It was our wedding anniversary, so we decided a special lunch celebration was in order. My wife had been craving the souffle at Abu Brasserie, which has apparently shut down and relocated to north Taipei’s Beitou district, so we chose its more deluxe cousin, Abu’s Authentic Cuisine, located near the big roundabout in the Da’an district.
It’s a relatively small restaurant that’s well-decorated and gives off a cosy, intimate atmosphere. While Abu’s Brasserie features more Italian-influenced cuisine, Abu’s Authentic Cuisine learns closer to French. The dinner menu can apparently be quite pricey (in the vicinity of NT$3000-5000 or more) but the lunch sets are much cheaper and can be as low as NT$1000 (+10%) if you choose the cheapest main course.
Here’s that day’s lunch menu.
It’s a four-course meal, with salad, a soup, a main course and two desserts, plus tea or coffee. Wanting to try everything, we ordered both salads, though we really wanted the corn soup so we skipped the ox-tongue chicken broth. For the mains, we ordered the steamed truffled beef tenderloin with anchovic garlic sauce, and the potato and duck confit. And since it was our anniversary, they were preparing the souffle especially for us, in addition to one of their usual desserts.
Before any of our ordered dishes arrived, however, we were treated to some nice tea and a couple of pieces of crispy naan coated with spice powder. It had a great kick and whet the appetite for the magnificent house bread (four types) which I wanted more of but held back because didn’t want to be too full. The bread also came with butter, olive oil and a tuna dip.
This first salad is the warm abalone with zucchini, which was sensational. You could tell it was quality abalone and it was cooked to perfection. You didn’t really need much else, but it went well with the vegetables and peppery herb sauce on the side.
The other salad we got: the wild mushroom, truffle egg and mixed salad. I loved this col salad, which provided a nice contrast to the warm one. The scrambled truffle egg was sublime, and it came with a freshly shaved piece of truffle. The salad itself was also very fresh and topped with a refreshing dressing that wasn’t too heavy or light.
The corn soup with crab was a revelation. It’s the best corn soup I’ve ever had, and I’ve had thousands (OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I’ve had a lot). You don’t usually associate fine dining with corn soup, and to be honest, I didn’t think they could make it particularly different. But whatever they put into this one, it did the trick. It had the right consistency and wasn’t watery but didn’t feel like it was filled with starch either. The flavour really penetrated through the entire soup, which was also at the right temperature (often places serve soups too cold). Best of all were the pieces of fresh crab meat — not the canned or fake stuff you tend to get at Chinese restaurants. Unbelievable stuff.
The first main course, the steamed truffled beef tenderloin, was superb. The size doesn’t look substantial (it didn’t need to be) but the meat is deceptively thick. You get one piece where you just enjoy the natural flavours of the beef, and another one that comes with a sauce. There’s also a bit of extra condiment on the side plus some sea salt/pepper, so you can really get a different experience with each bite.
The second main is the potato and duck confit. It’s quite similar to many other French duck confits in that it has an extremely crispy and slightly salty outer shell with soft, juicy duck meat inside. But I liked this one a little more than the duck confit we got from Abu Brasserie because of the rocket on top and the fact that it wasn’t quite as salty on the outside. It also didn’t feel like it was dripping with oil, so it didn’t come across as a super heavy dish.
And of course, after the terrific meal we were treated to what we were promised, the souffle. It came beautifully decorated with candles and flowers, and we could not wait to dig in. Here’s a piece.
The fluffy texture, the cream, the strawberries — it was perfection.
The desserts were finished, however, as they soon served a second dessert, a simple yet delicious peach with a biscuit and creme, plus some dried apricots.
And there was tea and coffee as well. I got myself a cappuccino. The rock sugar was a nice touch.
In all, a fantastic lunch, good service, and great atmosphere. The particular waiter we had that day was probably new and perhaps somewhat nervous (and/or mentally challenged), but apart from that there’s not much else to fault with the experience.
Abu’s Authentic Cuisine
Address: No. 28 Siwei Rd, Da’an district, Taipei (nearest MRT: Da’an, Zhongxiao Fuxing, Zhongxiao Dunhua)
Phone: +886 2 2707 0699
Hours: 12:00 – 2:30 pm, 6:00 – 9:30 pm