Saturday, July 30, 2016

Hate comment of the year, haven't gotten one in awhile.. Just left anonymously on a very old post on the blog. #wow #nowords 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

dessert/modern: i strongly recommend YELLOW LEMON

561 MingShui Road, ZhongShan District 

MRT: Dazhi 

hours: 11AM- 8PM

pricing: $$-$$$

kid friendliness: lots of treats for kids to enjoy, picnic is also very fun with lots of photo ops

visit reviewed:  4/2016 and 9/2014 

SUMMER IS IN THE AIR AND IT'S TIME FOR A PICNIC! Or at least that's the idea behind the newest food-meets-art creations by Yellow Lemon and its chef Andrea Bonaffini. Inspired by all growing popularity of picnics in Taipei's parks, Chef Andrea thought, why not bring it to the table? The result is an unique experience that combines food, art, performance, wonder and fun together. 

Located on a quiet neighborhood street in Dazhi, Yellow Lemon is a dessert bar offering a menu of salads, sandwiches and cafe fare alongside its desserts and drinks. The first time I came, we were dazzled by the playful take on french toast and the watermelon granita. When it first opened, I thought it was very creative, but that prices were a bit high for the portions, but over the years as more cafes and desserts spots have opened up and I've tried other places like Dominique Ansel's creations in Tokyo, I've realized that Yellow Lemon/Chef Andrea pushes the boundaries (like Dominique Ansel) and it's really a gem of a dessert bar in Taipei. 

Yellow Lemon's first table art was a messier splattering and dumping of chocolate and sweets on the table in a picasso style freeform painting (as I later saw, similar to Chicago's Alinea, which you can see in the SPINNING TABLES or CHEF's TABLE docs on Netflix) and I wasn't drawn to eating off the table. But Picnic, a more dainty and composed presentation, definitely caught my eye as other instagrammers started to post their photos of macarons and caviar on a table full of green grass. 

Yellow Lemon's space is bright and inviting and enough room between tables to have private conversations. The front is the bakery section where you can browse the cakes and desserts.

I love open kitchens because I love to admire chefs at work. Sometimes it's a good way to get details about the dishes or desserts that you wouldn't ordinarily get to hear. 


The desserts for picnic are prepared to order- so everything is assembled and fresh for the right textures and temperatures, which is so important for desserts. This is the apple pie sandwich, which was inspired by apple pie. The thin apple slices are liquid nitrogen'd and sandwich caramel sauce and pop rocks. 

We weren't actually sure what Picnic included so we had some lunch first- the beet and arugula salad  (NT$320) was SO SO good. I could have eaten a whole one myself, and the Pizza Parma (NT$320) was really great too, with generous toppings of parmesan cheese, parma ham and arugula atop fluffy focaccia bread. The chicken burger with truffle slow cooked onions and sous vide chicken and black sesame bun was also tasty.You could also order their other desserts on the menu, but I love the picnic experience (NT$600/person).

When you are ready, they will lay out the turf. We had four people, so we had two squares of turf. They bring out the elements and scatter them across the table, so we could ooh and aah over each dish as it came out, as our neighbors from the next table did as well. There's both sweet and savory components to the picnic and lots of little delicious surprises. Chef Andrea has said he'd like to change the menu seasonally, so use this as a reference for spring/summer 2016.

Like picnicking in a magical forest.

The strawberry napoleons were so yummy, with fresh cream, strawberries and strawberry crumble.

The playful imitation caviar was actually made out of chocolate, with a panna cotta underneath.

Apple pie sandwich- crispy, caramel and popping from the pop rocks. Loved this.

Black pepper macaron with king crab, lemon mustard and ikura- so so good, and the macaron shells make for a perfectly bite with the fresh crab.

Even the "dirt" is edible, it's made of chocolate crumbs. 

Now that it's either too hot in Taipei or rainy from the June gloom and doom, you can still picnic indoors. Can't wait to see what's going to pop on the table on my next visit! Thank you chef Andrea and Yellow Lemon for inviting us to try it and for hosting a fun lunch.

PS-- For a limited time, check into Yellow Lemon on Instagram or Facebook with a photo, tag @cretinofelice (Yellow Lemon's chef Andrea) and @hungryintaipei, and show the server/chef to get an extra 🍰 free sweet treat with your order!

Monday, July 11, 2016

modern/european: I strongly recommend MUME summer 2016


No. 28, Siwei Rd 
(02) 2700-0901 

MRT: DaAn or XinYi/AnHe 

website: Mume's FB page

Hours: 6PM -12AM (last order at 10PM). Closed Mondays

$$$-$$$$ (about NT$2000-3000 per person) 

kid friendliness: can't say that i've ever seen kids eat here. maybe if your kid is a gourmet baby and you get an early reservation.

Visit reviewed: 6/18/2016
previous visits reviewed: 8/2015 and 12/15/2015

SINCE MUME HAS OPENED ITS DOORS IN 2014, I've learned more about New Nordic cuisine and Noma*-- both things that influence Mume, and so I think I've come to understand Mume a little better. Watching Noma's Chef Rene Redzepi's fervor and dedication to creating a sense of "time and place" on the plate helps explain what New Nordic cuisine is- using ingredients that are in season, local while combining old techniques like smoking and curing with the new. The first time I ate at Mume, I don't think I had ever eaten anything like it before- it wasn't French, it wasn't fine dining, it wasn't completely gastronomy,  it wasn't Taiwanese, but used some Taiwanese ingredients- but I knew I wanted more. Since my first meal there, I've been a number of times, each time admiring the creativity by the chefs at Mume, but also the taste- loving the unexpected flavor combinations, beautiful presentation and when I got it, the stories behind the ingredients or the dishes. For me, dining at Mume is an adventure- it made me think about the food, it made me ask questions, it made me remember what I ate a few days later. I don't think Mume is for everyone- I've heard negative reviews from friends of friends even before I visited, but if the photos and menu intrigues you then you should definitely give it a try.  *(Thanks in part to Netflix's Chef's Table and the Noma documentary, My Perfect Storm, both recommended watching to those obsessed with food)

Mume's menu is in English only and is divided into Snacks, Smaller, Bigger and Sweets. Dishes range from NT$300-900, so I think it's priced quite reasonably for the portions, especially when I think about similar modern restaurants and menus in LA, HK or even pop ups that come to Taipei. For your first time, I recommend coming to Mume for their regular menu, not a special set menu or guest chef pop up, which will be more expensive (usually in NT$2800+ range) and has smaller tasting menu portions. Personally, I think the best way to enjoy Mume is to go with two to four people and share as much as you can on the menu. If you don't have the budget to try everything, then opt for a majority of "Smaller" plates rather than ordering a "Bigger" main dish per person. The "Smaller" plates are more unique and much less expensive and you'll get to try more things to know what to reorder for the next visit. Since I can eat, I've tried most of Mume's menu over the past few years, so I was excited to try the latest dishes that Mume was offering for the summer. 

This is Mume's menu as of summer 2016. The menu has evolved quite a bit since they opened, which at first was set menu only. I want to write another post featuring dishes on older menu vs current menu, but this post will spotlight almost all the dishes on the SMALLER section of the menu, since I ordered all but one on my last visit.

My cocktail of the evening- Pomme Pomme, yummy Apple cocktail


Scallop ceviche- shaved daikon, shiso vinaigrette, ginger, wild pepper (NT$380)

Gorgeousness and deliciousness. Are those real words? I don't care. 

Cobia Crudo- 'ajo bianco', black buddha hand, black pepper oil (NT$380)

We take turns dipping each "petal" of cobia sashimi into the sauce, (made of cucumber juice and chinese almonds according to @little_meg_siu_meg, and inspired by Spanish ajo blanco soup), before eating it. Would have never thought to pair raw fish with thinly sliced grapes, but Google also says grapes are usually an ingredient in ajo blanco, and it unexpectedly works well all together. 

Waygu Tartare- clam mayo, confit egg, preserved daikon (NT$420+NT$80)

One of my favorite dishes of Mume's menu is the waygu beef tartare with grilled toast. It was my first time trying beef tartare or any kind of raw beef so it surprised me how much I liked it. Mixed with the clam mayo, confit egg yolk and Taiwanese pickled daikon, it did taste just like steak with the texture of sashimi which paired perfectly with the buttery crispy thin toast slices. The only complaint I have is that there used to be toast included with the dish, and now it's separate because many people didn't eat the toast. Ideally, Mume could ask if people want it so they can opt out rather than take it away from the dish. 

Burnt cabbage- roasted hazelnut, smoked salmon roe (NT$320)

Burnt cabbage never looked so pretty. The cabbage's texture is nearly melt in your mouth- like the silkiness of cabbage that's been cooked in hotpot for a long time- except the flavor is caramelized instead of lost, and each bite is peppered with bursts of salty salmon roe and crunchy hazelnuts. Love the pop of color from the bright blue peaflower.

Beef tongue- oyster emulsion, brussel sprouts, grilled pineapple, pistachio (NT$420)

Love love love the new dish -super tender tongue brightened up by the sweetness of the pineapple, green of the brussels sprouts and crunch of the puffed rice. If you've never had tongue before, don't let it scare you, it's so good. 

(Coincidentally, beef tongue is also on RAW's summer 2016 menu and their rendition of the beef tongue cracker is one of my favorite bites ever from RAW. )

Blush shrimp, shrimp brains sauce, shaved yam bean (aka jicama) cooked in honey, and liquid nitrogen'd ricotta cheese snow (comped)

This dish isn't on the menu yet, but luckily I got a sneak peek. I LOVED the intensity of the shrimp brains and the sweetness of the shrimp combined w the crunchy curls of yam bean and icy cold ricotta melting in your mouth. We used the bread to wipe up the remaining sauce on the plate. This dish is made for people (like me) who like to suck the brains out of the shrimp, but without getting your hands dirty. This dish was freaking AMAZING. Please put it on the menu ASAP @richie_lin.

Crispy amadai- roasted red pepper, tomato raisin, toasted almond (NT$980)

Crispy amadai isn't new on the modern european scene in Taipei-- had it at at least 4 other restaurants in Taipei (Robuchon was my first, then Ducky, C'est La Vie and at a sushi bar) with the slicked up rows of crunchy scales- but paired with my love for sweet roasted red pepper, I devoured this dish despite being full already. The buttery red pepper sauce, toasted almonds, crispy Taiwanese bacon bits and subtle touch of spice complimented the velvety flesh of the amadai

Lovage porridge- slow cooked egg, sweet peas, sunflower seeds (NT$540) 

Another new summer menu item with a new approach for their porridge. Lovage instead of mushroom for the porridge, the slow cooked egg in a bed of sweet peas makes it feel like springtime. Chef Kai said they wanted to make it like risotto without Parmesan cheese, so they used a dehydrated fermented tofu. Feels more like a spring dish than summer, but I still enjoyed it. It's less heavy than the mushroom porridge. 


Cocoa crisps- smoked vanilla ice cream, roasted white chocolate, orange (NT$300)

Dense chocolate mousse hides underneath a roof of sugar and chocolate tiles- the way that each pieces melted on our tongue is a fun sensation.

Peaches and cream- Lala Mountain Peach, Osmanthus, Whey (NT$300)

If I had to pick one dessert from Mume's menu as my favorite, I would pick this one. Bite sized pieces of icy Taiwanese peach hiding underneath a layer of snowy cream. Almost like an upscale modern version of the popular Taiwanese snowflake shaved ice.

Busy busy kitchen with Chefs Kai Ward and Richie Lin plating up for a full house. Advance reservations recommended for Mume. If you have a larger party, you'll get seated in the room downstairs with a mandatory set menu, but I prefer to order off their menu a la carte for the best experience. Mume will do a collaboration/pop up with chef Zaiyu Hasegawa from Den, winner of the One to Watch award, later this month-- it's too bad I won't be in Taipei to check it out.