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COMPASS MAGAZINE > February 2014

La Maison adds Western flavors to Eastern hot pots

By Douglas Habecker
Translated by Angel Pu

9, TaiZhongGang (Taichung Port) Rd, Sec 2, Xitun Dist.
(04) 2326-8008
11:30 am-2 pm, 5:30-11 pm (last order 10:30 pm)
English menu available.
Credit cards accepted.
10% service charge.
Parking lot available.

With Taiwan's enormous abundance of hot pot eateries, it's surprising that no one thought of such a great idea earlier: Add some Western flavor to this dining style, most notably some all-new Western-style soup bases. That is exactly what Tempus Hotel's second-floor La Maison restaurant has done very successfully.

Its name and ambiance, complete with linen tablecloths and napkins and Western-style table settings, give the impression of a high-end Western establishment. This is furthered by a central buffet section (open to all diners) offering tasty little Asian-style appetizers and Western desserts, from chocolate to cheesecake.

La Maison La Maison
Right: US Prime Boneless Short Rib (NT$980), Mixed Dumplings (NT$150) and other ingredients.

However, this is indeed a hot pot restaurant, with all the usual a la carte ingredients, plus some exceptional ones like exquisite, finely-sliced US Wagyu R Snowflake Beef (NT$1,280), US Prime Rib Eye (NT$720) and US Prime Boneless Short Rib (NT$980). (These are buy-1-get-1-free to Feb. 28!) There's also Taiwan Pork Meat (NT$290); big, savory, soft Sea Scallops (NT$420 for 6); Cheese Shrimp Balls (NT$300 for 6) filled with creamy mozzarella; Mixed Seafood and Handmade Shrimp Balls (NT$180); Mixed Dumplings (NT$150); and a wide array of vegetables. Some items, like the Spring Onion & Coriander Pork Pan Cakes (NT$220), can be eaten as is or dumped into the pot, and there are also some non-pot grilled items (NT$55-85).

La Maison La Maison La Maison
Left: West meets East: A split Ox Tail Vegetable & Curry Coconut Milk Hot Pot.
Medium: (Top-bottom) Sea Scallops (NT$420), Cheese Shrimp Balls (NT$300) and Spring Onion & Coriander Pork Pan Cakes (NT$220)
Right: A buffet of various all-you-cat-eat appetizers is available to all diners.

What really sets La Maison apart are its exceptional Western-style hot pot broths--Ox Tail Vegetable, Minestrone, and Barley Wild Rice, plus the Thai/Indian-flavored Curry Coconut Milk. All go wonderfully with traditional hot pot ingredients, providing a refreshing twist to any hot pot experience. For traditionalists, there are still the Mushroom Konbu and popular Spicy Hot Pot, which the chef has mellowed a bit with fragrant but less-salty, seasonings.

A single-flavor shared pot is NT$150/person (add NT$150 for Ox Tail), with an extra NT$150/table charge for a split, two-flavor pot. Ingredients are normally ordered a la carte, but there's also a good-value weekday two-person NT$999 set, plus a daily four-person NT$1,799 set. (See "What's Cooking" for Seasonal Sumo Hot Pot details.)

Last but not least, a full drinks menu includes five exceptional sakes--produced by Taichung's own Wufeng-based Junmai brewery--very worth trying.

Compass Magazine is required by law to remind you not to drink and drive.

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