Thursday, July 07, 2005
american: i strongly recommend CHILI's
2F, 22 Sung Shou Road
Neo 19 Building, 2nd FL (near Warner Village/101)
kid friendliness: high chairs available, rooms for car seats/strollers, loud music so okay if your baby/kids are on the noisy side
last visited: 7.4.05 & 7.9.05
I had probably eaten at Chili's once or twice in my life in the states before I came back to Taipei and it became the place for me to eat when I was craving American food. I used to look at my local friends funny when they would tell me that it hit the spot, until I started carrying the pocket take out menu in my purse and one of the bartenders knew me by name and gave me chips and salsa for free. (Remember- chips and salsa are a delicacy here! They cost $180 NT or $6 US- just for chips and salsa!)
I have to admit I'm one of those people who tend to order the same things when I go somewhere, especially if I've had it before and I like it. I end up not being adventurous and trying other things for fear of not liking it as much as what I've had before. That being said, what I usually order when I come to Chili's are fajitas or the chicken cajun sandwich.
The menu has a lot to offer, including a lot of appetizers, salads, pastas, sandwiches, burgers, fajitas, and entrees, as well as a lot of festive drinks and desserts. There's also a separate menu or ads where they have pictures. They don't have their signature Awesome Blossom onion rings at the Taipei location, but you can check out a sample menu from their official website. They have both English and Chinese menus, and you just ask if you want a particular one. Most of the servers can understand English too, since it's a popular place for foreigners and families- they should defintiely at least be able to understand your order in English.
We went to Chili's for July 4th since we were semi-celebrating the holiday with a pretty large group, about 9 people. Our server was pretty nice and accomodating for it being so busy. I ordered the fajita combo which is both chicken and steak, and comes with tortillas, guacamole, salsa, cheese and sour cream, which was about $600 NT or $18 US. You can also get just chicken or steak, as well as the mushroom jack chicken fajitas which are also really good. Though it's quite pricey for fajitas, the flavor and portions are always good, and the guacamole and salsa taste like they should- fresh, restaurant-quality and enough for all your fajitas. You can definitely share the combo fajitas with a friend and order something else to share. Also- Chili's offers various lunch specials everyday, where they include a drink and soup/salad with your entree for a lunch special price, and they often include fajitas in that.
Another popular dish which was ordered that night, and I had two bites of was the Southwest Cobb Chicken salad- which comes with chopped iceberg lettuce, sliced boneless fried chicken (I think you can ask for grilled chicken), corn, bacon, diced hardboiled eggs, cheese and tomatos or pico de gallo. The dressing is an avocado-ranch dressing. It's huge and enough to share, and a pretty typical cobb salad. I don't love salads with iceberg lettuce, so I couldn't eat it as an entree, but I think it's a good salad to share as a starter.
I usually call and make a reservation for larger groups, as it gets quite crowded for lunch and dinner. Note there's also a smoking and non-smoking section, which is good for me, since I hate sitting near smokers. Once when it was really busy, I just requested to eat at the bar, and I got sat right away- which is something to ask if you are in a hurry and are by yourself. The atmosphere is probably standard-issue from corporate Chili's, since the decor and TVs and uniforms are just like you would expect at any Chili's.
For dessert, we chose the Molten Chocolate Cake and the Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie. The Molten chocolate cake is very dangerous- it's a warm chocolate cake with a gooey chocolate center, a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream covered with a shell of chocolate topping it. I would go back there for dessert alone. I used to love the warm chocolate cake they served at Cafe Tu Tu Tango, but they took it off their menu. Not only does the cake melt in your mouth, the ice cream is the perfect accompaniment and the chocolate shell on top reminds me of when we used to squirt that stuff on our ice cream at home. YUM! The pie was dense and sweet, with more like a brownie made up of caramel, coconut and chocolate, topped with ice cream. It was also sizeable, but the better value or bet is probably the chocolate cake. Both desserts were around $300 NT or $10 US.
I also went back for lunch on the 9th and ordered the Cajun Chicken sandwich lunch special-you get a soup or salad and a drink with it (around $300 NT or $10 US). I actually like the chili soup there- it's the right texture with ground beef, beans and tomatoes in it. Your other choice for soup is usually Broccoli and Cheese soup, which is like eating nacho cheese with bits of broccoli in it. The cajun chicken sandwich comes with a spiced, grilled chicken breast with jalepeno jack cheese, fried onions, chipotle-ranch sauce, and the typical tomato, pickle, lettuce. It's a pretty big sandwich which is cut in half (or comes with a steak knife) and a side of french fries in the basket. Usually the fries at Chili's are really good- steak fries that are crispy, hot and right amount of salt. Mmm- fries. I like the chicken sandwich better than the hamburger because I like the flavor of the chicken and somehow the hamburger didn't hit the spot the last time I ordered it. The bun is also a little bit sweet, and I tend to tear off pieces of it to save my carb calories for the fries.
I mistakenly ordered a lemonade before I ordered my entree, which is not refillable so therefore not part of the lunch special drinks, so I ended up with both a lemonade and ice tea. The lemonade ($100 NT or $3 US) is made with sparkling water or soda water, and was a bit salty or too fizzy, and they were very accomodating to make a new one and the bartender came over and asked what was wrong with it. I asked that it be less fizzy and more sweet, and the second attempt was pretty good. Their refillable beverages come in a huge mug and they come by pretty frequently to check on you. That's one thing I have to give to Chili's is that they have pretty good service, even with larger groups. Also- there are families with kids or businessmen there, so the seating is accomodating enough that you are comfortable and not on top of each other. The food generally comes pretty fast and around the same time.
So for my friends visiting from the states, you probably won't want to eat at Chili's, but rather the mom and pop dumpling and beef noodle places. But for my local friends- see you there!