Taiwan Gastronomy At Raw
Raw is well known as being one of Taiwan’s best restaurants, earning a Michelin star last year. Out of all the restaurants on the list, this was one I was most excited for as I haven’t had a chance to visit in all the years I’ve been in Taiwan. So here’s a breakdown of what we ate, dish by dish.
From pictures I was not expecting the exterior entryway to be floor to ceiling windows, but not sure what else I was expecting. The interior always looked a little moody and dark, so all the natural sunlight was a pleasant surprise.
Upon first walking in, the stunning interior design grabs all the attention. The bar, seating area, along with several sculptures are beautifully carved out of Taiwanese pine wood. Later on we learn, they’ve also used the pine scraps to brew their own craft beer.
To the side, some rock decor, text, and a rustic pipe and lights piece sprawl across the length of a wall.
They pulled out menus from the table and explained how to read them. Each row describes a dish, listing it’s main ingredients. Since it was winter (black truffle season), there was also an option to add extra black truffle to your dish of choice. However they recommended we add to the raw tofu, or the ‘dirty chicken’ as it pairs the best in those dishes.
The menu only has 8 rows, but we found that the dinner included much more than just 8 dishes.
Two gorgeous black truffles in a jar. The second they opened the lid, the strong mushroom flavors wafted over the table.
Dish 1: Potato, Quail Eggs
For starters they brought out this beautifully plated amuse-bouche. The nests are made out of potato, while the quail eggs are cooked in a mixture of tea leaves and spices. Just like the tea-leaf eggs you can find all over Taipei in convenience stores. It had a sweeter taste with a creamy yolk.
Dish 2: Prawn, Mioga, Peas
Next up was their prawn with pea and mioga ginger. They recommended eating the prawn head first sucking out all the yummy juices, then moving on to the pea ball. Dip it in a quinoa mix that’s served with the dish, and you have a mix of subtly creamy and crunchy textures.
Also on the table was their delicious fresh warm bread and incredibly soft butter. Made from a mixture of different milks, the airy butter comes sprinkled with hazelnut and cocoa to make a sweet but savory spread. This was so good we ordered a second serving to snack on in between meals.
Dish 3: Porridge, Fermented Tofu, Sea Urchin
One of my favourites from the night, their sea snail soup paired with a uni and tofu ‘porridge’. Although the shell only contained a few sips of soup, it was super flavorful and paired well with their porridge which they had reimagined into a cracker. Inside the large white shell hidden by the cracker was a tofu and sea urchin mix. All three flavors went really well together and opened up our palates for the upcoming dishes.
Dish 4: Enoki, Scallop, and Smoked Basil.
Next on the menu were the ingredients: Enoki, Scallop, and Smoked Basil. The smokiness stood out the most while the scallop balanced it out. Underneath the scallop was a crouton-like piece giving the bite more of a crunch. A satisfying enough dish but we wanted more.
Dish 5: Bamboo, Asparagus, Broken Egg
And the next dish did not disappoint. My own personal favourite, their broken egg with 6 different types of bamboo and asparagus found in the mountains of Taiwan. The extremely rich and creamy egg paired perfectly with the earthy and crunchy asparagus.
Dish 6: Corn, Sorghum, Gnocchi
This one used a mix of wheat in different stages to produce a dish with so many layers. As a garnish they turned sorghum (a cereal grain) into popcorn and sprinkled it on top of very thin slices of corn. We were told that these slices take one person an entire day to do, and that their sole job was to produce the thin slices just for this dish.
Underneath it was a slightly spicy, creamy gnocchi with a runny egg. So from grain, to flour, to corn, using only the elements from one plant they’ve created a sustainable and filling dish.
Dish 7: Raw tofu, Maitake, Whey.
This was an interesting dish. Raw makes their own tofu in house, and uses the whey that comes out of it as a soup. They bring out the box that the tofu has been compressing in (made daily), cut a generously large slice for each person, and then add soup. There’s minimal waste here and the tofu flavor is pretty overwhelming. I usually love tofu (I can eat stinky tofu for days) but this dish was a little too much for me.
Here is a screenshot of a video I took there. (Will hopefully be done editing it soon and posting on Youtube.) You can see the huge slice of raw tofu and the maitake (mushrooms). I also decided to add a gram of the black truffle showed earlier as it was a pairing recommendation. It was just too milky of a dish for me.
Dish 8: Aubergine, Cobia, Furikake
Their menu this season was heavier on the seafood, and this plate featured cobia as the main ingredient. Hibiscus flower, furikake, aubergine, and caviar flavored the dish.
Dish 9: Dirty Chicken, Umami Ketchup, Black Radish
And for the finale, they served a ‘dirty chicken’ dish which consisted of several black ingredients. Taiwanese silkie chicken, octopus, charcoal, and black radish created an anti-aesthetic dish with it’s ‘dirtiness’ and likelihood to stain and make a mess. It was however delicious. The octopus was cooked perfectly, the chicken tender, and I loved the smokiness in each bite.
A Dr. Seuss-like pre-dessert was then served. They started being more interactive at this point, asking us to guess what the ingredients were and would not tell us until we had all tried. I’ll leave the guessing to you guys if you decide to go and won’t post it here either.
Then the actual dessert. A red bean paste with ice cream. I grew up eating red bean ice cream with my dad, so this was a fun take on a classic Taiwan dessert. You can still find the popsicles in convenience stores around the island.
And FINALLY the end. A box full of walnut shells, but which one has the walnut? Dig around (it’s pretty easy to spot) and you’ll find a shell that’s been filled with a walnut date dessert popular in Taiwan culture and reimagined here at Raw.
We ended up spending over 4000ntd each. The higher priced set menu was 3500ntd not including service charge, and we each added extra truffle to our dishes which was another 100nt more.
Overall a very satisfying meal for the price.
This is my face after a satisfying meal. 100% satisfied.
Booked through: https://en.eztable.com/