The lack of great Taiwanese cuisine in Beijing was really brought home by the closing of Alexander Creek Park in 2009. But there’s a new small, humble eatery that makes the loss a little less painful. At Taipei Kitchen, the dining room is an international amalgam. Part Taiwanese homely café, there is a heavy dollop of French bistro while a sultry song by Brazilian vocalist Bebel Gilberto provides the soundtrack.
A dish of braised oyster with black bean (42RMB) is studded with sweet oysters, leeks and plenty of extra-crunchy pieces of youtiao, those savoury breakfast crullers that are almost impossible to resist, dressed in a saucy veneer that’s a little to-die-for. A Hakka stir-fry of celery, spicy peppers, and pressed bean curd (22RMB) is fine and dandy, but the Taiwanese sausage (22RMB) stands out.
A sophisticated slice with tiny hunks of necessary fat, lightly fried and served with sliced fresh garlic, order this on your fifth date, but definitely not the first. A Taiwanese sautéed cabbage and pork dish (30RMB) is really a milky soup with shreds of fermented cabbage made with kaoliang, a sorghum liquor from Kinmen Island, floating in a tangy broth with slices of tender pork.
Looking at the partnership with sausage on the table, this is a loosely translated Chinese version of Alsatian choucroute with tender boiled pork, sausage (albeit on the side) and fermented cabbage. The only thing missing is the mustard.
Finding Taipei Kitchen, just behind the China New Insurance building (Xinhua Bo Xian) and across from the Silk Market, can be a little tricky the first time, but it’s absolutely worth the search if you’re in Guomao. Lillian Chou