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The French training of Kai Ho, the Taiwanese chef, is reflected in both his restaurant’s name (a mix of Taiwan and terroir) and in refined plating, with colour and texture highlighted in smears, dabs, dots and drizzles. During my lunch, only one dish — warm pumpkin purée accompanied by buttery mushroom brioche — bowed toward the west; others were unequivocally Taiwanese in spirit if not form.
In Ho’s hands, taro cake, a Chinese New Year favourite, became a spoonable mash to be stirred together with a sous-vide egg, the combination’s richness cut by dried sakura shrimp and crispy shallots.
Instagram-friendly pin lights illuminate tables, which are set far apart and have hidden drawers for flatware.
The seasonal set menu of eight courses and a few smaller bites (with optional wine pairings), eschews dish names in favour of shortened ingredient lists (‘Taiwan’ Rice Pork Mushroom, no commas).
“Modern European casual fine dining,” in the words of Richie Lin, an owner and one of three chefs, captures the spirit of the place — elegant and suitable for a special night out, welcoming and wallet-friendly enough to be your neighbourhood hangout.
After Lin experienced some frustration with the scarcity of local ingredients in Hong Kong, where he was born and had worked (he grew up in Canada), Taiwan appealed as fertile ground on which to pursue his goal of cooking with the seasons, alongside two other expat chefs: Kai Ward (Australian) and Long Xiong (American).