No. 43, Lane 308, Guangfu S. Rd., Taipei City
106 Taipei, Taiwan台北市大安區光復南路308巷43號
When I was in university, during a class presentation, on of my class mates asked the question "What's Taiwan known for?" Someone immediately blurted out "Jay Chou". The entire class laughed. And while it obviously wasn't the right answer, it was still funny because it was true.
Originating from Taiwan, Jay Chou is a well-known acomplished song writer, singer, actor (Surely you've watched the Green Hornet, yes?), film director, TV show host, the list can go on. And now, what's this? The Taiwanese popstar has gone culinary as well? Indeed he has.
Mr. J is a restaurant opened by Jay Chou himself. My friend Elina is undeniably one of his biggest fans I know, and so undoubtedly this was one of the meals during our Taiwan visit. There are currently 2 locations in Taiwan. The first one "Mr. J" , the second one "Mr. J II" (original, eh?). Unlike Mr. J II which is themed after his move "The Secret That Cannot Be Told" with the iconic piano featured in the movie as the focal point, the original Mr. J is unthemed and simply show cases a decor filled with Jay Chou.
Front door of Mr. JWe had such a difficult time finding the restaurant because it doesn't have a huge sign and is down some random alleyway. The words "Mr. J" are ever so small on the door.
Inside the restaurant
More seating on the upstairs level of the restaurant (Photo credits: Elina)
His face is plastered everywhere, and at one point I felt like I was at a shrine that worshiped him. I will admit however, that it is quite pretty inside, and the atmosphere is elegant and comfortable. One of those places that would be perfect to sit down to chat over some coffee and desserts. They also play non-stop Jay Chou songs here, in case you were wondering otherwise.
Elina and the huge mural of Jay next to our table
Elina and I on the sofa. Does this place not look like his museum?
Alright, time to get down to the food.
Aside from ordering a la cart, there are a couple set dinners you can order that come with different combinations of soup, salad, drink, and dessert for around 80-180 NT ($2.60-6 CAD) depending on which combination.
"Baked Escargots 義式田螺" -Garlic, onion, basil in red wine sauce (NT 170 or $5.66)
The escargots were kind of unpleasantly chewy and the sauce was not the pungent buttery garlic sauce that I'm used to. Instead it was a lighter, sweeter version. Didn't really taste any of the red wine either, but I guess for $5 dollars, you can't go wrong.
"Grilled Rib Eye Steak 烤肋眼少朗牛排" (NT 580 or $19 CAD)
I find this steak suffers from the same problem that a lot of Chinese places do when making steak : it's cooked well, and tastes great, but the meat is not the best quality. This steak in particularly was very thin, but somehow it was cooked perfectly rare and tender. I guess I can't compare steak in Asia from the steak we get here in Canada.
"Spaghetti Metaiko 明太子奶油意大利麵 " (NT 280 or $9.30CAD ) - Potato, metaiko, cream, topped with seaweed and cod roe
I really enjoyed this dish, and was definitely the winner for me that night. It has a very creamy consistency and the noodles were perfectly cooked. Those brown chunks in the pasta are actually potatoes, and they went so well with this dish. For anyone that is wondering, metaiko is marinated roe from pollock fish.This is the first time I've had it, and the taste wasn't strong enough for me to get a good feel of what it's like, but since I liked this dish I assume I liked the metaiko as well.
Smoked Duck Breast Penne (NT 250 or $8.30 CAD )
Another good pasta. The duck breast had a strong smokey flavour to it, and it matches well with the understated pasta sauce. A couple of the penne were undercooked, and I wish there were more peices of duck breast, but overall not bad.
"Shrimp and Scallop Risotto 茄汁干貝蝦燉飯" (NT360 or $12 CAD)-Shrimp, scallop, and tomato sauce
Was not too impressed with this dish. It wasn't risotto as much as it was just overcooked rice. The seafood was acceptably fresh, but for whatever reason the entire dish was just overly peppery.
Mr. Qute dessert display caseFor dessert, one can actually walk over to the connecting dessert shop (Mr. Qute which is also owned by Jay Chou) to browse the cakes. There isn't a very big selection, and the waitress helping us decide wasnt' very helpful with suggestions.
We ended up choosing this chestnut swiss roll. This cake didn't really wow me. Fundamentally it was a good cake - moist cake, not too sweet, creamy light whipped cream. But the lack of chestnut flavour disappointingly makes this just another swiss roll.
This is the complimentary cake that comes with the basic dinner set. It's a rich dense cake with fudge-like filling and generous sprinkling of cocoa on top. If you like dark chocolate like I do, you will love this cake because it's only slightly sweetened and jam packed with cocoa flavours.
Overall it was an alright dinner. The novelty of it probably outweighed the food, and a lot of items were hit or miss. There is one thing that would've made this dinner infinitely better --if we got to meet Jay himself! It is said by some of the waitresses there that Jay visits at least once a week, but I guess we weren't blessed with that occasion A girl can still dream, right?
(p.s -- I didn't realize how timely this post came...anyone for Jay's new album?)