I have a cousin who’s a big foodie just like me, and recently I’ve been keeping an eye on her recommendations on places to visit next. She gave a big thumbs up to 1516 Bistro Essen und Trinken, a cozy German joint in an alley across the road from the Breeze Center near Zhongxiao Fuxing in Taipei.
We visited early for Friday lunch. It’s not the type of place you notice walking by, and the interior is quite small with only room for about 25 people. But it’s stylish, with a little bar out the front and a wine room in the corner. The toilet is also surprisingly spacious and clean.
They usually serve business lunch sets during lunch times, but you can also ask for their dinner menu (which comes in English). The business lunch (between NT$300-380) is quite different, offering a soup of the day along with a choice of four sets, which include a salad, a main course and rice, plus a tea/coffee or other beverage for an additional cost.
The dinner menu is packed with traditional German goodies, and the recommendation I got was to skip the vegetables and go for the meats. It’s a shame, because we wanted to order a lot more than we did, but the waiter told us it was likely going to be too much already, as our order came with free soup and bread. This meant we had to skip the German sausage and bacon, as well as the pan fried US prime steak and the mustard pork tenderloin.
Instead, we went with the flammkuchen (bacon onion pancake/pizza) as a starter, and pork knuckle and deep fried chicken with caramel sea salt.
First up, the complimentary soup and bread.
The soup was thick cream corn soup, which was nice but extremely thick, so my advice is to not force yourself to finish it because there’s plenty more to come. The bread is nice a fresh, and comes with butter and olive oil/balsamic.
Next, the flammkuchen.
This was amazing, more or less a super crispy pizza with bacon, cheese and spring onions. Highly recommended as a starter. It’s thin and flavoursome, but not too heavy or filling.
Then, the main courses. Their signature dish is the German pork knuckle, which is crispy on the outside and with a nice bite on the inside.
It went really well with the yellow mustard and the sauerkraut, which was great because it was not as sour or vinegary as I expected. The best part is that it did not feel too oily or heavy, unlike a lot of other pork knuckles with crispy skin.
Next, the fried chicken with caramel sea salt.
As you can see, the chicken comes in a roll with a thick, tangy sweet sauce below, well-cooked fried potatoes with onions and sour cream, and a fresh salad. Excellent stuff.
All of that is great, but if you get the chance — and if you can handle a little spice — you must ask for their homemade chili sauce. Take a look at this beauty below.
It’s spicy, but it’s not the kind of heat that makes you uncomfortable. It just gives the food a great kick and enhances the flavours, without overpowering it. Get it if it’s available — you might have to ask for it.
Lastly, we asked about dessert and were recommended the Kaiserschmarrn, an Austrian pancake that’s supposed to be shredded but comes as a whole here.
They serve it whole, and then cut it up in front of you before adding a sprinkle of sugar powder and syrup. It’s a glorious hot mix with raisins on the inside, and reminds me of a mix between a thick pancake and bread and butter pudding. It’s phenomenal.
I would have liked to have tried more things, but what I did try was fantastic. 1516 Bistro is one of those small, cozy restaurants that you might not notice at first glance, but one you try it you’ll likely be back, again and again.
PS: I’m not much of a drinker, but I hear they have great wine too.
1516 Bistro Essen und Trinken
Address: No. 4, Lane 30, Section 1, Fuxing South Rd, Zhongshan District, Taipei
Phone: +886 2 2740 5586
Hours: 12:00 am – 2:00 pm, 6:00 pm – 12:00 am