New Year’s Eve brought a great omakase experience in both the food and the atmosphere. With so much competition in the realm of high end Japanese restaurants in Taipei, what I find rare are those places that add in a bit of character to their restaurant. That’s exactly what we were given at Yoinn Japanese Cuisine.
There are three price points for their omakase $1880 NTD, $2380 NTD and $2880 NTD. We went with the middle $2380 option thinking this would be a good sampling of the foods offered here. What I didn’t expect was the amount of food we got. It was pretty much a feast. And that was even before the chef decided to celebrate New Year’s Eve with us. With what he added to our meal, the price would have been well over what the top price had to offer. I mean, aged otoro, how’s that for an extra!
As for the service and décor, it was versatile and very attentive. Even with our ever changing courses, the servers kept our drinks filled and our area clear of used dishes. This while tending to other tables in this intimately lit restaurant. There are curtains for separators hanging from the ceiling. What’s really cool were the mobility of the curtains. They were made to be moved around according to the size of the party and table configuration. Pretty neat. Then there was the chef who was busy preparing dishes for everyone. However, he took the time to explain to me what fish we were being served. Though we had a language barrier, he was very patient.
After everyone left and only the people at the bar was left, Chef Isao opened up even more. We learned that he was the chef at several Japanese restaurants before opening up this one on his own. Those included a restaurant in Japan and one renowned one in Taipei – one of them acquiring a Michelin star. I forgot the names of them but after having his food, it was obvious we were dealing with an artist. One who doesn’t hold back sharing in his creation and gifts. We sat there through closing sampling his whiskies and scotches while having cured mullet roe “because it goes well with whiskey.” Yeah, this guy is a cool cat in my book. We will be coming back here.
Yoinn Japanese Cuisine (余韻日本料理)
Lane 366, Section 2, Bade Rd, 49號
Taipei City,, Taiwan
+886 2 2740 1088
Verdict: Yes! For quality sushi and a full stomach I recommend coming here.
We were able to get last minute Friday reservations at Moe Yakiniku 3. It’s the third expansion of the restaurant. Known for it’s selection of wagyu and it’s service, we were more than excited to check it out. It’s located in the Da’an district along a street of other restaurants. Inside, the eating area were divided into more intimate sections. Our area had four tables with seating for four. There’s ventilation suction valves at each table and the yakiniku grill was heated with charcoal. Already a lovely sign.
It was all about wagyu here, Australian to be exact. All of our cuts were A5 wagyu with a B.M.S. score of 9. If you want to know more about what that means, read wagyu.org/breed-info/meat-grading/. I sure had to because I’m used to only hearing A5 until our server told me it was “A9”. So much more learning to do with this wonderful cattle. Anyways, as I mentioned, they are serious about the beef here. And even though I insisted on cooking it ourselves (cuz you know, that’s all the fun in yakiniku) they soon took over. I have to say, they did a much better job than I did. The server knew how to cook it just right, to get that small sear without overcooking, or in my case, undercooking the meat.
A serious place for high end yakiniku where they also focus on service. No wonder there are now three of these restaurants. I’m looking forward to trying this place again.
Moe Yakiniku 3
No. 24, Ln. 116, Guangfu S. Rd.
Daan Dist, Taipei, Taiwan
+886 2 2731 1750
Verdict: Yes, check this place out. It’s on the expensive side but for this grade of wagyu, it’s worth it.
Whenever I’m in Taipei I look forward to having hot pot. Even more so when it’s winter and temperatures drop. So we were off to a place that specializes in crab hot pot, 12 Basket. It’s notoriety stems from it’s use of fresh mud crabs in your soup along with it’s changing soup base which ends up as a congee by the end of your meal. You don’t have to go this route and do ala carte hot pot, but since this was our first time, we went for the popular course.
We opted for the $1480NTD seafood set for 2 people. In addition to the base offering, we upgraded our crab as well as added beef to our meal. That may have been overkill for us since we weren’t able to finish the congee at the end or take advantage of any of the ice cream dessert. No regrets though.
As for the atmosphere, it’s a bit homestyle and local. No posh fixed seating, just tables and chairs that could be moved around to accommodate varying party sizes. There’s a downstairs as well. Most items except for the hot pot ingredients are self served, even the beer! I figure this frees up the wait staff to work at your table to help you cook your items. This was helpful for the seafood which I tend to leave in the pot and overcook. However, I did like my beef a little more rare than how they prepared it. Can’t win them all. Overall, it’s a cozy atmosphere with service and food being what you’d expect from a local restaurant. Though their seafood was a step up from normal. This was a great start to my stay here in Taipei.
Lane 50 Yixian Road
Xinyi District, Taipei City
Verdict: Actually just an okay place for seafood hot pot that you won’t leave hungry.
We were fortunate enough to land reservations Friday night during the opening week of Senia. A restaurant that specializes in farm to table cuisine leveraging the culinary skills of Chris Kajioka and Anthony Rush, former chefs at Per Se, a restaurant by Thomas Keller. I should also add that Anthony had worked at the French Laundry before Per Se. So once I found this out I was eagerly awaiting a wonderful feast. And I have to say, they did not disappoint.
The menu was a little confusing having a section on snacks, plates, and sharing. Thankfully, the staff was super helpful describing what to order and how much we should order for a party of six. The snacks were just that, small portions for tasting. The plates were meant to be shared though one person could easily finish it off for a light meal. We wanted to taste more of the menu and only had a couple of orders where we ordered two for the table. Those were the bone marrow and the lasagna. A move we weren’t going to regret after tasting the lasagna. The share menu items were portioned for three to five people. Again, allowing a group like ours to sample more than one item.
Once we ordered, the courses came out at a steady pace with the staff being very responsive. And it wasn’t like only our server was helping out. It felt like everyone on the floor was helping each other clear tables and refill glasses. That’s a great way to run things.
Overall I was very impressed. Even more so that it was opening week where most restaurants take several months to get things in order for both food and wait staff. This place had it down. I’m looking forward to revisiting Senia in the future!
Note: I had to use my camera phone. So the images won’t be up to bar with my other photos. Sorry.
75 N King Street
Honolulu, HI 96817
+1 (808) 200-5412
Verdict: A must go for finer dining and creative takes with locally sourced ingredients.
A quick drive out of Waikiki, you can find Sushi Izakaya Gaku. A place that has been serving up creative dishes for izakaya while also providing some elaborate sushi. We happen to come here primarily for the izakaya. Not to say we didn’t sample some of that wonderful fish. But mainly we wanted a festive night of drinking as we feasted.
We arrived at the restaurant around 8pm and put our name on the list. The wait time was about an hour for our group, a party of seven.
While this place takes reservations, they do not take them after 7pm. Why? My only guess is that it’s a true izakaya where there’s no such thing as a time limit. With that in mind, it’s really difficult to keep any reservations in order when people have a good time and continue ordering more. And going into the evening hours, that becomes more and more difficult. I mean, take us for example. By the time we left, we were the only party there. And looking around the restaurant, they had already started cleaning up.
Thanks for letting us stay to finish our drinks… I mean food.
Our table was in the back where they had sunken seating in a semi private enclosure. The server helped us order the right items explaining each of the dishes. The only thing they ran out of was the duck. No problem. We had over fifteen dishes to go through. Several of them being spectacular so I’m okay with missing one of the dishes. Having a party our size let us try out about half of the menu if you don’t include the sushi. As for the service, it was very attentive. Our drink glasses remained full and every dish came out in good time. We couldn’t have asked for more than that. Well, except maybe to try that duck. Anyways, it was still a memorable meal.
Sushi Izakaya Gaku
1329 S King Street
Honolulu, HI 96814
+1 (808) 589-1329
Verdict: Get yourself out of Waikiki and get dinner here. You won’t regret it.