Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Dressed Salads has earned a following for their large portions and creative, indulgent toppings. The chain, which already has franchises throughout the US and in Hong Kong, is continuing to expand internationally. Their Taipei store on Anhe Road (安和路) is currently in its soft opening and a sign warns of “limited ingredients,” but almost all of Dressed Salads’ very wide menu (which also includes sandwiches, soups and smoothies) is already available. Dressed Salads’ offerings are pricey (many salads are in the NT$260 to NT$300 range), but the restaurant doesn’t skimp on premium ingredients like cheese or steak.
American-style salad bars where a bowl of raw vegetables is treated as an entree are rare in Taiwan (the Saladay chain, which opened last year, is probably Dressed Salads’ main competitor). Though Dressed Salads has been open for less than two weeks, it is already enjoying brisk business during weekday lunch hours. The simple, modern decor is enough to get you in the mood for some fresh veggies: bright red lampshades look like big, ripe tomatoes, while chairs are the deep green color of fresh spinach.
But Dressed Salads’ dishes aren’t just for health-conscious, calorie-counting, fiber-loving diners. There are plenty of decadent options, including the popular Po’ Boy salad (NT$260), a nod to the company’s roots in the American south. Like its namesake sandwich, it is made with fried chicken and tomatoes as well as red onions and cubes of white cheddar on a bed of romaine lettuce. All ingredients are tossed with a liberal portion of very piquant chipotle aioli. The chicken was slightly dry from being served cold (all of Dressed Salads’ toppings are displayed in its large counter salad bar, while lettuce leaves are chopped to order), but the lashings of dressing made up for that. Though not quite as stick-to-the-ribs satisfying as a real Po’Boy sandwich, the salad made for a tasty and filling meal.
Address: 169, Anhe Rd Sec 2, Taipei City (台北市安和路二段169號)
Telephone: (02) 2733-9393
Open: 11am to 8pm (hours may change after the restaurant’s soft opening)
Average meal: NT$200
Details: English and Chinese menus; credit cards accepted
The menu also features paninis and “artisan sandwiches,” which are served on freshly baked bread. The delicious steak panini (NT$260) features ciabatta bread stacked with grilled steak, portabella mushrooms, blue cheese, arugula and yet more of the chipotle aioli. The fluffy, toasted bread and peppery bite of the arugula leaves kept the rich blue cheese and beef from tasting too heavy.
Most of Dressed Salads’ offerings feature meat or seafood (including shrimp and seared tuna), but vegetarians won’t have to settle for a bowl of plain lettuce. Made with baby spinach as its main ingredient, the Detox Antioxidant salad (NT$290) also has chopped broccoli, sundried tomatoes, red peppers, carrots, sunflower seeds and whole cloves of tender roasted garlic tossed in blueberry-pomegranate vinaigrette. The fruity, tangy dressing is a good complement to the nutty, crunchy toppings.
Dressed Salads is also known for its selection of creative smoothie flavors. Their minted avocado smoothie (NT$100 or NT$130 depending on size) is one of their most popular offerings — and deservedly so. Fresh sprigs of mint are blended with chunks of avocado, vanilla yogurt, milk, a hint of simple syrup and ice cubes. The cool, crisp mint offsets the buttery taste of the avocado, while the yogurt and milk added just enough creaminess to the concoction. The gingered pear smoothie, made from blended pear, fresh ginger, vanilla yogurt, milk and simple syrup is also excellent for a pick-me-up on a hot, muggy afternoon.