Wed, Dec 31, 2008 - Page 14 News List

年度回顧 YEAR IN REVIEW: Restaurants: Best of 2008

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James Kitchen (大隱酒食)

Address: 65 Yongkang St, Taipei City (台北市永康街65號)

Telephone: (02) 2343-2275

Open: Daily from evening until around midnight

Average meal: NT$600

Details: Menu in Chinese, credit cards not accepted

People don’t come to James Kitchen (大隱酒食) merely for its fine Taiwanese cuisine. They come to have a good time with old friends or new companions they meet at the restaurant adorned with a soothingly nostalgic feel — regulars sit on wooden stools, relishing comfort food while listening to old Japanese and Taiwanese ballads.

The menu offers Taiwanese and Hakka classics such as rice with lard (蔥香豬油飯, NT$20), bamboo shoot with pig intestines (鮮筍燒大腸, NT$220) and pork with kumquat sauce (結醬白切肉, NT$175). The kitchen also specializes in fresh fish with strange names, and what’s in stock each day is written on a blackboard.

Friendliness and a homely feel are this establishment’s greatest qualities. Once diners become acquainted with the chefs and the owner, chances are they will never leave the restaurant sober again.

— Ho Yi

Mushroom Park (伯菇園)

Address: 17, Ln 71, Renai Rd Sec 4, Taipei City (台北市仁愛路四段71巷17號); 60, Mingsheng E Rd Sec 5, Taipei City (台北市民生東路五段60號)

Telephone: Renai Rd: (02) 8773-3160; Mingsheng E Rd: (02) 2753-0625

Open: From 11:30am to 2:30pm and 5:30pm to 10:30pm

Average meal: NT$400 to NT$710

Details: Chinese menu; credit cards accepted

On the Net: www.baigu.com.tw

Mushroom Park (伯菇園) is a stand out among Taipei’s ubiquitious hotpot restaurants, with dozens of mushroom varieties available for diners to toss into a boiling pot of fragrant broth.

All items on Mushroom Park’s menu are made without artificial ingredients or preservatives. The VIP set (VIP 套餐,NT$710/NT$630) includes the restaurant’s addictive ice-chilled mushroom “sashimi” appetizer, which is made from the thick, tender stems of king oyster mushrooms (杏鮑菇) and four or five different types of mushrooms (along with beef or chicken) for the hot pot. Your server will introduce each mushroom’s unique flavor and health properties one-by-one -- some can help your blood circulation, while others will supposedly clear your skin or slim you down.

flavorful fat, and served on a bed of stewed peanuts, which soak up the juices well.

— catherine hsu

Witch Cloud (巫雲)

Address: 7, Alley 9, Ln 244, Roosevelt Rd Sec 3, Taipei City (台北 市羅斯福路三段244巷9弄7號)

Telephone: (02) 2369-3906

Open: Daily from noon till late

Average meal: NT$300, including drinks

Details: Chinese menu; credit cards not accepted

After my very first visit, Witch Cloud (巫雲) immediately became one of my favorite dining spots, with its home-cooked Yunnan fare, extensive collection of vinyl records and a unique ambiance that makes this intimate establishment a popular haunt among musicians and artists.

Regulars usually let the chef to decide what goes on the table. From tea salad (涼拌苦茶) and Yunnan papaya chicken (雲南木瓜雞) to pickles fried with pork (醃菜炒肉) and Yunnan pigskin salad (雲南大薄片), the Chinese Province’s strong flavors never fail to delight my taste buds.

Everything is soothingly casual at Witch Cloud, which remains open as long as its long-haired artist owner and his friends decide to hang out. Late diners are welcomed even well after midnight.

— Ho Yi

Toasteria

Address: 2, Ln 248, Zhongxiao E Rd Sec 4, Taipei City (台北市忠孝東路四段248巷2號)

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