Oct 3, 2011

Indulge Experimental Bistro


Indulge Experimental Bistro is a hidden treasure among the restaurants and lounges in Taipei. They are tucked away in a seemingly residential section of an alley near the Zhong Xiao FuXing MRT Station. Indulge offers some of the finest cocktails available and at a fair price. At around 350 NT, you can try the  concoctions of their reknown mixologists. The food is worth a try, but their appetizers and late night snack section are safer choices than their dinner menu, which contains entrees like "Spagetti with Wild Flower Crab and East Port Mullet Roe Slice". That entree is an example of Indugle's use of local Taiwanese ingredients to create new European influenced dishes to bring something unique to the food scene. Expect to spend at least 1000 per person to indulge in an array of good meals and mesmerizing cocktails.

Phone #: 02-2773-0080
Business Hours: 17:00-02:00
Accepts Credit Cards: yes
Price Range:   $$$$
Attire: casual
Good for kids: yes
Take out: yes
Waiter Service: yes
Outdoor seating:  no
Alcohol: yes


Food Quality: 4 out of 5
Decor:  4 out of 5
Service: 3.5 out of 5
Overall: 3.83 out of 5
Recommendation: Great Cocktails and Novel Dishes

The first floor of the restaurant is designed using a lot of white. The servers all dress in black and there is that classic contrast that exudes class and commands respect. The back black wall has a window to the chicken where an occasional burst of flame may arise when the chef is preparing dishes needing a quick flambe. The chairs here are very comfortable and padded with faux leather. A purple aura shines from the bar which sets that area apart from the whole room as if it were a source of mystical delight. Although the space seems small, they partition tables so that although they're limiting the maximum amount of their clientele per square feet, the consumers will feel the added comfort from their opportunity cost. Yet, if you do not feel like sharing the room with a noisy bar, there is a more secluded space in the basement which contains their largest lounge area and a few more tables. The good thing about this dining space is that it is not overcrowded, but then you must reserve in advance to secure a table if they are busy.
The staff is professional and well equipped to answer all questions pertaining to the menu and to help you with all your needs. However, they make very classic Taiwanese service errors such as forgetting certain silverware. Also, as you can see, the 1st floor area is elongated and most of the time the servers stand in the middle of the space facing the door, so if you happen to be seated behind their field of vision, it will take some time for them to respond to your needs. For this visit, I ordered an entree with an additional set meal upgrade (that includes soup , appetizers, a drink, and a dessert). On top of that, I ordered one of their signature cocktails, which are half off if you order an entree. I strongly suggest that you try one of their signature drinks because they are in general, amazingly complex and delightful. They change their menu seasonally, so there is always a surprise when you visit.
One of the main reasons I was drawn to this place was upon reading about their mixologist on a monthly Taiwanese magazine called "La Vie." In that issue they introduced this place as one of Taiwan's most eclectic bars with one of Taipei's finest bartenders. This drink above is called "Aura" created by their bartender Stanly Yang. It is a interesting blend of calvadods, remy martin vsop, prcia, clear apple juice, apricot puree, cabernet sauvignon, and homemade orange flower water mist. As you can see the colors are alluring and the cab is evidently peering on top of the rest of the cocktail. Each sip starts an invasion of froth from which the cabernet bursts forth to introduce the first flavors of deep dark berries which is then diluted by the apricot puree and apple juice mixture. My palete was not smart enough to detect the alcohol nor the orange flower water mist, but all these combined with a complexity that dumbfounded my unschooled tastes. In the end, I liked the flavor, I enjoyed the taste and the texture, but could not quite understand why it was so good. The Victorian Smash is another enjoyable fruit based drink. The Eden Loft is a surprising rum-based drink that mixes coffee beans and berry flavors. They also serve one of the best Mojitos in Taiwan here as well.
First of was a trio of appetizers, apple wrapped with bacon served with a mustardy-mayonaisse sauce, a small bowl of mystery creamy apple slices with cheese. And a mussel topped with a tomato salsa.
The mussel was fresh and the light tomato sauce added the right amount of flavor and liquid to complement the mussel. It would be rather dry and pasty and straight seafoody without the balance of the sauce.
 I kind of don't know how to describe this. Apples were dipped in this sauce that seemed creamy and cheesy. It was a delight to have, but I am not sure what it is.
Who doesn't like bacon? It was wrapped around an apple so the sweetness of the apple contrasted with the bacon to take away much of the salty oiliness of the bacon (is that a good thing?) and on top of that, you can add some of the mustard mayonnaise to add a creamy kick to this.

I am sad that I forgot to take a picture of their onion soup, and before you go on to fantasize about french onion soup, they are quite literal with their naming of "onion soup". It is nothing more than a red onion soup mixed with some garlic. It is very brothy and clear, which is ok but the flavors are not as deep and rich as I would like. It was still a very good appetizer.
The main puzzle I got to enjoy is this "Spagetti with Wild Flower Crab and East Port Mullet Roe Slice". I wouldn't know what the hell East Port Mullet Roe is either if you didn't tell me in Chinese that this Spagetti is served with Crab and 烏魚子. East Port Mullet Roe Slice is a popular dried fish roe that is served as a delicacy like certain caviar is in the west. It is viewed as an expensive treat to the Taiwanse, but it isn't so high up on the pedastal as beluga caviar. The point however is that Indulge had the audacity to Experiment at their Bistro to combine spagetti with this local ingredient that would not seem to match in my head. In earnest, it wasn't the best of pairing and I only plaud them for their effort and spirit of innovation. East Port Mullet Roe Slices unlike other forms of caviar are unfortunately salted and dried in their preperation. Then they are either grilled or pan fried to a hard consistency and sliced. This results in dry pieces of oily fishy chunks (which I don't mind eating by itself), but this will cause the spagetti to require a sufficient amount of sauce or something to keep the whole thing from being dry. They were dancing on the edge of this dish being too dry and not very rich in flavor. For those who want a saucy spagetti you can forget about it with this dish because its more like a simple olive oil / butter based white wine sauce mixed with a small serving of pulled crab and dainty crisps of  烏魚子. I was delighted by the attempt to blend Italian with Taiwanese, but was wowed more by the concept than the actual dish. I gave Indulge a 4 on food quality because I honestly feel up to this point that the food was just average to above average, yet the quality of their drinks pulled their rating up higher.
 Last, but not least their interestingly plated brownie, which was kind of hard and dry. It was sufficiently chocolately and washed down well with their...
White nectarine tea served in a very interesting cup. Form meets function in this design, since it is very ergonimic, stylish, and comfortable. For right handed people, the handle makes it so that ur thumb gently rests on the top and the rest of your fingers can wrap around it and you can hold the cup with ease. The silverware and china they use are very pristine and comfortable to eat off of. It may be safe and cliche, but they don't have to experiment with EVERYTHING here.
My friend ordered the Duck Confit, while another ordered the risotto. It seemed crisp on the outside and succulent on the inside, but I dared not try to take away what little meat my friend had. My friend did not give outbursts of amazement, but only gave moderate nods of approval to this "good" Duck Confit. 

All in all this is one of my favorite spots for drinks and appetizers. I found in this trip that their dinner menu is not that bad as well. I might throw down some more dough and try their rib eye or prawn dishes next time, since maybe ordering the cheapest entree on their menu is not doing them justice. You definitely will not be disappointed with a visit here.

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