Dinner @ RyuGin 祥雲龍吟 (Taipei, Taiwan)

February 21, 2018 in Japanese

After having just visited Taiwan in September 2017, it was an impromptu decision to return (so soon again) in January 2018. But no matter how impromptu a trip may be, I always have my list of restaurants-to-try ready. Keke. And for my second (short) trip to Taiwan, I decided to check out MUME and RyuGin (for restaurants which require reservation).

Reservation request was sent by dropping the restaurant a message on their ‘contact us’ page with 1.5 months advanced notice given. And within 2 working days, I received a response via email. To secure our reservation, we were required to pay a deposit where the amount was 50% of our selected menu. Noting that we had to order the same menu, I chose the 10-courses regular menu (NT6500) over the 7-courses short menu (NT4200).

  

RyuGin is located in the same building as RAW, but at level 5. Upon entering the restaurant, my Mom and I were brought to the (waiting) lounge where we were served tea before the staff led us to our table.

Having pre-selected our dinner menu, we started our 10-courses dinner (NT6500) with:-


1) Dish #1 (above) – Caviar, little silver fish, skin tofu, mizuna.


  

2) Dish #2 (above) – Eel, tomato. Tomato was super sweet, and eel was fresh and firm. I liked how the savory sauce pulled the entire ensemble together. I could easily do at least 5 of these. So, so good!



3) Dish #3 (above) – Clam, sweet potato leaves, lemon. I felt it was ingenious that fat, juicy clams were served on a crunchy deep fried sweet-potato-leaf-cracker cause it introduced different textures into the dish. Pretty good.

4) Dish #4 (above) – Threadfin, bamboo, burdock, snap beans.

5) Dish #5 (above) – Squid, sweet shrimp, fatty tuna, hairtail.

6) Dish #6 (above) – Tile fish, crown daisy, mullet roe.


7) Dish #7 (above) – Abalone, sea urchin.


  

8) Dish #8 (above) – Squab, rosemary. The skin was beautifully executed; Very thin and crispy, and most importantly, tastefully seasoned. And to keep the ‘smoked rosemary’ going, a small piece of charcoal was placed beneath the rib bone.


9) Dish #9 (above) – What’s supposed to be clam, green onion and tomato on koshi-hikari rice as mentioned on our menu, we were served tilefish tempura instead because of my Mom’s preference not to have shellfish (her skin may flare). And it was amazing! When the staff brought the pot to our table to mix it in front of us, we could hear the distinct crackling sound (of the fried tempura batter). It was music to our ears. I liked how I would bite into the crunchy bits of the batter and into the softer but firm texture of the fish. A must try!


10) Dish #10 (above) – Sanbokan.



11) Dish #11 (above) – Leicha powder, strawberry.

12) Dish #12, Complimentary (above) – A little something for us to bring back.

And because my Mom and I had (Taiwanese) desserts an hour before our dinner, we were feeling pretty stuffed by the time we reached our main course of rice. And one could tell how much we must have enjoyed the dish when my Mom couldn’t resist asking if the restaurant would pack our remaining rice. But for only 2 small bowls that we ate in the restaurant, it was disappointing that we were only given 1 small takeaway box cause I dined at other kaiseki restaurants and they would pack 1 portion for each diner.

  

Extra disappointing because the tilefish tempura was truly amazing and I wanted more. The batter remained crunchy even 24 hours later even thought it’s mixed into the rice.

I would recommend RyuGin if I do not need to take into consideration of the cost; Food was undeniably good but at a high price. I am fine with green tea being chargeable, but I was slightly put off to know that it was non-refillable. But! Their 十四代 sake-pairing menu sounded like a good deal. If I wasn’t paying for 2, I would most likely have gone for that.

RYUGIN 祥雲龍吟
No. 301, Le Qun 3rd Road, 5F, Taipei City, Taiwan
+886 2 8501 5808, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 9
Tues – Sun : 18:00 – 23:00
Ambience: 7
Value: 6
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon

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 waffle; 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