Wednesday, April 28, 2010
burgers/western: i recommend HALEAKALA
at Bellavita, 4 FL
28 Songren Road
hours: SUN- THURS 10am to 10pm;
FRI/SAT 10am - 10:30pm closes at 10:30pm
Kid friendliness: no high chairs spotted, but two different sitting areas.
Visit reviewed: 3/4/2010 and 3/9/2010
Anytime I hear about a new cuisine hitting Taipei, I wonder how it will be executed, how it will do, and most importantly, how will it taste? So when I heard from a reader that there would be a Hawaiian restaurant in Bellavita, I thought it was an unusual choice. But after visiting Haleakala, one realizes that the restaurant is no more Hawaiian than L'Atelier Robuchon.
Sure there's a wanna-be tiki bar and a floral theme on the menu.
But there's no poi or spam or loco moco or even chicken teriyaki here- the menu is about mini-burgers with waffle fries, burritos, quesadillas, lettuce wraps, and appetizers like Hoisin Duck Tortilla Crisp, Satay, Chicken Katsu or Beef Curry Samosas.
But don't get too excited about the "burrito" as stated on the menu, they are actually cold mini-wraps with options like chicken or tuna salad with egg (NT$240). Go with the garlic shrimp for your best bet and don't bother with the stale chips.
The cozy sofa like seating is in the main restaurant area, or you can sit outside near the escalators for more room if it's crowded. But two out of the three times I went, it was fairly empty, or let's say, private.
And once you get over your disappointment that it's not Hawaiian food, the fare at Haleakala is actually not bad. The mini burgers come in pairs and with crispy waffle fries, and have fun names like "Maui" (with guacamole and sauteed onions), "Malibu" (with bacon and cheese), or "Sunset" (with bbq sauce and bacon) that had no relation to the toppings. Vegetarian burger options are also available.
I got the "Hula" (NT$240) which came with sauteed mushrooms and cheese, along with the requisite lettuce, tomato and pickles.
The buns were nicely toasted and buttery and didn't overpower the beef patty, which held its own as a rotund, juicy centerpiece. My friend who ordered the chicken "burrito" wrap against my recommendation kept trying to give me half of her wrap in exchange for one of my burgers. After I gave in, she agreed that the burgers are definitely the way to order.
The waffle fries reminded me of my high school days and Carl's Jr, but when I snapped back to the present, I was wishing that they'd throw in a few more.
The burger dish alone is probably not enough to fill hearty appetites, so the prices can add up if you order a few other appetizers or salads. We had ordered a Macademia Chicken Caesar Salad (NT$280) to share. The portions here are definitely on the small side for the prices. The Caesar was better than the fried chicken on a skewer.
The onion rings are also decent, but unmemorable- not like those fat, deep fried rings you'd get at any burger place with crispy fresh onions inside.
There are sets available for lunch and dinner for about NT$480, but it's more worth it at dinnertime as it comes with an alcoholic drink then.
Also note that while the dinner set come with appetizers that they are fairly bite-sized and it comes with only one mini-burger instead of two.
The lone Hula burger, mini-sized calamari and lettuce wrap left me wanting more, so I drowned my hunger in my kiwi mojito and panna cotta instead.
Haleakala reminded me of Islands, the Hawaiian themed burger chain in the states, but morphed as a less greasy, more upscale fusion version. A hip place to meet for drinks or burgers, especially if you don't want to wait in the weekend lines at Chili's or want to have a little oasis for a meal with a tropical drink, even if there's no spam musubi.