Fri, Feb 09, 2007 - Page 15 News List

Restaurant: Jack

Address: 81, Da-an Rd Sec 1, Taipei (台北市大安路一段81號) Telephone: (02) 2751-0086
Open: From 7am to 10:30pm
Average meal: Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Main meals cost NT$1,000 for two
Details: Credit cards accepted

By Jules Quartly  /  STAFF REPORTER

Jack has a bistro-type feel and is a good place to unwind and dine at all times of the day.


Bistros are synonymous with Paris and that's unlikely to change, but Jack introduces a little savoir-faire to the East Side shopping district along Taipei's Zhongxiao East Road. For those unacquainted with France's capital city, bistros are usually family-run restaurants offering simple but tasty dishes that are nutritious and filling. It is not nouvelle cuisine, or rather small portions of food arranged by an interior designer.

Chef Jimmy Jiang (江秉融) sources his menu from Europe and Japan and picked up his fusion style of dining from Canada and New York, where he was trained. Selections include Mediterranean seafood (NT$480), filet mignon wrapped with bacon and black pepper sauce (NT$680) and goose liver risotto (NT$580). Processed foods, thankfully, have been banned and the soups were home made. Pots of stock could be seen boiling away in the open-plan kitchen.

"I would say we are a fusion-style restaurant in terms of ingredients, flavor and not being too heavy, because nowadays the idea is to use less oil and eat healthily," Jiang says. "I add just a little salt and pepper and steer clear of MSG and additives."

Jiang has introduced a few of his signature offerings and his piece de resistance, New Zealand rack of lamb, Provence style (NT$980). It was the final meal for his graduation exams and deserves its place on the finest of dining tables. Eating lamb in Taipei is usually a mistake. Expensive or distinguished restaurants often use cheaper cuts from the shoulder, but not Jiang. He coats the lamb in two kinds of mustard so it has bite but does not overpower the lamb and pairs it with a fillet of beef and vegetables. It's expensive, but it's a winner.

Jack teams Jimmy with Ivy Hong (洪蘭惠), who has been in the Taipei restaurant business for 10 years, after starting out in fashion. It has been a successful decade and Hong now has two bakeries, one Japanese restaurant and three hot pot places. With Jack, she wanted to introduce a new concept in dining, aimed at younger people, especially women.

It looks and feels like a bistro, Taipei-style. In the morning Jack provides pastries and coffee, as well as breakfasts of fruit, yogurt salad and pastry (NT$188). There is also a Paris Metro breakfast with French toast and fresh fruits, plus a Japanese breakfast of mushroom and bacon omelet. The lunch menu has items such as fish of the day (NT$490) and spicy spare ribs with omelet and rice (NT$450). The set menu price includes an unlimited salad bar, choice of soup and dessert. You can't get enough of a good thing and afternoon tea ranges from NT$180 to NT$299 for a set.

Jack is open all day and though there are reservations about the quality of the furnishings it is well set out and the bar area and open kitchen are the best features.

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