(or TIEN CHU)
1 NanJing West Rd., 3F
hours: Lunch 11:30 AM -2 PM
Dinner 5 PM - 9 PM
Kid friendliness: high chairs available.
Visit reviewed: 11/23/2007 and 2/24/2008
Overall, Celestial Restaurant has a very family friendly, impress your guests menu with lots of Chinese favorites such as xiao long bao and a variety of stir fried dishes , but everyone in the packed restaurant is probably there for the Peking Duck.
YUM- I can't say how much I love Peking duck. If you have been looking for Peking duck in Taipei (or anywhere), this is where to find it.
The carved slices of crispy skin and duck meat bundled inside the warm flat pancake, with a do-it-yourself layer of hoisin sauce and optional sliver of green onion- together has got to be one of the world's perfect finger foods.
Kind of like a mini Chinese burrito without the rice and beans.
I try not to think about how fattening each bite is while I chew on each heavenly crispy morsel. I also try to not look like I'm waiting for the lazy susan to wander back my way, and politely let each relative at the table have their turn when I just want to stockpile a whole plateful for myself. The skin should be crispy and the pancake is slightly doughy, so the textures mesh together so it's not too greasy. Plus the skin shouldn't have too much fat on it, otherwise, they didn't do good job carving it (as I've had at other restaurants).
The nicely presented plate of duck meat comes out after the initial plate of crispy roasted skin... you can also have them cook the remainder of the duck (meat and bones) into a soup with rice noodles and vegetables that is also very tasty (and filling) that comes at the end of the meal (around NT$1100 for whole duck + soup).
To be honest, I can't remember much about the rest of the food on the table because I was so focused on the duck, but it was good. Plus when you eat with relatives, you don't really get to look at the menu- they order all the good stuff. There was this interesting appetizer dish- celery with a mustardy, wasabi-ish sauce that was addicting- that I'd try again.
The second time we went, they had private rooms on the 3rd Floor. Look for the entrance below or the Royal Inn Taipei. The atmosphere is busy with lots of large tables- it's sort of a middle ground ambience- not a hole in the wall, but not as a fancy as a hotel restaurant, and so the prices are somewhere in the middle too. The menu is in English and Chinese and Japanese, and I've heard popular with tourists and locals alike, so it's best to call ahead for a reservation for dinner and weekends.
While they don't carve the duck in front of you like other restaurants that might be a bit more showy, what matters is how the food tastes, right?
The first time, I had some almond tofu to finish the meal.
The second time, there were these hot fried tang yuan that were so good. If you've never had it, you should definitely give these babies a try.
Just forget about counting the calories for one night.