Year in Review: Restaurants

By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Dec 28, 2017 - Page 13

Ja Ho (傢伙)

Address: 237, Bade Rd Sec 3, Taipei City (台北市八德路三段237號)

Telephone: (02) 2578-8738

Open: Daily from 11:30am to 9pm

Average meal: NT$60 to NT$120

Details: Menu in Chinese, cash only, no service charge

On the net: www.facebook.com/jahofood

Ja Ho recreates a traditional Taiwanese noodle shop in a setting that is artful and contemporary. I was initially skeptical about the portions as NT$50 to NT$120 for noodles in a setting this chic seemed dubious, but turns out I was wrong. The “Taichi Two Sauce Noodles” (家伙太極雙醬麵) for NT$60 consists of dry noodles mixed with a green scallion-based sauce and a mild chili sauce, both of which are made in-house. It comes with with thinly-sliced pork which is delicate and tender, with crunchy bok choy to balance the texture. The “Taichi Noodles” (家伙太極麵) for NT$120 is similar, but served with generous slices of circular-cut pork fillet that’s normally found in Japanese ramen. The main dishes are complemented with refreshing side dishes such as chilled cucumber (NT$40) and Taiwanese-style braised egg, dried tofu and seaweed (NT$60). The drinks lean toward the traditional side, featuring items such as winter melon tea (NT$30) and cold Jinxuan tea (NT$40). A new location has since opened in Daan District.

GOHAN (御飯食事處)

Address: 18, Ln 137, Yanji St, Taipei City (台北市延吉街137巷18號)

Telephone: (02) 2778-9539

Open: Tuesday to Sunday from 11:30 am to 2pm, 5:30pm to 9pm

Average meal: NT$250 to NT$450

Details: Menu in English and Chinese, credit cards accepted

On the net: Search for GOHAN (御飯食事處) on Facebook

They say presentation matters, and this family-run eatery’s bright and simple wooden facade stands out among the clutter in a narrow East District alley lined with eateries. Right by the entrance are displays of various types of rice — and as gohan literally means rice in Japanese, it is the star of the restaurant. The Japanese-style set meals, which include beef stew (NT$330) and sirloin with Japanese onion sauce (NT$450), are light, subtle yet hearty, with a variety of flavors and textures that complement the rice. The sets contain six separate portions: rice, meat, vegetables, soup, pickled vegetables and stewed vegetables. The elegant arrangements on the tray are aesthetically pleasing, and the fragrance of the rice is immediately apparent. Everything is subtly flavored so as not to overpower the rice, and each element brings a unique texture and taste that enhances the flavors of the rice in different ways. The best part is that nothing is greasy, leaving a very happy stomach after the meal.

Mama Inca (印加媽媽)

Address: 1-1, Ln 31, Ruian St, Taipei City (台北市瑞安街31巷1-1號)

Telephone: (02) 2709-2832

Open: Tuesday to Friday from noon to 2pm and 5:30pm to 9pm, Saturday and Sunday from noon to 2:30pm and 5:30pm to 9pm

Average meal: NT$500

Details: Menu in English and Chinese, cash only

On the Net: www.facebook.com/mamainca.taiwan

I’ve returned to this eatery at least four times after writing the initial review, mostly for the ceviche (varies by market price, we paid NT$430), a mouth-watering, tangy cured raw fish dish that can be found in different varieties throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The restaurant is run by a Peruvian and Taiwanese couple who met in Cusco, with the Peruvian husband in charge of the cooking. Their version of lomo saltado (NT$320), invented by Chinese immigrants at the turn of the 20th century, consists of stir-fried beef in a soy-and-vinegar based sauce with onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and french fries. The most satisfying part surprisingly was the french fries, which retained their crispness despite soaking in the sauce. Aji de gallina (NT$350), shredded chicken with sauce made with peppers, walnuts and milk, is also worth ordering. Also available is a variety of Peruvian beverages, including national soft drink Inca Cola (NT$150) and chicha morada (NT$120), a purple corn concoction.