Ben Cuisine (犇和牛館) (Taipei)

August 13, 2015 in Food, Reviews, Taiwan, Travel

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Groupon has some amazing deals, and one that recently caught our eye was this amazing 71% off “Michelin” feast offered by Ben Cuisine, a Taiwanese restaurant group specializing in teppanyaki and Japanese seafood. They have three restaurants all located next to each other in an alley off Anhe Road in Taipei’s Da’An district, and the offer is for their smallest one, their “Wagyu” shop with just a dozen or so seats.

I admit I was sceptical because, according to Groupon, the original value of the two-person deal is NT$6805, but they were giving it to people for NT$1980, or just NT$990 per person. So either the restaurant is feeling really generous or they are in trouble and are full of shit. But hey, it worked, because we bought it along with a lot of other people. Given that the deal is only available during lunch, reservations need to be made early to ensure a seat.

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The menu looked impressive on paper, so I was eager to find out just how good this “Michelin” feast is. By the way, I have doubts it’s even legal to use “Michelin” in promoting their restaurant because it doesn’t have any Michelin stars or chefs that once earned a Michelin star.

First up, French bread while I forgot to take a photo of. Basically just a typical bun with some olive oil dip.

Next, two appetizers. The first is a prime sirloin beef roll with truffle salad. It sounds awesome, but looks like this. It was pretty average, to be honest. The meat was not very tender and the flavours were too familiar.

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The other appetizer, a crispy pan-fried shrimp with salad. Not particularly memorable.

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Then it was time for a soup. You could choose a shrimp bisque or a clear seafood soup, and we both went for the former. The bisque looked good enough but was very average. There was just something missing.

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Next up, an entree before the main. We each got a serving of this Spanish Wagyu tapas with a crab “gnocchi” (really a pancake). The beef was fine and I liked the crab pancake, but the pastry wrapping the beef didn’t taste very fresh. I did like the red curry sauce on the side though.

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Then, it was time for the main courses, of which there were two. First, the prime sirloin with roasted garlic. It looked okay but I’ve had much much better steak. Wasn’t too bad with the onion garnish.

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The other was the pan fried chicken on top of creamy mashed potato. This turned out to be my favourite dish of the lot. The crispy chicken skin was prepared nicely and the mash was sublime. Unfortunately the chef out a little too much salt on the skin.

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After the mains they moved us to a small room for dessert. It was not the most comfortable of settings (you can see it along the back wall from the top photo), and the dessert was awful — soggy, cold, pre-prepared crepes and fruit. I don’t know when they prepared it but it was obvious they had just to take it out of the fridge. The post-meal beverage (coffee, tea, etc) was also just average.

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In all, it’s hard to imagine this meal being worth NT$980 a head, let alone NT$3402.5 per person. Strictly speaking it was not terrible, but when you charge a premium and put “Michelin” in the title you’re raising expectations pretty high. The truth is you can get better teppanyaki in a better setting in plenty of other places for that price range.

6.5/10

PS: The restaurant has apparently “extended” the Groupon deal.

Details

Ben Cuisine (Wagyu) (犇和牛館)

Website: http://www.bencuisine.com/

Address: No. 4-1, Lane 102, Section 1 Anhe Road, Da’An District, Taipei (nearest MRT Xinyi Anhe, exit 1)

Phone: (02) 2703 2296

Hours: Monday-Sunday (11:30-14:30, 17:30-22:30)