Dinner @ Longtail (Taipei, Taiwan)

September 30, 2020 in European

My 2019 trip to Taiwan was a trip with my Mom and youngest brother. And I really wanted to treat them to delicious food, but also at a place where they wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. Uh huh… Unlike me, they aren’t into fine-dining. And after researching, I felt Longtail would be a good venue to bring them to. With 1 Michelin star, Longtail was more of a semi-casual restaurant than a posh restaurant with strict dress code. And so, reservation was made for 3 through Longtail’s website for a Saturday evening.

And we arrived punctually at the restaurant at 7pm. From the menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4), we ordered:-


1) Fig toast, ricotta cheese, port wine, lemon balm, NT$380 (above)


2) Foie gras and duck confit dumpling, nuoc mam, peanut, pomelo, NT$680 (above)


3) Char siu bao, house kimchi, coriander, NT$420 (above)


4) Fried chicken, sweet potato, piri piri, NT$480 (above)

5) Tilefish spring peas, parmesan, lemon, herbs, NT$980 (above)

6) Pork chop, sukiyaki sauce, taro, chive, NT$1080 (above) – The fried yam ball added a nice touch to the dish. Reminded me of our Chinese ‘yam dish’. Love it!


7) Whisky-chocolate mousse, maqau pepper, Taiwanese chocolate ice cream, NT$320 (above)

We had a lovely dinner at Longtail. I was relieved my Mom and brother enjoyed themselves. My favourite was the foie gras and duck confit dumpling, while my brother’s was the fried chicken. If one’s looking for a relaxed yet cool-to-be-seen-at eatery with good food and interesting cocktail concoction, Longtail would be an ideal venue. My brother and I ordered 2 cocktails, but didn’t take any pictures. Sorry.

Would I recommend Michelin-starred Longtail? Yes!

LONGTAIL
No. 174, Section 2, Dunhua South Road, Da’an District, Taipei, Taiwan
+886 2 2732 6616, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon, Wed & Sun : 18:00 – 02:00
Ambience: 7
Thur – Sat : 18:00 – 03:00
Value: 8
Service: 7
* Closed on Tues

Dinner @ Sushi Ryu 鮨 隆 (Taipei, Taiwan)

September 25, 2020 in Japanese

I try to keep myself updated with Taiwan’s Japanese dining scene, especially since I made a pact to myself (in 2017) to travel to Taiwan at least once a year. I mean… Although the primary purpose of the trips was to pray at temples, I also squeeze in some time to visit restaurants. Keke. And for my 2019 trip to Taipei, I made reservation for dinner at Sushi Ryu.

I initially wanted to make reservation at Sasa Sushi which was on my restaurants-to-try list for a very long while. But when I was about to make my reservation, I realised Sasa Sushi’s head chef Yang Yonglong had left to open his own restaurant in late 2017. Thank goodness I did my homework. And I read his restaurant was named Sushi Ryu because Ryu was the romanised Japanese for ‘Long’, which was his name in Chinese.

But on the day of my dinner, I did some last minute research on Sushi Ryu and realised there’s more than 1 chef. Ie, I may be served by the sous chef. And because I was heading to Sushi Ryu specifically for chef-owner Yonglong’s sushi, I quickly made a call (but 1.5 hours before my 8pm reservation) and requested for head chef Yonglong. And the staff, on the other end of the line, asked me to come down earlier.

Sushi Ryu was a 15 to 18 minutes walk from Zhongshan station. There were customers who were halfway through their meals when I arrived at the restaurant at 7.40pm. With some arriving much later after me.

The counter could sit up to 16 people. Once I was seated, the staff immediately served me pickled vegetables (radish and cucumber) and hot tea before asking if it was my first time at Sushi Ryu. After replying “yes”, the staff continued to explain there’s no menu. Instead, I was to choose either the NT$5000, NT$6000, NT$7000 or omakase menu. For the latter, the staff said the chef would only stop serving after I say I’m full.

And of the 4, I went with the NT$6000 menu. I normally would go with the most expensive menu. But just before my trip to Taiwan, I was conversing with a foodie friend who mentioned Michelin inspectors normally judge a restaurant by their cheapest menu. So yeah, I was slightly influenced by that… Instead of the NT$7000 menu, I dropped ‘one level’ and ordered the NT$6000 menu. Although I probably say it’s mainly because I wanted to save some money. Keke.

And I commenced my NT$6000 dinner menu with:-


1) Dish #1 (above) – Steamed egg (chawanmushi) with crab meat and (what I thought was) potato.

2) Dish #2 (above) – Yellowtail.

3) Dish #3 (above) – Ginkgo nut.

4) Dish #4 (above) – Barracuda stick sushi, with shiso leaf and pickled daikon.

5) Dish #5 (above) – Octopus. And head chef Yonglong said it was cooked with red bean instead of soya sauce. Interesting. Although I hope I didn’t hear him wrongly too. I admit, there were some moments when I didn’t quite understand what was being said. I blame it on the accent rather than my poor grasp of Chinese. Keke!


6) Dish #6 (above) – Scallop with mullet roe.

7) Dish #7 (above) – Smoked spanish mackerel (sawara) with diced onion. And instead of smoking the fish with hay (which was the norm), head chef Yonglong shared wood charcoal was used to better control the smoke because he received a lot of complaints from his landlord due to the high risk of activating the sprinklers. Haha. Such an interesting fact!

8) Dish #8 (above) – Cod with pepper flakes.

  
  
  
  
  
  

9) Dish #9 (above) – Nigiri sushi assortment. And I was served squid (ika), big-eye snapper (kinmedai), flounder (hirame) with flounder fin (engawa), sea bream (madai), prawn (ain’t too sure if it’s botan-ebi or shima-ebi), short spine sea urchin (bafun uni), monkfish liver (ankimo) with pickled watermelon, salmon roe (ikura), premium fatty tuna (otoro), slightly grilled premium fatty tuna (aburi otoro) and sea eel (anago). If I didn’t observe wrongly, head chef Yonglong didn’t slit the squid. Instead, he sliced them into thin strips, portioned them before pressing the strips down so that they stuck together. And it was interesting that the prawn was semi-cooked. Although there was no visible charred parts (most likely because it was upside-down), I could taste the smokiness that came from grilling it. And I was grateful that most of my sushi were kneaded personally by head chef Yonglong. Only the non-nigiri ones were done by the sous chef.

10) Dish #10 (above) – Egg omelette (tamago). This was not exactly airy. Neither was it dense. Although between airy and dense, it leaned towards the latter. Like a custard cake.

11) Dish #11 (above) – I was given the option to go with miso soup or clam soup. I went with latter. Sorry lah. When presented with choices, the ‘greedy me’ would surface. Oops.

12) Dish #12 (above) – Fruits.

Now… The reason why I was so particular and requested for head chef Yonglong was because I had (fresh) bad experience where the sushi head chef would just focus on his ‘stretch’ of customers. I wasn’t prepared to travel all the way to Taiwan and be served by the sous chef when I was headed to Sushi Ryu specifically for head chef Yonglong. But my worries were unfounded. Head chef Yonglong took care of everyone.

I noticed he handled the nigiri-sushi for everyone, including the couple who only came in at 8.30pm and ordered the NT$5000 menu. Nice! And it’s probably because he was just ‘one man’ making the sushi personally for all customers that our sushi-s came out slower when everyone eventually reached the sushi leg of their respective menus. But I honestly didn’t mind that because it allowed me to watch head chef Yonglong longer. I, generally, really enjoy watching chefs at work.

In fact, I noticed head chef Yonglong would knead the sushi slowly when he was just making sushi for 3 (me included). But when the 8 other customers caught up and he had to prepare sushi for 11, his hands moved faster. One could see how focused he was by his facial expression.

My meal came up to NT$6600. Would I recommend Sushi Ryu? Including Sushi Ryu, I now had sushi at 3 different sushi-yas in Taiwan. And of the 3, Sushi Ryu would be my favourite! Food wise, ambience wise and even service wise. So yes! I recommend Sushi Ryu!

And an interesting fact… Sushi Ryu was awarded its first Michelin Star just 6 months after its opening in Taipei in late 2017!

SUSHI RYU
No. 60-5, Section 2, Xinsheng North Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan
+886 2 2581 8380, Website
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tues – Sun : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Tues – Sun : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon

Dinner @ Tairroir 態芮 (Taipei, Taiwan)

September 26, 2018 in Asian

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