Ikki Japanese Restaurant (Taipei) (藝奇)
The food just keeps rolling in, and I just keep rolling on.
Ikki (藝奇新日本料理) is one of many restaurants belonging to the mighty WowPrime Group in Taiwan, whose lineup includes Pin Tian Japanese Katsu, Ju Hokkaido Hotpot, Yuan Shao BBQ, and Tasty Steak House, among others (some of which I will review in due course)
While each restaurant has a different price point and theme, they all have the WowPrime stamp of quality. Ikki is a Japanese restaurant regarded as part one of WowPrime’s classier joints, with each set course priced at NT$698 (about AU$25) (+10% surcharge). That’s actually still exceptional value considering the number of courses you get, the lovely ambiance and the exceptional service.
There are about a dozen Ikki restaurants spread throughout Taiwan, and this review is actually a combination of visits to two separate franchises — one near the Ximen MRT station and the other being the newly opened store at Banqiao (also near the MRT and bus station at High Mall). The two visits are separated by 8 months, but I think the menu has largely stayed the same.
Once you are seated and even before you make any orders, you will be treated to this light seafood broth, which offers unlimited refills. It’s a great way to whet the appetite, but make sure you don’t have too much because a mammoth meal awaits!
Then, it’s time to take your order. Like pretty much all WowPrime restaurants, you get a selection of choices starting from salad to appetizer to rice to main course to dessert and beverage. No matter what you choose, it’s NT$698+10% surcharge.
Here is the Chinese menu, though I hear they also have an English one. The annoying thing with the menu is that most of the photos are on a different page, meaning you have to flick back and forth. But the waiters do explain what each dish includes, so that makes up for it a little bit.
If you are lucky, you might get this complimentary palette cleanser — an icy plum vinegar.
The first course is salad, and according to my latest visit there are three options. We all went with the fresh fruit and vegetable salad, which looked the best to me. It was excellent, with a light and tangy dressing, crispy greens, tomatoes, mango and dragon fruit, and a few slices of chicken.
Next up, the appetizer. Over the two visits we managed to order all three, so check them out. The first is a crumbed cod with tartar sauce on top of grapefruit! Superb mix of flavours and textures — possibly my favourite dish at Ikki. And if you don’t want grapefruit, they give you more fried cod. Win-win situation either way. Check out both versions below.
As for the other two appetizers: a prawn and seafood steamed egg bowl, and a creative mushroom rice cake. The former was better than the latter.
There’s still a couple of more courses before the mains. Next: rice and noodles! We got two out of the three — a salmon rice and a duck steamed rice — skipping the cold sesame sauce noodles.
The last course before the mains is either sashimi or a steamed dish. The sashimi usually includes an assortment of salmon and tuna, but we asked for all salmon, which they were nice enough to accommodate. The other two options, which we both got, were smoked salmon plus seared scallop, and a prawn with thick vermicelli noodles. All three were excellent, especially the smoked salmon/seared scallop, two of my favourite things rolled into one.
At long last, the main courses, of which there are 8 options. We got a few. Check it out.
The mains were all pretty good, but if I had to choose again, I’d go with the beef cubes or the bamboo chicken.
Lastly, the desserts (I skipped the beverage pics). We got a pineapple panna cotta and a caramel mousse cake. Both were just OK, but by then I was too full to care.
All of the WowPrime restaurants are pretty tasty, and Ikki, in my opinion, is towards the upper end of the pack. The quality is solid, the variety is excellent and the flavours are generally favourable. It’s not going to blow you away, but it’s easy to see why Ikki is so popular (and hence reservations are a must).
Website: http://www.ikki.com.tw/Foreign/index.htm — includes English menu
Branch addresses and numbers: http://www.ikki.com.tw/Foreign/branches_E.htm