[Taipei] After being in operation for 7 years, Cantonese restaurant Le Palais 君品酒店- 頤宮中餐廳 was awarded 3 Michelin Stars in both the inaugural Michelin Guide Taiwan 2018 and in 2019.
Out of more than 130 restaurants in the guide, it holds the distinction of being the only one achieving the highest rating possible.
Despite its French name, which literally translates to “The Palace”, the restaurant serves mostly fine Cantonese banquet cuisine using high quality, seasonal ingredients.
All cookware and sauces used on the Cantonese side are from Hong Kong, but all the fresh ingredients are grown locally.
Helming the kitchen are culinary master chefs duo of Executive Chef Matt Chen (陳泰榮) and Head Chef Ken Chan (陳偉強). Chef Matt Chen moved to Taiwan from Macau nearly 20 years ago, while Chef Ken Chan moved from Hong Kong three decades ago and became Head Chef in 2010.
Located on the 17th floor of the Palais de Chine Hotel (君品酒店) central Taipei’s Datong district – a short walk from Taipei Main Station (台北車站), Le Palais epitomizes the same elegance the hotel reflects.
As one of the top 25 luxury hotels in Taiwan, Palais de Chine Hotel speaks utmost class worthy of housing a 3-Michelin-starred restaurant.
The dining room is lavish-but-smart decorated and designed to impress, with its brass and golds, dark steel and mirror ceilings.
Despite its opulent ambiance with traditional touches of oriental ceramic art, calligraphy and Chinese paintings, the place feels chic and modern.
Each elegant table is set in its own special screened off area. The beautiful table setting is a preview of the fine cuisine that will grace it.
Le Palais’ A La Carte Menu offers Dim Sum, Chef’s Specials, Abalone and Edible Bird’s Nests, Cantonese Barbecue, Soup, Seafood, Meat, Vegetables & Tofu, Fried Rice & Noodles, and Desserts.
Start off with the pretty pleated Palais de Chine Steamed King Prawn Dumplings (NT$480, SGD21 for 3 pieces) a.k.a. Har Gao, with naturally sweet lightly-cooked prawns encased in a thin, delicate translucent skin.
The waitress highly recommended the Steamed Rice Rolls with Shrimp and Chinese Doughnuts (NT$480, SGD21).
When it arrived, it looked similar to a ”zha leong” except that there were shrimps within the fried dough sticks.
Pardon the cliché, but this was indeed an explosion of both flavours and texture – from the succulent shrimps in the middle, crispy youtiao on the outside, wrapped around with silky smooth rice rolls.
Technically very difficult to prepare.
I was also enticed by the Baked Barbecue Pork Bun, but hesitated due to the price tag. It was NT$300 (SGD13.20) for one piece.
13 bucks. It looked similar to Tim Ho Wan’s, but probably 10 time its price.
Suddenly, I felt guilty being too extravagant.
Life is short, and so we went for it. To be honest, no regrets at all. The best Baked Char Siew Bao I ever had.
It was the contrast between the hot, piping crisp layer and the moist saucy fillings and sweet char siew that was thoroughly enticing.
There are a couple of La Palais signature dishes that need to be pre-ordered – the Cantonese Style Crispy Roast Duck Course, Crispy Roasted Baby Duck, Barbecue Pork, and Crispy Deep-Fried Chicken.
The Cantonese Style Crispy Roast Duck Course (NT$3,980, SGD175 whole) is recommended for 8-10 people.
The duck, sourced from Yilan Xiaobei, Taiwan, weighs an ideal 3.5kg for that optimum fat-meat ratio. Sliced into pieces, wrapped in a lotus leaf with mozzarella cheese, romaine lettuce and osmanthus sauce.
The Crispy Roast Baby Duck (NT$2,580, SGD114 whole) is a smaller (600g) 28-day old duck,meant for 4-6 people.
Also sourced from Yilan Xiaobei, the baby duck is stuffed with a variety of Chinese herbal medicines and marinated for 2 days. It’s then roasted in a traditional Chinese roasting oven for about 40 minutes, followed by an air-drying process.
Before serving, it’s topped with hot oil to keep the amber red skin crisp to perfection, while keeping the meat tender and moist.
I had the Le Palais Signature Barbecue Pork (NT$1,580, SGD70 per plate), similar to most Hong Kong style, using Kurobuta Pork shoulder butt marinated in a house special sauce for 45 minutes.
It is then roasted for about 30 minutes, and basted with a final touch of maltose sauce.
This disaccharide gives the tender-cooked lean meat its classic shiny char siu appearance and adds a sticky sweet but not charred finish to the barbecue pork.
I generally found the slices delicious and tender, but cannot say that the satisfaction level is very much better than those found in Hong Kong’s good roast pork stores.
The Crispy Deep-Fried Chicken (NT$1180 for half, SGD51.90) was probably an mm thick crispy skin contrasted with succulent meat.
Again, I would say an average above chicken, but found this alone hard to justify for both the 3-star rating and price tag. (Perhaps it is also because there are many good roast chicken shops in Singapore as well.)
If budget is not an issue, go all in with their special Michelin 3-Star Set Menu (NT$8,800+, SGD388+ per pax) which includes Le Palais Assorted Appetisers; Lobster Salad with Dried Radish; White Pepper Fish Maw Soup; Stir-Fried Diced Wagyu Beef with Garlic and Black Beans; Braised Australian Abalone with Goose Foot and Shiitake Mushroom; Steamed Tiger Grouper with Chinese Sausage; Shrimp Wonton Noodle Soup; Cantonese Sponge Cake; and Almond Milk.
Dessert wise, get the Sesame Balls (NT$380 for 3, SGD16.70) that looked like an ordinary dim sum, but was actually filled with molten lava-type black sesame fillings.
If we were to use some of the other Michelin-starred Taipei restaurants as a yardstick, then it is understandable why Le Palais would have been awarded the coveted 3 stars.
In generally, I thought that the dim sum dishes were more impressive compared to the cooked dishes.
While it is said that Michelin inspectors judge based on taste alone, part of the reason why Le Palais works is due to its opulent décor.
Service staff were also well-trained in the description and taste profiles of every item the entire menu, and introduced the dishes in the most poetic and soothing way.
Le Palais 頤宮
17F, Palais de Chine Hotel, 3, Section 1, Chengde Road, Datong District, Taipei, 110
Tel: +886 2 2181 9985
Opening Hours: Lunch 11:30am – 2:30pm, Dinner 5:30pm – 9:30pm (Mon – Sun)
Michelin Guide Taipei 2019
Ming Fu 明福台菜海鮮 (Zhongshan, Taipei)