November 26, 2022

My new favorite in Taipei

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I'm back in Taiwan for a few days to cast my votes for the local elections. Today is election day, and I did my civic duty in the morning. The polls closed at 4 p.m. and vote-counting began pretty much immediately at each polling station. Elections are pretty efficient in Taiwan, and results are reported back quickly and all the news channels have live coverage of how the count is progressing. It's easy to be caught up in this.

Well, I had no interest in sitting in front of the TV for hours watching the numbers tick up, and I knew that was what would happen if the Parental Units and I had dinner at home. So I booked a table for dinner for the three of us tonight, and told the Parental Units I had no interest in watching TV coverage. We were going out for a nice dinner to enjoy ourselves.

I hadn't bothered to book some place way in advance, so we weren't gonna get a table anywhere that's hard to get in. I also wanted to take mom somewhere for a new experience, and I figured I had found that in Molino de Urdániz. The flagship restaurant in Spain has earned themselves two macarons, and while I wasn't sure why they chose to open an outpot in Taipei, this place has also garnered a little macaron for itself. The description of "Spanish contemporary" evoked memories of cutting edge restaurants I visited during my trip back in 2006, and I wondered if they could deliver.


The menu listed thirteen courses, some of which came with poetic names such as "green meadow", "setting sun", and "bountiful harvest". This was gonna be a fun meal.

Caramelo de pimentón relleno de mousse de txistorra, adaptacion del embutido a nuestr cocina - injected into the tiny tubes made from fondant sugar and smoked paprika powder was a mousse made of txistorra. I could definitely taste the smoky flavors of the sausage along with a hint of spicy kick, while the tubes of sugar were so thin and so easily cracked that one had to be very, very careful with one's fingers.

Pepino encurtido y aliño de hierbas, pepino osmotizado, crema de ostras, hierbas y notas lácteas - described as "Molino's backyard", apparently this is the signature of the restaurant which has remained on the menu since the beginning. It only took one look at this to bring a smile on my face. I knew now that I would love this meal. Just looking at this presentation alone tells me that this was the "innovative Spanish" that I have loved all these years - of the same vein as el Bulli, Azurmendi, and others. I have missed it dearly, but now I found it here in Taipei.

I could smell the sharp acidity from the vinegar in the air. The green "shrubs" were thin ribbons of cucumber marinated in rice vinegar for precisely 8 seconds before being rolled up. The white "pebbles" were made of Gillardeau oysters, milk, and fresh cream. The green dots were made of herb-flavored cream along with oysters. We were instructed to cut the cucumber ribbons into sections before added the white and green cream on top.

I was really happy with this dish. The acidity in the cucumber wasn't sharp at all, and blending the cream into the mix worked perfectly. The flavors of the oysters were certainly noticeable yet did not overwhelm. Visually pleasing and harmonious on the palate.

Buey de mar, sobre una crema de almendra - the poetic description was the "setting sun", meant to evoke the feeling of warmth of the sun's rays on the ground. Curiously, the main ingredient was crab meat. Paired with both a creamy foam infused with dashi (出汁) of kombu (昆布) and katsuobushi (鰹節), as well as an almond cream below the shredded crab meat.

I was a little surprised to find very finely diced ginger at the bottom of the foam, but I suppose it would work with the crab and also provide some warming effect. The almond cream added richness to the crab without being too sweet, and we found some tiny amaranth seeds on top of the quenelle of crab alongside the edible flowers and herbs. Overall, a very refined dish. By now, mom was feeling a little impressed...

Royal de salazones ahumados, verduras y licuado vegetal - poetically named "green meadows", there's a layer of custard at the bottom made with smoked sardines, smoked anchovies, and egg. Covered in a green sauce made of cucumbers and herbs. The greens on top included wild asparagus, snow peas, rapeseed stems, nasturtium leaves, and parsnip.

Lots of green and herbal flavors here. The wild asparagus had been lightly pickled to deliver a light amount of acidity, while the egg royale gives off this feeling of warmth and comfort. I must confess the anchovies were barely noticeable, but it was certainly there in the custard. This was a delicious and visually pleasant dish.

Pescado glaseado y ahumado, sobre crema de jamón - with the poetic name of "burning fields", it certainly looked like the aftermath of a fire. The sous vide salmon was smoked and sat atop some jamón cream. Topped with some salmon floss. On the side there were some really tasty spring onions that had been burnt. The pearl onions came with a sauce made with smoked butter, beets, and sugar. A pretty tasty dish, this was.

Tomate encurtido, bearnesa y aceite de estragón - the poetic description is "blazing sun", and these cherry tomatoes have been marinated in tarragon vinegar. The Béarnaise underneath came with trout roe and tarragon oil.

Gamba roja, hinojo, huevas y meunière - the gamba roja from the northern coast of Taiwan was apparently pan-fried, but in reality it was just barely cooked and absolutely flawless. The lemon cream sauce was much saltier than I had expected, and the salt surely didn't come from trout roe. I guess the wafers of button mushrooms were meant to balance out the salt... The fennel fronds brought their lovely fragrance. Finally, the dot of Grana Padano was really nice, but why was there so little of it?!

If they hadn't been so heavy with the salt in the sauce, this dish would have been just wonderful.

Mero curado, nata ahumada y aceite de eneldo - entitled "bountiful harvest", we mostly see this mountain of lemon-flavored foam... which, when taken on its own, was simply too acidity and hurt the back of my throat. We've got coral grouper cured via Japanese kobujime (昆布締め) method, sliced very thin like carpaccio although the fish wasn't completely raw.

At the bottom of the foam we had powder made from debydrated mussels, along with smoked cream. Overall, not quite my cup of tea.

Tartar de ternera, crema ahumada de chirivia - pretty fatty tartare of Japanese A5 wagyu which had an almost mushy texture, paired with smoked parsnip purée and topped with sliced parsnip, black truffles, and mustard seeds giving us some bitter aftertaste. Very rich with heavy seasoning. Not quite to my liking.

We have deep-fried pig trotter tendons that almost look like chicharrón, and these were meant to be used to scoop out the mash encased in the bone that was made of bone marrow and smoked butter. This was really, really good! The mash was like a smooth and sweet butter, with a tiny bit of grain texture.

Ostra asada, cacahuete y lima sobre un toffee de ajo - you know the old and tired joke about fancy French restaurants serving you a tiny bit of food on a really big plate? Well... I'll be damned if this ain't a perfect illustration of that!

The lightly pan-fried Gillardeau oyster sat on top of some garlic mayo, and that garlic was pretty obvious. Although I could feel the creaminess of peanuts in the sauce that was brushed on top, the flavors of the oyster still came out strong. A very interesting combination of flavors.

Bogavante, curry verde de piparras y Americana de manos - the live Boston lobster was cooked sous vide then lightly pan-fried and smoked, then served up with both a green curry and sauce américaine. Garnished with coriander shoots.

This was pretty decent, but no "wow factor".

Pato marinado, alga encurtida y caviar - the duck breast was marinated with garlic, papaya, and olive oil before being pan-fried and smoked. Honestly I thought this was really overcooked to the point the meat disintegrated into a mushy paste while being chewed. The seaweed on top was marinated in apple cider vinegar, but I didn't understand why caviar was even here.

The croqueta came with a liquid center of chicken liver, honey, and lots of heavy spices. The shell was sweet from honey and a little powdery, which disintegrated in the mouth easily.

Chocolate etéro, crema helada de lupulo y vinagre de manzanilla - inspired by "snow on the rocks", we have a block of "ethereal" frozen chocolate mousse at the bottom made with 55% cacao. But the real star was the hops ice cream on top, which was so floral and honey-like. Also got chamomille vinegar on the side. So, soooo good.

The second, surprise dessert came in the form of milk skin with sugar added, which was pretty tasty like a sweet puff pastry. The stout beer ice cream on top certainly tasted like Guinness.

>After multiple courses delivering at a very high standard, the mignardises looked downright pathetic in comparison.

Canelé - one look and all I could think of was FAIL. Woefully misshapen, and tasted greasy.


"Financier" - the shape says it's a madeleine but the staff called it a financier, although it did taste more like the latter...

Chocolate truffle

As I was drinking alone, I just picked two glasses to take it easy.

2019 S.A. Prüm Riesling Blue Trocken - pretty standard flavors with classic petrol on the nose.

2019 Jean Leon 3055 Chardonnay - Ok la...

There were certainly some misses tonight, and in a long tasting menu that's bound to happen. But there were also a lot of highs, and I was just really, really happy to have found a place where I could enjoy this kind of cuisine. You can bet your bottom dollar that I'll be back.

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