Monday, September 19, 2016

bistronomy/modern: i strongly recommend RAW (fall 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. Chef's table menu in back of restaurant is slightly more expensive)

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

Visit reviewed: 8/22/2016 Fall 2016

Previous RAW Taipei menus: 
5/26/2016 Summer 2016
1/21/2016 Winter 2016
 4/7/2015 & 3/4/2015 Spring 2015

LOVED loved love the new menu at @raw_taipei. Might be my favorite set yet. Loved the "All about duck" and the "Taco, tako, t-a-c-o-s" and dual basil pesto abalone and bamboo.  So many wonderful flavors and interpretations of Taiwan infused with the world for the latest menu.

Of course, it helped to have Chef Andre Chiang and Chef Alain Huang to talk about dishes and not be afraid to quiz the servers about details. I've been lucky enough to come to almost every season (thank you to my friends who manage to snag reservations) to RAW, but this was my first time coming as an invited guest of RAW to their media luncheon. I was the only English language media/blogger, so I'm working my way up in the world! Haha.

The first course at @raw_taipei definitely evokes Taiwanese street corn #🌽, smothered in sticky sweet sauce and grilled, but in miniature form. I thought it was a giant baby corn at first but someone pointed out it was made out of individual kernels taken off and reassembled onto a baby corn popsicle , so you still have the mouthfeel of regular sized Bbq corn kernels. Playful start to the 8 course meal.

Chef @andrechiang_sg played with the idea that both east and west "use basil with different flavors. What if you used it (Taiwanese basil) in a Western way?" Taiwanese cuisine uses Thai basil in dishes like three cup, or san-bei, while Italian/Western uses a sweet basil for pesto. The addictive sauce was a mash up of the two, making the perfect match for the crunchy bamboo, touch of caviar and chewy abalone. I scooped up the extra pesto and pine nuts with the bread. So so good.

Every season, RAW Taipei "Always has one vegetable driven dish" and this dish is it for the new menu. Paraphrasing Chef Andre's thoughts about this "onion family" dish, he said, "Interesting how when you cook the leaf, the roots, it shows different levels of sweetness, (it's) almost meaty." The leek and zucchini purée was definitely very creamy and sweet, with an underlying saltiness from the mackerel, while the onion petals cup drops of EVOO and balsamic. What I thought were bacon bits were fried shiitake mushrooms to give the purée a satisfying crunch. You almost don't need the uni, but I will never complain about uni. Later I found out that there are several touches, like the uni that come with the Chef's Table, which are the two elongated tables in the back near the kitchen, which cost slightly more per person.

The TACO / TAKO/ T-A-C-O-S takes a spring onion pancake as tortilla, octopus (with is tako in Japanese) as the meat with a soft boiled egg and T-a-c-o-s standing for teriyaki, avocado, cabbage, onions and sour cream. A playful interpretation and play on words to combine the flavors of multiple countries. The spring onion pancake is thicker than a regular tortilla would be, and the flaky layers provide the satisfying crunch, while the chewy cubes of octopus and runny egg contrast and complement the pancake.

ALL ABOUT DUCK used all parts of the duck including duck heart, duck tongue and duck liver. I mean #FOIEGRAS SOUP. How can you not love it? With barley, Taiwanese red quinoa and corn. One of my favorite dishes.


Ocean trout served two ways. First as fish chip with the fish skin fried into a crispy chip, then sous vided into tender submission and topped with salmon roe, paired with radish and salted chinese olives. (And looks sort of like the island of Taiwan) If you weren't paying attention, you might even think it was salmon. Every dish RAW serves always has contrasting textures, something smooth, something crunchy and this dish follows the rules. 

Beef cheek with mole sauce and burnt tomato, light dusting of chocolate shavings. Unexpected dish for me- curious how locals will like this menu. 

Spying into the kitchen between dishes

And ICE / SNOWBALL / MANGO modernizes the popular mango shaved ice and gives us a meringue snowball with sweet #mango cubes and tableside snowfall.

So that's the new menu at @raw_taipei. I really enjoyed every single dish and love that they are introducing flavors like mole and tacos to Taiwan, but in an unexpected new way by marrying the ones we find familiar. Inspires me to try to do the same at home.

Friday, September 16, 2016

dessert/snack: i recommend STREET CHURROS TAIPEI

No. 24, Lane 260, GuangFu S. Road
DaAn District 

MRT: SYS Memorial Hall 

Hours: 10AM - 10PM

Price: $$

Kid friendliness: kids will probably want their own. Seating inside or grab to go 

Visit reviewed: 9/6/2016

Churros were always a treat when I was a kid. I can't remember if my first churro was at Disneyland or Costco, but I remember being happy when finding out Costco Taipei as well as the movie theaters also sold churros here. So it's interesting that we've seen a resurgence of churros, but with a twist, literally.  

Opened a few months ago, Street Churros sells churros bent into horseshoe loops that are made to order, and pretty tastyyyy, rolled in cinnamon sugar. (NT$80) There's also a mini churro version w soft serve ice cream (NT$120) or a savory version as a bun for a hot dog (NT$130)!!! 

After you place your order at the window, you can see the churros being extruded into the fryer and made to order. There's something to be said about freshly fried dough.

Rolled in cinnamon sugar 

Roomy Indoor seating 

Soft serve with mini churro loop (NT$120) 

You can see the regular churro is probably twice as long as the mini version with the ice cream. So depending on if you want all churro or a bit of each. 

I've spied this for awhile on Instagram with places like The Loop in LA, which take it a step further by letting you coat your churros with sprinkles or cereal.

There's something so satisfying about eating something hot out of the fryer. It's moist yet crispy and has enough sugar and sweetness to please a sweet tooth like me. That's why I like to try to only buy Krispy Kreme when the "hot doughnuts now" sign is on because something magical about the optimal taste and temperature when it's fresh. I can understand why this could be an occasional treat, especially compared to some bad experiences with dry reheated frozen churros. It didn't taste oily and I would totally try it again.

Even the paper that the churro comes in comes with cute doodles on the back. 

Other options for churros in Taipei include Churro K (I've never been) and Macho Tacos which offer mini churros. Spanish/Mexican street churros by a Korean company in a Taipei shop is definitely a sign of globalization. Now just waiting for @churroboroughla to come to Taipei!