Fri, May 06, 2005 - Page 15 News List

Restaurant: Fifi

Address: 2F, 15 Renai Rd, Sec 4, Taipei (臺北市仁愛路四段15號2樓)
Telephone: (02) 2721 1970; for reservations in English call (0939) 834 845
Open: Lunch is served from 11:30am, last orders are at 11pm
Average meal: NT$500 per person
Details: Credit cards accepted. Menu is both Chinese and English

By David Momphard  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fifi's ``don po pork'' is a delightful dish.

PHOTO: DAVID MOMPHARD, TAIPEI TIMES

If it's any testament to how well Isabelle Wen's fashionable new eatery above Renai Road is doing since its opening a few months ago, there wasn't a seat available at 8pm on Monday. Taipei's own design diva seems to have had no problem making the leap from haute couture to haute cuisine.

But haute cuisine doesn't exactly describe what comes from the kitchen into the chic dining room at Fifi. It's Shanghai and Szechuan cuisine, to be sure, but not like what you've come to expect at similar restaurants around the capital city.

You'll notice the difference from the appetizer page of the menu (NT$180 to NT$280), where stuffed green peppers, green beans with mustard, and bean curd stripped salad vie for your attention, on to Fifi's choices of "vegetables and eggs" (NT$220 to NT$280), as the menu lists them: Hunan double-cooked eggs, "mapao dofu" and other very interesting-sounding items.

I chose the pumpkin with salty egg, having decided the "hairy gourd with silver fish" sounded too much like a still life painting. And I was glad that I did; the spice from the pumpkin and saltiness of the egg were nicely equalized by the dofu that found its way into each bite. I'd also ordered the stuffed green pepper, having heard from a source that it was one of the two best appetizers on the menu -- the other being the bean curd stripped salad with garlic, peanut sesame oil, cilantro and white-leaf lettuce. Alas, the stuffed peppers were sold out for the night and the bean curd salad was far more than a single person could put away.

Fifi's, it must be said, is best enjoyed with friends or family. Like so many other local restaurants, portions laid on the table are meant to be divvied up between eight to 10 people, making the ordering of as many items sumptuous but not sinful.

Not sinful until the meat comes to the table, at least. The source who told me about the bean curd salad also turned me onto Fifi's "don po pork" -- the one pictured above -- easily one of the better pork dishes I've had in a city stuffed with delicious pork dishes.

Finally, one of the better reasons to check out Fifi is the third-floor lounge that goes late on weeknights and even later on the weekends. DJ Edmund has just been confirmed as DJ for Wednesday nights.

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