sichuan/taiwanese/chinese: kiki restaurant – yanji store (kiki 餐廳 – 延吉店)

 date august 11, 2011

contact No. 47, Lane 47, Guang Fu S. Rd., Taipei/台北市光復南路280巷47號1樓/02.2781.4250

hours Monday-Saturday [lunch] 11:50-15:00/[dinner] 17:15-23:00 :: Sunday [lunch] 11:50-15:00/[dinner] 17:15-22:00

price 300NT-600NT (per person)

rating ♥♥♥ (3 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall MRT (捷運國父紀念館站)

website http://www.kiki1991.com/

I’ve been really delinquent on new reviews, sorry. I was back in California for most of July, but I’m now back in Taipei.

I have heard a lot about Kiki over the past year from several friends, but never had the time to go. So when my friend Will asked if I wanted to go I was excited to finally try it out. Kiki has three locations in Taipei, one in Taizhong, as well as a Thai restaurant (Kiki Thai Cafe) and a cafe (Kiki Cafe), both in Taipei. We ended up at the Yanji store (延吉店), which is located near Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall (國父紀念館).

My friend made reservations for 8pm on a Thursday night. When I asked why so late, he said it was because it was all they had. Apparently, Kiki is pretty popular, so making reservations first is a good idea. It looks like Kiki has two floors, but I didn’t go up to see if it’s actually seating; however, according to their website this location can seat 104 people so I’m pretty sure that the upstairs has additional seating.

The menu at Kiki is in both English and Chinese. There are also pictures of a few of the dishes and a spiciness level guide (1-5 stars, the more stars the more spicy). When we asked our server for suggestions he pointed us to the first page of the menu, house specials. Then we asked which specific items he would suggest and he said the house specials were listed in order of popularity. Basically, our server was useless in making suggestions. The three of us decided we’d order four dishes, noodles, and a small dish:

– Crispy Deep Fried Egg Tofu (老皮嫩肉) for 200NT
– Stir Fried Minced Pork with Chinese Chives and Fermented Black Beans (蒼蠅頭) for 220NT
– Steamed Pork with Preserved Vegetables (梅干扣肉) for 270NT
– Stir Fried Chinese Watercress with Chili Peppers (宮保空心菜) for 150NT
– Soft Noodles Topped with Shredded Chicken and Bean Sprouts (雞油伴麵) for 80NT
– Stir Fried Bamboo Shoots with Shredded Pork in Chef’s Special Spicy Sauce (川味竹筍) for 80NT.

I love bamboo shoots so I decided to order the Stir Fried Bamboo Shoots with Shredded Pork in Chef’s Special Spicy Sauce (川味竹筍) for 80NT, which had three stars for spiciness. I though this was pretty good. The bamboo wasn’t as crispy as I would have liked, but it was still good. The “special spicy sauce” kind of just tasted like chili oil with some garlic. For three stars I didn’t think this was that spicy, but if you don’t like spicy food or are sensitive to spice I’d advise against this.

The number one thing on the House Special list is the Crispy Deep Fried Egg Tofu (老皮嫩肉) for 200NT. This dish has no spice for those who don’t like spicy foods. For a name like Crispy Deep Fried Egg Tofu this is not what I was expecting. The outside of the egg tofu was not crispy at all. The tofu was delicious though. It was super soft and almost like a custard. I can’t imagine that this is actually the most popular dish on their entire menu, but either way, it’s pretty good.

For our vegetable we went with the Stir Fried Chinese Watercress with Chili Peppers (宮保空心菜) for 150NT. The Chinese name for this dish says it’s Kung Pao Chinese Watercress, so I think I was kind of expecting something different with a sauce or something. This was better than what I thought it was going to be. The Chinese watercress is simply stir fried with garlic, chili peppers, and salt. Simple and fresh. The menu put two stars next to this, but it wasn’t really spicy at all, just avoid the peppers.

The Stir Fried Minced Pork with Chinese Chives and Fermented Black Beans (蒼蠅頭) for 220NT is the second item listed under House Specials. I like the Chinese name for this dish, literally housefly heads. Why that is the name, I don’t know. Looking around the restaurant a lot of tables had this so we figured why not. I thought this was pretty tasty. The combination of everything together was pretty good. This dish is kind of salty and would be best with rice or noodles. This dish had three stars and was probably the spiciest of the dishes we had. If you don’t eat the chilies it’s not that spicy, but if you get a chili you’ll probably be reaching for your water. The fermented black beans are pretty salty, so be warned if you get a lot of them in one bite.

Will loves pork belly, as do I, so he really wanted to order the Steamed Pork with Preserved Vegetables (梅干扣肉) for 270NT. This dish was okay. I’ve most definitely had better pork belly (the pork belly pyramid at Shanghai Pavilion comes to mind) that was more tender and more flavorful. The slices of pork belly in this dish are pretty thick compared to most other pork belly dishes like this. I liked that they were thicker because there was more meat, but because it was thicker it wasn’t as tender and melt in your mouth as it could have been. The preserved vegetables under the pork was pretty good; not too salty. Will really liked the preserved vegetables.

I’m not a huge rice fan so we ordered noodles instead. The server told us that one bowl could serve two people, so we figured we’d just get one and order more if we needed; we did not need to. Mike saw the word bean sprouts so we ordered the Soft Noodles Topped with Shredded Chicken and Bean Sprouts (雞油伴麵) for 80NT. When the bowl arrived Mike noticed that there was no chicken or bean sprouts, but Will and I were going by the Chinese name, literally “chicken oil noodles”, so we didn’t notice. The noodles were good, but not like it is described. I’m not sure if the English for this dish is wrong or if they forgot the chicken and bean sprouts, but either way, something was wrong. The noodles are pretty simple; good for eating with the main dishes. The sauce “chicken oil” was had just enough flavor to not make the noodles plain.

Our bill came out to an even 1000NT for three people. I think that we ordered just the right amount for three people; the main dishes are not that big. I thought this place was  good, but it wasn’t super spectacular. The service was not great. It was hard to get anyones attention and our waters were often empty. Also when I asked for a menu, the girl seemed really annoyed. Overall I think because of the hype I was expecting more; however, either way this place was pretty good and I would go back.

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