Woolloomooloo

Woolloomooloo.  Just the name intrigues.  Pronounced wool-la-mar-loo, it harkens to a trendy inner-Sydney suburb home to several European style cafes.  It is also a popular hangout for antipodean and other expats in Taipei.

The breakfast menu at Woolloomooloo

Owner Jimmy Yang, a Taiwanese-Australian architect, has brought the best of Aussie fusion to Taipei in his understated inner-warehouse style restaurant.  You won’t find tacky icons like stuffed koalas here, although you might notice the Australian cultural guide books and even the funky Sydney Opera House lamp.  And if you look closely, there are quirky design features.  Like the lampshades made from drinking glasses (photo below).  And the chains hanging from the roof near the newspapers on the first floor: these are not torture devices but rather a way of hanging bicycles to encourage sustainable commuting.

Interior of the second floor of Woolloomooloo

Nor will you find stereotypical Australian food at Woolloomooloo – witness no steaks, pavlovas or lamingtons, although vegemite can be served subject availability.  (Vegemite is a black salty yeast spread made from beer byproduct, which President Obama described as ‘horrible’.  I often have it on hot buttered toast for breakfast, and Taiwanxifu toddler also loves it — vegemite was one of his first words.)  Rather, the dishes on the menu reflect Australia’s multicultural fusion heritage.  A Canadian friend I dined with on my first visit felt it was just as representative of food culture in Vancouver. 

Woolloomooloo's famous brunch plate

But more than anything, Woolloomooloo recreates the vibe of the relaxed yet hip urban Australian lifestyle.  This is typified by Woolloomooloo’s brunch specials, including its famous brunch plate (NT$280) consisting of stir-fried onions and mushies (mushrooms), hash browns, sausage, tomato, eggs and home-baked sour dough bread with avocado served with freshly squeezed orange juice.  (I looked down our long communal table and noticed that nearly everyone had ordered the brunch plate.  They also do a smaller version if you are not too hungry.)  The bread is the real deal:  slightly chewy and full of irregular shaped holes, and not at all sweet.  I haven’t tasted bread like this since I was in Australia.

Classic pancakes with fruit

Also delicious is their fluffy classic pancakes and fruit, which came with a generous slab of butter on top and honey for drizzling.  The butter was a bit much for me, but it was easy enough to scrap off to one side.  (And then spread on again, when I decided that maybe I wouldn’t mind a little bit more.)  And don’t visit without ordering coffee: Woolloomooloo prides itself on the quality of its caffeine. 

Anchovy bruschetta

My second visit was for dinner.  We were still waiting for a late-comer, so I ordered some antipasti of anchovy and tomato bruschetta.  You won’t find it called that on the menu (it is there, but sort of hidden) but ask for some bread for starters and they will recommend it.  My friends thought this was one of the best parts of the meal.

Tomato bruschetta

We had trouble deciding on what to order so decided to order a selection of pizzas and some other dishes to go with it.  We started with two of their thinly crusted pizzas (pesto and mushroom, spinach and ricotta).

Fresh spinach and ricotta pizza

 

Pesto based pizza with mushrooms

The pizzas were then followed by a caesar salad.  It was not a true caesar salad, but it was fresh and nicely augmented by the fried bacon pieces.

Caesar salad

 The first main dish to arrive was the mushroom risotto (served slightly al dente, i.e. slightly underdone and chewy).  The flavour combination was subtle and well-balanced, but I thought this was a fairly meagre serving for something that was essentially peasant-style rice and mushrooms.  Or maybe I just serve too much when I make it at home.

Mushroom risotto

 Then came a spicy chicken fettuccine, which disappeared quickly around the table.  The chillis were Asian style, so in a sense this dish had fusion influences.

Spicy chicken fettucine

The final dish was thick pappardelle pasta with prawns in a rich tomato sauce.  Service was a little slow, so we had to remind them to send this dish.  But it was worth the wait. 

Tomato and prawn pappardelle

We washed our meal down with some Australian Hahn Light beers (first we had seen since coming to Taipei), before our congenial group moved onto a bottle of Aussie red (Chapel Hill, Parson’s Nose Shiraz) from their ample wine list.  Then we finished the meal with scoops of semi-freddo (read slightly melted) homemade ice-cream, served with a drizzling of berry sauce.  I felt like a kid at a birthday party.

Homemade ice-cream with berry sauce

Woolloomooloo has been operating in Fujin Street,near the Songshan airport for some time, but has now recently opened a new, two-story restaurant at 379 Xinyi Road Section 4 (not far from the Taipei World Trade Center).  The new cafe opens daily from 7.00am to 11.00pm midnight, phone 8789 0128 for reservations. 

And trendy parents can bring along their youngsters, with a balcony on the second floor equipped with play equipment and a small tent for playing hide and seek.  Just the perfect venue for a leisurely all-day brekkie with friends.

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About taiwanxifu

‘Taiwanxifu’ (pronounced ‘shee foo’) means ‘Taiwan daughter-in-law’ in Chinese and has been my nickname ever since I married my Taiwanese husband, Sam. I love sampling Taiwanese food, even local specialties such as stinky tofu, pigs blood cake and Taipei beef noodle soup with offal. But there are many other options on the menu. Promise!
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11 Responses to Woolloomooloo

  1. McRoos says:

    Glad I finally had a chance to read this and that you finally had a chance to make it there. Your review totally reflects our own experience of the place and how it really gives the visitor a taste of the modern Australian lifestyle with no kitsch attached. Thank you for the review; I’ll be linking to it in our food blog too!

    • taiwanxifu says:

      The new Woolloomooloo is great. There were some space constraints with the previous venue, which have now been solved. And the casual, cool without being too cool to have fun ambience is great.

  2. sandra says:

    Australian cuisine has a lot of Asian influences in their design. Interesting to see things flipped around.

    • taiwanxifu says:

      Yes, it is interesting to see how ‘Australian cusine’ is interpreted in Taiwan. I think it is more the laid back spirit and concept of multicultural inclusiveness rather than specific dishes.

  3. Erin says:

    I need to stop catching up on your blog entries while I am in the US. I am drooling over those pizzas and the bruschetta and I am not really a pizza person. We don’t live too far from the Songshan Airport, but sounds like it’s worth checking out the newer, bigger location. Adding this to the list. LOL

    • taiwanxifu says:

      Both his venues are good. The restaurant near Songshan is in a quiet, leafy street and is a hip yet understated hangout for a lazy weekend brunch (best to book). The the new restaurant is great, too. Something to look forward to for when you return to Taipei.

  4. Brendan says:

    Both these restaurants are great but are now so popular, don’t forget to book!!
    Nothing worse that arriving at your fave eaterie and you cant get a spot… never happened me here but just to ensure it never does!

    • taiwanxifu says:

      I am glad to hear that Jimmy has been doing so well with his restaurants. I am not surprised they are so popular! Will have to make sure we book next time we go there.

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