Food Review: Raw Taipei, A Two Michelin Stars Restaurant In Taiwan | “Best Of The Year” Menu
The Place I rarely revisit an overseas restaurant and after my first dining experience at the Two Michelin Starred Raw Taipei in 2019, I was glad to revisit it last month when I was in Taipei. I count my blessings for being able to snag a table, commonly regarded as the restaurant with the toughest table to reserve in the whole of Taiwan. Another reason for my excitement is the fact that it coincides with the “Best Of The Year” Menu at Raw, where the team curated a menu from the notable highlights in their previous Spring, Summer and Autumn menus in the past year, along with the dishes from the current Winter season.
Second visit to Raw, and I still love its contemporary interior which makes the dining ambience more of a fine-casual vibe, rather than formal fine-dining. The majority of the tables here accommodate small groups of 4-5 diners, and there are roughly about five to six tables for couples, which also explains the challenge of snagging a reservation for two.
The Food The “Best Of The Year” Menu is a combination of various themes, including a “world tour” tribute which pays homage to some of the dishes developed during the pandemic period where the Raw team worked with various renowned chefs around the world via virtual meetings to create the signature dishes of the guest chefs.
There are also thought-provoking courses conceptualised by Chef Andre with a theme of “define future” – to return to primitive times, or create something more futuristic? Ultimately, it also hopes to invoke thoughts for diners about the environment we are living in. The last theme is that of “Grande Classique”, classical French dishes.
My 9-course meal started with a series of snacks in the below sequence:
Matsuba crab / Bouillabaisse / Baguette soup
The lovely Hokkaido crab is coated with seaweed gel, where the fresh seafood is naturally sweet. It goes well with the accompanying soup made from baguette bread.
Cured Pine Needle / Mouillette/ Sun-Dried Caviar
A delicious, bite-size Caviar tart!
Cuisse de Nyphme et Escargot en Persillade
A duo combination of frog leg and escargot which resembles a lollipop coated with powder made from spinach.
After the series of snacks, the 9-course menu starts proper, in the below sequence:
Richard Ekkebus / Amber / Hong Kong-China
This first course is a dish famous in the acclaimed Amber restaurant in Hong Kong from the Spring Menu. It features a “marshmallow” looking bun made from a citrusy Japanese fruit, and beneath it are oysters and horseradish sauce. A slightly citrusy note from the soft “bun”, where you slice it and mix it together and have it with the oysters.
The second course is from the Summer Menu and is aptly named “RAW”ness. This must have been the most theatrical bread course I have ever come across. A dark wooden block with a buttery spread made from mushroom and broccoli is served, which takes inspiration from nature and the forest. A dish inspired from the pandemic where people turned to basics, the ways to have this dish is to don the black gloves and use the “wooden” shove to scrap the spread onto the freshly baked warm bread.
For two pieces of bread, there is more spread than what I could spread on my bread, but I am not complaining. Served separately, there is also a “caviar” inspired cream served in a box with the RAW brand, as well as butter accompanied with bits of chocolate and buckwheat.
This is definitely one of the most memorable bread courses I have had. The concept and presentation are very memorable, and the flavours of the various spreads are so delicious and earthy.
Isaac Mchale / The Clove Club/ London
Back to the Spring Menu, this third course is inspired from The Clove Club in London is a take on British fish and chips, except that it is executed with much elegance. No fried fish on the plate, but rather a Japanese looking sardine “sashimi” marinated with vinegar. Dip the sardine dish with the accompanying worcester sauce “mayonnaise” and spread it on the crispy chips, the flavours are divine.
L’Aile de Raie / Meunière Sauce / Wild Fungus Ragout
Back to the Winter Menu, the fourth course is a fish course which features Skate fish topped with bits of green pepper accompanied with fried caper and black garlic sauce. A simple looking dish with layered flavours.
Necessity v.s. Pleasure
The fifth course from the Summer Menu is named as such. The “necessity” theme stems from vegetables which is a basic ingredient in various cuisines, and you get beautiful layers of slices of vegetables here from the likes of daikon, potato and Buddha’s finger.
Served in a special Kanazawa tableware, the delicious broth is prepared from a mix of chicken, duck, pork and Turkey ham. The “pleasure” theme is decorated with the sea urchin.
Aligot à la Truffle, Jus Déglaçage
Moving on to mains from the Autumn Menu, part one of the sixth course is another theatrical display.
Served table side, the staff mixes a pot of mashed potato mix with cheese and I couldn’t help but marvel at the long stretch. It is then topped with egg and black truffle sauce, a course made with simple ingredients, yet it also showcases finesse.
Canard Apicious à la Figue Rôtie
This is part two of the sixth course and it features duck breast with roasted fig by the wide where the dish draws inspiration from an ancient Rome recipe. I get to choose my knife design as well.
The duck itself takes two weeks to prepare and is coated with some wild honey and coriander bits.
The surprise element here for me is the coating on the duck which lends it a touch of Middle Eastern flavours, and it also gives the duck a more multi-dimensional flavours. Alternate the duck with the delicious Taiwanese roasted fig and watercress salad which balance the overall flavour of this main course.
Before desserts were served, I decided to have some tea to go along with the sweets, in collaboration with local Taiwanese tea brand Kalon.
William Pear en Croûte/ Basque Cheesecake / Nougat
The dessert courses are an elaborate affair at Raw. It is a trilogy showcase, and the first dessert from the Winter Menu is another table side presentation inspired by Basque cheesecake. The pear is torched to create that brunt texture by the side and the nougat filling simply oozes out of the pear crust beautifully. I am usually not a fan of pear in my dessert courses, but this is exceptionally good.
Corey Lee / Benu/ San Francisco-USA
The eighth course is a creation inspired from a dish at the 3-Michelin Starred Benu in San Francisco. Raw’s version is a simple showcase of white and black textures. The white portion is the result of fermenting milk to cheese, and it is surrounded and decorated on the outer layer with the black and smoky cream from peated whisky.
Our Golden Age
The last course and final dessert is an ice cream cone. Served table side, this simple looking dessert is inspired from one of the most famous street desserts in Kanazawa where you can get vanilla soft serve topped with gold leaf.
Rants Tough luck to land a table usually, especially for couples as there are very limited tables for two in the restaurant.
Overall Experience Second time back in Raw Taipei after four years and I am even more impressed by the food this time. Great, attentive and personable service (special shout-out to Kim), along with a fine balance of culinary finesse and theatrical presentations without going over the top. Is Raw one of the best restaurants and dining experiences for me? A definite yes.
Taste bud: 4.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 4.5/5
Overall Experience: 4.5/5
No. 301號, Lequn 3rd Rd, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10491
Wednesday to Sunday: 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, 6pm to 10 pm
Closed on Monday & Tuesday
Ranted by The Ranter