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Diners' delight at a whole new TGI Fridays

By Douglas Habecker
Translated by S. Ying

Shizheng Branch: 16, ShiZheng Rd, Xitun Dist
(04) 2252-3579
Yingcai Branch: 239-1, Taiwan Blvd, Sec 2, West Dist
(04) 2322-7769
Hours: 11:30 am-12 am (last meal order 11 pm)
English menu.
Credit cards accepted.
Free parking at Shizheng branch.

Arguably no other restaurant has represented American dining in Taiwan better than TGI Fridays, which arrived in Taiwan in December, 1991 and today has 13 branches island-wide. With familiarity and fame, however, comes the challenge of keeping it interesting and fresh for diners in a market that is constantly changing.

That is exactly what TGIF is doing with a complete May-June overhaul--it's biggest in over a decade--with a 60% brand-new menu loaded with flavor-packed appetizers, salads, soups, burgers, steaks and other main entrees, and desserts. Even favorite classics are getting upgrades: The Buffalo Wings (NT$320) has three new flavors (like Kung-Pao or Sriracha Honey) and soon you'll be able to choose three out of six flavors to create your own combo; meanwhile, new ribs flavors include Bacon Crusted and Texas Spiced.

TGI Fridays  TGI Fridays
Left: Culinary Director Tony De Graaf

TGIF Taiwan culinary director Tony De Graaf says these new dishes are bringing the latest TGIF U.S. food trends to Taiwan, highlighting multi-layered flavors and cuisine he labels as "American-centric with and element of fusion". He adds many new entrees are very labor-intensive to make, like the Fridays Roasted Chicken (NT$580), marinaded for 12 hours, then basted, steam baked, seared on a grill and "flashed' in a broiler to crisp it--for a total of 18 hours.

Other new stand-outs include Warm Pretzels with Beer-Cheese Dipping Sauce starter (NT$270), featuring a sauce created with a craft beer and honey reduction plus three cheeses; Sizzling Sirloin and Spinach (NT$550) a five-ounce sirloin glazed with wasabi-miso, served on a bed of fresh spinach and paired with a fresh cherry tomato mozzarella salad; or the Strawberry Fields Salad (NT$390), a refreshing, zesty mix of greens, Parmesan cheese, glazed walnuts and fresh strawberries.

TGI Fridays  TGI Fridays  TGI Fridays
Left: Strawberry Fields Salad (NT$390)
Medium: Sizzling Sirloin with Spinach (NT$550)
Right: Warm Pretzels with Beer-Cheese Dipping Sauce (NT$270) pictured, top, with "Taste & Share" items Parmesan Meatballs, and Garlic & Basil Bruschetta

The more flexible menu includes a "Taste & Share" section that allows you to choose three of six options (NT$519; individual dishes NT$199) to build your own combo plate. Selections include Parmesan Meatballs, served with crunchy Parmesan chips; Ahi Tuna Crisps, drizzled with a Cucumber Wasabi Ranch dressing; and Garlic & Basil Bruschetta, a very upgraded version of this old favorite.

After June 23 TGIF is also introducing five new burgers, six new desserts and a new beverage menu that includes Friday's own beer brand.

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

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