Recently, I blogged about high-end Japanese restaurant Mitsui. But for contrast, I want to feature a less exclusive but equally memorable Japanese restaurant. Golden Chopsticks (金筷子 – jin kuaizi) is a small, cozy restaurant huddled in the Japanese enclave in North Western Taipei (near Linsen North Road). If you’re not looking carefully you may miss the entrance: its Japanese inn-style exterior is nondescript, but inside welcomes a secret haven with comfortable booths and home-style good food.
Affordable Japanese cuisine is the real draw card here. Set meals are from NTD$300 to $500, with more up-market choices from NTD600. Our meal was a feast of eight dishes at just under NTD600 per person, including salad, sashimi, udon noodle soup, grilled fish, stewed pork and potato, small prawn side-dish and desert.
The sashimi plate, which can be ordered separately for NTD280, is the stand-out dish. The sashimi was simple yet striking: thick slices of salmon and tuna served dramatically on a dark ceramic plate that framed the shiny, bright colors of the fresh fish. It was understated excellence and seriously good. Another good appetizer was the simple salad, topped with asparagus and a delicate sesame dressing.
But the real meal was contained on a solid tray containing tempura, stewed pork and potato, fish and udon noodles, set out on mismatched but quirky pottery. The tempura, featuring eggplant cut into a fleur-de-lis style flower, was visually striking, light and thankfully not too oily. The stewed pork belly and potato was juicy and flavorsome, albeit a little fatty. I also relished the grilled fish, which I suspect was mackerel, although it may be a little dry from most Western tastes. Yet I felt a little let-down by the udon soup: crowned with a carrot star, it appeared full of promise yet was nondescript and lackluster. The meal finished off with a simple coconut sago desert, textually smooth and not sickenly sweet.
I dined at Golden Chopsticks for lunch, and found it worked well as a business lunch venue. The restaurant was intimate, private, yet relaxed and unpretentious, with service that was prompt and helpful. Golden Chopsticks is situated at 23-3 Shuangcheng St (台北市雙城街23之3號). For reservations speak with Ms Ling on (02) 2596 9186.