Taipei’s Michelin Stars –
A Who’s Who
Article / Photos
Taipei Pictorial issue 603
Le Palais: Ken Chan and Matt Chen
Authentic Guardians of Cantonese Cuisine
Le Palais at Taipei’s Palais de Chine Hotel (君品酒店頤宮中餐廳) has two master chefs: the Group Executive Chef specializing in Chinese cuisine, Ken Chan (陳偉強) from Hong Kong, and the Executive Chef specializing in traditional Cantonese cuisine, Matt Chen (陳泰榮) from Macau. All cookware and sauces used on the Cantonese side are from Hong Kong, but all the fresh ingredients are grown locally here. With reasonable prices and high-quality ingredients, Le Palais hopes that everyone will come and enjoy their authentic Cantonese gourmet. A favorite of foodies is the Barbecue Pork (叉燒皇). Its lean meat comes with just a bit of fat and a sweet sauce. It just melts in your mouth!
Shoun RyuGin: Ryohei Hieda
The Taiwanese Ingredient Challenger
Appointed Chef de Cuisine of Shoun RyuGin (祥雲龍吟) by the Executive Chef of Tokyo’s RyuGin (龍吟), Seiji Yamamoto (山本征治), Ryohei Hieda (稗田良平) came to Taiwan three years ago. He uses almost 100% Taiwanese ingredients in his contemporary cuisine created with bold thinking. His most popular dish is duck, for which he imports Hoyeh duck from Yilan (宜蘭). This he hangs in a chilled aging room to dry for five days, before cutting it open to let it dry for 10 more days. After that, he smokes it with straw, giving the duck a milder taste.
▲Photo: The Sheraton Grand Taipei
The Guest House: Lin Juwei
A Surprising Chinese Cuisine
The Guest House at The Sheraton Grand Taipei (喜來登請客樓) specializes in Chuanyang wheat flour dishes and authentic Sichuanese cuisine, but its traditional Suhang dishes and delicious appetizers are just as good. The chef, Lin Juwei (林菊偉) uses only top quality Taiwanese ingredients in his Chinese food. The open-style kitchen allows this chef to show off his excellent cutting skills, his proficiency at the culinary arts, and the things he has learned in 20 years of experience making wheat flour dishes. His signature dish, the well-simmered Chinese four-herbal soup (四神湯) is a favorite among Western tourists.
Ken An Ho: Wachi Isao
The True Samurai Spirit
Situated in a back alley off Anhe Road (安和路) in Taipei, the Japanese restaurant Ken An Ho (謙安和) just started in 2016 but has already been awarded one Michelin star. The chef, Wachi Isao (和知軍雄) believes that the primary element in Japanese cuisine is water, so he chooses mineral water that has a similar quality to that found in Japan for making his stock and rice and even for washing up. For stock, he insists on using only Katsuobushi (dried bonitos) from pole-and-line fishing, which he then shreds into flakes with a special shredder. The sashimi comes from fish caught off Japan and Korea, and a different selection is offered every day.
Kitcho: Kyo Hsu
The Amazing Culinary Arts
Kitcho’s (吉兆割烹壽司) Chef, Kyo Hsu (許文杰) didn’t know they’d awarded him one Michelin star until the day of the presentation ceremony! Being one of the few Taiwanese chefs of Japanese cuisine so honored gave him an incredible feeling. In 20-plus years of culinary experience, he has completely mastered his cutting skills. He is always very careful in selecting ingredients, and insists on choosing only fresh and natural ingredients from Japan. His specialties are mainly nigiri sushi, and sometimes he even invites Michelin-starred Japanese chefs to host dinner parties in Taiwan. This is something people look forward to eagerly. Michelin has noted that Hsu is a chef who likes to provide his customers exquisite Japanese tastes in recipes created with his own two hands.
Sushi Nomura: Yuji Nomura
The Impeccable Ingredients
Sushi Nomura (野村壽司) Chef, Yuji Nomura (野村裕二) came to Taiwan 11 years ago. Known as “The God of Sushi” in Taipei, he is grateful to be awarded a Michelin star, but finds it quite challenging and stressful, so he keeps a low profile and refuses any interviews. What attracts foodies most are his excellent cutting skills and impeccable ingredients. He uses Koshihikari and Hokkaido Nanatsuboshi rice, as well as sashimi shipped by air from Tsukiji Market in Japan, and spring water from Mt. Fuji for tea. When it comes to attention to detail, he sets the bar extremely high. The Michelin Guide mentions that Chef Nomura’s standards for rice are rigorous; the marinated silver-skinned fish and the anago are particularly worth savoring.
▲Photo: Sushi Ryu
Sushi Ryu: Yang Yonglong
The Youngest Michelin Winner
Sushi Ryu (鮨隆) has been in business less than 6 months but has already got a Michelin star. And there’s a six month waiting list in their reservation book. Chef Yang Yonglong (楊永隆) teared up when he received the award. With 26 years of culinary experience, he notes that Japanese cuisine has a very complicated preparation process, and you need to know about way more than just cutting fish. He adjusts his methods of preparing fish according to the weather and humidity. He leaves home before six o’clock in the morning, and doesn’t come home until after midnight. Every week, he orders ingredients from Japan, and he uses three different vinegars in making his sushi rice – in order to match the sashimi’s flavor perfectly.
L’ATELIER de Joël Robuchon: Olivier Jean
The Classic French Cuisine
This is the 35th Michelin star L’ATELIER de Joël Robuchon has garnered globally. It was, in fact, the very first Michelin-starred restaurant to open a branch in Taiwan, and, when it did, Master Chef Joël Robuchon appointed his outstanding apprentice Olivier Jean to be Chef de Cuisine. The dishes here are creative while maintaining an authentic French taste – a taste which set the trend for Taipei’s gourmet world. The chic bar design and the open-style kitchen make this restaurant a place where diners can enjoy good food and watch the chefs’ excellent culinary prowess at the same time.
RAW: André Chiang
The Creative Michelin Starred Cuisine
RAW opened its doors more than three years ago, but its founder, André Chiang (江振誠) has never lost the strong character traits he displayed at the beginning. He returned his two Michelin stars last year in Singapore and then came back to Taiwan; and this year, when Michelin awarded him another star in Taiwan, he still didn’t attend the awards ceremony! He takes things like crispy snack noodles, three-color eggs, and traditional Taiwanese foods and brings brand new ideas to them. For example, in one recipe he deep fries spaghetti, and in another he combines chicken eggs with three-color fish eggs and steams them! Another signature dish is his combination of scallion pancake with elements of okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake with various toppings) to create a delicious new taco-like dish!
Taïrroir: Kai Ho
Having Fun in the Kitchen
Not too many people can make French cuisine out of canned food and still win a Michelin star, but Taïrroir (態芮) chef, Kai Ho (何順凱) has done it. He doesn’t like to talk much but he’s very good at cooking! He takes ingredients he’s familiar with, matches them in a distinctly Chinese way, and then uses his French culinary skills to come up with surprising new tastes. For example, instead of truffles, he uses canned pickled cucumbers, slices and stuffs them under chicken skin to make a dish similar to the French delicacy, poularde demi-deuil. He also puts marshmallows on Western style pork chops to make them taste like Chinese sweet-and-sour pork ribs.
Tien Hsiang Lo: Yang Kuangtsung
Authentic Hangzhou Cuisine
Tien Hsiang Lo at The Landis Taipei (台北亞都麗緻飯店天香樓) has been awarded one Michelin star. The restaurant’s chef, Yang Kuangtsung (楊光宗) says that it’s such an honor to get this award, although in his mind, there’s no such thing as a “Michelin standard.” When it comes to cuisine, he just wants to do his best. “The award is only another way to show recognition to the chef.” Tien Hsiang Lo specializes in Hangzhou cuisine, which focuses on using less oil, sauce and seasoning. It delivers the ingredients’ original flavors without modification from extra processing skills or flavorings.
Ya Ge: Tse Man
The New Taste of Classic Cantonese Cuisine
Tse Man (謝文), the newly-minted Chef de Cuisine at Mandarin Oriental, Taipei’s (台北文華東方酒店) Chinese restaurant, Ya Ge (雅閣), has mastered the culinary skills of grilling, simmering, roasting and frying such top ingredients as sea cucumber, abalone, and dried fish maw. Amber stock is the soul of Cantonese cuisine, and for cooking abalone or vegetables, such stock adds flavor; but the strength ratio is a closely-guarded secret in every Cantonese kitchen. Every afternoon at 4 o’clock, Tse will check the flavor of the stock himself, and he often stays after work to discuss cooking with his colleagues. The Oven-baked Crab Meat and Onion (焗釀鮮蟹蓋) has a rich stuffing and is baked golden and crispy, which makes it popular among customers.
Golden Formosa: Eric Chen
Bringing Taiwanese Cuisine to the Next Level
Serving Tianmu (天母) for almost 70 years, Golden Formosa (金蓬萊遵古台菜) provides authentic Taiwanese cuisine. The third generation owner, Eric Chen took over the business at age 30, and insists on using only fresh ingredients and unprocessed food. The signature dish, Crispy Pork Ribs (排骨酥) is fried twice in oils of different temperatures to keep it crispy outside and juicy inside, ensuring an unforgettably delicious taste. Buddha Jumps Over the Wall (佛跳牆) contains over ten ingredients, including chestnuts, medicinal herbs and deep-fried pork ribs, all selected by Chen and put into a pot to simmer. The chicken broth is cooked just right, which keeps people coming back for more.
Ming Fu: Master Chef A Ming
The Best Buddha Jumps Over the Wall
The interior of the traditional Taiwanese restaurant, Ming Fu (明福台菜海產) has a rather simple look, just like any residential building. The two main characters at this six-table restaurant are Master Chef A Ming (阿明師), who’s in charge of the kitchen, and Lin Liju (林麗珠), who takes care of service. The most famous dish here is Buddha Jumps Over the Wall (一品佛跳牆), but other signature dishes include Chicken Stuffed with Sticky Rice (糯米雞), Beef Brisket Stew (清燉牛腩), Chicken Testicles and Pork Kidney Cooked in Sesame Oil (麻油雙腰), Barbecued Small Abalone (燒烤九孔), and Barbecued Sausage (烤香腸). The Ming Fu management insists it won’t open a branch restaurant, nor do they do take-out or catering. They devote themselves to making high-quality Taiwanese cuisine, in the hopes that they will attract gourmands who truly love and appreciate their food.
Three Coins: Chiu Jinghei
The Perfect Taiwanese/Cantonese Combo
Of all the Michelin-starred restaurants in Taipei, the old Taiwan-style Cantonese restaurant, Three Coins (大三元) is the closest to the Presidential Office Building, so many of its customers are celebrities from the worlds of politics and business. Its owner, Chiu Jinghei (邱靜惠) says that the two keys to Three Coins winning its Michelin star were ingredients and a delicate taste. Ms. Chiu goes to the market every day to shop. Her fare is primarily Cantonese cuisine made with Taiwanese ingredients. For example, the dish Seafood Baked Papaya (海鮮焗木瓜) uses papaya from Pingtung, cuts in half, deseeded and stuffed with scallops, shrimp and mushrooms, with lots of cheese placed on top before being baked. This stuffing and the sweetness of the papaya make a perfect match!
MUME: Richie Lin
The Experimental Cuisine of Flowers
MUME has twice been named one of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Its chef, Richie Lin (林泉) is famous of his creative European cuisine and has lately become fascinated by the idea of developing flower recipes. Lin especially finds salads interesting. The signature dish, MUME Salad contains over 30 seasonal ingredients, including boiled or pickled daikon (white radish) that is seasoned with mountain pepper and fermented black soybeans, Chinese fever vine that has a slightly bitter and grassy taste, and zucchini blossoms, which have a melon-like sweet taste. All of these makes a feast for the eyes and for the taste buds.
Da-Wan: Huang Yihong
Best Barbecue in Taipei!
Da-Wan (大腕) is popular among show business celebrities. Its chef, Huang Yihong (黃一洪) sums up the requirements to winning a Michelin star in two simple sentences: “Be persistent and never compromise easily” and “Be an upright person.” Being persistent means changing the habits of staff and customers who insist on using a lot of dip. Chili and shallot salt are all that is needed to enhance a piece of meat’s flavor. The Michelin Guide recommends the aged beef as the most delicious dish at Da-Wan. It’s aged for not less than 21 days, then grilled to perfection and seasoned according to the customer’s preference.
Danny’s Steakhouse: Danny Deng
Cooking With Sincerity
Founded four years ago, Danny’s (教父牛排) is the only steakhouse in Taiwan to win a Michelin star. Whenever people talk about great steak chefs in Taiwan, Danny Deng (鄧有癸), the “godfather of steaks,” is a name that will surely come to mind. The key feature of the steaks cooked here is that they are smoked using three different types of wood: white oak, walnut and cherry to get a rich aroma, and then the meat is grilled over lychee wood. This American method involves several phases of grilling and produces a “crispy on the outside, tender on the inside” texture. And Danny’s Coconut Pineapple Tarts (椰香鳳梨塔) use pineapples from south Taiwan sprinkled with lemongrass, Sichuan peppercorns, and chili powder.
Longtail: Lam Ming Kin
Chef Lam Ming Kin (林明健) has devoted himself to the creation of good food for over 20 years. With his rich experience working in different countries, he has developed his own unique culinary philosophy. At age 20, he quit college to pursue his dream, and this led him to Lan Kwai Fong (蘭桂坊) in Hong Kong. Longtail serves up mouth-watering dishes and cocktails. With its friendly service and inviting atmosphere, diners get to experience Taipei’s splendid night life in a place that’s great for gathering and dining indeed! Lam uses local ingredients and applies cooking skills and creativity garnered from many countries. He recommends Shrimp Sliders (鮮蝦漢堡) and Charred Foie Gras Dumplings (鴨肝餃子). Cocktails here are a must.
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