I ate at RAW Taipei this past Saturday night after seeing Star Wars at Miramar.
You know about RAW, right? It was opened by Taiwan-born, now Singapore-based celebrity chef, Andre Chiang in late 2014.
RAW is constantly described as the “hardest reservation to get in Taipei”, which is why I was lazy and asked a contact to put me in touch with RAW’s restaurant director. Yes, I know. That’s cheating.
The restaurant is visually breathtaking, with good acoustic control and interesting lighting. With all the lovely, organic wood surfaces and personal space, you can get away with pretending you’re in Scandinavia for a few hours.
You know, just ignore the fact that you’re sitting one floor below Chili’s and a stone’s throw away from Carrefour. Speaking of Chili’s, if you want to get a pre-dinner drink, just go. Don’t fight it. We had mojitos.
Before I get to the food, I’ll mention that the staff photos hanging from the ceiling must be a new thing. Photos from other reviews don’t have them. It kind of makes you feel you’re dining in a culinary school restaurant.
We had the “Best of the Year” prix fixe menu for 2,680NT per head, which is being served until January 10, 2016. It’s basically a collection of RAW’s greatest hits from the restaurant’s first year of business.
Our first order of business was ordering a bottle of white wine. Amazingly, they were out of our first three picks so we were given a bottle of something else, I can’t even remember what. But hey, we had wine so I was happy.
After that, the above three appetizers arrived. The food looks really great, you have to agree.
Then this sashimi with yoghurt. It was really, really tasty. One of my top picks.
This was also a favorite. You can never go wrong with fresh peas.
This mushroom soupy thing with poached egg, oh my god. The best thing I ate all night.
A couple of not-so-favorites. Fish was a little dry and chewy. The cabbage was too charred. The uni was an unnecessary luxury. I never, ever thought I’d disrespect uni. Who am I?
I wish the uni was on this pasta dish instead, replacing all of the tiny, salty shrimp. It looked great, but too salty for me. There was also a short rib dish (not shown) with the opposite issue. The Top Chef superfan in me wants to say it was “completely underseasoned”.
By the way, the dinnerware used at RAW is from Heath Ceramics in San Francisco. How could I tell? Because I own a wedding registry business, folks.
Here’s one of the three desserts that finished out our meal. It was really tasty, like chocolate desserts usually are, however my favorite was a little pineapple cake cube (not shown). I could have had a couple more of those.
We had the opportunity to peek inside the kitchen and watch the head chef expedite up close. There are 22 cooks in the back — all Taiwanese — and the average age of the restaurant staff is just 30. Vivian told us the head chefs wanted to set world-class standards for these young professionals, so the orders are typically shouted out in French.
All up, dinner for two, the white wine, bottled water and 10% service charge came to just under 8,000NT.
It was one of the most expensive meals I’ve had in Taipei, but nothing compared to some monster checks I’ve paid in New York. Granted, eating out in New York includes 9% tax and 20% tip.
So is the hype worth it? Would I go back to RAW? The answer is yes, I would go back, but for the 1,850NT set next time. And if you believe all the hype, I suggest recalibrating your expectations with a mojito at Chili’s before your reservation. Trust me, you’ll enjoy the RAW experience a whole lot more.
Make a reservation online here. Note that they’re closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.