Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Guest House - Review

Guest House - Dude Grade: D
1 Nanking West Road 3rd Fl, Taipei, Taiwan
Phone: 886 2 2563 2171

After a great experience eating at high end restaurants in Shanghai, I wanted to see what Taipei had to offer. These type of restaurants with set menus allowed us to try multiple dishes since we could never order this many courses just for the two of us – we tried that our last time at Shin Yeh and I needed a vomitorium afterwards. At first inspection, I noticed all the high end restaurants served either Hong Kong or Shanghai food - guess it makes sense since those two areas are considered very international and posh. I decided to go with the Guest House which was ranked #2 in some local food guide in terms of Non Western high end food. Food was decent, but nothing really great and the service was awful. A big time pass for this dude.

Our Menu
Double-boiled Fish Maw Soup with Bamboo Pith *
Relatively flavorful broth that was a little meaty and a little sweet. Some nice balance in the soup.

Steamed King Prawn with Garlic Sauce *
Decently sweet prawns that were not overcooked. It was good and the sauce was delicious, but the shrimp temperature was borderline cold and it definitely wasn’t meant to be. A bad sign of things to come.

Stir Fried Scallops and Clams with Asparagus
I love me some scallops, just never from a Chinese restaurant. The beauty of scallops is to have a hard sear on them to give them texture and also bring out a nice sweetness to them. Chinese scallops are usually boiled in oil till rubbery and lacquered in some thick is a representation of that.

Braised Red Yeast Pork Ribs
The dish I was looking forward to the most – it was written about in a lot of papers/blogs out there. Unfortunately, this dish was pretty disappointing. I dig texture and chew on some things – chicken is OK in my book to have a little chew. However, chewy ribs/pork belly is not acceptable. Chewing on hardened fat/gelatin is not a pleasant texture and pretty eff’n nasty. Flavor wise it was OK too, not as much porkiness more sweetness.

Braised Baby Vegetables with Crispy Garlic *
Again, a dish you might expect in NYC Chinatown with the heavily thickened sauce, but this was pretty tasty.

Deep Fried Bream with Crispy Garlic **
The only dish that showed some restraint and delicateness. Texture was light and delicious and the flavor of the fish was definitely the star. The fry dude should get some props for this dish.

Seasonal Fresh Fruits ***
Sad that this was by far the best course of the night. Eating fruits in a tropical environment leads to explosive flavors. The kiwi was by far the best I’ve ever had – sweet and such a pleasing flavor. The pineapple was also intensely flavorful. Some great fruit they picked out here.

Sweet Fuguo and Taro Soup *
A pretty delicious sweet soup. Think taro milk bubble tea and you get pretty close. Another of thinner soups which kicks massive ars.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way | (no stars - poor to average) | * Good | ** Great | *** What the F – in a good way

Overall Restaurant Experience
  • Food (C) – Not terrible, but not great either.
  • Service (D-) – The worst fine dining service I’ve ever had in my life (Bouley is 2nd worst). So we got a set tasting menu with the same exact number of dishes, but my wife got two of her dishes before I got anything. When she got her third, then I got my first. They finally caught me up, but it turned out to be the opposite where I was 2 dishes ahead over her. The food also took way too eff’n long to come out. My wife had fried dumplings as her final course and I think it took around 20 minutes to get to her – it was only 2 eff’n fried dumplings that was nothing to write home about. Also, servers didn’t apologize, but we complained to the manager and she gave us a free course (hence the D- instead of an F). Big time wtf in a bad way.
  • Atmosphere (B) – Classy looking joint that reminded me of Shanghai where you eat in these almost private rooms – sharing a room with only 2 other tables. Place consisted of large groups with some Japanese tourists – no doubt suckered in by the shitty reviews from the other non-dudes blogs.
  • Price (F) – Incredibly pricey for Taiwan standards (1500 NTD|55 USD for me and 2000 NTD|73 USD for the wife) for shitty service and average food. Fail. As a reference point, you can get some delicious food at the food court for 150NTD|5 USD or street food where a ton of delicious dumplings cost 20NTD|0.72 USD.
Closing Comments
That was my last time at a high end restaurant in Taipei for just the wife and me. If other people take us out, that would be fine since they’ll know what’s up, but the wife and I will stick with the street food and phenomenal food courts going forward.

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