53 Dong Feng Street
website: Diary's FB page (hasn't been updated since 2013)
hours: 3:30PM - 1AM
$$ -$$$ (NT$600-1000+/per person with drinks)
Kid friendliness: maybe for an early dinner, but menu is probably suitable only for foodie kids
Visit reviewed: 4/27/2015
I hadn't planned on going to Diary when meeting up with a few new friends-- we had actually planned on meeting at a ramen shop, but it turned out to be closed on Mondays. Luckily, Diary had available seats for us at last minute's notice and I was curious about how Diary was since my last visit years ago. Diary has been doing bistronomy before it was a buzzword in Taipei, serving modern, creative food and drinks in a cozy, industrial space since 2009. Diary is easy to miss along Dong Feng Street since it doesn't have an obvious sign, but there's a lot worth exploring on this street (as well as the nearby Siwei Road).
The handwritten menu is more expansive and polished than I remember, with lots of tempting options for shared plates, like lobster soufflé, crab cakes or roasted spring chicken. We end up ordering a crab meat ravioli, a risotto, the fried rocks and lamb shank to share between three people.
Complimentary smoked rolls of turkey are brought to the table, with smoke dispersing when the glass cover is lifted. (Unfortunately I was too slow with the camera to get the cool part of the action before this shot)
Predictably, I order the mojito (NT$280). As indicated on the handwritten note under the glass, Diary's recipe for a mojito is Havana Club 7 year old rum, mint leaf, brown sugar and fresh lime juice. It's a more serious version of a mojito- not as cloyingly sweet as some other bars and a distinct brown color instead of clear when it's made with sparkling water and white rum.
The Crab Meat Ravioli (NT$320) was a hearty enough portion to share with bite size pieces bathed in cream sauce and black pepper. The ravioli dough is a bit gluey for me (maybe underdone a tad?), but we still clean the plate. I was pleasantly surprised with the portions of all the dishes at Diary that night as I remember the dishes being smaller on my last visit, and I dislike it when restaurants serve only four to five pieces of ravioli in an order, especially when it's not part of a set tasting menu.
Mushroom Risotto (NT$300) also delectable and fragrant with mushroom and cheese flavors.
Paired with the bright yellow saffron mayo, the Fried Rocks (NT$320) is the most striking dish at the table. I couldn't stop eating the crispy, squid ink battered, fried fish, squid and shrimp. Perfect amount of coating and crispiness and the seafood inside was still moist and sweet. Darth Vader of fritto misto. If you try one thing at Diary, you must order this signature dish.
The only other restaurant I had seen do black battered calamari in Taipei was the Spanish tapas restaurant Cocina de Jackie, who took the theme one step further and served it in a faux plant pot with a flower.
Braised lamb shank with fennel (NT$1380) - I was getting quite full by the time the lamb shank and mashed potatoes came to the table, but it was still a happy addition to our stomaches. Some parts were fork tender, and some parts were a little bit tougher, but again, a good sized portion to share. I might try other dishes next time rather than reorder this again.
Reservations recommended for Diary, as the space and seating is limited.