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Wholesome, slow dining delight at Just Diner

By Douglas Habecker
Translated by S. Ying

1, Lane 13, MoFan St, West Dist
(04) 2305-0580
Hours: 10:30 am-9:30 pm
English menu.
NT$120/person min. bill.
Reservations recommended on weekends.
Take-out available.
Cash only.
No service charge.

Some local diners don't understand Just Diner chef/owner Daniel Yang when he tells them he makes his own bacon. "They say, 'Sure, you put it in a pan and fry it up,'" he says. "I tell them, 'No, I mean I start with raw pork and actually make my own bacon."

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Left: Chef/owner Daniel Yang
Right: Chicken Fajitas (NT$285)

This underscores how unique the Taiwanese-American's all-natural, made-from-scratch, whole foods concept is, not to mention his promotion of a relaxing, "slow food" approach in a nation where eating on the run is the norm. Running through his many menu items, he can tick off the ingredients, sauces, condiments and seasonings that he makes himself the hard way...pastrami, smoked salmon, ham, celery salt, ricotta cheese, even ketchup. Just as impressive, these skills are mostly self-taught, arising out of a personal passion for cooking.

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Left: To enjoy all of Just Diner's sandwiches in one go, order the big Just Diner Signature Sandwich (NT$488), stuffed with pastrami, bacon, ham, grilled chicken, and Philadelphia cheese steak.
Right: Cajun Boiled Seafood (NT$395) is an appropriately- spicy traditional New Orleans-style dish.

Since opening his little bistro six months ago, Daniel has expanded his menu from nine original all-day brunch platters to some striking specialty main entrees not found elsewhere in town, like the spicy Jamaican Jerk Chicken and Cajun Boiled Seafood (Shrimp), plus salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes and desserts. In July, he's also planning on adding steaks, pork chops and some mouthwatering new pasta entrees like Chicken Mushroom Ragu with Fettuccine, and straw-shaped Bucatini with Homemade Pomodoro Sauce and Aged Parmesan Cheese.

Other new dishes were featured in his very successful June 18 Caribbean Party, including Honey Spicy Grilled Salmon, and Rum BBQ Ribs. This all-you-can-eat buffet of Caribbean delights was the first of Daniel's monthly themed parties, with a Mexican event planned for July.

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Left: Illuminated by natural light and hanging, vintage-looking Edison lights, Just Diner's cozy interior is a relaxing day or night hang-out.
Right: Daniel hand-makes a traditional mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, various Caribbean spices, and chili, cayenne and jalapeno peppers to season his barbecued Jamaican Jerk Chicken (NT$285).

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