Fri, Jul 31, 2009 - Page 15 News List

RESTAURANTS : Alohas Restaurant (Alohas 野草餐廳)

By Ian Bartholomew  /  STAFF REPORTER


The Lohas movement, short for “lifestyles of health and sustainability,” continues to generate plenty of interest among increasingly health-conscious Taiwanese, and has sparked the establishment of many restaurants providing healthy eats. Alohas, a relatively new arrival on the scene, sets off on the right foot with its airy and well-lit interior, giving it immediate appeal.

This is just as well, as the menu itself doesn’t at first sight look particularly interesting or innovative, but having settled down comfortably at one of the tables around the spacious and immaculately clean open-plan kitchen, the atmosphere disposed one to be optimistic about the gratin vegetables and rice (NT$220) and the French lamb stew and cheese with rice (法式起司燉羊肩飯, NT$260), two of 10 set menus on offer.

The bread basket arrived with thick slices of the restaurant’s flax seed and rice bread (亞麻籽米麵包), which was not only unusual, but also extremely tasty. A large loaf of this bread goes for NT$350 from Alohas’ bakery, which also sports a range of other interesting breads using unusual or unprocessed grains. Staff were clearly motivated, and were happy to answer questions about the food on offer.

Given that the price of Alohas’ set menus includes bread, salad and a drink, the portions are quite generous. And while Alohas is not breaking any new ground in either flavor or presentation, the food is tasty without being either oily or salty. The meat of the lamb stew was tender, though the sauce was a tad one-dimensional. The vegetables were crisp, and the rice, into which flax seed had been mixed, had the virtue of novelty. The vegetables with rice was a brightly colored mix of fresh vegetables over Alohas’ flax seed rice in a tasty sauce that still allowed individual flavors to stand out. The topping of melted mozzarella cheese on both the lamb and vegetables was not particularly inspired from either an aesthetic or gastronomic perspective, an ill-considered attempt to add a recognizably European signature touch that, while emanating from a Western tradition, had made many concessions to Taiwanese taste. As with the flax seed rice, this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Alohas Restaurant (Alohas 野草餐廳)

Address: 3, Ln 138, Yanji St, Taipei City (台北市延吉街138巷3號)

Telephone: (02) 8771-5430

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

Average Meal: NT$350

Details: English menu; credit cards accepted

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The menu has been given plenty of thought, with a nice balance between the different courses. The cold green tea that is available as part of the set menu is particularly excellent. The coffee was above average. A wide range of herbal teas (NT$80 to NT$100) are also on offer.

Apart from bread, the bakery also produces a number of sweets. The ubiquitous panna cotta (NT$80), which has become the dessert of choice for lost-cost Western set menus, was in this case distinguished by the presence of real vanilla, and a yogurt cheesecake was deliciously light, with a hint of sourness that raised it above the usual coffee shop fare.

If you take the menu items at face value and walk in expecting authentic Western bistro food, you are going to be disappointed. Making allowances for Alohas’ priority on healthy food over authenticity, and taking into account its price point, this restaurant offers up a very enjoyable dinning experience and some delightful surprises.

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