Fri, Dec 22, 2006 - Page 15 News List

Restaurant: Marco Polo Restaurant

Address: 201 Dunhua S Rd Sec 2, Taipei (台北市敦化南路二段201號)
Telephone: (02) 2378-8888 X5950
Open: Daily 11:30am to 2:30pm and 6pm to 10:30pm
Average meal: Sunday lunch buffet is NT$1,450; lunch buffet from Monday to Saturday is NT$990 with main course or NT$790 without; dinner is NT$2,000 for two. All prices are subject to a 10 percent service charge
Details: English and Chinese menu; credit cards accepted; reservations are strongly recommended on the weekend

By Noah Buchan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Come for the food, stay for the view.

PHOTO COURTESY OF MARCO POLO

Marco Polo is actually two different places located next door to one another on the 38th floor of the Far Eastern Plaza Hotel

(台北遠東國際大飯店) — a buffet and a restaurant and lounge. The view from the lounge is particularly stunning, making it "the place to be on New Year's Eve to see the fireworks," said Crystal Liu (劉學安), the hotel's assistant communications manager.

But this review is about the restaurant, where the views might not be quite as spectacular, but reservations are nonetheless essential for those hoping to snag a window seat, especially on the weekends. With its minimalist design — the entire restaurant was recently renovated complete with marble floors, ebony panel walls and scarlet upholstering — and an updated menu that changes seasonally, the restaurant is clearly trying to cater to a younger, hipper crowd. And it seems to be working, as on a recent visit most patrons were young and trying their best to look hip.

Lunch is billed as an "antipasti buffet." What separates Marco Polo from its counterparts is the addition of choices such as oven-dried tomatoes, anchovies in oil and marinated sardines, all of which should be placed on or smothered over the fresh-baked bread. The "on ice" selection includes baby lobster, crab, sea snails, shrimp and fresh oysters. Prawn cocktail and clam and asparagus ragout are served up individually. The cured fish includes smoked salmon, a flaky and moist seared peppered tuna loin and marinated sea scallops and marinated sardines.

The salads will make any seafood lover drool. The octopus potato salad with black olives and marinated mussels with grilled broccoli was light enough to leave room for a delicious helping of tuna and green bean salad. As this is a buffet, be sure to taste each salad before settling on one or two.

Those willing to splurge an extra NT$200 on the pasta dishes won't be disappointed. Italian chef Fabian Altabert offers four choices: pesto spaghetti with shrimp and oven-dried cherry tomatoes; spicy tomato penne with seafood; linguini with clams in white wine sauce; and tomato fargalle with fresh tuna, capers and black olives. The Sunday brunch includes a main course.

Along with great seafood and pasta are homemade desserts and fresh fruit. On Sunday, there is free-flowing Moet & Chandon champagne — a great way to celebrate the spectacular views and an afternoon of lounging. For those who aren't partial to the bubbly, then you can choose a bottle of red or white wine from the restaurant's expanded wine menu. 

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