|This August, City543 serves up delicious articles on fancy restaurants and cooking classes, bakeries and regional specialties; we’ll teach you the art of choosing, cooking and eating good food.|
With summer in full swing in Taiwan, the leaders of Taipei’s fine dining scene are eagerly taking advantage of the abundant seafood and produce that are now available in the markets. According to MUME’s Chef Richie, using seasonal ingredients isn’t just a matter of following popular trends; “it’s the right thing to do.” Because what’s served is contingent on what’s fresh each morning, RAW and MUME print their menus anew on a daily basis. Ephernité forgoes a menu altogether, giving Chef Vanessa the freedom to invent and create as she sees fit.
Specific local flavors are also given a chance to shine: Chef Alain at RAW points to tapioca pearls, “which [he] feels are only used in Taiwan,” as an example. All three restaurants have taken a similar approach of combining Taiwanese ingredients with classic French and modern culinary techniques.
This month, we sat down at RAW, MUME, and Ephernité to see what the summer season has to offer. Here’s a snapshot of what to expect.
According to Richie, the wagyu beef tartare at MUME promises to be a favorite throughout summer. Here, it’s topped with clam mayo and confit egg yolk, but expect different combinations of toppings as the season progresses.
At Ephernité, look forward to foie gras expertly prepared to suit a lighter, summer-appropriate palate. This iteration pairs the liver, slightly cooked, with eggplant, black pepper and edible flowers.
Foie gras also appears in RAW’s opening dish, paired with shallots, dill and cilantro atop a crisp rye cracker.
Among the most impressive of the dishes at MUME is the scallop. The local flavors of pickled watermelon, tapioca pearls and dried betel nut flower are combined in a visually and texturally exciting composite dish.
Seasonal produce takes center stage in this bright salad at RAW. Charred asparagus, raw asparagus sliced in ribbons and peas are complemented with the delightfully unexpected briny-nutty combination of uni and peanut butter.
Taiwan’s abundant seafood shines in several of the restaurants’ main dishes. At Ephernité, cod – or whatever the daily catch may be – is paired with summer-friendly vegetables like okra.
RAW offers a beautifully seared squid accompanied by eggplant and sago pearls.
On the side of meat, MUME serves sous-vide short rib with nasturtium, burnt onion, and a particularly delicious burnt onion purée.
Ephernité offers a pork tenderloin rich and succulent enough to rival any steak. Here, the “filet mignon” (Claude and Vanessa use the term as it is commonly used in France) is accompanied by perilla and a sweet vegetable purée.
Desserts at the three restaurants highlight fruits that flourish in Taiwan’s tropical climate. Celebrating all things citrus, MUME’s “Orange” features locally popular cultivars like ponkan and murcott but repackages them as a chewy confection tucked in a slice of candied peel or as bits of yogurt dotting a lemon verbena mousse crumble.
Ephernité features this understated but intensely flavorful dessert that pairs raspberry mousse with sugar-encrusted petals and fresh lychees.
Rounding out RAW’s menu is this playful dessert: a sheet of gelatin is draped over sangria sorbet, elderflower mousse, cherries and lychees.