May 23, 2022

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei - I've Got Mixed Feelings About This One

Robuchon in Taiwan can basically break down to two sections. They're both located inside a high-end department store Bellavita. The one on the 3rd floor is more like for light meals and tea, it's called SALON DE THE de Joël Robuchon.


Sugar sphere from L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei

The one on the fifth floor, on the other hand, is the actual full-on restaurant L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei.


L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei

I've been to the tea salon several times, and for many years, I thought the restaurant is at the same location. Only until I decided to book lunch for Mother's Day, that's when I realized that there's also a restaurant side exclusively on the higher floor.


Wine cellar at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei

Hopefully my mom would enjoy this meal. After all, we've been to Robuchon au Dôme in Macau back in 2015, and she loved it. It was classic, exquisite, and everything was executed to perfection.


L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei interior

Even though the Taipei branch is leaning more towards casual side, but should be pretty good still, I thought.


L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei interior

The store vibe is basically similar to other L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon branches with its iconic black and red color scheme. They've also use array of fresh white orchid plants to line out different dining areas.


Table setting at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei

We booked counter seating at first, but when we arrived, they informed us that there was a cancelation for the table seating and asked if we would like to sit there instead. Since I went with my mom, I think the much more spacious table setting designed to fit four people would be a comfier option, so we went ahead and ventured to the sofa/chairs area.


Our table was on the corner next to the wall, which is good since it feels more private that way. But then I saw two of the orchid plants were cut, as only the leaves were still intact, but no more flowers on top. That's not a big deal, just that I would assume restaurant up to this level might care more about such things and strive to maintain a perfect image.


L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei decor and some dust

The thing that really bothers me though is that the cabinet next to us had some apple and vase decorations on top, and there were dusts around. Apparently they wiped clean the surface but not as detail-oriented to clean the corners. That, no too ok in this two Michelin-star setting.


L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei menu 2022

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei menu 2022

At least my mom didn't notice about the dust, that matters the most because this lunch is mainly for her. Also because of that, I decided to skip the simple set or a la carte, and chose a more elaborate tasting menu.


L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei menu 2022

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei menu 2022

There are two options for the tasting menu, $6,880 NTD/about $230 USD for the whole set or $4,680 NTD/about $157 USD with two less courses. Considering our appetite, we picked the smaller set instead.


L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei tasting menu 2022

I only learnt that there's a new chef recently joining the Robuchon Taipei location not long ago, Japanese chef Yohei Matsuo, who was the head chef in Tokyo branch. I also saw some of the new chef's dishes on the internet, but since I went with the limited tasting menu, I didn't get to try all of them that day. 


L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei vegetarian menu 2022

Perhaps they also kept the most classic dishes on the tasting menu instead of newly created or interpreted version. Either way, whichever items I ordered from the menu should be good. Unfortunately, my Taiwan Robuchon experience was the least favorite among my two other previous Robuchon visits, the one in Macau and the one in Las Vegas.


Gazpacho with ricotta and pistachio at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei

Gazpacho with ricotta and pistachio.


Gazpacho with ricotta and pistachio at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei

The sourness touch was actually quite gentle here, it was toned-down by the floral-shaped ricotta. That's why I thought instead of waking up the senses through the sourness from the tomatoes, I think the temperature has taken on a bigger role here.


Bread basket - 


Bread basket from L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei

Our server didn't mention anything about the varieties we've got in that basket, but did say that these were flavored already. We can enjoy the bread on its own, or accompany with some butter.


When we first sat down and presented with the menu, the wine selection was missing. Perhaps they didn't have one, but our server didn't ask if we would like any wine also. Originally I planned to have at least one glass of champagne to start off the meal, but only up till this point after the bread basket was served, I saw the sommelier coming.


Sommelier pouring the champagne

Good thing that the sommelier was very friendly, also more detail-oriented compared to the server earlier. I had a glass of champagne as planned, it's never too late to enjoy champagne.


"How about mommy?"

"Oh, she will skip the wine."

"Why? Champagne is for happiness."

"Trust me, my mom will get too happy is she drinks champagne."


In the end, the sommelier still poured a few sips for my mom, it's a celebration lunch after all, and I really appreciate such kind gesture and hospitality. My mom was happy too, especially after that tiny glass of champagne.


Le crabe royal -


Tasting menu at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei 2022

It's almost like a transparent ravioli made with radish. Gently flip over the casing, or more like a blanket in my eye, you'll find crab meat underneath. The main salty flavor relied on the caviar on top. 


Tasting menu at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei 2022


Les asperges blanches -


Tasting menu at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei 2022

Both this and the previous course were on the lighter-tasting side. Saying that, I mean there's a fine line between light and plain. To me, both courses were lacking a kick, more so an impression that one can recall later on. It doesn't have to be heavily seasoned, but the characteristics of the main ingredients should be emphasized even more.


Tasting menu at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei 2022

However, execution was great for both dishes in terms of presentation and texture. Taking this white asparagus course for instance, imagine sifting ricotta a couple times, this panna cotta-liked mousse was so creamy, silky, and airy at the same time.  


Tasting menu at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei 2022

Le kinmedai -


Tasting menu at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei 2022

Now this is the dish that successfully presented itself with unique flavors that can be and will be remembered for some time. 


Tasting menu at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei 2022

The sauce was delicious with main savory note extracted from chorizo. Along with that dense rounded flavor from the chorizo, the lobster sauce paired up with it seamlessly. Chorizo works well with so many ingredients, and crustacean is definitely one of the best way to go. 


Two options for the main dish, we got both to try, first came the le caille -


Tasting menu at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei 2022

Quail and foie gras. The one with skinny bone intact had a coating reminiscence of teriyaki sauce. It's sweet and salty at the same time with thickened texture to it.


Tasting menu at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei 2022

The sommelier stopped by and checked on us a couple times. He especially rushed to us again when seeing our main courses have been brought over. Turned out that he wanted to let us know that we can ask for refill for the infamous Robuchon mashed potatoes if we'd like.


Robuchon mashed potatoes

Indeed, Robuchon's mashed potatoes is a classic. Even my mom praised about it after she took a bite, and that's the only compliment she gave among all the dishes that day. It's very dense but yet so creamy and velvety. I love to press down the mashed potatoes with my tongue because it feels like jumping to a bed filled with soft and fluffy pillows. Not mentioning the buttery aroma soon spreading out.


The other main dish, le boeuf -


Tasting menu at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei 2022

Put the beef aside, the parsnip purée was surprisingly good. Initially it almost tasted like green apple with its sweet aroma and a slightly tangy hint. The purée acted like a supporting role to the steak, also further provided a refreshing touch to the commonly heavy beef course. 

   

L'orange -


Tasting menu at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei 2022

Pre-dessert was very good. Consists of citrusy granita and fromage blanc ice cream, it got both the fruity and floral tones and smoothly sew together with a brush of honey aroma. Light but pleasantly pleasing to the senses. In fact, this l'orange and the upcoming main dessert were both wonderful, even surpassing all the previous savory dishes per my opinion. 


Tasting menu at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei 2022

Tea, coffee, and chocolate macarons -


Tasting menu at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei 2022

La sphère -


Tasting menu main dessert at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei 2022

Too pretty to break it with a spoon, but in order to get the goodies hidden within, I have to be cruel for a moment. 


Tasting menu main dessert at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei 2022

Inside you'll find pickled sakura rice pudding and plum wine gelée, showcasing its take on Japanese ingredients, also echoing the arrival of the new Japanese head chef. 


Tasting menu main dessert at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei 2022

Pickled sakura and plum wine might sound too strong at first, but merely the essence, enough to enlighten the palate without overpowering all the other elements. The contrast between the crunchy sugar coating and the soft filling was lovely as well.


The final madeleines - 

   

Tasting menu at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei 2022

Don't take Michelin star status for granted, also don't fully count on the international fame, these are my conclusions. The service, at least the service from the sommelier was great, others nothing too outstanding to talk about. The place, I've only had a slight issue with the dust around the decor. Food-wise, it's good, but not too sure if it lives up the definition of two stars.


Even my mom didn't say much about our lunch. In fact, she did compliment on the mashed potatoes, but that's it. No further reaction or that happy face when eating something very satisfying were shown. Gladly she was still pretty content after the meal, I guess a little Mother's Day present that I gave her prior our lunch has something to do with it. 


Will I visit L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei again? With that price tag, I think there're many great options in Taipei. The most I would come back again for a simpler a la carte dish, and hopefully next time around it'll change my mind for good.


L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei currently holds two Michelin star status.


L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei

5F, No. 28, Songren Rd., Xinyi Dist., 

Taipei City, Taiwan (inside Bellavita department store)

+886 2-8729-2628

Restaurant website: https://www.joel-robuchon.com/fr/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LatelierdeJoelRobuchonTaipei


Opening hours:

Sunday through Thursday lunch 11:30 a.m. ~ 2:30 p.m.

Sunday through Thursday dinner 6:00 p.m. ~ 10:00 p.m.

Friday 11:30 a.m. ~ 2:30 p.m.

Saturday 10:30 a.m. ~ 10:30 p.m.


May 18, 2022

Chinese Steamed Red Grouper with Ginger and Scallion (油淋清蒸紅條魚)

Red grouper fillet works really well with this recipe, its firmer or more so bouncier meat can withstand the steaming step while locking all the moisture inside. If you can't get a hold of red grouper, sea bass can be another good alternative.


Fillet is the easier route, but usually, I mean traditionally this recipe is for the whole fish. If you decide to go with that route, just remember the steaming time can take a few minutes longer.


Chinese steamed red grouper with ginger and scallion (油淋清蒸紅條魚) - 


Chinese steamed red grouper with ginger and scallion


Ingredients?

Steaming:

  • 200 grams red grouper fillet (skin-on/boneless)
  • 3 ginger slices
  • 2 strings scallion
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine
  • 1 small pinch salt

Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper powder
  • All the remaining juice from steaming (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)

Garnish:

  • 2 strings scallion
  • 2 red chilies
  • 1 slice ginger
  • 3 tablespoons preferred simple-tasting oil


How?

Prepare a good size bowl or plate that would fit into the steamer. Lay out 3 ginger slices on the bottom and top with shorter sections of scallion. Wipe the fish fillet with Chinese rice cooking wine then put on top of the scallion.


Chinese steamed fish preparation

Into the steamer and cook for about 10 minutes, or till the fish is just about fully cooked through. If you're using whole fish, you can test the doneness by sticking a chopstick to the center of the fish. If the chopstick comes out clean, the fish should be ready.


Take out the bowl or the plate. Transfer the fish only to the final serving plate. Make sure to choose a container with a little bit of depth since we are going to pour over the hot oil and sauce in the end.


Pour the remaining juice to a small non-stick pan. Also into the pan, add in all other ingredients listed under the "sauce" section. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to cook for another 30 seconds or so. Set aside for later use.


Sauce for Chinese steamed fish

Let's start prepping the ingredients listed under the "garnish" section. Take a peeled slice of ginger and cut into thin threads. Destem and remove the seeds from red chilies, cut the remaining part to thin threads too. 


Do the same for the scallion. First cut the scallion to shorter sections then cut into thin threads. Soak that in icy cold drinking water, so that the scallion can curl up. Drain and pat dry with paper towel.


Mix together the julienned ginger, red chili, and scallion. Put these three on top of the steamed fish.


Aromatics for Chinese steamed fish

Prepare a small pot and pour in about 3 tablespoons of oil. Use more oil if you're cooking one whole fish. Turn to high heat and wait till the oil gets really hot. If unsure, you can pick out one scallion thread and add to the oil, see if it starts sizzling. If that's the case, the oil should be good to go.


Drizzle the hot oil over threaded aromatics. It's a success if the aromatics start to make that sizzling sound. After that, pour over the sauce prepared earlier and serve immediately.


Chinese steamed red grouper with ginger and scallion

I wish one day technology can let me share the smell through internet. It's like sweet and savory, yet slightly pungent at the same time. I'm almost certain that the smell when the sizzling hot oil hit the aromatics will definitely make you drool a wee bit. 


Chinese steamed red grouper with ginger and scallion

Some people prefer to drizzle the sauce first then the hot oil in the end. It's totally up to you. The flavor doesn't really vary that much, equally good if you really ask me to pick a side.  


Other fish recipes:


May 12, 2022

Chicken Tikka Masala - Putting My Newly Purchased Garam Masala to Good Use

I've been eyeing on a nice jar of garam masala spice mix for quite some time. Note that the price tags associate with garam masala can vary in very wide range, but it's never too cheap. That's the only reason preventing me from getting the spice. 


Until one day, I need to spend enough money in order to exchange for free parking at the grocery store, but there's nothing else I need at the moment. "Let's do this," I thought. Since I get free parking in return, I guess a little splurge on spices doesn't sound too bad once a long while?


Chicken tikka masala - 


Chicken tikka masala with basmati cilantro rice


Ingredients?

Chicken and marinade:

  • 4 pieces skinless chicken breast
  • 130 grams Greek yogurt
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and chopped ginger
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder (or half cayenne pepper plus half smoked paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Others:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 small chunk ginger
  • 340 grams tomato sauce
  • 200 grams heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder (or half cayenne pepper plus half smoked paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Some chopped cilantro

 

How?

Let's start with the marinade ingredients. Peel and chop 4 to 5 garlic cloves. Peel and finely chop a small chunk of ginger, need about 1 tablespoonful in the end. Mix these ingredients together will all other items listed under the "chicken and marinade" section in a bag or a container.


Chicken tikka masala marinade

Massage the marinade into the chicken breasts and make sure all sides are fully covered. Seal with a lid or cling foil then transfer to the fridge. Let it marinate for at least 2 hours, overnight even better.


Peel and chop the onion. Peel and grate 3 garlic cloves. Peel and grate a small chunk of ginger, need about 1 tablespoonful in the end. Chop the cilantro. 


Prepare a big pot and drizzle in 2 tablespoons of oil. Turn to medium high heat and wait till the oil starts to warm up. Transfer the marinated chicken over piece by piece. It's ok if there're some marinade on the chicken, it might further darken the meat, but not an issue.


Searing chicken breasts for chicken tikka masala

Sear the chicken till slightly colored on one side. Don't move around the meat too early since it might stick to the bottom of the pot early on. Only flip the chicken when the bottom seems ready and slightly browned, then continue to sear the other side till colored. Once ready, take out the chicken and let them rest. We will finish cooking the chicken shortly after.


Still using the same pot and the same medium high heat, add in 2 tablespoons of butter. Once melted, add in diced onion and cook till softened. Try to scrape out the brown bits sticking to the bottom of the pot, these are quite flavorful elements. Onion takes about couple minutes to cook.


Cooking diced onion for chicken tikka masala

Add grated garlic and grated ginger. Mix and continue to cook for another minute.


Add 1 teaspoon of garam masala, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, and 1 teaspoon of ground coriander. Mix till combined.


Mixing onion and spices for chicken tikka masala

Pour in tomato sauce along with 1 teaspoon of Kashmiri chili powder. If you can't get a hold of Kashmiri chili powder, substitute with half cayenne pepper plus half smoked paprika. Also add 1 teaspoon of salt. Blend and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Remember to stir the entire mixture once a while.


Adding tomato sauce for chicken tikka masala

After 10 minutes, pour in 200 grams of heavy whipping cream and 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar. Mix till combined. Transfer chicken back along with any residual juice. Continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Remember to flip the meat half way through.


Adding chicken breasts for tikka masala

I actually use a bigger jar of tomato juice for this recipe, but only poured out 340 grams for the tikka masala. That way, if towards the end the food appears too dry, I will have more tomato sauce to use to dilute the mixture, instead of using plain water.


So if tikka masala looks too dry to you, add a little bit more tomato sauce or water if needed. Taste and see if more salt or brown sugar are needed for your preference.


Chicken tikka masala with basmati cilantro rice

I served it with some basmati rice mixed with fresh chopped cilantro. You can also garnish with even more chopped cilantro on top, not just for the visual effect, but it'll also provide a pop of refreshing aroma to the tikka masala.


Chicken tikka masala with basmati cilantro rice

The result has proven that my recent investment in that fancy jar of garam masala has paid off. I'm also loving that exotic smell in the kitchen. By the way, even though I'm using chicken breast, but the meat was actually so moist inside. It's like enjoying chicken juice on top of the tikka masala sauce, both of them all over the aromatic basmati cilantro rice, super yummy. 


Other recipes using chicken breast: