Sunday 20 January 2019

Mume Taipei

Refreshing Asian fusion concept

Prawn, yam bean, prawn head sauce and ricotta

Taipei is known for its street food and amazing value for money casual dining joints, from beef noodles to soy pancakes. Creative and forward-thinking dining concept is somewhat limited in the city. Launched in 2014, Mume, the Michelin starred restaurant is somewhat now one of the most trendy restaurants in Taipei. The restaurant's cooking is highly influenced by western cuisines, and together with prime ingredients sourced locally with Asian cooking theory in mind, it provides a very unique dining experience. 
Unlike many high-end restaurants, Mume is very informal, guests can order as little or as many dishes they like from its a la carte menu.

RAW Taipei

The best restaurant in Taipei?

Dirty Chicken

Raw is a restaurant with a big reputation, opened by one of the most respected Asian chefs in the world, in the name of AndrĂ© Chiang. His restaurant Andre in Singapore was rated as one of the best restaurants in Asia by The World 50 Best Guide, it was also a holder of 2 Michelin stars. Since then, Andre was closed down which allow Andre Chiang to fully develop Raw and turning it into the hottest dining destination in Taiwan. The way to book a table is like trying to book a ticket for Glastonbury, you will need to book within 5 mins once your desired day is opened for booking and you will need to pay the food cost in advance. It only serves a tasting menu. Our waiter on the day informed us the tasting menu that was on offered at our visit is best of the past, taken all the greatest dishes from the last few years.

Saturday 19 January 2019

Din Tai Fung Xinyi Restaurant Taipei

The legend of Xiao Long Bao

Xiao Long Bao

Din Tai Fung just launched in London and while I enjoyed the meal there, I found the cost was far too expensive and I tasted better Xiao Long Bao elsewhere. On my trip to Taipei, I got the chance to visit the first Din Tai Fung in the world. The original site has somewhat become a tourist hotspot, you would find it to be recommended by pretty much any Taiwanese holiday websites or publication. I arrived on 11am to try to avoid the lunch crowd and I was lucky to get a table right away.

Hawker Chan Taipei

Soy chicken star?

Hawker Chan

Hawker Chan created a massive storm back in 2016 when its original site in Singapore earned a Michelin star, and it became the very first street food/hawker style food stall to achieved such status. The Michelin star surely has changed chef-owner Chan's life, his signature soy chicken became an iconic dish, and making Hawker Chan one of the top destinations for tourist. In 2017, Hawker Chan has expanded into Taiwan, with 5 chains strong across Taipei. The menu is very short, with the hero dish soy chicken taking center stage, along with BBQ pork, pork ribs, and roasted pork belly. So it short, it is very much just like any roasted meat restaurants in Hong Kong.

Emperor Foods Taipei

Taiwanese fried chicken

Emperor Foods

Taiwanese fried chicken or pork is one of those items you got to try when you visit the country, treated as a local snack or a casual meal, the main difference in Taiwanese fried chicken vs the western style is that it usually contain a great depth of white and black pepper, as well as Asian spices, and often contain less batter. Emperor Foods is a mini-chain that is known for its fried pork chop and chicken, and on my visit to Taipei, I decided to pay a visit for a fast lunch.

Niu Dien Beef Noodles Taipei

Beef sensation

Red braised beef noodle

I ended up trying 3 beef noodles joints on my Taipei trip and Niu Dien is my last stop, it is a fairly new restaurant with modern decor and design. The open kitchen is located at the front of the restaurant and diners can see how the chefs prep all the dishes. Niu Dien takes the beef very seriously and it uses a mixture of thick cuts of beef ribs and shin for its beef noodle dishes, which is very unusual vs the classic Taiwanese beef noodles. The classic version would normally use shin chopped in small pieces.

Liu Shandong Beef Noodles Taipei

Old School beef noodles

Beef noodles

Liu Shandong Beef Noodles is perhaps the most famous beef noodle joint in Taipei, the casual eatery has been around since the 50s and is now a Taiwan institution. The meal is very small and is all about the beef noodles, with two choices, either the clear beef broth or the red braise broth. Liu Shandong is extremely old school and you would be expected to share a table with strangers if you don't have enough people to make up a whole table and is walk-in only.

Yongkang Beef Noodles Taipei

Red braised beef noodles

Red braised beef tendon noodles 

Beef noodles is a must-try item for anyone visiting Taiwan, but there are so many beef noodles joint, it is hard to pick the right one. Yonkang is a classic Taiwanese beef noodles restaurant in central Taipei, it is somewhat iconic with long waits in every lunch and dinner hours. Since the Michelin guide entered Taipei, it is also one of the few casual noodles restaurants that have been awarded a Bib Gourmand, taking the popularity to the next level.

Jin Feng Braised Pork Rice Taipei

Braised pork rice in its full glory

Braised pork belly by Jin Feng

When you visit Taiwan, besides the national dish beef noodles, braised pork rice is also a must try. I got nothing but love for the comforting rice dish, and it is such a shame that not many places does it in London. The braised pork element is basically minced pork, marinated in soy, rice wine, garlic, and spices. Jin Feng is a classic street stall/restaurant in Tapei, and perhaps the most famous one for Taiwanese braised pork, highly recommended by the locals. 

Hangzhou Xiao Long Bao Taipei

Old school Taipei xiao long bao joint

Crab roe xiao long bao

If you think of xiao long bao in Taiwan, you would think of Din Tai Fung for sure. However, there are many other restaurants offering top xiao long bao elsewhere and Hangzhou is one of those places. Located in central Taipei next to National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, which made it a great place for lunch if you visit the location. Hangzhou is a really old school canteen style restaurant, and its signature dish is no less the xiao long bao, along with other dumplings such as prawn and vegetables. It has been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand and has become a top dining spot for tourist, as well as the locals. 

Sunday 13 January 2019

Tate Dining Room & Bar

Contemporary fusion cuisine

Alfonsino, Fish Bone Olive Sauce, Eastern Olive Leaf and Dracontomelon Jam

On my trip to Hong Kong, Tate has been high on my agenda list. I try to avoid western restaurants in Hong Kong as I found you can get better value elsewhere back in Europe. However, Tate is not like any other western restaurants. In fact, it has one of the most unique concepts, combing Chinese and French flavours in almost an art form with its predestination. Fusion is hard to get it right, and rarely you will find a restaurant that does Chinese and French fusion at a level that has landed itself a Michelin star. Chef-owner Vicky Lau has also been given the title as the best female chef from the Asia's 50 best awards, making Tate a hot dining destination in Hong Kong.

Yat Tung Heen

Refined Cantonese cuisine in Hong Kong

Yat Tung Heen

I usually avoid hotel dining and for good reason, there is a high chance the premium cost is down to location rather than the food itself, and that is especially true for restaurants inside a posh hotel. However, there are always exceptions of course, for example, both the 3 Michelin starred Caprice and Lung King Heen are within a hotel. Yat Tung Heen, located inside the Eaton Hotel in Kowloon is a 1 Michelin starred restaurant, offering modern Cantonese cuisine in a formal setting. The restaurant recently had an overhaul in design, using black as the primary colour to give it a contemporary and modern feel in the decor. The menu offering is very similar to many other Hong Kong Chinese hotel restaurants, mostly Cantonese dishes.

Ying Jee Club

Contemporary Chinese fine dining 

Steamed Grouper with Black Mushroom, Yunnan Ham and Bean Curd

The Hong Kong edition of Michelin Guide appears to be a massive fan of Chef Siu Hin Chi, the executive chef of the double Michelin starred Chinese restaurant Ying Jee Club in Hong Kong. He first gained 2 stars status at Tang Court, then another two at Duddell's. He left Duddell's to join Ying Jee Club less than 2 years ago and already reached 2 stars status again. Unlike many other fine dining Chinese out there, Siu Hin Chi's style is much more modern and elegant, using a range of top ingredients from around the world. The restaurant is located inside a shopping mall, it has a very club feels in design and somewhat western in the table layouts.

Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine Hong Kong

Chinese fine dining with a fine view

Roasted suckling pig stuffed with gluten rice

Imperial Treasure is a collection of high-end Chinese restaurants from Singapore, with its restaurants spreading across South East Asia, Hong Kong, and China. The group decided to enter the EU market and has launched a new Imperial Treasure in London in late 2018, with Paris in mind for 2019. The group has won plenty of fantastic awards, featured in the Asia 50 Best list and the Hong Kong branch has won a Michelin star. On my trip to Hong Kong, I noticed the menu is not too different from the London's one and I decided to pay a visit for friends gathering.

Yat Lok

In demand roasted goose

Roasted goose and BBQ pork (Char Siu)

If you are traveling to Hong Kong and is a real foodie, the chance is Yak Lok is most likely to be high on your to visit list. The reason is simple, Yat Lok is renown for its legendary roasted goose, which the special cooking formula has been passed down by many generations. The family business is hugely popular, with people queuing every day no matter what time it is. The restaurant has also been awarded a Michelin star since 2016, taking its popularity to the next level and became one of the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world.

Wall City Flavor

Classic Cantonese taste

Wall City Flavor

There are so many great Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong but is hard to find a very classical one that still champions traditional recipes while remaining decent value for money. Simply put, many restaurants care about the bottom line these days, so will always try to avoid dishes that are labor intensive with little return on investment. Lucky enough, I came across Wall City Flavor in Kowloon after noticed it has plenty of old school dishes on offer and been given many great reviews by the local bloggers and presses. Reading from the restaurant's testimonial, the restaurant combine flavours from primary South East China to create something authentic and timeless, with a modern touch make it more contemporary.

Ladies Street Sik Fan Co

New age Dai Pai Dong

Deep fried mango prawns with caviar

Located in the busy tourist district of Mong Kok in Hong Kong, where the popular "Lady Street" market is at, Ladies Street Sik Fan Co is a new restaurant only launched back in late 2018 but already created a massive buzz within the local communities. The concept of the venue is all about tracking back to the "Dai Pai Dong" era. Popular back in the 70s-80s, Dai Pai Dong is a type of open-air food stall in Hong Kong, dishing up classic Cantonese dishes in a casual environment. Sadly, due to government regulation and hygiene concerns, there are hardly any Dai Pai Dong left. The founder of Ladies Street Sik Fan Co committed to recreating the Dai Pai Dong atmosphere but within a restaurant space.

China Tang Landmark

Weekend lunch in style

Steamed Buns, Black Truffle, Black Mushroom

I have eaten at China Tang Landmark not long ago to experience what top class Cantonese fine dining dinner is all about. Top ingredients, executed in both classic and modern methods with a touch of refinement is what China Tang is all about. For my second visit, I returned to sample its lunch menu. Most Chinese restaurants have a massive difference in its lunch vs dinner offering, so I was keen to see what the lunch menu is like at China Tang. The menu is mostly dim sum, along with some small dishes that are tapas sizes which are great for sharing.

Social Place

The real social deal

 Flaming pineapple

Social Place is a mini restaurant chain in Hong Kong spreading across 3 sites. It is aiming toward a younger generation with a modern concept that uses classic Chinese cooking methods and blending in South East Asian cuisine characteristics with a creative touch. It is extremely popular with the locals with its fun and ever-changing dishes, providing major talking points for diners and created a real buzz on social media. while it is such a trendy venue, but what really matters to me is the taste, as you can fool people only once if the taste failed to match up the concept or the cost, so it was time for me to test the water when a local friend suggested to try it out with me.

Yum Cha

Quirky and creative dim sum

Hot custard buns

I am always on the hunt for good quality dim sum whenever I visit Hong Kong, and while I will always enjoy classic dim sum in traditional Cantonese tea houses, it is nice to have a change every once a while. Aiming toward a younger set of audience, Yum Cha is a modern dim sum joint that offers creative dim sum with a touch of a western twist. Its offering are playful in both the names and presentation, perfect for people to share on social media. Yum Cha has been opened since 2015 and is still going strong, and now becoming a mini-chain with four restaurants across Hong Kong.