Taiwan has remained lush and green, even in Taipei City, but the island nation also has a clear commitment to technology and the landscape showcases modern architectural flourishes like Taipei 101, a 101-story office tower that rises 1671 feet. Any world class building deserves good culinary residents. To point, they’ve got a food court in the basement with a branch of Din Tai Fung, and Ding Xian anchors the 86th floor, effective 2011. With a name that translates to English as “top fresh,” the food better be good.
F&B Dining owns a branch of Ding Xian in Shanghai, operates Tainan Noodle at a nearby night market, and downstairs, they run two more restaurants: Taiwanese and Italian.
We passed by impressive seafood tanks with King crab and geoduck.
We ate in a private room with a wall of peacock feathers. Talk about luxury.
A bench by the window delivered dazzling panoramic views of Taipei City below.
Taiwan Beer produces three flavors of lager, including original, which we tried at Ji Yuan Pu Restaurant/a>. They also flavor their lager with 5% fruit – pineapple or mango – which at only 2.8% alcohol, reminded me of ginger ale. Ding Xian 101 also served pitchers of kiwi juice, which separates into seedy pulp.
Chef Bing-Zhan Lin is from central Taiwan and traveled to Japan to study the ways of Michelin, but his core vision for Ding Xian 101 is still Taiwanese, only elevated.
My group’s tasting menu began with rosy, fat rimmed smoked duck salad, twigs of popping seaweed, a slab of sweet aloe, crunchy cabbage, iceberg lettuce and bell peppers.
My soup touted floppy wood ear mushrooms, rice, corn, and the delicate inner lining of a bamboo plant, all submerged in a chicken broth.
My favorite plate all meal featured steamed triangle fish, prepared simply with garlic and soy. I ate the juicy meat, tender cheeks and chewy eyes. Apparently the DHA in fish eyes is good for the brain and eyes. Many ingredients in Taiwan correlate to specific health benefits.
A hearty porridge of butternut squash contained big chunks of sea snail, cubes of ham and carrot, onion, fusilli, and a big, solitary chunk of squash.
Chef Lin delivered two fried seafood preparations, including the Japanese inspired takoyaki, a fried squid ball loaded with chewy bits. The sweet shrimp roll, studded with garlic and scallions, came with a sweet and sour dipping sauce and originated in Tainan.
Noodle soup with ground pork and garlic, a single shrimp, cilantro and bean sprouts, was nice and comforting. We later found out was another Tainan specialty, danzai noodles.
Fresh fruit is popular for dessert in Taiwan, and Ding Xian 101 served iced lychee with ripe papaya and a squeeze of lime, which would have been a refreshing end.
However, Ding Xian 101 brought one more dish, a sweet soup featuring sheets of crunchy white mushroom lotus seed, red date and pitted longan.
Ding Xian 101 delivered an elevated dining experience that stayed true to Taiwan.
Note: My visit to Ding Xian 101 was part of a government sponsored tour to promote Food Culture in Taiwan.