Imbiss bills itself as a healthy multi-ethnic eatery. The introductory blurb on its Web site states that the MSG- and trans fats-free restaurant was named after the German word meaning light meal and is associated with inexpensive food served in a casual atmosphere. As its moniker implies, the food is mainly German-inspired, though it also lists dishes brought to that country by Turkish, French and Greek immigrants.
Located just off Xinhai Road across the street from exit No. 2 of the Taipower Building MRT Station (台電大樓捷運站), the facade’s malachite green doors stand out among the surrounding drab gray buildings. Walls painted in hues of orange and cadmium yellow give the open dining area a warm feeling, though this clashes somewhat with the painted green wood finishings. Rounding out this odd palette are the deep brown chairs and tables topped with peacock blue cups.
Some of the food combinations such as the German curry and French fries (NT$230 and NT$280) are even more bizarre. In keeping with the restaurant’s cross-cultural ethos, I decided on the Imbiss special: Greek-style gyros (lamb or pork) topped with tzaziki sauce, a bratwurst sausage, two organic eggs and Turkish bread (NT$300). It came as a set meal with an appetizer of homemade soup (there are also salad choices) and two varieties of pickles, cake and bottomless coffee or tea.
Moments after I ordered, the server returned with my soup and a small white dish with the “pickles.” Before the appetizer arrived, I tried to picture the pickles’ appearance. Would they be large and fat or small and thin? Would they be dill or garlic or, perhaps, both? I must have been showing my cultural insensitivity because what was presented were a few cherry tomatoes sliced in half on one side of the plate and the cut-up flesh of an orange on the other.
The flavor of the tomatoes resembled that of a tangy salsa and the oranges were prepared with lime rind slivers and cracked pepper. The soup was a simple homemade tomato broth with onions, carrots and corn, uplifted by flakes of tarragon and needles of dried rosemary.
I hadn’t scooped more than two spoonfuls of the yummy soup into my mouth when, somewhat suspiciously, the main course arrived. I poked at it with my finger to make sure it was warm, which it was. The portions of pork were moist, infused with the taste of rosemary and well complemented by the yogurt and dill tzaziki — though more of the latter could have been provided. The bratwurst was unremarkable, though it did go well with the warm, home-baked flatbread. Only one of the two eggs arrived, which was fine because, as with the sauerkraut, I left most of it on the plate.
One of the draws to Imbiss will surely be its mugs of Warsteiner draft beer (NT$120), which the establishment claims are the cheapest in town.
Address: 3, Ln 34, Xinhai Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市辛亥路一段34巷3號)
Telephone: (02) 2362-0611
Open: Mondays to Fridays 11:30am to 3pm and 5pm to 10pm (11pm on Fridays); Saturdays and Sundays 11:30am to 11pm
Average meal: NT$250
Details: Chinese and English menu; credit cards not accepted
On the Net: www.wretch.cc/blog/imbiss
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