Abu Brasserie (Taipei)

August 8, 2013 in Food, Reviews

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We went through a fine dining streak for a little while, and one of the visits was to Abu Brasserie, headed by chef  William “Abu” Bu. Abu Brasserie is the “affordable” option for Bu fans — roughly around NT$1,000 per head — not to be confused with the more expensive Abu Authentic Cuisine (on Siwei Road), which can set you back more than double that.

Located in Taipei’s Da’an district, not too far from the big roundabout and about a 10-15 minute walk from either Da’an or Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT station, Abu Brasserie offers a business lunch set that includes an appetizer, soup, main course and dessert, plus tea or coffee, for between NT$680 and NT$1,280 (depending on the price of your main course).

Here is the menu, which unfortunately is a little fuzzy but good enough to read.

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We went with two lunch sets that split the two appetizer and soup options, and for the mains, we chose the roasted chicken with pappardelle pasta and truffle cream sauce, and the duck confit with wild mushroom risotto.

Before we got any of our dishes we were given some house bread, sliced up nicely and served with this tangy , India-inspired yoghurty sauce that really hit the spot.

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Then, it was time for the appetizers. The first was a rather simple Caesar salad with lily sprouts (which look like smashed boiled egg but is slightly crispy) and parma ham. It was fresh, light and well-presented — but nothing special.

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The second appetizer was a duck pate, which had kind of terrine strips on the sides. It also had a bit of salad together with a biscotti chip. An interesting mix of textures, though I didn’t find the main part of the dish, the pate, particularly great. Solid, but I’ve had much better elsewhere.

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Next up, the soups. The first is a simple vegetable soup with a light broth and assortment of vegetables. Sure, the ingredients are fresh, but it was an unexpectedly bland soup. To be honest I expected more.

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The second soup, a cream of pumpkin, was better, though again, nothing out of the ordinary.

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Up to this point the meal was shaping up to be a bit of a disappointment, so I pinned my hopes on the main courses. And yep, I loved the chicken with pappardelle and truffle cream sauce. It’s a dish you can’t really go wrong with because I love all three key ingredients, but the mix of flavours and textures was superb. The chicken was succulent, the pasta perfectly cooked and the sauce creamy but not too heavy.

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The second main, the duck confit, was good, though not quite as good as other duck confits I’ve had before. It was a little (OK, a lot) on the salty side and the risotto was the more traditional, harder type I’m not as used to. That pineapple piece, however, was a nice complement to the dish.

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Last but not least, the desserts. As you can see below, we got a souffle with fresh fruit, cream sauce and ice cream, and a chocolate and banana tart with lychee sorbet (note the desserts were not on the menu and are subject to change).

I’m going to just come out and say it: the souffle was the best we’ve ever had. All time. Incredible. My wife still raves on about it. It was that good. Forget about it.

In comparison, the tart was rather average and I can’t remember much about it.

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The final verdict on Abu Brasserie‘s business lunch set – average appetizer and soup, good to very good main courses, and the best souffle ever. Average that out and I give the place…

8/10

Details

Abu Brasserie

Address: 9, Ln 199, Xinyi Rd, Sec 4, Taipei City (nearest MRT Da’an or Zhongxiao Dunhua)

Phone: (02) 2755-2671

Hours: 12pm-2pm, 6pm-9:30pm

Casa Della Pasta in Taipei

December 16, 2012 in Food, Reviews

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Casa Della Pasta is one of those places in Taipei that I keep hearing rave reviews about, so I decided to check it out one night at the store on Jinshan South Road in the Da’an district.  Bear in mind, though, this visit occurred last year (shows how far behind I am in my reviews), and for some reason I can no longer find this branch on the restaurant’s official website, so it’s possible that the store may have closed down. That said, it still has at least three other locations, so this review should still be relevant from a food perspective.

Anyway, the branch that we went to was huge and beautifully decorated, giving a sense that you’re walking into some high class joint that will burn a hole in your wallet. That was supposedly the charm of Casa Della Pasta — it only looks that way but the prices are very family friendly.

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I’m not sure about the prices being super cheap, but they are very competitive for Italian food (around NT100-200 per dish). The biggest draw of the restaurant, in my opinion, is the sheer variety of dishes they have on offer. Seriously, the menu is huge and there are all kinds of appetizers, pastas and pizzas. Granted, most of them are just variations of each other — eg, pick a meat, a type of sauce and a type of pasta — but combing through the menu and deciding on what to order can be a time consuming process.

In the end, with just two people, we went with a pizza and pasta to share. The pizza was their popular pineapple with smoked chicken (see below). I’ll be frank — it was hugely disappointing. The toppings and flavour were okay but the crust tasted no better than those you get from frozen pizzas. And the size was not overwhelming either.

Pineapple and smoked chicken pizza

Pineapple and smoked chicken pizza

But hey, it was relatively cheap, and the place is called Casa Della PASTA, so I assumed the second dish, the pesto chicken spaghetti, was going to be significantly better. Well, it was better, but nothing that blew my world. The chicken pieces were a tad large for my liking and the chicken was on the chewier side. The pesto sauce was very rich and creamy, which is good for a while but I soon found myself getting sick of it.

Chicken pesto pasta

Chicken pesto pasta

Lastly, the dessert — a layered cake, the kind you’d find at most cake stores in Taiwan. Again, it was OK, but nothing spectacular.

Dessert

Dessert

On other thing I remembered about this place was that the service was excruciatingly slow. In all it turned out to be a fairly average experience. Not horrible for the price, and I can imagine with its ambiance and variety it would be a nice place to hold a group gathering or family outing, but as far as taste goes it didn’t get the job done for me.

6.5/10

Details

Casa Della Pasta

Website: www.capasta.com.tw/

Lunch: 12pm-2:40pm; Dinner: 6pm-9:40pm

Stores:

Banqiao — No. 136, Section 1, Zhongshan Road (02-29546133)

Zhongxiao Dunhua — No. 23, Lane 233, Section 1, Dunhua South Road (02-27717869)

Zhongshan — No. 7-1, Lane 11, Section 2, Zhongshan North Road (02-25678769)

Bade — No. 1, Section 1, Bade Road (02-23957117)

 
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