Saturday, January 21, 2017

YEN Chinese Restaurant 紫艷中餐廳 (Taipei, TAIWAN) ★★★☆☆

A former colleague of mine, who moved to Taipei a few years ago to be a full-time mom, gave me a short list of her favorite restaurants in the city before we departed for Taipei. There were some really interesting names on her list that instantly caught my eyes including YEN Chinese Restaurant (紫艷中餐廳). Since we would be spending the day around that area anyways, I thought I should take the opportunity to bring my family to this famed Cantonese restaurant at W Taipei for lunch this afternoon.

We arrived a little late and the restaurant has already given our table to another party. But they did find us another table and the hostess re-iterated that it would take a moment to get that table ready for us. In the meantime, we were escorted to the bar and lounge next door where we patiently waited for their green light.

We were surprised to find that the view at the bar was actually better than what's available at the dining room, although that view looked a little sad under the dismal weather.

After a long 15-20 minutes, our table was finally ready and it's about 2PM already. Why was that significant? Stay tuned......

After placing the order, I took some time to check out this highly regarded restaurant starting with their private dining room, which wasn't too private with all the ceiling-to-floor glass walls.

The open kitchen was pretty cool.

Just when we were waiting for our dishes to arrive, our server came back with some bad news for us. The signature dishes including spring rolls with pear, scallop and shrimps (龍皇玉梨香), fried turnip shreds with cheese (藕斷絲連) and baked barbecue pork buns with sugar frost (雪山菠蘿叉燒包) were no longer available. Some of those dishes were already sold out while others, she claimed were unavailable because their dim sum chef was about to leave. This sounded a bit odd for an explanation, especially coming from a 5-star hotel restaurant. It's not even time for our last-order and the chef's already decided it's his time to leave.

But that is internal affair for the restaurant management to handle. I was a bit disappointed not to be able to order a good portion of the dim sum menu; however, I didn't want to let that affect my mood for the remainder of this meal. So I just politely told her to give us a list of items which were no longer available and that would be the end of that.

After this really weird conversation, we added a few more dim sum (which I ended up forgetting to take pictures of) and all of them managed to arrive before we passed out.

Signature honey-glazed barbecue pork (招牌蜜汁叉燒) (NT580) - There are two things I look for in a nice piece of char siu. The right amount of fat and a wonderfully crisp char. Sadly, both of those were nowhere to be found from this signature honey-glazed BBQ pork.

This was very very sweet and that's about all I could remember. For a signature dish, I was expecting a lot more than that.

Formosa mushroom dumplings (寶島野菌餃) (NT180) - That was very nice. Sometimes in Hong Kong, restaurants tend to chop the assorted mushrooms a little too fine but it's not the case here at all. The bite was perfect.

Steamed rice rolls with black truffle and scallop (黑松露干貝腸粉) (NT380) - I like the fact that they have already organized the rice rolls into smaller pieces so we didn't have to cut it ourselves. The dash of black truffle, I thought, was subtle and not overpowering which was exactly the way I like it.

Fried rice with diced chicken and octopus in abalone sauce (鮑汁章魚雞粒飯) (NT650) - This was very nice. The rice was moist and flavorful. Love it.

Puff pastry with papaya and custard (奶皇木瓜千層酥) (NT180) - At around 2:30PM, our server came back to see if we wanted to add any dim sum before last-order. I teased her a bit by telling her that we wanted this puff pastry with papaya and custard but was wondering if the pastry chef was still around. She was caught speechless for a moment because even she wasn't sure if the item was "sold out" or not. So she promised to check with the kitchen staff and came back to her shortly.

To my pleasant surprise, their signature pastry dessert was still available. But this was quite disappointing though. The puff pastry was flaky but not nearly flaky enough while the custard was way too light (and bland).

This is a really hip Chinese restaurant and the vibe was quite astounding but unfortunately, they didn't have a nearly impressive enough menu to match it. And to make things worse, I thought the attention to details was a bit appalling for a restaurant of its statue (ie. making us wait at the bar for 15-20 minutes without coming over to check on us and give us updates, most of the signature dim sums sold out way before last-order etc.).

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$$
Address: 31/F W Taipei, 10 Zhongxiao East Road, Sec. 5, Xinyi District, Taipei, Taiwan
Closest Metro Station: City Hall
Tel: +886 2-7703-8887

Post a Comment

Please tell us what you think