Taipei has no shortage of fancy venues serving American-style classics. But if you crave a simple hot sandwich or a stack of French toast dripping with honey at a neighborhood eatery, Hey Rhea is an adequate choice with its small, solid menu featuring honest omelets, sandwiches and milk shakes.
There are no exotic ingredients or tofu burgers at Hey Rhea. Instead, expect something like French toast with caramel banana (NT$100 and NT$160). When the gigantic plate arrives, even the most committed of dieters is likely to surrender to the golden, buttery French toast smothered in warm caramel sauce and plenty of sweet banana and the generous scoop of whipped cream on the side. The restaurant’s rendition is as stomach-filling and heart-warming as the dish can get and, in my opinion, is much superior
to versions served with icing sugar and bland syrup often found at the city’s abundant brunch establishments.
In the same vein, the Hey Rhea! grilled sandwich (NT$160) successfully satisfied my munchies for a hot, wholesome sandwich packed with chicken, bacon, tomato, mushroom, onion and melted cheese. The dab of wasabi that the chef recommended gave a nice punch to the succulent filling.
On a separate visit, with a different chef in the kitchen, one of my brunch companions ordered the pizza bagel (NT$100 and NT$190). But the grilled lumps of ham, bacon, mushroom, pineapple, onions and cheese on top of two halves of a plain bagel looked dull and tasted dry and unexciting. The burrito de pollo (NT$180) I had on the same morning was also disappointing. The whole thing was bland, though the accompanying salsa and tortilla chips (available as a separate dish for NT$60) were fairly spicy and crispy, as they should be.
Address: 186 Zhuangjing Rd, Taipei City (台北市莊敬路186號)
Telephone: (02) 8780-5453
Open: Daily from 10am to 11pm
Average meal: NT$200
Details: Menu in English and Chinese, credit cards not accepted
Items for calorie-conscious diners include yogurt fruit granola (NT$130) with orange, banana, apple, dried cranberry and raisin and the Hey Rhea! walking salad (NT$160) with chicken breast meat. From the “healthy” drinks selection, the eatery’s smoothie (NT$160) is a rich, saccharine blend of yogurt, banana, blueberries and orange juice.
The restaurant also offers a selection of toast, bagels and croissants with filling options including egg, tomato, ham, bacon, strawberry and peanut butter, cream cheese, chocolate and banana. Both the omelet and sandwich sections contain vegetarian options.
Hey Rhea is located across the street from the Xinyi Public Assembly Hall (信義公民會館), a former military dependents’ village that has turned into a trendy hot spot thanks to Good Cho’s (好丘), a combination cafe, gallery and store. If you grow weary of the big brunch crowd at Good Cho’s, you know where to look.
But be warned: The eatery’s entrance is easy to miss. Look for a small establishment in which Japanese animated films are projected onto the wall and rock music is piped in nonstop.