Angel Yang (left) and older
sister Amy, who helps manage
Roast Organic Pork Roll
For the love of cooking: Angel's Kitchen & Kiwi Kafe
By Douglas Habecker
Translated by Angel Pu
471, XingAn Rd, Sec 2, Beitun District
While plenty of restaurant owners open because they think it's good business, there are some who do so simply because they love to cook. Kiwi Kafe/Angel's Kitchen owner Angel Yang undoubtedly falls into the latter category. As she notes, "It's a hobby, a love, an enthusiasm, not just a business."
When she's not actually preparing food in the kitchen, she's dreaming up custom set meals for diners, experimenting with new courses, teaching cooking courses, or traveling overbroad for new cooking inspiration. For Angel, all this naturally evolved over time as she cooked at home for her doctor husband and now-grown-up children, and later attended culinary school in her adopted home of Christchurch, New Zealand, which she visits regularly for natural and organic ingredients.
Open now for about 18 months, Kiwi Kafe and its upstairs sister spot Angel's Kitchen are both exceptional places to enjoy a variety of Angel's creative, delicious, healthy and beautifully-presented gourmet fare. Located on a quiet side street just off of SongZhu Road, Kiwi Kafe is a 50-seat relaxing, cozy-feeling restaurant/cafe with pale yellow and green decor, ceiling-to-floor windows, high ceilings and mellow music. Catering to the gourmand customers, shelves also show a variety of for-sale gourmet items such as New Zealand clover comb honey, organic Fair Trade coffees, seeded mustard, sundried tomato relish, and extra virgin olive oil. All Angel wants is to do is share a healthy diet concept with the customers.
Kiwi Kafe's medium-priced menu is a good regular place to sample Angel's often-unique main courses, all offered as set meals with sides, soup, bread, dessert and drink. Stand-outs include a wonderfully savory NZ Manuka-Wood Smoked Chicken (NT$390) that Angel smokes herself and can't be found elsewhere. There's also the Middle Eastern-inspired Moroccan Chicken Spice Chicken (NT$380) and Moroccan Spice Angus Sirloin Steak (NT$480), plus Roasted Pumpkin Risotto with Roasted Pine Nuts (NT$350), Satay Chicken or Pork, and various other dishes. There are also a variety of eight-inch pizzas (NT$240-340), salads, pastas, desserts, exceptional multicultural mini-hotpots, kid's meals, and drinks (coffees, teas, alcohol, etc.).
Even better for experiencing the owner's culinary creativity is Angel's Kitchen, where no menu exists. This is a very personal cooking space. Whether you're a large group or couple, call Angel at least two days in advance, tell her her what kind of meat or seafood you prefer, and you'll get a table in this romantic-feeling space with a custom-designed multi-course lunch or dinner (NT$1,000-2,000/person), complete with a personalized take-home menu card. Main courses always vary but a recent sampling included marvelous, tender Dukkah Lamb Chops (from NZ) served with a creamy mint sauce, pumpkin couscous, aspagus and mashed sweet potatoes. Another winner was the Roast Organic Pork Roll, served with a cranberry sauce and other sides.
Finally, if you want to share in Angel's joy of cooking, she offers monthly one-day/four-hour cooking classes in her large upstairs kitchen studio, focusing on different themes each month (Thai in April). For NT$2,200-2,700 adult students (call about upcoming kids' classes) also go home with a take-out four-person meal they've prepared in class with their families.
Left: NZ Manuka-Wood Smoked Chicken
Right: Dukkan Lamb Chops