Fri, Mar 31, 2006 - Page 15 News List

Restaurant: DS Music Restaurant

Address: 7 Xinsheng N Rd Sec 3, Zhongshan Dist, Taipei (台北市中山區新生北路三段7號)
Telephone: (02) 2587 3226
Open: 6pm to 2:30am; Fri, Sat 6pm to 4am Average meal: NT$300 to NT$500 per person
Details: English and Chinese menu; major credit cards accepted Web site: (Chinese only)


Hospital food never tasted so good.


When I stepped into DS Music Restaurant, I found it to be an extremely well-put-together, professional establishment with good food and a pleasant atmosphere that is night-lifey but not overwhelming. This disturbed me.

The reader is invited to consider the nurse fetish. It is an institution that lies at the heart of DS. And so I entered DS prepared to immerse myself in sleaze and then write ironically about it. What I found, though, was a disquietingly congruous marriage of unabashed hedonism and well-funded good taste.

Overall, DS looks like many other posh restaurant-and-bars, with lots of spot lighting, funny-shaped chairs, and clear alcohol bottles lit from underneath. Except that many of the tables look like sleek hospital beds, there are a few wheelchairs and crutches sitting around, backlit X-rays decorate some walls, and above each table hangs a big "IV drip," which functions like a small keg. And then, of course, there are nurses everywhere you look.

The hospital theme is pervasive, but somehow subtle, or at least natural. I never thought I would say this, but it turns out that a wheelchair does not look out of place next to a wall of Smirnoff Ice bottles. There is something appealing about the audacity of taking a concept as (someone has to say it) flagrantly trashy as this and making something so cool out of it. To top it off, the food is good.

The menu consists of lightly Westernized Chinese, Japanese and Thai, with an inexplicable but not unwelcome Polynesian flare running through the presentation. The sashimi, for example, is served on a mountain of ice covered with leaves and flowers. The "Fire Pheonix Beer (sic)" (火鳳牛柳) is a successful beef-and-pineapple stir-fry served inside a hollowed-out half pineapple.

As is probably apparent in that last sentence, the English on the menu is more color commentary than viable translation. Some items -- like the pretty-good XO sauce stir-fry prawn ball (served on a bed of water convulvus) -- are more or less what they sound like, but the menu really isn't navigable without some knowledge of Chinese. Nor are the waitresses hired for their English.

It should be said that, DS, despite its thematically seamy underbelly, is family safe (the one exception is the Saturday night "showgirl" performance). The nurses outfits are not tailored to be especially kinky, and as far as I can tell the curtained-off "intensive care unit" is nothing more than a place where large groups can sit together.

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