[Taipei] Commonly known to be “The best restaurant in Taipei”, RAW has an impossibly long waiting list to get a reservation.
Chef Andre Chiang told me there are 4000 – 6000 requests every day, and “reservations per day are gone in 3 seconds”.
Here’s why. The team behind RAW include acclaimed Taiwanese-born Chef Andre Chiang, who helms ”Singapore’s Best Restaurant” Restaurant Andre (which has 2 Michelin stars, Chef Zor Tan and Chef Alain Huang.
For the longest time, Taipei has been known for its street food, but few or almost no restaurants come to the radar when you talk about European style fine dining.
RAW is impressive, a restaurant where food meets art, serving innovative dishes that blend Taiwanese ingredients with modern international influences.
I will start with the reservation policies. The restaurant is only available for booking for lunch and dinner from Wednesday to Sunday.
For a party below 8 people, reservations have to be done online, and are accepted with a maximum of two weeks in advance. (For example, a Jan 14th request can be made on Jan 1st the earliest.)
The 60-seat lifestyle restaurant serves up ‘bistronomy’ (blend of bistro + gastronomy) cuisine. That means fine dining food, casual setting.
While ‘bistronomy’ is branded as ‘casual’, the interior is anything but that.
Designed by Weijenberg Architects, the primarily wooden design aesthetic, fluid-looking furnishing, with an intentionally borderless appearance goes hand-in-hand with the theme of ‘RAW’.
Lighting is specially designed such that it will shine almost on the dishes only, creating a more intimate experience with the food.
Cutlery is kept within a drawer in the table, dispensing with fine-dining protocols.
The menu (the card is a piece of art itself) is an 8-course meal which changes seasonally, priced at NT$1850 (SGD85.00, USD60).
Costing a fraction of what you would pay at some fine dining restaurant, RAW’s meal could be worth that EVERY SINGLE DOLLAR with its food quality.
My personal favourites happened to be both soups. There was a dish of green strawberry emulsion matched with green curry in a sorbet like texture, with green tomatoes.
You would have expected the green curry to ‘steal’ the flavours away, but the spiciness was frothy and undemanding, staying as gentle notes while letting the natural sweetness of the other ingredients surface through.
The corn soup was a balanced blend of both savoury and sweet, perfect in terms of its creaminess, added with a fun element of popcorn providing some crisp every spoonful.
I liked how you could see traces of Taiwan here and there, making this restaurant more culturally relevant, for example the dish of ‘sausage’ which reminded me of the Taiwanese street food of glutinous rice sausage.
As a diner, you get to ‘interact’ with the dish with being over gimmicky, in this case tearing the covering apart and dipping the ‘sausage’ in a uniquely spicy Taiwanese ‘Magao’ sauce.
Dessert was a highlight in itself – a sweet beancurd encapsulated in a buttery tart (we call this ‘tau hway’ here), topped with alternating soft peanuts and black beans.
This itself, was a clever combination of at least 3 familiar Taiwanese style desserts.
While I were to nit-pick, there were a couple of forgettable items within the eight I was presented with. The “wow” moments were less, if compared to Restaurant Andre.
Service crew was generally made up of young, energetic and knowledge people.
However, I couldn’t help filling rushed throughout the meal, both in terms of the speed the dishes were presented, and explanations were done.
The entire meal took about an hour and 40 minutes or so, and that included wine-pairing. With that said, I must keep reminding myself that “this isn’t a fine dining restaurant” at the end of the day. But I could imagine some diners expecting more intricate service quality.
A tiny regret was also that my birthday meal date was changed (not entirely sure of the reason), and therefore no birthday cake too. Okay lah, I shouldn’t complain since at least I got the reservation.
No. 301, Lequn 3rd Rd, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 104
Tel: +886 2 8501 5800
Opening Hours: Lunch 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, Dinner 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm (Wed – Sun), Closed Mon, Tues
Reservation Online – RAW Taipei