.

(E) Sushi #4 (above) – Premium fatty tuna (otoro) sushi. Shimofuri cut.

(F) Sushi #5 (above) – Jack mackerel (aji) sushi.

(G) Sushi #6 (above) – Lean tuna (akami) sushi.

(H) Sushi #7 (above) – Sea urchin sushi.

(I) Sushi #8 (above) – Tiger prawn (kuruma-ebi) sushi.

(J) Sushi #9 (above) – Needlefish (sayori) sushi.

(K) Sushi #10 (above) – Bonito (katsuo) sushi.

(L) Sushi #11 (above) – Leather jacket fish (kawahagi) sushi.

(M) Sushi #12 (above) – Mackerel (saba) sushi.

(N) Sushi #13 (above) – Slightly torched Japanese barracuda (kamasu) sushi.

(O) Sushi #14 (above) – Black throat sea perch (nodoguro) sushi.

(P) Sushi #15 (above) – Sea eel (anago) sushi.

(Q) Soup (above) – Clear soup with minced tuna ball.

(R) Rolled sushi (above) – Rolled sushi with filling of minced tuna and spring onion (negitoro), rolled omelette (tamago) and pickled radish.

(S) Dessert (above) – Japanese rice cake (mochi) in yam pudding. It’s almost like the Japanese version of our Chinese dessert yam paste (orh nee/芋泥).


2) Sea urchin rice, $50 (above) – It was of much coincidence that my IGGF’s colleagues were lunching at Shinji too. They were getting the sea urchin rice as an additional a-la carte order and I decided to get 1 for myself too. Keke. And it was so good. I didn’t notice but my IGGF said 2 types of sea urchin was used. And we agreed the portion seemed bigger than usual. It was almost to the brim of the bowl.

Honestly and seriously… Shinji doesn’t disappoint. It’s one of the restaurants that’s consistently good. In my (humblest) opinion, Shinji serves the best nigiri sushi in Singapore. I especially love the sushi rice (shari) which is perfect. One could taste the vinegar yet it’s not too overpowering such that it outshine the sushi topping (neta).

Do I recommend Shinji? Definitely, without a doubt. It’s crazy how price-friendly the menu is at Shinji too. One could opt for $75 sushi course which comprised of 9-pieces nigiri sushi, maki sushi, soup and dessert. I know some non-Michelin starred sushi-ya don’t even offer any set courses cheaper than Shinji’s!

But be very punctual if one is slotted for the first seating. Else, try to make reservation for the second slot. I would reckon one definitely need to go with the second seating as I personally felt that omakase course require at least 1.5 hour for a comfortably paced meal. My IGGF and I could tell head chef Oshino san was rushing towards the second half of our lunch. And because I was also taking a little longer since I had additional order, we offered to shift to the table so that the staff could prepare for the second seating.

SHINJI BY KANESAKA
76 Bras Basah Rd, Carlton Hotel, Lobby Floor, Singapore
6338 6131, Website
Overall: 8.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 9
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 9
Service: 8
* Closed on Sun