28 Song Ren Rd, B2
MRT: Taipei City Hall
hours: 11AM- 10PM/ until 10:30PM on Friday and Sat
kid friendliness: bar stool seating only and all seafood menu
visit reviewed: 11/14/2011
Raw oysters are definitely not for everyone, but if you taste a really good fresh oyster, it could become an expensive addiction. I LOVED fried oysters growing up- my mom would fry up a batch of crispy, fat, juicy oysters from a jar from Ranch 99 every time I came back home from college. But it definitely took me a lot longer to want to try raw ones. The first time I probably tried it was ten years ago at McCormick and Schmick's, with some lemon and cocktail sauce. The jelly-like texture and stronger smell still doesn't compete with the fried oyster for me, but I've grown to appreciate the taste.
And while there are a lot of seafood buffets and sushi bars in Taipei, there aren't a whole lot of raw bars. So of course there's one in the euro-luxe Bellavita, aptly named Oyster Bar. The sleek barstool seating winds all the way around, so it's a relatively casual atmosphere with fine dining quality and prices. I've never seen it have more than a few customers (if any), so it's also relatively chill and quiet.
The menu is fairly straight forward- the first page describes the various types of imported French jet-fresh oysters available, while menu also includes seafood platters, maine lobster, caviar, smoked salmon, sea whelks and iberico ham. To the uninitiated like me, the names like Tsarskaya Oyster No.2 and Belon oyster may not mean much, but we're always learning. You can try them all with a Home Run Oyster Platter (NT$1680 for 6), or ask them to recommend a few to try as I did.
My new friends that I met with decided to each have a Home Run Oyster Platter and some bubbly from the Wine Bar right next to the Oyster Bar. I wasn't sure if I was going to be full from just oysters, so I decided to have them choose 2 oysters for me and an order of crabcakes.
We were served a complimentary appetizer- the tiny cup of chicken consomme opened up my appetite.
Oyster Bar chose Royal Oyster No.3 (NT$300) and Escaille Oyster No. 2 (NT$320) for me and plated it with little labels, which the food blogger in me appreciates. It's hard to describe the taste, but they tasted creamy and smooth, almost sweet. Enjoy it while it goes down- one slurp is worth a whole meal at about US$10 a pop.
The deep fried crab meat cake with sea urchin tartar (NT$360) were different than the traditional kind one might expect, deep fried and plated standing, but they were full of crab meat inside and the sweet, paper thin, dried apple was an interesting touch.
My friends' Home Run Oyster Platters plated beautifully.
If I were to come back again, I'd bring a few friends to share the Deluxe Seafood Platter that includes a maine lobster, sea shrimps, six oysters, clams, whelks and cuttlefish (NT$3980).