Saturday, April 02, 2016

modern/french: i still recommend RAW (WINTER 2016)

No. 301, Lequn 3rd Road, Zhongshan District
(02) 8501-5800

MRT: Jianan Road


hours: Lunch: Wed- Sun / 11:30 AM - 2:30 PM
Dinner: Tues - Sat  / 6 PM - 10 PM
Closed Mondays
$$$$ (NT$1850/per person plus 10% service)

Kid friendliness: only set menus available so only probably only foodie kids will appreciate

Visit reviewed: 1/21/2016
Previous visit reviewed: spring 2015

RAW is still one of the hottest tickets in Taipei, and will be even harder to book since it's been named as one of the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants. RAW squeezed in at #47, and Chef Andre Chiang's other restaurant,  Restaurant Andre in Singapore, bookends the top of the list at #3.

Thanks to my friend who managed to get a reservation in January, I was giddy with excitement to be able to try the latest menu, not too long after they had made the switch from their one year anniversary "Best of the Year" menu. The new menu seemed to have more seafood on it than previous seasons, and felt more Taiwanese as well, with the bamboo, "bottarga" sweet potato and braised pork rice dishes.

The menu ingredients are read across- there are 8 courses and they list the three main ingredients per course.


This was one of my favorite dishes, with the oyster hidden under a bed of savory miniature sago pearls. Every oyster has a pearl? Well, this one has a whole mouthful of them.

Bread and buckwheat whipped butter (NT$150)
This is a must order for us, even though it costs a little extra than the set menu price of NT$1850 per person.

You can't help but to admire the curves and delicacy of the Frank Gehry-esque design of the thin bamboo slices, which hid small cubes of buri sashimi and cucumber gelatin underneath. Crunchy, chewy, acidic, sweet, this dish was layered textures and flavors together into one bite like many of RAW's dishes. Love seeing this dish from all the angles, though wish there was more buri.


I always love hearing the stories behind the dishes, if there is one. Luckily, we got a waiter that told us (after some inquisitions) that Chef Andre Chiang liked eating Prince Instant noodles, or 王子麵as a kid so that was the inspiration for the crispy fried capellini and the prawn with seven spice, evoking that memory and taste in this dish. Some of the dishes I don't know if I would order again if a la carte, but as an experience and tasting the layers of textures and flavors in new menu for the first time, I enjoyed it. The capellini were tough to pick up with a fork, you'd be faster using your fingers, perhaps the same way kids eat those instant noodle snacks? 

The bottarga, or mullet roe, in this dish is actually made of salty egg yolk. It was extremely creative, it was very Taiwanese, but again, not a dish I would necessarily order again if given the choice. Taiwan loves the sweet potato so much that some say that the shape of the island resembles a sweet potato. This dish was an interesting, but odd combination with the mushy texture of the sweet potato and the crunchy  toasted buckwheat and oozing egg center.

the "bottarga"

At first glance, the dish appears to be a sheet of sliced, translucent rice paper (like the kind that's used to wrap Vietnamese spring rolls), but then the waiter starts to pour hot broth onto the dish and the squid "noodles" come alive. The strips curl and start to move, which is mesmerizing and a bit unnerving at the same time, if you think too much about it. I liked the chewy texture, but couldn't help but be reminded of the squid noodles from Mume (which isn't on their menu currently). RAW's version is more subtle in flavor and the squid is sliced more thinly, placed as one sheet until woken up by the broth. The addition of the fried kombu which gets hydrated by the soup is a nice touch too. 

Looks like a regular noodle soup, but the "noodles" are long strips of squid. Chewy but not overly so,  this was a favorite dish for me and very memorable, even more so after I discovered that my instagram posts of it were plagiarized when I spotted my words on a post about RAW belonging to a food blogger from Sydney. (the post has since been deleted by Nessyeater)

Loved the presentation of this dish... "We shall enjoy rice as long as the moon shines the night" was imprinted on the lid of the bowl. I want to have a set of bowls with my own quote too... as well as a table with a hidden drawer for utensils (and the napkin, tucked all the way in the back of the drawer). #diningroomgoals.

I think this is a favorite dish of this menu for many people, though I spied the addition of truffle to the dish the month after we went!?  I really enjoyed RAW's gourmet version of lu rou fan, which is a braised fatty pork rice dish that everyone's mom (or dad) has a version of. Even though the pork was extremely fatty, I ate it all. And the rice was very fragrant and paired with the pork perfectly. My first impressions of the dish were the same after I was done eating it, I wanted more than a few bites. Even though it's a tasting menu and a dressed up version, a bowl of lu rou fan should be abundant and fill up more than half the bowl.

I don't enjoy quail, so RAW accommodated my request to have it switched out.. and it was switched to chicken breast. But I included a photo of my friend's quail dish, so you get an idea. I really liked the barley and the chicken was perfectly cooked, but this would be the dish you would have trouble remembering when asked to list your favorites from the meal. This is also the dish that they split the items into two separate rows when it's actually one dish. They've done this on previous menus as well, so for first time visitors, it could be misleading when you think you have more courses than there are. 

I've never been a huge fan of RAW's desserts and this was more of the same. Granita + sorbet + fruit, in this case, custard apple and starfruit along with white fungus.

I loved these smoked financiers. It was a good way to end the meal. So who has tried this new menu at RAW? Looking forward to the next round, if I can get seats!


Linda said...

Wonderful post. Thank you so much for sharing.

joanh said...

hi Linda! Thanks for reading and thanks for leaving a comment!

Liz f. said...

Do you know if they change their tasting menu monthly?

joanh said...

@liz- seasonally, so every 2-3 months usually