Sat, Aug 15, 2015 - Page 12 News List

Restaurant review: Nola Kitchen 紐澳良小廚

By Dana Ter  /  Staff reporter

The gumbo, a traditional New Orleans-style stew, was neither too thick nor too watery, while the sausage and seafood absorbed all of the stew’s flavorful, herbal goodness.

Dana Ter, Taipei Times

Apologizing for my tardiness, I plopped myself down at our table by the window overlooking the foothill leading up to Elephant Mountain (象山). Flushed from being out in the scorching heat, I paused for a moment to catch my breath before complimenting my friend on his choice of wardrobe. It was then that we realized that our outfits — my breezy white top and flower-print skirt, and his ribbed turquoise-colored tank top and straw hat — matched the restaurant’s laidback New Orleans summer vibe.

The walls of Nola Kitchen (紐澳良小廚) are adorned with vintage record covers, while the windows peek out onto Zhongqiang Park (中強公園). The open plan of the kitchen creates a shared sense of space, giving diners a homey feel. Even the waiters and waitresses don striped shirts and straw hats to fit the nautical theme.

Nola Kitchen serves Creole food, a type of cuisine native to the southern US — notably Louisiana — that has a rich, centuries-old culinary history that encompasses influences from French, Spanish and West African styles of cooking. Using the best ingredients at hand — mostly seafood and spices — it’s known for being thick, runny and soul-satisfying. Despite a couple of criticisms in the cheese and salad department, Nola Kitchen does a good job at replicating the cuisine, down to the runniness of their stews. Either that, or I’m just a Yankee who doesn’t know how to be haughty when it comes to defending the authenticity of Southern cuisine.

The mozzarella sticks (NT$180) were the biggest letdown as there was hardly any cheese. You can’t serve a classic heart attack-inducing American appetizer and neglect the most important ingredient. The epitome of the mozzarella stick is cheese that when bit into, elongates into a perfectly stringy mess. Nola Kitchen’s mozzarella sticks deprived me of this pleasure. Not only was the cheese barely discernible, but the deep-fried outer layer was too peppery and crunchy.

Nola Kitchen 紐澳良小廚

Address:16, Alley 14, Ln 150, Xinyi Rd Sec 5, Taipei City

(台北市信義路五段150巷14弄16號)

Telephone:(02) 2722-7662

Open:Mondays to Thursdays from 11:30am to 10pm, Fridays from 11:30am to 11pm, Saturdays from 9am to 11pm, Sundays from 9am to 10pm

Average meal:NT$300 to NT$600

Details:Menu in Chinese and English, cash only

On the net:www.facebook.com/NolaKitchenTW


The seafood, chicken and sausage gumbo (NT$360) is everything a gumbo should be — the stew is neither too thick nor too watery, and the chicken, sausage, squid, clams and mussels absorbed all of its flavorful, herbal goodness. The rice, which is soaked beneath the surface of the stew, has a grainy but moist texture that pairs well with all the other components of the dish. My favorite ingredient was the sausage, which was salty and succulent. The sliver of baguette for dipping was a nice added touch. But they could have been more generous with the shrimp — there was only one. I also personally prefer my gumbos to have a spicier kick.

The chicken and waffles (NT$340) is another dish that I recommend. You can eat the chicken and waffle separately, alternating between them, or combine them as I did into a sinful sandwich. After many failed attempts at finding decent waffles — almost everything I tried was fluffy with an odd texture that makes it feel like you’re eating an air mattress — I was pleased by the softness and bready texture of Nola’s interpretation. The chicken is encased with a crisp, peppery skin and is tender on the inside. While I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, a dollop of syrup really brings out the flavors of both the chicken and waffle, making the dish feel like a combination of dessert and main all at once.

While the gumbo and chicken and waffles receives two thumbs up, what I don’t understand is the small helping of salad or vegetables that comes with every dish. Presentation-wise, it looks completely out of place. Cucumbers and Southern cuisine just don’t sync. Perhaps it’s a feeble attempt on the restaurant’s part to dupe customers into thinking that what they’re putting into their systems isn’t totally unhealthy. But if I’m going all out, then I’m going all out.

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