Fri, Jul 29, 2005 - Page 15 News List

Restaurant: Lab

Address: 19, Ln 181, Alley 35, Zhongxiao E Rd, Sec 4, Taipei (台北市忠孝東路四段181巷35弄19號)
Telephone: (02) 2771-1178
Open: 5pm to late
Details: Credit cards accepted. Menu in English and Chinese

By David Momphard  /  STAFF REPORTER

Hip hop is all but edible at Lab.

PHOTO: DAVID MOMPHARD, TAIPEI TIMES

If hip hop were food it would be served on heavy platters at Lab, the new eatery-cum-bar-cum-club in Taipei's East District (東區). Hip hop is the life blood of the business -- and not just any hip hop, but old-school, alternative, underground, independent hip hop.

Opened early this month, Lab already has a hopping Friday night, having partnered with promoters-extraordinaire Liquid Lifestyles, best known for their off-the-hook Wednesday night hip-hop hullabaloos around the corner at Luxy. While the music there is mostly mainstream, expect experiments with the eclectic stuff at Lab.

But what hasn't been as highly advertised is Lab's menu. Like any recently-opened eatery, they're still ironing out the particulars, but any place you can get American, Mexican and even Vietnamese food after midnight is a welcome addition.

On a visit this past week, I had Lab's cheeseburger. The patty could have been bigger, but it had all the flavor of a home-grilled burger nonetheless. Better still, the fries on the side were sprinkled with parmesan cheese and chives -- a nice touch that made the meal stick to the ribs. Also on offer on the American side of the menu is a "Sloppy Jonny," named for one of Lab's resident DJs, and a salmon burger.

South of the menu's border are burritos, tacos, quesadillas and nachos. On the Vietnamese side is pho, or beef with rice noodles. Finger food includes calamari, buffalo wings, goose liver, samosa and more.

The menu has other items of interest: You can roll your own smokes by choosing from a variety of flavored tobacco wraps. Or play mad scientist with Lab's choice of drinks that you mix yourself. I tried an Orange Creamcicle: One shot of Bacardi rum, one of Sprite and another of an orange energy drink. Pour to taste into a glass of ice and drink, then try another. It's a fun, fresh take on a night out drinking.

"We don't want the interior to look like a lab," said Jonny Hwang, better known as DJ Analogue, "But we do want to encourage people to come and experiment with different things, whether it's mixing your own drink, or trying a flavored tobacco."

The drinks menu also includes Mudslide cocktails, sake bombs, Corona shotguns and an arsenal of other items.

Lastly, in an effort to help develop the local hip-hop scene, Lab is hoping to draw the attention of local performers and artists who might be interested in teaching hip-hop dance or exhibiting artwork. For more information, check out http://www.labtaipei.com.

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