Taipei’s Yong Kang Street is fabulous. For starters, it’s not as packed out as many of the other food hotspots in Taipei because it requires a little walk from the nearest MRT station (Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall). Secondly, there are dozens of fantastic places to dine at, from stalls to local stores to deluxe restaurants — and that’s just along the main road. As I have come to discover, there are dozens more restaurants and cafes in the small lanes and alleys. Hopefully I can sample them all eventually.
On a rainy evening a little while ago (I’m backed up), we went to Akatombo (紅蜻蜓 — translated to mean “Red Dragonfly”), a tiny izakaya (居酒屋) on the southern end of Yong Kang Street. We had walked passed it a couple of times before and it looked enticing, and packed, so we decided to try it out.
Akatombo certainly looks like a great joint, with traditional Japanese decorations, wooden furniture, a bar, and menu items written on wooden boards hung up on the walls. A real Japanese feel that brought back good memories.We ordered an assortment of dishes — one of my all time favourites, takoyaki (octopus balls — well…balls with octopus in them); the always reliable yakisoba (stir-fry noodles); the teriyaki chicken don; yakitori sticks (chicken skewers); and chicken tsukune (minced marinated chicken). That’s a lot of chicken!
The food looked pretty good but was a disappointment.
The takoyaki was okay but barely competes with any street vendor takoyaki in Taipei (though to be fair, the street vendors are pretty good). There just wasn’t the outside crunch I was looking for, and the inside was too soggy.
The yakisoba was oily and did not contain enough of that special yakisoba sauce, and as a result it tasted more like Chinese stir-fry noodles than Japanese.
The chicken teriyaki don was probably the best thing of the night, but let’s face it, you rarely can go wrong with chicken teriyaki (even the camera didn’t want to take a good shot of it).
The yakitori was a disappointment. Too much skin, not enough meat, and extraordinarily bland.
The tsukune was decent but below par if you compare it to the real deal in Japan.
The pictures probably make the place look better that it is, but on the whole, Akatombo was a major disappointment, especially considering how enticing it looked from the outside. Don’t think I will be back.
5 out of 10
Akatombo (Red Dragonfly) Izakaya (紅蜻蜓居酒屋)
Address: 53-1 Yong Kang Street, Taipei
Phone: (02) 2394 7517