Sat, Dec 31, 2011 - Page 16 News List

The year in review: Best restaurants

Staff Reporters

Photo: Noah Buchan, Taipei Times

Amore Pizza

Address: 215, Xinhai Rd Sec 2, Taipei City (台北市辛亥路二段215號)

Telephone:

(02) 2738-4969

Open:

Daily from 11am to 9pm

“Best Stromboli you ever have!” reads the catchy heading of Amore Pizzeria’s menu. I’d never before eaten a stromboli, but after one bite of the fragrant, moist and meaty concoction, I was hooked.

Stromboli is a turnover pizza similar to a calzone, but its dough is thicker and the filling is made with mozzarella instead of ricotta. The base is a vegetarian combination of onion, green pepper, tomato sauce and cheese, to which I added pepperoni and sausage (NT$320). Generous slices of slightly spicy pepperoni and peppery sausage were evenly placed throughout the inside, so every bite contained a meaty morsel.

Owner James Chen (陳建堂) uses extra virgin olive oil in his dough (which he blesses, Catholic style, before quartering it off and rolling it up) and in his Caesar salad dressing, which had a rich anchovy and caper finish. He makes the sausage, meatballs and pasta sauces himself from scratch.

— Noah Buchan

Chintai (金泰食堂)

Address: 34, Ln 121, Jiuzhong Rd Sec 2, Taipei City (台北市舊宗路二段121巷34號)

Telephone: (02) 8792-8167

Open: Tuesday to Friday from 11:30am to 3pm and 4:30pm to 9pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 9pm. Closed Mondays

If location is the key to success in the restaurant business, then Chintai (金泰食堂), situated in the no man’s land between the Sun Yat-sen Freeway (中山高速公路) and Tiding Boulevard (堤頂大道) in Neihu, should have closed down long ago. As it is, it is virtually impossible to get a seat without queuing, and the restaurant’s signature dish, ultimate seafood on rice (無敵蓋飯), priced at NT$630, has become something of a holy grail for fans of seafood.

Chintai is not cheap, but its portions are generous, even verging on the lavish. Having seen pictures of the imposing pile of seafood that made up the ultimate seafood on rice, I opted for the wimp’s version, the regular seafood on rice (海鮮蓋飯, NT$420), which still managed to blow me away with its ostentatiously large and varied topping of various types of sashimi.

Though the most popular dish, the mixed fish on rice is far from being the only option on what is a very extensive menu. The grilled cod is highly recommended. This is a luscious piece of fish that could barely be recognized as any relation to the usual desiccated teppanyaki version.

The restaurant’s interior has the appearance of a diner with pretensions. At the back, a huge glass display case contains raw fish, and resembles something you might find in a fishmongers.

— Ian Bartholomew

DN Innovacion

Address: 93 Songren Rd, Taipei City (台北市松仁路93號)

Telephone: (02) 8780-1155

Open: Lunch is served from noon to 2pm and dinner from 6pm to 10pm

Since chef Daniel Negreira opened DN Innovacion in October 2010, the restaurant has consistently earned kudos for its deft application of molecular gastronomy techniques to traditional Spanish cuisine.

Negreira’s resume includes a stint at El Bulli, the restaurant in Catalonia that is regarded as a pioneer in molecular gastronomy. His innovative dishes delight both the eye and palate. Highlights from DN Innovacion’s menu this past year include Kumamoto sea urchin topped with “snow” made from Greek yogurt, and Iberian suckling pig roasted at a low temperature to lock all the juices into the meat.

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