Fri, Dec 04, 2009 - Page 14 News List

RESTAURANTS : Insomnia 睡不著

By Catherine Shu  /  STAFF REPORTER


Open until 2am at weekends and filled with moodily lit nooks, Insomnia’s (睡不著) name is fitting in more ways than one. Digital 3D art hung in the front gives the eerie feeling that the glassy-eyed mannequins within are going to jump out at you; a gigantic wooden rocking horse, soft jazz music and a sleek black dog who slinks quietly among the tables adds to the cafe’s sleepy and dream-like ambiance.

Insomnia’s meals are distinctly more down to earth, however. The homey selection of international comfort foods includes kong-pao chicken (宮保雞丁, NT$250), Silician meatballs (西西里丸子, NT$230), Chinese beef stew (紅燒牛腩, NT$250) and Java curry chicken (爪哇咖哩雞, NT$230). The portions are slender for the relatively steep price tags, but Insomnia takes great care with the presentation of each meal. Carrot, cucumber and celery crudites are arranged like flowers among cubes of ice in a small glass tumbler and served alongside a dish filled with smooth, sweet honey mustard dipping sauce. Rice is molded into a round pat and topped with black sesame seeds, while the main course is contained in a separate bowl.

The piquant, tender kong-pao chicken is the best of the bunch and stir-fried with plenty of chili peppers and crunchy peanuts. Other dishes are less memorable. The tomato sauce coating the Sicilian meatballs was satisfyingly savory and chunky, but the meatballs themselves were filled with chewy bits of gristle, which added some unexpected texture. The quality of the meat in the Chinese beef stew was much better and complemented by tender cubes of daikon. My dining companion had the Java curry chicken and thought the quality of the dish was mediocre, though I did not mind the sweetness of the sauce.

Insomnia 睡不著

Address: 13, Ln 93, Shida Rd, Taipei City (台北市師大路93巷13號)Telephone: (02) 2364-0002

Open: Noon to 12am, closes at 2am on Fridays and Saturdays On the Net:

Average meal: Most meals range from NT$150 to NT$280, non-alcoholic drinks are about NT$100 to NT$180 Details: Chinese and English menu; credit cards not accepted

Sandwiches for NT$150 to NT$160 are also available for more budget-conscious diners. The black pepper beef sandwich (黑胡椒牛肉, NT$150) consists of meat, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and slices of American cheese on soft white baguette slices. The black pepper beef added enough kick to the sandwich to keep it from being bland, despite the presence of the American cheese. Sandwiches are served with a large mound of nacho cheese chips, an unhealthy but welcome touch.

Insomnia has an extensive drink menu, including Glenfiddich, Macallan and Glenmorangie whiskeys, as well as classic staples Jim Bean and Jack Daniels (prices range from NT$180 to NT$950 per glass, or NT$1,500 to NT$11,000 per bottle, with the most expensive being Glenfiddich 30Y). Cocktails, imported beers, liqueurs, coffee drinks and a very good, non-alcoholic iced peppermint chocolate (薄荷可可, NT$180) are also available.

Insomnia’s food and drink may be on the pricey side, but the ambiance and wide tables make it an excellent study location for students or out-of-office workers. Bookshelves filled with Chinese, English and Japanese titles provide excellent procrastination tools, as does playtime with the cafe’s friendly Formosan mountain dog, Hei Hei (黑黑).

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