It was a Sunday afternoon in Kenting (墾丁) and tourists were fleeing the Pingtung County (屏東縣) hotspot to avoid getting trapped by the approaching typhoon.
A perfect opportunity, it seemed, had presented itself to check out Warung Didi. On several previous visits the Taipei Times had been rebuffed by the famed purveyor of “a world of exotic cuisines,” as it was fully booked.
So this time around we did as we were told and called promptly at 4pm for reservations that night. The phone was constantly engaged and the restaurant was reserved by the time we got through an hour later.
Fortunately (to cut a long review short) there had been a cancellation at 11:20pm. Last orders would be ours. And that is how we eventually came to review the culinary landmark founded by Di Di Yi (易迪迪) some 14 years ago.
The drinks list was a good start, with a thoughtful range of cocktails, beers, wines and nonalcoholic beverages. Though our mojito and mai tai (dubbed “my tai tai,”) were served up quickly, at full strength and with fresh ingredients, their arrival in Boddingtons and Coca-Cola glasses was a little surprising.
The menu was conveniently divided into sections, such as “the chicken coop” for poultry dishes, “soup pot,” “ok corral” for beef, seafood was “the waterfront.”
We plumped for Thai boneless chicken in basil sauce and Patpong chicken salad with shrimp dressing. They were zesty affairs but a degree too hot for our taste.
Most of the main dishes were priced from NT$250 to NT$340 and the cheesecake (NT$100), made daily, was wickedly rich, piqued by lemon and caramelized on top. Clearly, fresh food served in fair-sized portions, at a reasonable cost is one of the reasons for Warung Didi's popularity.
Atmosphere is also essential. If a place feels good you want to go back. Located off the high street and near the beach, Warung Didi was bathed in fairy lights, miniature red lanterns and ambient music. The interior was tastefully decorated in wood, with Indian/Aboriginal designs and an eclectic mix of old prints and batik paintings.