Justin Signatures (Taipei)
One of my favourite Taipei restaurants, which I never had a chance to review, is Just In Bistro, previously located in Taipei’s Neo 19 building but has since been moved down, apparently, to Taichung. It’s a lovely bistro with amazing modern Asian French cuisine designed by Singaporean chef Justin Quek (who is now based in China), but for whatever reason business wasn’t good enough for it to stay where it was.
Fortunately, Justin Quek has another, more upmarket restaurant in Taipei — Justin’s Signatures, and it’s still going strong. I visited the restaurant some time last year but am only now getting the opportunity to get around to it.
Whereas Just In Bistro is for the everyday diner, Justin Signatures is clearly designed, as you can see in the decor above, for upper class diners and special occasions, with the cheapest lunch set of one appetizer and one main costing NT$880 + 10%, and the most expensive dinner menu of 4 appetizers and a main costing NT$3200 + 10%, excluding wine and beverages.
When we went the menu was slightly different and offered a business lunch of four or five courses (NT$1280 or $2080, +10%). This is the menu we chose from.
So was it worth it? We started out with some house bread with your usual olive oil plus balsamic dip. The crust was a little harder than I expected but it was still fairly good and fresh.
We pretty much got everything on the menu with two meal sets, so the first thing we got was the bamboo shoot and stuffed vegetable tempura. To be honest it wasn’t quite what I expected, as it looked and tasted more like a salad. Very refreshing, but not what I expected.
The second of the appetizers we ordered was the signature mushroom cappuccino. It’s really nothing unusual these days as many restaurants offer the same thing, and while good, Justin’s doesn’t really stand out but for the accompanying bread.
The third appetizer was the slow cooked egg, confit duck foie gras and mushroom sauce. This also wasn’t what I quite expected it to look at, with the two slices of crispy bread on top providing an interesting crunch to the mix of flavours that include prosciutto.
The last of the appetizers was the signature sweet prawn taglierini pasta, which looked pretty amazing but was from memory a little bland. The prawns were fresh and the pasta well-cooked, but there wasn’t much flavour apart from the dominating olive oil and salt.
Then it was time for the main courses, which were surprisingly small but tasty. The roasted veal rack and the 300 days grain-fed beef were both impressively displayed; the meat was succulent and juicy, and the duck gizzards were actually pretty good. My only complaint apart from the size is that their flavours were a little too similar.
We finished off the meal with a couple of decent, not great desserts and a coffee each (that came with a mini macaron). See below.
So that was our visit to Justin’s Signatures, which I admit was fairly underwhelming because our expectations were so high after the cheaper and less delicate — but in my opinion tastier — Just In Bistro. The menu and the presentation of the food looked the part, but it was not much different to many other fine dining restaurants we’ve sampled. That said, their menu appears to have changed significantly — and will continue to change seasonally — and given that it remains highly popular it’s possible we could have just caught it at a bad time. Still, based on the prices and the quality of our visit I’ll give it…
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/J.signatures
Address: No. 17, Ln, 265, Sec. 2, Dunhua S. Rd., Da’an Dist., Taipei City (nearest MRT: Liuzhangli Station, brown line)
Phone: +886 2 2736 8000
Hours: 12:00~14:30、18:00~22:00, closed Sundays