Amuse Bouche

Renaissance (TransAsia magazine)

October 2013

Culinary trends come and go in Taipei, but one craze that looks to be here to stay is food – and restaurants – with a dash of quirkiness. Writes Tatyana Leonov

At first glance, the five-floor eatery on the grounds of the National Palace Museum doesn’t look as if it fits the quirky-cool bill. Striking furnishings and a mahogany-ebony-crème color scheme define the interior space at Silks Palace. But order the nine-course imperial treasures feast and you’ll soon be digging in to dishes much like those highlighted in the National Palace Museum’s collections.

The jadeite cabbage with insects is artfully created from bok choy sum – not to worry, though, the “insects” in the updated dish are just tiny shrimp. Visually, all nine dishes are exceedingly impressive. The meat-shaped stone, made from intricately carved dongpo pork knuckle, and white jade branch of elegant lychee – the apple bitter melon used for the jade looks too real to eat – seem especially authentic and taste great, too.

Elsewhere, Five Dime Driftwood House all but embodies eccentricity. Designed by artist Hsieh Li-shiang, its elaborate, one-of-a-kind exterior is almost Gaudi-like in its appearance. As the name suggests, the restaurant was built primarily of driftwood and incorporates two outlandish sculptures of Aboriginal dancers, which tend to leave passers-by gawking in awe. The interior is just as eye-popping, with works of art displayed throughout. Though the food isn’t likely to win any culinary awards, Five Dime Driftwood House is worth a visit simply to bask in the arty ambience.

If it’s feasts for both the taste buds and the eyes you’re after, head to one of the two Modern Toilet Restaurants in Taipei. Seats here are, in fact, glorified bathroom thrones, meals are served in dishes resembling mini toilets, basins and baths and – for a modest premium – drinks arrive in plastic urinal-shaped containers. The chocolate and vanilla ice cream for dessert is served in a mini squat toilet – and looks just like... well, we won’t spoil it for you.;;

Helly Kitty Sweets

If you prefer tutus to toilets, Hello Kitty Sweets is ever so cute – lots of pink and white, plenty of bows, and a sweets menu that will entice even the most hardcore dieter.

Barbie Café

The world’s only Mattel-licensed Barbie Café is outrageously girly. Open since January, it has quickly become a hit with novelty-seekers. Be prepared for oodles of pink!

A380 Sky Kitchen

Love in-flight dining but don’t want to leave the ground? Select your seat – economy or business-class - and choose from dishes that go well beyond the standard beef-orchicken options.