You know a place is good when you eat lunch there and then decide to go back to the same venue at dinnertime.
[Note: I have just learnt that this restaurant has closed for two months. It will reopen in July in a different form — I can’t wait to find out what it is. In the meantime, the same owner also runs the L’Air café néo-bistro 風流小館 nearby.]
I had a medical appointment just opposite Da’an park. And afterwards, Mr Taiwanxifu said he wanted to take me somewhere special for lunch. We wandered around the backstreets of lower the Yongkang St area, and I must say I began to think he was lost. Then suddenly we turned into a different side street, and there we were at Bunny listens to the music (兔子聽音樂).
Sometimes life is full of coincidences. I had only read about Bunny listens to music the day before, as it had been featured in Discover Taipei magazine. Despite the good write-up, for some reason I had this image of it being a tacky, kitschy, cutie restaurant filled with oversized stuffed rabbits and waitressed in bad cosplay costumes serving overcooked pasta.
Nothing could be further from the reality. The chic and artsy decor of Bunny listens to the music, which is an eclectic zen-meets-70s retro kind of mix, was at once uber chic and supremely chilled out. The retro French music in the background also added to the overall laid-back vibe. It was a beautiful day, so we opted for a seat out on the deck underneath the dappled light of the trees. Al fresco! This is something you rarely get to enjoy in Taipei.
And it is a fun place to sit outdoors, because the area is a trendy mix of homewares stores, restaurants, cafes and boutiques. The architecture of the nearby houses hidden in laneways is fabulous as well; I later found out that this area (Qingtian St) is famous for having the highest concentration of Japanese-era houses in Taipei. Many of the courtyards had these amazing large trees with almost elephant-eye sized leaves. I wish I knew their botanical details — it is not something I had seen elsewhere in Taipei. Mr Taiwanxifu (a bit of a real estate junkie) noticed some ‘for sale’ signs on the way back, and began to ponder what it would be like to live in the area.
[Admission: I did have some lovely photos of the lunch that I took on my smartphone. But recently, I experienced a phone problem and had to perform a factory reset on my phone. Goodbye to 700+ photos, including some lush ones of Bunny listens to the music. You will just have to take my word for it that it is wonderful sitting on their front deck in the sun.]
Most of the business lunch sets varied from between NT$350 to NT$500. Our pasta sets were in the upper NT$400 range.
My first surprise was the entree. The vegetable soup (minestrone) was good, but even better was the oven-warm bread that came with it. The stand out was a slightly-sweet bread that I am guessing was honey and rye. I later found out from other bloggers that the same owners also run the French bakery Boite de Bijou, which turns out some amazing bread and cakes. Mr Taiwanxifu generously gave up his serve of bread, knowing how much I would like it. (He was right, I did like it very much.)
Mr Taiwanxifu ordered a spicy seafood pasta. He declared rapture at his dish. And yes, it was very good. But I liked my spaghetti with a tomato, garlic and eggplant sauce almost as much, if not better.
I was surprised that the dessert came with cookies rather than a chocolatey/creamy dessert. Hungry Girl in Taipei insisted they substitue one of the Boite de Bijou desserts instead. The display case did indeed look very tempting. But I was quietly happy with the simple, yet somehow wholesome, biscuits. I liked both the oat and current, and also the pistachio biscotti. I have a passion for good biscotti, and I was in my element eating these ones. I also like to kid myself that they are healthy because they are low fat.
We relaxed into our meal, and turned to a question that we had been pondered for a few days: where to go to dinner? We were due to catch up with friends and their almost-teenage sons. “Why not come back here,” Mr Taiwanxifu asked?
“Why not,” I answered. “I think they would like it here and we know the food is good.”
So we called over the waitstaff and booked a table for eight right in front of the dessert displaycase inside. The staff were initially a bit concerned, warning us that the menu was different in the evening.
It was different, noticeably it was more expensive in the evening. There were a few consistent pasta choices, but they were almost as much just for a single item as they were for a set meal at lunch. I had expected that, given that restaurants often offer special deals for lunch. Still, a part of me found the dramatic change in pricing a little hard to take.
But the atmosphere was totally different in the evening. I especially loved the quirky lightshades. They weren’t as obvious in the daytime, but they totally transformed the restaurant into an almost retro nightclub kind of feel. My camera didn’t do them justice.
I ordered a rich carbonara penne for dinner (spaghetti with bacon in rich egg cream sauce with parmesan – NT$380). Actually, I had ordered it for Taiwanxifu Preschooler thinking that he would like it (he asked for plain pasta). He ate a little bit of it, but most of it he left to me to finish. I usually try to avoid creamy pasta sauces, but I must admit that although richer than I would usually eat, it was also decadently good. Order it if you don’t intend to diet.
This was an appetiser, but Mr Taiwanxifu ordered these Italian style sauteed mushrooms and shrimps as a main course (NT$360). Actually, he helped me eat the gigantic bowl of Taiwanxifu Preschooler’s creamy-rich penne as well, and also tasted some of the risotto so he didn’t go too hungry. This was good, and kind of like a tapas thing, but it was eclipsed a bit by the risotto.
The stand out dish was the risotto with apple, persila and chicken leg (NT$480). The chicken topping was tender and generous, and got shared around the table with everyone wanting to get a bite. I highly recommend this.
I stayed for tea and coffee, but whisked our Preschooler home before his bedtime (Toddler was home with the babysitter). So I missed out on desserts, but by the look of the offerings in the display cabinet, they are hard to resist.
Bunny listens to the music is at No 15, Lane 6 Qingtian St (106 台北市大安區青田街6巷15號), phone 2395 9388.