Telephone: (03) 361-2425
Open: Daily from 11am to 2pm, 5pm to 9pm
Average meal: NT$400
Details: Chinese picture menu, credit cards accepted
The 7Yunnan (七彩雲南) chain is operated by a woman from a Chinese minority group and serves the diverse cuisine of her native Yunnan province at five locations in Taoyuan County.
7Yunnan has a few dishes similar to Sichuan food: firecracker-colored soups, meats showered with peppercorns that range from spirited to incendiary. There are also dishes that are sweet and sour, or intensely salty and savory, in the way of the better-known Vietnamese or Thai cuisines.
The butter-battered soft-shell crab (奶香黃薑蟹, NT$250) has Thai influences and came highly recommended by the server. This dish — steaming, flavorful and very tender chunks of crab — is very magical, though it’s also a shock of trans fats that could delete two days from your life expectancy. It consists of roughly chopped soft-shell crabs that are encrusted in a deep-fried spiced batter and topped with crispy fried basil.
7Yunnan also serves foods native to the large population of minority peoples in Yunnan. The squid cold plate (傣味拌花枝, NT$180), borrowed from the Dai people, arrives looking like an inexpert onion-rich stir fry, though in reality it’s pretty thoughtfully composed. The sharpness has been drawn out of the onion with a vinegar marinade, and the onion combines with the celery and baby tomatoes to create a sweetly tart punch. The squid is springy, but with a flatlining saltiness on its own. When that’s eaten with a bit of the vegetable haystack, nearly all the flavors are there, in a funky, refreshing dish that’s a lot like ceviche.
Address: 8, Ln 14, Siwei Rd, Taipei (台北市四維路14巷8號)
Telephone: (02) 2701-6000
Open: Tuesday to Sunday from 6pm to midnight
Average meal: NT$700 to NT$900
Details: Menu in English and Chinese, credit cards accepted
ABritish creation that weds a bar with a restaurant, the concept of the gastropub has officially taken root in Taipei with the arrival of Eieio Gastropub, a tastefully decorated drinking and dining establishment.
With vintage furniture and an interior in warm tones of gray and wooden brown, the gastropub has a chic, refined atmosphere, but is devoid of the snobbish ambience of the city’s many fancy lounge bars where you feel underdressed in plain jeans.
As for the food, Eieio elevates pub grub to the level of fine dining and adds a decidedly American accent to its offerings. For example, the establishment’s signature fried chicken (香草炸雞, NT$460) is a world apart from the common bar snack. Marinated in buttermilk and brine, the meat is said to first go through the preparation of sous-vide — a cooking method that seals food in a plastic bag in a water bath for long hours — before it’s deep-fried. As a result, the meat is much juicier and tender, while the skin remains delightfully crispy. It’s accompanied by grilled lemon and roasted garlic. Equally impressive, the grand cru burger (Eieio 漢堡, NT$480) is formed with an eight oz patty of ground prime beef and spiced up with caramelized onion and arugula.
The young waitstaff is adept at helping patrons pick out alcoholic potions from the extensive drink menu, which is composed of high-end beer (NT$220 to NT$650 per bottle) and red and white wine (NT$180 to NT$360 by the glass, NT$900 to NT$2,950 by the bottle) as well as a long list of spirits.