Jan 8, 2019

RAW X'mas & New Year Special Menu - It's About Time

Ever since RAW opened back in 2014, it's been one of the toughest places to get a table in Taipei. Years later, the hype finally died down a little, just a wee bit. And it just happened that I got a table for their X'mas and new year special meal. It's about time.

In fact, I was reading an article about RAW, so decided to check out RAW's website to try my luck, see if any seats are available. Perhaps the restaurant just released their special meal dining plan, all the time slots during Christmas and new year were all available.

Of course I had to press that button and confirmed my reservation. 

By the way, after dining at RAW, I checked out their online booking system again just to see if it's still quite a challenge to get a table there. Well, it's not mission impossible anymore, but still highly recommended to book one or two months in advance.

So the staffs were already waiting by the door for the guests to arrive. It was a warm welcome. 

Long story short, there's always various voices regarding the meals at RAW. I guess it varies widely depending on which seasonal or special menu being tried. 

My opinion? There's another Michelin starred restaurant upstairs, Taïrroirserving somewhat similar style dishes. Where western and Taiwanese elements intertwined together. For sure the service is much more friendly and closer to heart at RAW. However, food-wise, I was more impressed with the delicate aromas showcased by Taïrroir. Some of the dishes I had at RAW was too salty, overpowering the other elements on the plate. Either way, it was only based on my first visits of these two places though.

Wine pairing -

Bring it on, get the complete wine pairing, and RAW will serve one more bonus dish. The one that pushed Chef Andre Chiang to a whole different realm, foie gras jelly and black truffle coulis. How can you say no?

(Drink responsibly, don't drink and drive)

Need utensils? Just open the drawer on the side and everything you need are right there.

Two starters to begin the meal. Looks like coral to me but should be mimicking the scenery of woods and grass, since there it set two nests holding two quail eggs -

The flavor of the eggs are similar to Taiwanese tea egg, on top of that, the semi-cooked yolk inside was luscious and velvety. 

The other starter, onion soup with imported caviar -

As comforting as it can be, when that creamy and oniony soup slid from its crunchy shell, embraced by its warmth, finally shook away that tingling sensation from the cold breeze outside.

Uni/kohlrabi/porridge -

Reminiscing the porridge and array of little savory dishes that Taiwanese love to eat, either for breakfast or late night meal. 

Thick and almost roux-like rice drink serving in a cup, slightly sweet to taste. Above the rice crisp, lays uni and fermented tofu sauce. Beneath that, pickled kohlrabi. Old school comfort food got its new face lift.

First wine pairing, Méthod Traditionelle Brut, Cuvée Classique N°15 Blanc de Blancs/ Weightstone -

Wine from Taiwan, that's right, check out their official website for more information regarding Weightstone winery. This one was made with 100% golden muscat. Tropical fruit notes such as lychee and passion fruit, said so on the wine menu. To me, more of hawthorn, and even a hint of savory note similar to fermented black beans, which matches so well with the country bread coming up shortly.

Prawn/pea/myoga -

Also a small plate of quinoa in the back if a crunchier bite is preferred. 

Country bread with cocoa quinoa butter -

It can definitely win the best supporting role in this whole dining experience. The more you chew, a kind of rustic aroma keeps emerging. The bread was elastic but not rubbery, that thin outer layer also got a wee bit of crunchiness. 

Once putting on some buttery spread, it further smoothen out any rugged edge with an extra bonus of cocoa's dense, almost to a point leaning towards bitter fragrance, even more comforting that way. I can eat this every day. 

Don't forget to take a sip of that sparkling wine.

Second wine pairing, Sancerre Auksinis/Sébastien Riffault 2013 -

100% Sauvignon Blanc. The description says that this winery is famous for its late harvest grapes, in order to obtain ripe fruit characteristics. Probably not the most easily accepting kind of wine, especially when our waitress was double checking how was the wine. 

In fact, to a point I thought it got some traits of fino sherry, and it sure can pair well with that fermented tofu sauce earlier. But I haven't had sherry for quite some time, so don't take my words for granted. I'm guessing that the restaurant was going bold with this one, either way, I enjoyed it a lot.

Watermelon/buri/pink guava -

Ok, it tricked me. At first I thought I have to drink from that straw.

Ended up it was not a straw for boba, but a test tube filled with two color dressing. And the watermelon was more of a lid. Opened it up revealing the true dish hidden underneath.

Buri, pink guava, sea grapes from Penghu (islands near Taiwan), katsuo stock jelly. The pale yellow greenish slice on top was pickled watermelon, using the usually discarded white section. Refreshing it was, but also too salty and overly sourish. In the end it was packed with all so strong seasonings, not that refreshing anymore.

Giant clam/lardo/chowder -

Inside that shell, one giant clam and one mussel to strengthened the flavor. Bacon bits was supposed to sprinkle on top of the chowder we're used to, but here, substituted with bacon foam. 

Put all that aside, the truly special part, to me at least, was the lardo. Not the regular lardo, but the one made with sword fish, velvety in a dense way, a fun dish to try.

You can also wipe out the sauce with lardo and bread, enjoying these two in one bite.

Asparagus/organic egg/white truffle -

Whole Alba white truffle was only for presentation, so that we can smell first. Savor after.

Nothing can ever go wrong with potato and white truffle.

Third wine pairing, Vin de France Initials BB/AGNÈS & RENÉ MOSSE 2015 -

100% Chenin Blanc this time. I love that half way through a distinct hay or straw type of aroma slowing coming to the surface. Gotta love Loire wine. 

Corn/gnocchi/bottarga - 

Flavors are not hard to predict with such ingredients combination.

Cobia/eggplant/burnt miso -

Not written on the menu, but what might took the most of the effort is that purple sugar paper-looking thing. 

Eggplant was used in this dish, but it was peeled so only revealing the white section. To compensate that color loss, the chef took purple yam, perhaps going through dried, fried, powered, many processes in order to get that thin and crunchy, almost a piece art on the plate.

And to serve along the fish, what sprinkled on the side was crunchy sacha bits, the sauce we Taiwanese love to use while enjoying hot pot, or added as stir-fry dish seasoning. By the way, the caviar used here was not the imported version, it's from local sturgeon near the central Taiwan.

4th wine pairing, Sauternes Orthopraxie, Domaine Rousset Peyrageuy 2001 -

A much more refreshing type of sauternes, elegant indeed.

One of the element from Chef Andre Chiang's octaphilosophy, memory, carved on the spoon -

Such special spoon for our bonus dish, foie gras jelly and black truffle coulis -

Each element, especially the foie and black truffle, standing strong and obvious, but in a way seamlessly intertwined together. To a point it's like all these tiny pores are filled with foie gras and black truffle, making one felt that they were grown that way.

Smooth like a dense tiramisu, and not to forget it worked so well with our sauternes pairing. Pushing that rounded texture to greater heights.

Fifth wine pairing, Saint-Chinian L'Engoulevent/Yannick Pelletier 2014 -

The only red wine, and not the heavy kind too, had a clean finish. Mainly grenache and carignan blend.

Winter truffle/coffee/chestnut -

The creation between Chef Andre Chiang and...one other famed chef, pardon my fading memory. Pretty strong dish, perhaps too powerful. It was hard to finish the whole plate, definitely need to seek help from the wine. 

That crunchy looking thing is fried beef tendon, and circular one was made with kohlrabi and truffle. The main ingredient here is Australian wagyu beef, served with cappuccino sauce.

Sixth wine pairing, Pinot Gris Vandange Tardive, Christian Binner 2003 -

This time, 100% Pinot Gris.

"Rhubarb" -

Think twice? It's actually a faux rhubarb made with celery, decorated with raspberry sauce. It's not easy to source rhubarb in Taiwan, so RAW came up with such dish, a fun twist before full-on dessert.

Little present to take home with, flavored salt for four seasons -

Spring: sakura/umebushi/pink pepper
Summer: scallion/sesame/anis
Fall: ebi/piment d'espelete/magao
Winter: vegetable ash/hay smoked/cep

Red bean/almond/rice crisps/pearl barley/hibiscus powder -

Moving on to 2019.

Oolong tea -

Walnuts dessert, pick the two that have been opened from the bunch -

It can be a hard task after our complete wine pairing. Oh my blurry eyes.

Porcini chocolate cookies -

Since it's new year special menu, spare me on my new year's resolution. Nothing much, just two simple words "thankful" and "grateful." Easy to say but sometimes we tend to forget such basic things in life. 2019 and so forth, hope these two traits can stick with me. Even if hard time arises, I can still carry on with thankful and grateful thoughts in mind.

Happy new year!

RAW currently holds one Michelin star status.

No.301, Le Qun 3rd Road
Taipei City, Taiwan 
Official website: https://www.raw.com.tw/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rawtaipei/
*Reservation needs to be made through online booking system

Opening hours:

Wednesday - Sunday 
Lunch from 11:30 a.m. ~ 2:30 p.m. 
Dinner from 6:00 p.m. ~ 10:00 p.m.
Closed on Monday and Tuesday

Other Michelin starred restaurants nearby:

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