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MAYUR INDIAN KITCHEN 
馬友友印度廚房
350-5 Keelung Rd, Sec. 1 台北市基隆路一段350號之5

MRT: Taipei City Hall or Taipei 101


hours: 11:30 am – 9:30 pm 

$-$$ (This meal was by invitation and hosted, but all opinions are my own.)

Visit reviewed: 4/3/2018
Previous reviewed: 5/17/2012

RECENTLY, I REVISITED THE ORIGINAL Mayur Indian Kitchen in Xinyi and was happy to find it even better than when I first wrote about it in 2012! (That rarely happens.) Since 2012, Mayur Indian Kitchen has expanded from one street side shop to six Indian restaurants across Taipei, all with different specialties including all vegetarian, buffet or late night with live music.  I'm not sure why I didn't return since I wrote about it six years ago, but Chef Mayur had kindly invited me over the years, as he sent messages here and there about the new restaurants he had opened. 

After I had posted some butter chicken that I had ordered after an ubereats fail from another Indian restaurant during Chinese New Year, he told me that my original blog post had brought so many customers to his restaurant, but that the Mayur Indian Kitchen I visited back then was completely different from my last visit and hoped I could see for myself. 

So I invited a few fellow Indian food loving friends to meet me at the Guangfu location, which was missing its sign above, but had doubled in restaurant space. Mayur Indian Kitchen (MIK 1) now had indoor table seating in a festive bright red dining area, as well as the al fresco tables outside. It's still quiet on this street, so sitting outside in good weather isn't a problem. 



 


The current glossy menu had page after page of appetizers, tandoori, vindaloo, tikka masala, butter chicken, masalas, vegetarian curries, naan, parathas, and drinks, which affordable prices from NT$190-395. I could understand why a revisit was overdue because the restaurant had grown into a completely different experience than the one that was just starting out in 2012 which chicken on the bone in the curry and less than a dozen curries available. Thank you to Chef Mayur for the invitation and for your hospitality.  (It's such a funny coincidence that my post in 2012 was exactly 6 years ago yesterday).







I'm a creature of habit, especially at Indian restaurants. I will tend to reorder the same things that I like, but I'm open to trying new things. So while we put in our order for butter chicken, palak paneer, naan, paratha, aloo gobi and raita, some finger foods came to the table.  



It was my first time trying these Dahi puchka from Kolkata (NT$150 for 6), which were small puffs filled with yogurt, tamarind and mint sauces. They were flavor bombs and slightly messy if you didn't eat it in one bite. A lighter way to start the meal than the more well known Punjabi vegetarian samosas (NT$135) dense with potatoes and peas. 



Soon our table filled with curries, naan, rice and vegetables. After a few photos, we dug in. Our favorites were the butter chicken (NT$245) which had that classic sweet and slightly spicy addictive sauce, and surprisingly the recommended aloo gobhi (NT$225), which is curried cauliflower and potatoes. It is a MUST ORDER. I used to order aloo gobhi all the time in the states, but sometimes you get more potatoes than anything else. Mayur Indian Kitchen's version had strong cauliflower game where the cauliflowers were just the right texture and was spiced without being heavy. 

Such a happy meal as my friends and I used the naan to scoop up every last bit of the butter chicken curry and filled our plates and bellies with food. I loved everything. 

The only thing I probably wouldn't reorder is the Malai Tikka (NT$225) which was not as juicy or flavorful as I've had elsewhere. Next time I'd try the tandoori chicken. MIK 1 also still only serves yellow rice, which I noted on my first visit. In my conversation with Chef Mayur, most people in India typically eat regular rice and not basmati rice because it's more affordable and it's more filling. 

Otherwise there are 18 types of naan, roti and paratha to order from, including garlic chili naan and sweeter coconut naan or cheese naan. We ordered three- plain, garlic and aloo paratha, for the three of us and it was more than plenty. 



butter chicken
palak paneer (spinach with paneer) & spiced rice

aloo gobhi and chicken malai 
aloo paratha (NT$85)
plain naan (NT$55)
garlic naan (NT$55)

A large sign outside the restaurant displays the new exclusively vegetarian MIK as well as the addresses of the other locations. Rather than make each restaurant the same, Chef Mayur chose to give each one a specialty. MIK 1 is homestyle Indian food. MIK 2 is more upscale.  MIK 3 is purely vegetarian. MIK 4 is a buffet (but only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays). MIK5 is stated to the be the largest Indian restaurant in Taipei. And last but not least, the newest MIK 6 is an Indian restaurant by day, hookah and live music restaurant by night, offering Indian food until 3AM. 



What was Chef Mayur's entrepreneurial secret to opening 6 restaurants in 6 years? Chef Mayur wooed his family from India to Taipei in his expansion to helm and cook at the different branches, and his father is the chef at MIK 1, which serves classic, homestyle Indian dishes. “My father cooks food for our guests just like the way he used to cook for our family. In fact, he treats all MIK customers as our family guests.” And to find that in Taipei is such a treat. 
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A TAIPEI RESTAURANT ROUND UP is long overdue. I have a lot of drafts of blog posts in my folder and this one had the following sentence- "Every summer when I come back from LA, I notice a few changes, but this summer was the first one where a lot of people had one restaurant on their lips- "have you been to Longtail yet?""

Now it's April 2018 and I've already done a 10 places you should try next that I should republish here and Taipei has moved onto another new set of restaurants. Michelin finally came to Taipei and everyone is abuzz about the bib gourmand list.

The list is going to be long because I have a draft of 2016 that was never published to add in- so forgive me if some of these places look not-so-new to you, it's new since my last round up. Please let me know if you have a restaurant that has opened or closed and I'll add it! Let's get to business.

2018 CLOSINGS
  • Commune A7 (closed to make way for construction for hotels)
  • Emack and Bolios (ice cream)
  • Origines (closed at end of March 2018)
  • Le Mout (will close at end of 2018)
  • La Cocotte (closed after 9 years, the same month it was awarded 1 Michelin star)
  • Juanitas (closed again)
2017 OPENINGS (aka how behind I am in posts)
  • Longtail 
  • Liquid Bread Co (sandwiches)
  • Tamed Fox (brunch and desserts)
  • Ichiran Ramen
  • NKU (modern)
  • Coffee DPT (chocolate chip cookies and coffee)
  • Commune A7
  • Honolulu Cafe (from Hong Kong)
  • Gusto Market (italian deli and shop)
  • Steam Pot
  • Buttermilk at Amba 
  • Grace
  • GDS Play cafe (DaAn)
  • Tastelab by Regent Hotel 
  • Banco (pizza and pasta)
  • Maple Tree House Korean BBQ
  • District One Taipei (modern vietnamese, oxtail and lobster pho)
  • Amaronis (NY Italian American)
  • Pokeholic (Poke bowls)
  • Jumbo Seafood (Singaporean)
  • Red Dot (Singaporean/Indonesian)
  • Gastrojoy (private kitchen)
  • Ura muteki (deep fried wagyu)
  • Kamekona Hawaii (teppanyaki)
  • Mecato (empanadas at Maji Square)
  • Quantum Tacos (Maji Square)
  • Ice Mountain (shaved ice)
  • Gusto Pizza
  • Pie Guy 
  • Meat Love (korean bbq)
  • Wok
  • Juanitas (mexican)
  • Lady M (crepe cake)


2017 CLOSINGS
  • Achoi 
  • STAY (closed 9/30/2017) 
  • Sweet Tea (also closed 9/2017)
  • Le Kief
  • Savor Private Kitchen
  • Grandma Nitti's
  • Flavors Meatball 
  • Bite2Eat 
  • Juanitas
  • Lobster Bar
  • Dairy Queen 
2016 NOTABLE OPENINGS (even longer lists of places that I am due to post) 
  • Sugar Pea 
  • Jamie's Italian
  • Mitsukoshi A11 foodcourt reopening 
  • Nur
  • Chou Chou 
  • Terroir 
  • Street Churros
  • Plus Pizza 
  • Rou
  • Cafe by Juicy Diary 
  • Machin
  • Le kief 
  • Line Cafe
  • Domani (Italian)
  • Rakujin (wagyu yakiniku)
  • Antipodean
  • Revel Eatery
  • Baba Kevins (american bbq)
  • Twinkeyz Tacos
  • Sarabeths
  • Ramen Nagi
  • Plants Eatery (vegan)
  • Green Room (vegan thai)
  • Mortons Steakhouse
  • Cheogajip (korean fried chicken)

2016 CLOSINGS 
  • Cozi Burger 
  • Lobster Bar 
  • Amigos (in March?) 
  • Dan Ryans 
  • Burger Fix 
  • Voodoo doughnuts 

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(4/3/2018- I wrote this last month but never posted it.. I think I was trying to find an appropriate photo, but I will just have to post it without as too many things are happening in the meanwhile!)

WITH THE RELEASE OF TAIPEI'S first Michelin guide and this week's Bib gourmand list, my newsfeed has been flooded with announcements. The Bib gourmand selection includes places that Michelin wants to honor, usually under a certain price point, but have not been awarded an actual star. The first list spotlights a lot of local eats including 10 nine market stalls and 8 beef noodle soups. I thought it was also interesting that they recognized Joseph's Bistro, an Indian restaurant.

The past few days, I've also learned that Origines helmed by Chef Cyril Hou will close at the end of this month and the award winning Le Mout in Taichung will close at the end of 2018. Both have announced the closings on their Facebook pages, and Chef Lanshu has written a heartfelt letter about her decision to close her 10-year-old restaurant. I have yet to try either restaurant, but would like to try them before they close.

So with the upcoming release of Taipei is Michelin guide, will it make some of our favorites more even crowded, or will it shine a global spotlight on Taipei's fine dining restaurants that need more than local customers to thrive? Perhaps both. The past five years or so we've seen a boom of fine dining restaurants, modern bistros, steakhouses, sushi bars, Japanese and Korean bbq. Now we as customers have a wider range of culinary options, but are there enough people in Taipei who eat out that often, at that price point with that palate? As much as I enjoy a fancy meal out now and then, there are so many places even I have yet to try, or favorites that I haven't revisited in months.

Are you looking forward to what restaurants the Michelin guide will pick? I'm definitely curious! Do you think they will be able to find both the well known and not as well known local favorites? Or do you be more interested in a Taipei street food guide?


TAIPEI 2018 BIB GOURMAND

  • DIAN SHUI LOU (Songshan) 點水樓 (松山)
  • DIN TAI FUNG 鼎泰豐 (信義路)
  • FU HUANG SOY MILK  阜杭豆漿 
  • HAMAMATSUYA濱松屋 
  • HANG ZHOU XIAO LONG BAO (DaAn) 杭州小籠湯包 (大安 )
  • HAO GONG DAO JIN JI YUAN 好公道金雞園
  • JOSEPH BISTRO
  • MAO YUAN 茂園 
  • MEILI 美麗餐廳 
  • MY ZHAO My 灶 
  • MY SWEET HOME SMALL KITCHEN 我家小廚房 
  • NO. 1 FOOD THEATER CUSINE 一号糧倉 
  • PENG FAMILY 彭家園 
  • SERENITY 祥和蔬食 
  • SHUANG YUE FOOD 雙月食品 
  • SONG KITCHEN 宋廚菜館 
  • TAO LUAN TING ROAST PEKING DUCK PALACE 北平陶然亭 
  • ZUI FENG YUAN 醉楓園小館 

TAIPEI 2018 BIB GOURMAND BEEF NOODLES
  • HALAL CHINESE BEEF NOODLES 清真中國牛肉麵食 館
  • JIAN HONG BEEF NOODLES建宏牛肉麵
  • LAO SHANDONG HOMEMADE NOODLES老山東牛肉家常麵 店
  • LIAO BEEF NOODLES 廖家牛肉麵
  • LIN DONG FANG BEEF NOODLES 林東芳牛肉麵
  • LIU SHANDONG BEEF NOODLES 劉山東牛肉麵
  • NIU DIAN BEEF NOODLES 牛店精燉牛肉麵
  • YONG KANG BEEF NOODLE 永康牛肉麵

TAIPEI 2018 BIB GOURMAND NIGHT MARKET
  • A NAN SESAME CHICKEN
  • STINKY TOFU BOSS
  • LIU YU ZI 
  • RONG'S PORK LIVER
  • CHEN DONG PORK RIBS MEDICINAL HERBAL SOUP
  • FUZHOU BLACK PEPPER BUN at RaoHe Night Market
  • SHI BOSS SPICY TOFU

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shine bright like a diamond



One Michelin star Chef Matthieu De Lauzun from Montpelier, France popped up in Taipei from 11/9 - 11/12 at Orchid Restaurant 蘭 using local vegetables and focusing on seafood. 

My favorite dish of the tasting menu was the poivron farci, or stuffed pepper. The sweet roasted red pepper was stuffed with fresh crab and the squid was presented two ways, as "noodles" atop and fried. 

This is Chef Matthieu's first time to Taipei. I got a chance to chat with him a little and he said he really thought the local ingredients were great so he tried to use as many vegetables and seafood locally. He also has had a chance to enjoy local eats, one of his favorites being the pepper bun from the night market. (Mine too! Can't miss it when visiting!)

With Michelin Guide coming in 2018, it's great Michelin starred chefs can collaborate with local talent and Taipei diners can also get a taste of what's already ranked as Michelin-worthy around the world. Thanks Orchid for the invitation and for continuing to discover and bring guest chefs to Taiwan. 



my weakness - bread and butter






saumon sauvage



the DIY version would be a tortilla rolled up with smoked salmon and cream cheese. or maybe i've been watching too many buzzfeed videos. 


Poivron farci

Roasting the red bell pepper brought out a sweetness that was almost fruity that matched the sea sweetness of the crab and squid, which were executed to the perfect texture. The lump crab is hiding underneath all of the "noodles." Loved this. 


Bar (de pêche atlantique)




truffe blanche (de alba)

I also enjoyed the truffle risotto with the perfect egg, the yolk in limbo between solid and liquid. 



filet foie gras joue de boeuf
so full at this point, but i was very happy to have the foie gras



Sphere framboise/ citron


citron et mandarine



Sweet ending. 



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HONOLULU CAFE 檀島香港茶餐廳
at Xinyi Mitsukoshi A11, B1
No. 
松壽路11號B1 

MRT: Taipei City Hall



Price: $$

Kid Friendliness: 

Visits reviewed: 




THE SATISFYING FLAKINESS OF 192 LAYERS of pastry and a jiggly, custard-like center. This is the egg tart that has lured me and all the other people to Honolulu Cafe's first Taipei shop. 

If you hadn't heard of Honolulu Cafe, the famed cha chaan teng from Hong Kong yet, then the trays of freshly baked egg tarts from the entrance's window and the line of people wrapped around the corner outside the building might pique your curiosity to wait in line too. The store introduces itself with well placed signage "Honolulu Cafe | Since 1940" at the entrance, and hand drawn posters diagramming its egg tarts features for newbies. 


Even though I had been a fan of Honolulu Cafe's egg tarts for years, even bringing boxes back to Taipei from Hong Kong, I didn't know there were 192 layers until I saw it on the poster. I just knew that the flaky crust was one of the best egg tarts I had eaten. So I was extremely excited to hear about the opening at Xinyi Mitsukoshi A11. 


Honolulu Cafe's menu is a dizzying array of choices, especially without English translations, but luckily the waiter drops off an iPad menu of glossy photos to browse and order. 


As we swipe through the menu, everyone excitedly agreed that each person will get their own egg tart, and everything else we can share family style, including a few pineapple buns with thick slabs of butter inside, another classic Hong Kong treat.


The pineapple bun is spongy and sweet with a crumbly crust. Those who love this dish devour it with the butter, those of us who can't just eat straight butter nibble around it. I would choose the egg tart over the pineapple bun, which is not as moist as the Taiwanese bolo pineapple bun or the cha siu version of it at Tim Ho Wan. 


And let's not forget, the drinks. Iced lemon tea, coffee brewed with sweetened milk tea, or iced coffee, something that I've never had at the original shop. 


To be honest, I've never actually eaten inside Honolulu Cafe in Hong Kong, I've only picked up takeaway of a half a dozen egg tarts from their shop's front counter outside the store every time. So stepping into their restaurant I'm surprised by the bright modern decor- there are several seating sections, all slightly different with booths, tables and outdoors. 


After we've ordered, a medley of Hong Kong classics arrived to fill our table and the ones around us- dim sum favorites like steamed shrimp chang fun, platters and noodle soups of roast bbq meat, and claypot tofu dishes. 




For a filling bite, I also enjoyed the Hong Kong style french toast, two slices sandwiching a layer of peanut butter and then drenched in maple syrup and a pat of butter. 



My favorites were the roast bbq pork, crispy pork and duck that come with four different dipping sauces, the deep fried soft shell crab, and the sausage claypot rice. And of course the egg tart. 





Try to eat the egg tarts as soon as it's served. It's best eaten hot, though of course don't burn your tongue. The crust is flaky which makes it messy to eat, and the filling is more custardy and soft than dense and sweet like bruleed Portuguese egg tarts, but that's what I love about it. If you prefer the shortbread crust and filling that doesn't wobble, this might not be the egg tart for you, but for me, I'm happy since I won't have to haul back boxes from Hong Kong anymore!!! 

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DAZHI FENG YUAN 大直粉圓
No. 35 DaZhi Street
 臺北市中山區大直街35號

MRT: Wenhu (brown line) 5 minute walk

price: $ (about NT$60/person) Delivery available 

hours: 11AM- 9PM

Kid friendliness: very. at this price, they can each get their own bowl

visits reviewed: 8/18/2017 and 9/10/2017


DAZHI FENG YUAN IS A SMALL SHOP IN DAZHI, but with more than all the essentials for Taiwanese shaved ice. With over 20 different chewy, colorful toppings from taro balls to grass jelly to boba and red adzuki beans, you could make a number of combinations. Feng Yuan translates to the name for tapioca in Chinese, so that's why you see a big bowl of it on their sign, advertised for NT$30. 




A bowl of shaved ice is NT$60 with a choice of four toppings. I especially like their pearl barley, so much that I got double of it. I know Taiwanese shaved ice toppings can sound strange to people who are used to having their barley with beef soup or beans in chili, but think of how oatmeal which is usually eaten sweet for breakfast is now being used as a savory option. In Taiwan, mung beans, red beans, pearl barley, oatmeal are all sweetened and used for desserts. I've even seen creamed corn as a topping on shaved ice (which still repulses me, but hey, corn ice cream is a thing in the US now, so we can't judge).



They also have douhua, or soy pudding, but I found the flavor to taste a little on the burnt side, which I know some soy milk places are known for, but I personally prefer it without. You can add three toppings to the douhua, which are hidden underneath. 



Dazhi Feng Yuan's ice isn't super fine, but with the creamy and chewy toppings and brown sugar syrup, it all works together. 

And those who don't like the traditional toppings, they have mango shaved ice, but it's seasonal. I haven't tried it yet because I'm still trying different combos of the traditional. My go to combo is usually pearl barley, aiyu, boba and mochi balls, but on this day my friend wanted to try the big red beans and the taro balls. 



They have about 10 seats and it's fairly clean and they let you use their bathroom. Haha. I had to note that because A LOT of little shops won't let you use their bathroom, even though you know they have one. Anyways, this no frills shop has become a go to when I'm in the Dazhi area for a quick snack. Cuz global warming. The shop is near Shih Chien University and Dominican International School. 



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QUANTUM TACOS 
MECADO COLOMBIA
No.1 Yumen Street 玉門街1號
MRT: Yuanshan 
websites: Quantum Tacos Facebook

Pricing: $ (NT$150/ person) 

Visit reviewed: 9/10/2017

 

I HAVE FOUND THE BEST TACOS IN TAIPEI RIGHT NOW and you'll never guess where. Forget all you thought you knew about Mexican food in Taiwan and get yourself to the outdoor food court at Maji Square. 



Hidden in plain sight among the jumble of stalls of oyster vermicelli, burgers, poutine and Indian food are TWO food stalls you must try if you've been craving something better than the landscape of "It's good for Taiwan" Mexican food. 

If you are on my blog today for night market finds, beef noodles soups and dumplings, then scroll through my previous posts for a moment while we talk about this. 

But if you've lived in Taipei longer than a year and/or eaten your fair share of Mexican food fails,  I'm talking to you right now. 


I didn't even realize what the name of the shop was, my eyes just went from TACOS on the sign straight to "al pastor," "carnitas," and "chorizo." The photos of the tacos looked promising, the person manning the shop didn't look like a bored Taiwanese worker, and the price of NT$150 for 2 tacos or NT$200 for 3 tacos was reasonable. 

After peppering the guy at the stand with a flurry of questions, I decided to get a plate of 3. Regrettably the carnitas wasn't ready yet, but I could get al pastor chicken and al pastor pork. He said it would take 5-10 minutes, so I would wait in anticipation by making another circle around the food court. A small price to pay for the promise of legit street tacos. 




I made my way back to Mecato Colombia which had drawn my attention with their bright and festive sign, flanked by the yellow, blue and red stripes from the Colombian flag, and more importantly photos of their empanadas. Because I figured I would kill two birds with one stone and try them both out and empanadas with tacos sounded pretty good. 

 I asked which ones were best and settled on the Traditional Chicken and the chicken and mushroom, which the owner said also had cheese. Sounded good to me. There's also pork, salami and Hawaiian empanada on the menu at Mecado (Is Hawaiian a real thing for empanadas? Or is that just for Taiwan????), as well as arepas, drinks and obless, which looked like Colombian tortas and cookies.

I think I made the owners a little bit nervous with all my questions and by concentratedly eyeing them getting the fryer ready for the handmade empanadas, so went back to look for my tacos. 




I have seen (and eaten) A LOT of tacos in Taipei (and around the world!) and the way the tacos look  dictate a lot about how they are going to taste. And these tacos al pastor from four month old Quantum Tacos were definitely in the right direction. 

First, they had corn tortillas. Second, they were sprinkled with diced onions and cilantro, and ONLY onions and cilantro. Third, there was a proper meat to tortilla ratio, enough meat that when you rolled up the taco that you could see the meat coming out of the edges. (And the fact that the corn tortilla was thin and pliable enough to roll up, you couldn't imagine what a rarity that even is in Taiwan!) 



And the taste? HEAVENLY.

I did not realize how much I wanted to eat a taco until my mouth was chewing the tender bits of spit -roasted pork and fat mixed with the punch of the bits of onion and cilantro,  and I forgot that I was even in Taipei. That I didn't even have to think, this is good for Taipei. I thought this is good PERIOD.



The al pastor had enough flavor from the tomato (which gives it its reddish color) and spices to not need any extra hot sauce. But if you like it with a bigger kick, they did have a bottle of Cholula and housemade hot sauce on hand. All these details because the food was being made by someone who knows what it's supposed to taste like.

Sam, who was from Mexico, said that when he started, he didn't know how to cook these recipes, which are from the owner who is Taiwanese but had lived in Mexico for over 20 years. But after learning, he could adjust to taste when he was cooking it day to day because (let's say it again) he knows what it's supposed to taste like. And that makes a difference.

Also, I noticed when I picked up my food that there were two business cards on the counter and realized the owner of Quantum Tacos was ALSO the owner of Teotihuacan Restaurant, which I had just found on the internets a few days before when I was researching to revamp my list of Mexican restaurants. I had never heard of it before then and now it all clicked IRL.




When I realized my empanadas were ready so I had to put down my taco (you can see the bite I took above) to pick them up. They were golden, fist sized puffs with braided edges and I knew that I was probably the only person in the food court filled with Taiwanese families, eating both tacos and empanadas right then. And they were MISSING OUT.


The chicken and mushroom empanada (NT$55) was deliriously cheesy, so much that they should put the word "cheese" in the description so people can know they are basically getting a fried cheese and chicken savory doughnut. The crust was flaky and the center cheesy, I didn't even mind that I didn't taste any mushroom. I seriously could not believe my luck, that the taco and empanada universe finally expanded to include Taipei. 


The chicken and potato empanada (NT$50) was also delicious, and reminded me of a croquette since it had the diced potato, but with the bonus of the fried crust around it. I am typing this up right now and thinking about if I should go back tomorrow for more. 


If you're looking for somewhere air conditioned to dine, you can also try the Argentinian Gaucho at the end of Maji Square, but while their grilled meats are good, their empanadas are no where near as good as the ones from Mecado. And their menu overall is definitely more expensive.

But seriously, who would have ever thought a food hall in Taipei would have Mexican, Colombian AND Argentinian food in one place? Is this the first you've heard about these spots? Do these photos make you excited? Where else have I been missing out on?? Leave a comment and some love, so I know you're reading! :)

PS sorry, let me also know the photos are turning up blurry? Blogger is having some issues for me, but I didn't want to wait to share.. so I will try to replace the photos later, but my eyes sometimes are also seeing blurry because i'm on my phone wayyy too much.
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Finding Asia's 50 Best Restaurants in Taiwan
Good luck getting reservations at RAW, named Taiwan's Best Restaurant by Asia's 50 Best

Asia's 50 Best Restaurants were counted down earlier this year at an awards ceremony in Bangkok, where chefs eagerly waited to hear what place they had earned on this year's list. Nominees invited know they are guaranteed a spot in the top 50, but they do not know where on the list they rank until is announced at the ceremony. 

"Even the regional chairmen don't know who the voters voted for, or who got the votes. So it is very exciting for chefs to attend." said chef Richie Lin from Mume, a new entry on this year's list from Taiwan. 

RAW's chef Zor Tan recalled, "It is the time of year when you want to see your report card to know if you outdid yourself the previous year." 

This year, Gaggan, a progressive Indian restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand, retained his spot at number 1 for the third year in a row- an impressive record considering that Asia's 50 Best has only been around for five years. Gaggan will be familiar to those who have seen him on Netflix's "Chef's Table" series, or spotted his emoji menu or Japanese influenced, modern Indian tasting menu on Instagram. 

Taiwanese chef Andre Chiang's Restaurant Andre in Singapore moved up one spot to number 2. Third place is Amber in Hong Kong. The list includes restaurants from Singapore, Thailand, Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Philippines. Chef May Chow from Hong Kong's Little Bao was named Asia's Best Female Chef of 2017 and Otto E Mezzo's Umberto Bombana was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Chef Zor Tan who is involved with both Restaurant Andre and RAW said, "It's a gratifying feeling knowing both restaurants got into top 50 and best restaurant in Singapore and best restaurant in Taiwan. I am humbled that both restaurants are well accepted by our audience. It is a team effort that is recognized by our fellow peers in the industry." 

Unlike the Michelin Stars Guide, which awards highly coveted stars given by anonymous food critics in specific cities, Asia's 50 Best held a series of events where the chefs could eat, party and gather together. Chef Zor Tan, "This is where we pause for a moment from our busy schedule and gather." 

"The most valuable part of this experience is to connect, a chance for all the chefs to meet each other from different countries, share ideas and exchange knowledge." said chef Richie Lin. 

But both lists skew towards fine dining, higher priced restaurants that serve intricately plated dishes rather than the casual, mom and pop restaurants that could arguably also be a "best" restaurant on a list. Some critics also point out the lack of restaurants helmed by female chefs, as well as voter bias towards restaurants already on the list or in cities where tourism boards actively woo voters. 

Taiwan landed three restaurants on this year's list, with RAW (number 24), Le Mout in Taichung (number 28), and Mume, debuting at number 43. RAW jumped ahead from last year's 46th place past Le Mout to take over the title of Best Restaurant in Taiwan. Reservations at RAW are already nearly impossible to get through their online booking system, and with the additional publicity, diners will have an even tougher time. 

Without flying to another country, you can also try the Taipei branch of Ryugin #7 and L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon which placed for its Bangkok and Hong Kong restaurants, at #40 and #41. Keep an eye out for pop ups and "four hands" collaborations with chefs from other countries, such as Restaurant Andre (#2) at RAW, or Den (#11) at Mume. Regent Taipei has also brought Sri Lanka's Ministry of Crab #29 and Seoul's Jungsik #25 to Taipei. 

First time hearing about this list and these restaurants? Here's a brief introduction to the Taiwan's best restaurants, according to Asia's 50 Best. 

RAW #24

Who are the chefs at RAW?: Andre Chiang, Alain Huang and Zor Tan. 

What is the menu like?: RAW has a seasonal menu that changes every few months and has featured a Best of the Year menu at the end of the past two years. Comprised of eight courses, the menu lists just three key ingredients for each dish on a word puzzle like sheet. Dishes such as beef tongue shavings on top of a beef tongue cracker or miniature bbq corn are inspired by Taiwanese snacks with a modern gastronomic twist. Every menu highlights local produce, sourced with the island's local farmers, such as the spring 2017 menu's sliced tomatoes with green chili sorbet and gazpacho foam, with tomatoes from Yilan, Nantou and Yang Ming Shan.

How to make reservations: Book at a table though RAW's website.  Reservations can be made two weeks in advance and are released at 12Noon everyday. Try your luck with the waitlist by messaging RAW through "Contact" on the page to snap up last minute cancellations. For an upgraded menu (at a slightly higher price) and view of the bustling kitchen, or if you have a larger party, try to get chef's table seats, which are usually released on the first Tuesday of every month at 3PM.

Check out this video interview by the Culinary Institute of America with RAW's chefs Alain Huang and Zor Tan, featuring dishes All About Duck, Taco Tako TACOS, Onion Onion Onion and Mango Snowball. I worked on this as a location producer/Taipei fixer last year for the CIA and they captured everything so beautifully. 


LE MOUT #28

Who are the chefs at LE MOUT: Lanshu Chen,  Jimmy Lim and pastry chef Makito Hiratsuka. Chef Lanshu Chen was named Asia’s Best Female Chef in 2014.  

What is the menu like?: Modern French dishes such as Blaze mushrooms, veal sweetbread, dried tangerine rind, chestnut, rice essence or American prime filet with French goose foie gras poele and sautéed chanterelles topped with a green peppercorn sauce.

How to make reservations: Make reservations on http://www.lemout.com
59 Cunzhong St, West District, Taichung City, Taiwan 403 +886 4 2375 3002 

MUME #43

Who are the chefs at MUME: Richie Lin, Kai Ward and Long Xiong

What is the menu like?: The Modern European menu features Snacks, Small, Bigger and Sweets on an a la carte menu. Signature dishes include the waygu beef tartare with clam mayo, confit egg yolk and preserved daikon; summer salad of nearly 30 different vegetables from local producers dressed with fermented black beans and crispy amadai with 

How to make reservations: Book a table through the reservation tab/link “Book a Table” on Mume's Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/mume.taiwan/). Call (02) 2700-0901 or e-mail: info@mume.tw for private dining room reservations, which seats 8-12 people serving a set menu only.

Check out this video interview by the Culinary Institute of America with Mume's chefs Richie Lin and Kai Ward . I worked on this as a location producer/Taipei fixer last year for the CIA's World of Flavors and love how these videos turned out. 

No. 1 GAGGAN, Bangkok, Thailand
No. 2 RESTAURANT ANDRÉ, Singapore 
No. 3 AMBER, Hong Kong, China  
No. 4 8 1/2 OTTO E MEZZO BOMBANA, Hong Kong, China
No. 5 NAHM, Bangkok, Thailand
No. 6 NARISAWA, Tokyo, Japan 
No. 7 NIHONRYORI RYUGIN, Tokyo, Japan
No. 8 ULTRAVIOLET BY PAUL PAIRET, Shanghai, China 
No. 9 ODETTE, Singapore
No. 10 BURNT ENDS, Singapore 
No. 11 DEN, Tokyo, Japan 
No. 12 L'EFFERVESCENCE, Tokyo, Japan
No. 13 SUHRING, Bangkok, Thailand
No. 14 FLORILEGE, Tokyo, Japan
No. 15 MINGLES, Seoul, South Korea 
No. 16 LES AMIS, Singapore
No. 17 LUNG KING HEEN, Hong Kong, China
No. 18 QUINTESSENCE, Tokyo, Japan
No. 19 BO.LAN, Bangkok, Thailand
No. 20 WAKU GHIN, Singapore
No. 21 ISSAYA SIAMESE CLUB, Bangkok, Thailand
No. 22 LOCAVORE, Bali, Indonesia 
No. 23 CORNER HOUSE, Singapore
No. 24 RAW, Taipei, Taiwan 
No. 25 JUNGSIK, Seoul, South Korea 
No. 26 SUSHI SAITO, Tokyo, Japan 
No. 27 TIPPLING CLUB, Singapore 
No. 28 LE MOÛT, Taichung, Taiwan
No. 29 MINISTRY OF CRAB, Colombo, Sri Lanka
No. 30 INDIAN ACCENT, New Delhi, India 
No. 31 EAT ME, Bangkok, Thailand
No. 32 JADE DRAGON, Macau, China
No. 33 TA VIE, Hong Kong, China
No. 34 HAJIME, Osaka, Japan
No. 35 GALLERY VASK, Manila, Philippines
No. 36 THE DINING ROOM AT THE HOUSE ON SATHORN, Bangkok, Thailand
No. 37 LE DEU, Bankgkok, Thailand
No. 38 LA YEON, Seoul, South Korea
No. 39 THE TASTING ROOM BY GALLIOT, Macau 
No. 40 L'ATELIER DE JOËL ROBUCHON, Bangkok, Thailand
No. 41 L'ATELIER DE JOËL ROBUCHON, Hong Kong, China
No. 42 JAAN, Singapore
No. 43 MUME, Taipei, Taiwan 
No. 44 SHINJI BY KANESAKA, Singapore
No. 45 RONIN, Hong Kong
No. 46 WASABI BY MORIMOTO, Mumbai, India
No. 47 THE CHAIRMAN, Hong Kong, China 
No. 48 FU HE HUI, Shanghai, China 
No 49 NIHONBASHI, Colombo, Sri Lanka
No. 50 TAKAZAWA, Tokyo
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