Homely Spanish Tapas and 5J Jamón Ibérico in Taipei City
If you’re looking to be transported out of Taipei and into Spain look no further than right inside Taipei 101. Might seem counterintuitive to walk into the most iconic Taiwanese building to experience another country, but tucked away on the fourth floor you’ll find a Mediterranean paradise and Taipei’s hottest new restaurant: Table by Gastrojoy.
We started off our meal with a gorgeous table setting, leaves, blooming flowers and red corn. It looked like we had walked into a park in fall, a nice escape from the 30 degree humidity outside. The menu looked lengthy and on the table already was fresh bread made daily in the kitchen.
Appetizers: Jamón, tapas, and the famous molecular olive
To start off, we watched Chef Aitor slice the gorgeous (and new) jamón, my mouth already watering. He then let us try hand slicing the ham ourselves, showing us the techniques in making each slice perfect.
After the bread and meat, we were served a variety of small plates. Chef Aitor emphasized that Spanish cuisine was about the sharing, experience, and being present with the company around you. And we found that true, with each plate that was put on the table, we were talking about the food, about Spain, about Taiwan, and enjoying the moment.
The small tapas: Gildas, a mix of pickled vegetables, Iberico Pork with Pickled Chili Pistachio Sauce, Chorizo Lollipops(!), and the famous Molecular Olive.
The Molecular Olive was a special dish, Chef wanted to transform the iconic Mediterranean fruit into something else. He kept the taste, the oil, the freshness, but changed the texture. Biting into it you found, instead of the fleshy olive, a juice that tasted just like an olive exploding in your mouth.
What I liked about the Chorizo lollipops was the similarity it had to the dessert lollipops from the last Table pop-up (Table by Yoji Tokuyoshi) pictured below. Instead of a dessert, the lollipop was brought back as an appetizer.
Drinks: The perfect G&T
We had a choice of gin and tonic or sangria, being an early Thursday afternoon we all naturally opted for hard alcohol. A gin and tonic has three essential components, and each one has to be of high quality or else you risk destroying your entire drink.
- The Gin. Gin Mare is a fabulous gin inspired by Mediterranean flavors: hints of olive, rosemary, thyme, and basil. Keep it cold.
2. The Ice. Use fresh distilled water, you don’t want the ice melting and messing with the cocktail you worked hard to make. Also, to keep the gin cool, pour in some dry ice and stir quickly, dropping the temperature of the gin.
3. The Tonic. Use 200ml of tonic water to go with one large shot of gin. Fever-Tree makes refreshing carbonated spring water – and their Mediterranean Tonic Water pairs perfectly with Mediterranean gin. It uses pure quinine sourced from Fever Trees in the Congo (the key element in giving tonic water its essential bitterness), and fresh herbs and florals from the Mediterranean.
Mix all three together with a couple sprigs of rosemary, basil, and lime, and you’ve got a table of happy drunk foodies.
Main Course: Table Has The Mussels and Prawns
You’d think the meal was over, we’d been eating and drinking for an hour or two, but then they brought out the main courses. Jasper grilled mussels with garlic fries, chili garlic prawns, and then a fideuà to finish the meal.
The fideuà ended our main course. A beautiful grilled prawn perched on top of seafood noodles. Fideuà is a classic Mediterranean dish, similar to the paella in how it’s made. But instead of rice in a large frying pan, fideuà uses pasta noodles.
Dessert: Why stop at one?
And finally dessert (but not after another glass of gin and tonic). Originally, we were supposed to just have the Pumpkin Catalan Cream. But after that was done we decided it wasn’t near enough and ordered another table full.
The original dessert, the pumpkin catalan cream is similar to a Crème brûlée, but made with pumpkin. Since childhood, crème brûlée has always been my go-to dessert, and it reminds me of every good meal. So to end on this note was the highlight of the meal for me. I love cracking the sugar, the mix of textures, and how each brûlée really shows the creativity behind the chef.
But not to outshine the other desserts, the mango and mint ice cream with meringue was also fantastic. If you saw my Instagram story you would see us trying to crack it but hilariously fail. It’s hard, but when you get through the outer shell the meringue melts in your mouth. Paired with the mint ice, we were instantly refreshed and ready for the third dessert: a small but rich molten chocolate brownie with icecream.
And finally, just like that, we were done. A beautiful meal, with beautiful company, and the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
Table by Gastrojoy
Address: No. 45 (101-4F, City Hall Rd, Xinyi District, Taipei City, 110
Open: 12 – 3 pm and 6 – 10 pm