Monday, October 24, 2005

italian: i do NOT recommend DIAMOND TONY's

DIAMOND TONY's
Taipei 101 Mall 4F
45, ShihFu Rd.
(02) 8101-8268

This 4th floor location is closed. This is not a review of the Diamond Tony's on 85th floor of 101 (which I have never been). Here is a link to my later review of the Tianmu location in 2007

Pricing: $$$
review visit: Oct 24, 2005

I have been to Diamond Tony's three times. The first time was last year with a large group of friends- I remember the food tasting excellent and a fun time being had by all. The second time was for a company dinner in July- again the mood was festive, but this time the food was not as good as I remembered it to be the first time. The baked eggplant appetizer I ordered was not baked eggplant parmesean (which was my mistake that I assumed it would be) and the baked penne pasta had soggy penne pasta, too much cheese and was bland. However, I did try my neighbor's pesto fettucine with lamb, which was ordered by quite a few people at the table, and it was quite tasty. I figured, I just ordered wrong.

The third time, I returned to Diamond Tony's recently with my family, anticipating ordering the right dish this time, and again I failed. Or the restaurant, I should say, failed. Miserably. So it will probably be my last time going to Diamond Tony's. Partially because of the how bad so many of the dishes were that night, that the food is overpriced compared to other better tasting Italian restaurants you can eat at in Taipei, and that their service could benefit a total rehaul.

Diamond Tony's is one of those restaurants that looks really nice from the outside. Usually, it's tough to be seated right away without a reservation. This third time, we were seated right away and the restaurant was maybe a third full. Perhaps it was a Monday night. Perhaps the newer Macaroni Grill nearby had taken away a lot of its customers. Perhaps people realized how bad the food and service was there and decided not to go back anymore.

After being seated, it took a very long time for a waiter to come take our order. You pretty much have to flag them down whenever you need service. The menu is in English and Chinese and they have set courses that you can order that include salad, soup, a main dish, dessert and a drink. We ordered the garlic bread, crab dip, and shrimp cocktail to start.

The appetizers came fairly quickly, especially when compared to the main dishes. The shrimp in the shriimp cocktail were the smallest shrimp I had ever seen. Sure they weren't listed as tiger prawns, but there were five regular sized shrimp in a half tomato with a creamy sauce instead of cocktail sauce. The crab dip was a creamy, slightly sweet dip with no visible crab and no crab when tasted. The garlic bread came in a pie pan, sliced in eight pieces filled us up while we waited. Note that you have to order and pay for the bread separately when you order the crab dip.

shrimp cocktail


crab dip


With our party of six, we ordered our main dishes. Only two of the dishes arrived, and when they were almost finished, the other dishes slowly trickled in. This is the other main complaint I have about Diamond Tony's. It's not that the restaurant was completely full to capacity and they could not handle all the orders. There was no apology that the dishes were spaced so far apart. Personally, it's strange when a restaurant cannot deliver all of its dishes to one party within 5-10 minutes of each other. Especially I think when you are paying the prices that you pay here. Some people won't begin to eat their food until the rest of the party's food is on the table- in this case, their food would be cold by the time their fellow friend's food came.

seafood pasta


shrimp


My father and grandmother said they enjoyed their dishes- the seafood pasta with red sauce, and the jumbo shrimp.

My sister ordered the set course with prime rib steak. The salad was an unfortunate looking section of iceburg lettuce with some dressing on the side. The minestrone soup is probably the only tasty thing at the table that evening. It was flavorful, with lots of vegetables and little bit of beef and pasta. The steak was a good sized portion and looked appetizing, but tasted a bit too tenderized.

salad


soup


steak


The crab and porcini fettucine I ordered turned out to be totally not what I expected. I even asked the waiter if he had delivered the wrong dish to my table.The wad of fettucine was surrounded by several breaded and fried balls. I didn't see any crab or porcini mushrooms. It turned out that the Chinese translation of the dish was different from the English one. The balls on the side were the "crab" and "porcini"? Even after tasting it, I was unsure what the dish was. The balls tasted like a mix between seafood meatballs you'd find in soups and a hush puppy. The fettucine was dry and stuck together, like when you boil pasta and don't rinse it afterwards and it sits for awhile. After two bites, it sat on the table, uneaten.

crab and porcini fettucine


The pesto fettucine with lamb that had been such a crowd-pleaser the last time also failed to please this time. The fettucine here was also dry and stuck together, despite the creamy pesto sauce that drowned it. There was also a cream of mushroom soup and mushroom pasta ordered. Both featured bland, buttery cream flavors that seemed more watered down cream flavored than mushroom. We even asked the manager if they had changed chefs because the food was so drastically worse from the past few times we had eaten there. She said that they hadn't and offered to take off the two fettucine dishes off our bill since they were uneaten.

pesto fettucine with lamb


So consider this review a fair warning- the food at Diamond Tony's doesn't seem to taste as good as it used to. Even if you want to try it out, expect slow service and for part of your party to be finished eating by the time your dish arrives. Compared to the friendlier service and tastier, more affordably priced dishes at Macaroni Grill nearby, Diamond Tony's is more cubic zirconia than a diamond.

Friday, October 14, 2005

mexican: AMIGO

AMIGO Around-Mexico
(02) 2515-6633
台北市復興北路202號
pricing: $$
review ordered: 10.14.05

For awhile, I had been craving enchiladas. The closest one I could find from home were the ones from La Casita, but since our last experience there, no one wanted to join me. I decided to order to-go from Amigo, since it was one of the last Mexican places I hadn't tried yet in Taipei. I ordered the chicken enchilada set which came with rice, fries, sour cream and guacamole. I asked the restaurant if they could recommend anything else, and he said, you should come into the restaurant next time, we have a lot to choose from. I wish when you ask people to recommend something that they would offer up a few suggestions.

chicken enchiladas?


When I got my to-go dinner, the box was cute and colorful. The weird thing is that my enchiladas were not really enchiladas- you can see in the picture. Instead of a corn tortilla it was a flour one; the sauce was in a separate foam container rather than poured on; the chicken inside resembled fajitas grilled chicken rather than shredded; the whole thing seemed recently assembled rather than baked with the sauce and cheese on top. It looked like a reject hybrid of a chimichanga and a fajita that couldn't make up its mind what to be. I was VERY disappointed. If I wanted to eat a fajita, I would have gone to Chili's. If I wanted to eat a chimichanga, I would have ordered one.

I gave it try. Overall, the flavor was not bad, if you ignored that it was supposed to be an enchilada. Interestingly, there was corn kernels inside with the chicken, and there was only a little bit of cheese. The fries that came on the side tasted good. The rice tasted like rice I had eaten at other Taipei Mexican restaurants, not spicy or red, but a yellow sticky rice that has an indistinguishable flavor. The guacamole was really sour, it almost tasted as if it was on the verge of going bad. The bottom line is that it just didn't hit the spot because it just WAS NOT an enchilada.

I will have to go another day to try something else and see what the restaurant is like in person. I hear the tortilla soup is not bad and that their beef dishes are better than the other meats. But if you ever want to eat an enchilada, do not go to Amigo.

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