Mon, Dec 31, 2012 - Page 11 News List

YEAR IN REVIEW: Restaurants

Top restaurants of 2012

By Ian Bartholomew and Ho Yi  /  Staff reporters

Your Kitchen 宅食法式廚房

Address: 8, Ln 53, Zhongshan N Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市中山北路一段53巷8號)

Telephone: (02) 2567-2633

Average meal: NT$1,180 plus 10 percent service charge

Open: Tuesday to Sunday from 12pm to 3pm and 6:30pm to 10pm

The French restaurant wins accolades with its cozy ambiance, professional and amicable service and a set menu that exhibits a fine level of thoughtfulness.

Tucked away in a quiet alley between Zhongshan North Road and Tianjin Street (天津街) in Taipei, the spacious restaurant is stylish — a chic palette of black, white and gray is gently offset by the warmth of wood and soft lighting — and comfortable.

The sometimes curt manner often associated with French restaurants is nowhere to be found at Your Kitchen. Instead, the atmosphere is a mix of neighborliness and charm. Next to the entrance, several young cooks in the spotless open kitchen work on a six-course set menu (NT$1,180 plus 10 percent service charge per person) that changes on a monthly basis.

The focus was on seafood during the month I visited. My favorite course of the evening was the pan-roasted fish with clam and saffron sauce. The visually inviting and colorful dish features bites of finely textured deep-sea grouper served with red bell pepper and a creamy clam sauce that owes much of its delightful flavor to the addition of saffron.

Because the restaurant has a limited number of seats, making a reservation on the weekend is a necessity. Your Kitchen’s menu can be found on the restaurant’s Web site: www.yourkitchen.com.tw.

Le Bouchon Aux Vins 塞子小酒館

Address: 129, Jiaxing St, Taipei City (台北市嘉興街129號)

Telephone: (02) 2732-9987

Average meal: NT$1,000

Open: Wednesdays to Sundays from 11:30am to 2pm and 5:30pm to 10:30pm; Tuesdays from 5:30pm to 10:30pm

Opened in July in a quiet alley off the busy, congested Keelung Road (基隆路), Le Bouchon Aux Vins has deservedly enjoyed a base of clientele attracted to its short but gratifying menu of French country cooking that is also reasonably priced.

As in most of the city’s tinier dining establishments, the seating area is small and can be crowded when the restaurant is full. Diners who opt for space to maneuver can sit at the L-shaped bar around the open kitchen where the chef and his assistants serve hearty, rustic dishes said to come from France’s culinary regions such as Lyon and Normandy.

Items on the starter menu include tomate farcis (NT$150), or stuffed tomato with ground pork, and French Gillardeau oysters (NT$400 for two or NT$220 each). The restaurant’s risotto served with soft-shell crab (NT$480) is among the best risotto I have had in Taipei. Lusciously thick and creamy, the risotto showed off a rich mixture of flavors and textures, with diced cubes of zucchini and baby corn a worthy accompaniment to the fried shellfish. The rice was also cooked to al dente perfection.

Though the food is rustic and the ambiance casual, Le Bouchon takes the idea of service seriously. Our plates were promptly whisked away when emptied, and we never waited more than a few minutes before the next dish arrived.

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