I’m setting a real record here with my constant blog updates! Despite posting more than ever, I still have an incredible backlog of posts to go through. I mentioned in an earlier post that during our time in Taipei we had an incredible meal at MUME. Without further ado, let’s get into a more in depth review! As always I didn’t take notes, so the exact components of some of these dishes are just fuzzy memories but I believe we dined from their Autumn menu.
The first thing that I noticed was just how dimly lit the restaurant was. On the tables were beautiful bits and pieces which looked a little like drift wood. This worked really well the moody but slightly weather worn and nautical feeling of the décor of the restaurant, as paradoxical as that sounds.
This is the first fine dining restaurant I’ve been to where bread is not complimentary. This really surprised me to be honest! That said tearing into the bread was incredibly satisfying. It came steaming hot as a cute little circle cut into wedges. Accompanying it was a side of beer butter and I believe wagyu fat butter. Although I was a bit put off by needing to pay for bread, the fact that when it arrives it’s still warm and toasty is a nice bonus.
When this truly modern take on prawn crackers arrived I knew that we were going to be in for an interesting and inventive night. This was the perfect little morsel to whet our appetites, a real mix of textures and flavours.
The cobia crudo featured the novel addition grapes between the petal like slices of fish. The grape added this beautiful colour and sweetness to the dish. Put raw fish in front of me and I’ll pretty much be in love, but most of my friends thought that the dish was only okay and there was nothing to elevate it into the realm of extraordinary.
Damn was the wagyu tartare both a piece of art to look at and to eat. It was almost a shame to mix everything up and destroy its beauty. Once mixed up with the confit egg yolk and clam ketchup every mouthful was a real delight. Whereas tartare is often served with crisps or bread, this didn’t really need anything else. With every mouthful there was a certain amount of crunch that off set the soft fatty wagyu.
I was a bit sceptical about the liver brulee on paper but boy was I proved wrong. It turns out that a sweet sugar crispy caramelised sugar layer is the perfect pairing for liver parfait. The coriander on top also helped balance out the rich flavours and added a Taiwanese touch to the whole thing.
Once again I found it a bit weird how we had to pay for grilled toast to accompany the liver brulee as most people wouldn’t eat this without any bread. They might as well charge more for the liver brulee and include a few slices of toast to go with it.
Scallop ceviche was another piece of art. The colours and careful placement of herbs conjured up images of fallen leaves on an autumn path. I also really liked how the shaved daikon and scallops were the same colour and blended in with each other to create a textured background for the other more colourful ingredients.
My friend laughed at me when I suggested we order the chicken nuggets, because apparently classy people don’t order chicken nuggets. Well I was the one who had the last laugh when this showed up. The chicken was perfectly seasoned and amazingly crispy by itself. To be honest it didn’t really need the accompanying sauce. This was also one of the better renditions of fried kale that I have had. Not too oily and really crispy.
Tomatoes. What can I say about this, other than it was a very pretty plate of tomatoes. When you get a dish of just vegetables at a degustation, there’s usually just this feeling of ‘what’s the point?’. Whilst this was a tasty plate of tomatoes it didn’t reach the same highs as the other dishes.
This was another visual surprise. I didn’t really know what to expect when the menu description read burnt cabbage, but what appeared truly was a very charred and burnt cabbage with a stream of sauce and white leaves down the middle. The hazelnut added this really beautiful crunch to the sweet Taiwanese cabbage and the salty roe added that extra bit of flavour. If you’ve never eaten Taiwanese cabbage before, let me tell you, unlike cabbage in Australia it is one of the sweetest vegetables ever and will convert everyone into being a real vegetable lover. This took one of my favourite Taiwanese foods and just put in on a whole different level.
The drinks here are also not to be dismissed. I thought that the cocktails were on par with some of the more specialised bars that I had been too, with beautiful and inventive drinks. The cocktail menu featured plenty of fruity and refreshing drinks, with novel additions of herbs and florals. However, the bar tender could also make up any classic drink and their rendition of an old fashioned was pretty darn good. Let’s just take a moment to admire how pretty the drinks are.
The crispiness of the crispy amadai came from the fried fish scales in this dish. I don’t see this done often, but when I do it’s always a real delight. The scales contrasted really well with the tender fish. However it was the romesco sauce that really won over my friends, as they got close to licking the plate when it was all gone.
Beef Short Ribs were tender and easy to split even amongst 5 people because it just melted like butter when I cut into it. Underneath the slightly charred baby napa cabbage there was a small spoonful of local grains, to continue with the Taiwanese theme.
Mushroom risotto was the only vegetarian main on the menu. Instead of rice MUME continued with the Asian inspiration by using barley instead. This lent the whole thing a pleasant , toothsome taste. The soft boiled egg sort of disappeared into the sauce when we broke it open to reveal its soft oozing insides. This was right up my alley and I can imagine myself having this for lunch at an upmarket café somewhere. Someone, please make this happen.
Dessert was not the usual Chinese faire. Instead, MUME has opted for an entirely European dessert selection. Strawberry cheesecake, a passionfruit financer and chocolate shards all made an appearance. The passionfruit dessert was my personal favourite because passionfruit is one of my all time favourite flavours. I’m also a sucker for flower petals.
As for everyone else, there was an even split of favourites for all the desserts. My chocolate loving friends immediately gravitated to the chocolate shards, practically inhaling the smoked vanilla ice cream and chocolate.
Others preferred the more mellow taste of the rather deconstructed strawberry cheesecake. I have a feeling this would have stolen my heart if it hadn’t been for the passionfruit financier from earlier.
It was sometimes hard to signal the wait staff due to the layout of the restaurant. However, when they did see you they were extremely helpful and personable. Most, if not all of the staff were bilingual making this dining experience a breeze for everyone, myself included.
One thing that I found a bit weird was how the cutlery was placed in containers on the table for dinners to dispense for themselves. This may have had to do with how unlike in some other fine dining restaurants there really wasn’t a fleet of wait staff to check on you all the time and place cutlery for each dish. I was fine with this for the most part, but because I used a new set of cutlery to dish up each dish to prevent flavours transferring at the end of the night I had pretty much run out of all cutlery!
I think we ate our way through the whole menu excluding oysters. After tasting everything, we decided on additional servings of the liver brulee, wagyu tartar, crispy amadai and beef short ribs. Had we been feeling a bit more ambitious the burnt cabbage would have also made a re-appearance.
This still stands out as one of the best dining experiences of the year so far. If I lived in Taipei I would have spent the next few months shovelling all of my favourite dishes in my mouth as much as possible before they were replaced in the new season’s menu.
Note: bookings can be made via email or facebook messanger but a deposit and phone number was required to confirm our table.