Friday, June 21, 2024

australian/western: i strongly recommend CANVAS

No. 11號, Alley 5, Lane 107, Section 1, Fuxing S Rd
Da’an District
(02) 2711-6336

MRT: Zhongxiao /Fuxing

hours: 6 PM-10:30PM, closed 

price: $$ (NT$800-1600) 
kid friendliness: no high chairs spotted, but should be okay for foodie kids during an early dinner
Visit reviewed: 6/19/2024

Dear Gentle Readers, 

or hungry readers I should say. Hahah. Is anyone else watching Bridgerton? 

I haven't written in awhile, but I was feeling nostalgic (eek, the blog turns 19 in a few days) and I really enjoyed this meal and I thought I'd put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, I should say. And maybe more to come?

If you haven't yet been to or heard of Canvas, it's a casual modern Australian restaurant headed up by chef Kai Ward, who was one of the founding partners of Mume and also the chef at Little Creatures, a more casual Australian restaurant with a photogenic center bar, just across the lane from Canvas. Canvas is modern without being fussy, and just last month changed its tasting menu into a la carte, bringing back some favorites from its early days. So it makes it perfect for gathering a few good friends and sharing most of the menu. The vibe and philosophy there I feel is they just want you to have a good meal and a good time. It's really under the radar as a restaurant, and one of those places I tell people to go to if they are looking for a date night spot or place to go with friends that is good food that isn't too expensive. They also have a private room tucked in the back that can sit up to 10-12. 

I made it just in time to catch the last night of the first month's menu, and already Kai is changing up some of the dishes and all of the desserts. So here is everything we tried last night, apologies in advance if it's not on the menu when you go (maybe if enough people want it, Kai will bring it back around?). Three things we didn't get to try that I wish we did were the grilled octopus, the clams and the squid ink barley (classic), but we already had a table full for only 2 people! Like I usually LOVE their sourdough with butter, but I knew we had to save room for all the other food so we didn't order it.

Potato cakes with smoked fish cream, chicken skin and salmon roe (NT$290) - this was my favorite appetizer of the night and a must order if you come to Canvas. Served hot and crispy, you DIY top the smoked fish cream dip onto the fritter and try not to eat them all. I kept going back to this one since it was a lot for 2 people, but it would disappear quickly if you had 4 people sharing. 

Chicken Liver Pate with Sauternes Jelly (NT$250) I think the jelly is being changed to Shaoxing wine for the next menu. I love chicken liver ever since having it at Mume all those years ago, and this tiny bowl packs a punch. 

Chicken Wing with scallop mousse, xo buffalo sauce and pickles  (NT$110 per piece)  I think this is coming off the menu, but I remember this from the tasting menu. The good thing about per piece, is that you can order as many or little as you want. 

Scallop with tomato butter, lardo and kombu (NT$130/piece) I usually love Canvas' scallops but I wasn't a huge fan of this sauce. I probably would order the octopus or clams or crudo instead next time.

Kangaroo snag (black garlic aioli, beer onions and mustard greens) (NT$140 each) So the first time I had kangaroo was my last time at Canvas when Kai brought over kangaroo skewers over, thinly cut and grilled. I was actually surprised that it was tasty (because I usually cannot eat cute animals, so you just have to not think about it). The same here, these sausages on the toast (with cut off crusts) folded up and three very enjoyable bites. 

Smoked Mussel taglietelle, bone marrow, and mushroom (NT$440) Happy we caught the last night of this house made pasta coated in the marrow sauce. I love mussels and mushrooms.

Lamb rump, carrot puree, lovage, brown butter vinaigrette (NT$820) Yum, Slide the lamb around in the puree for the extra layer of sweetness. High CP

Wagyu rump cap "bordelaise sauce", geraldton wax (NT$1250) (Australian truffle add on charge)

Wow! When the chef brings a truffle, in this case Australian truffle, to the table and shaves it all over the steak, you just stop and smell the truffle. (and make sure you get the video) hahaha. We were getting so full, but I had a couple bites and was lucky enough to pack the rest to take home. 

Mango Coconut Bar (NT$140) pineapple jam, meringue Yum! This was so good!! Sad it was the last night on the menu. We snapped it in half to share (easier than cutting) and I love anything with meringue.

Chocolate Torte (NT$280) smoked coffee grounds cream, wattle seed This was melt in your mouth, but if you can only pick one dessert, I would have to pick the next one... scroll down

Vegemite sandwich (NT$280) in the form of a sundae Lol. I think this menu is also making sure that we are paying attention. You can't get more Australian than vegemite and chef Kai has made it into this amazing sundae. There's sourdough ice cream, brown butter ice cream, vegemite caramel, roasted almonds, chocolate sheet, dried milk sheet and sourdough crust cookie. What! Wow! I LOVED this and all the crunchy layers with the creamy ice cream and you should do a sundae on every menu! 

Chef Kai said to just smash down the layers to eat.

Before dinner started, I wanted to make sure I got some kitchen action shots before I got busy eating, so I told Kai that my goal of the night was to get a good photo of him. haha! So I have to share a few and you guys can comment below which one is your favorite. 

Kai has been in Taiwan for ten years this year! He's been here since August 2014 and Mume opened in December 2014. A bit of a backstory, Kai has been cooking since he was 16 and was 19 when he met Richie Lin when they were both in Sydney, and Richie ended up joining him at Quay. Years later, when Richie was planning to open Mume in Taipei, after working at Noma and opening Nur in Hong Kong, he circled back to Kai and brought in Long Xiong together to open Mume. And while they are the heads of each of their own enterprises now, I'll always remember fondly those early days at Mume and all the people and experiences and restaurants that have rippled out since those days. 

Thank you Canvas, Kai and Ashley for always your warm hospitality and good food. 

Until the next time, hungry readers! 

Lady Hungry, ahem, I mean hungry girl