There are Michelin star restaurants and then there is the Asia 50 Best Restaurant List. Some restaurants make it to both, if there is a Michelin guide for their country, but in others where Michelin has yet to officially issue a guidebook, the Asia 50 Best Restaurant List is another alternative when looking for fine dining options in a particular country.
Taiwan is one of those countries where it is more known for its street food than fine dining. In fact, when browsing the Asia 50 Best Restaurant List, I was surprised to see that 3 restaurants based in Taiwan had made it to the list. One of them even happened to be opened by André Chiang, who is well known for his Singapore restaurant – Restaurant André.
Unfortunately, I did not make it to Raw, André Chiang’s Taipei Restaurant. However, on my recent trip to Taipei, managed to score a reservation at Mume, another restaurant on the Asia Top 50 List.
Mume was opened in 2014 by 3 chefs, Richie Lin, Kai Ward and Long Xiong. Richie Lin in particular, has worked at Noma, and the cuisine at Mume is that of European-Asian fusion. Think Noma meets Taiwan.
When I walked into Mume last Friday night, it was buzzing. Reservations are definitely recommended here. Service was brisk but friendly, I waited no more than 5 minutes before being shown to my table.
Everyone raves about their wagyu tartare with calm mayo and confit egg yolk. I was really tempted to get that plate for myself too, but that evening I didn’t really feel like it and so I chose another starter off the menu instead.
Scallop with shaved zucchini, fennel, citrus, lemon verbena and roasted kombu. The first thing that hit me when I first saw the dish was how pretty and delicate the entire presentation looked. The flavours of the dish were very subtle. The freshness and quality of the ingredients was evident, with the citrus and lemon verbena providing a nice tartness to the scallop and the zucchini. It was not an “explosion in your mouth” sort of flavour, but the flavours were clear and light and gave a nice start to the meal.
The waitress recommended the amadai, so I took her up on her suggestion. The amadai came with a sake and tea broth and we were invited to have whiff of the broth before the waitress poured it over the amadai. The broth was very fragrant and again, the delicate nature of the dish was unexpectedly pleasant and enjoyable.
Coming from Singapore, I’m usually quite used to strong flavours, but I found myself appreciating the light clean flavours that this dish (and I realise, Mume) had to offer. The fish was cooked perfectly, and the crispy skin was fantastic, but the broth was the true winner here.
In between the main and dessert, I decided to order a cocktail. Mume has quite the dedicated cocktail bar, and some very ingenious cocktail names as well (always a must in order to lure the crowd :)). I settled for a rosemary infused gin, pear and D.O.M cocktail. It was very good, could actually taste the gin, which was great.
To round up the meal, I took up the waitress’s recommendation again and went for a local inspired dessert – bitter almond ice cream with calamansi and ponkan (taiwanese orange).
In all, I thought that it was a great first meal at Mume. The staff took very good care of me and were very attentive. Would definitely recommend this place to anyone who is looking for a fine dining experience in Taipei. Who knows, you might even get a picture with Richie Lin like I did
Add: 四維路28號, Taiwan, Taipei City, Da’an District