California Pizza Kitchen (Taipei)
I was in need of a good pizza, and after looking around online for a while I decided on California Pizza Kitchen, an international pizza chain that actually originated from California and has 260 outlets in 16 countries.
There are two stores in Taiwan, one in Hsinchu and the other at Taipei’s lively Xinyi district. We went to the latter, which is situated inside the same building as the famous Vieshow cinemas, near the edge of the food court.
The decor of CPK resembles a sports bar, with an open pizza kitchen against one wall and a bar against the other, with a TV screen showing live baseball hanging over the bar.
You can check out the full menu here. The food on offer is similar to a lot of American or Americanized family restaurants in Taiwan, such as TGI Fridays or Chili’s. You have an assortment of appetizers, many of which are fried and come with creamy condiments. There are soups and salads and sandwiches. The mains include steaks, seafood, and of course pizza and pasta. Finish off with an assortment of beverages and desserts.
The prices are also similar those restaurants, which means you’re looking at anything from NT$300 a head to as much as NT$1000, depending on what you get and how much you get. They do have two-person and four-person sets which are NT$1100 and NT$2400, respectively.
For lunch, there is a special lunch value meal from NT$179, which includes a soup/salad and drink to go with a one-person sized main, a pizza or pasta dish.
We ended up getting one of these sets plus an appetizer (which is really main course-sized) and a large pizza. Check out the pics below.
The pumpkin soup was surprisingly good for something that comes as part of a set. Thick and creamy, but I’m not sure how much real pumpkin is in there.
I was torn over whether to get an appetizer because I knew it would cause my meal to spill into pig territory. I got one anyway. The tender pork quesadillas turned out to be one of the best things we ordered, even though it was definitelymore a main course size dish than an appetizer. The quesadillas is filled with tender oven baked pork, BBQ sauce, onions and roasted bell peppers. That sauce in the middle is a homemade spicy Ranchito sauce, which really hit the spot.
The pizza that came with our lunch set was a traditional BBQ chicken pizza with chicken pieces, red onions and BBQ sauce. As it was with the lunch set, the pizza was small and long, kind of like a pide. The problem with this pizza is the crust, which was not very pizza-like and the edges were too dominant, meaning there wasn’t enough space for the toppings. There also wasn’t enough BBQ sauce, meaning we had to ask for some Tabasco. In other words, I would not recommend the lunch set pizzas.
The Milan pizza we ordered separately, on the other hand, redeemed CPK’s pizzas. I was extremely satisfied with this one, which had a thin, crispy crust (real pizza stuff) with Italian sausage, fennel sausage crumble, sauteed mushrooms and the always welcome caramelized onions, topped with three types of cheeses. A real winner. I mean, just look at the beauty.
In all, it was a fairly wonderful experience. It’s a place for people who want their pizzas to be more gourmet than your average commercial franchise pizza but prefer a lot of toppings, unlike those sparsely topped traditional Italian pizzas. The atmosphere and service were great too.
California Pizza Kitchen
Website (Chinese): http://www.cpk.tw/
Address: Level 2, N0. 20 Songshou Road, Xinyi District, Taipei (Vieshow Cinemas) (nearest MRT: Taipei City Hall, blue line)
Phone: (02) 2722-8383
Hours: 11am-11pm Sundays to Thursdays, 11am-1am Friday and Saturday