By Daniel White
Translated by Anna Yang
146, HeCuo St, Xitun Dist
Hours: 11:30 am-10 pm (closed Mon)
No. 19 restaurant is a truly special discovery. Although it's tucked away on a quiet alley with an unassuming exterior, its high-quality food wouldn't be out of place in a top-end hotel or posh establishment. Inside, you're greeted with a slightly austere interior with white brick walls and dark hardwood floors and tables, but this is offset by Gundam and superhero models that provide a playful undertone.
Matching this atmosphere, the cuisine is formally presented and provides pure pleasure from the first bite to the last. Entrees are served with freshly baked bread and a light dessert. The warm, soft bread is baked with cheese inside and accompanied by a delicious porcini mushroom sauce. One of our main courses was Risotto with Chicken and Pesto Sauce (NT$320), made with proper Italian rice and cooked just enough to be soft, yet slightly firm, with mushrooms and peas in the pod straight from the garden. The chicken is cooked separately so that the flavors remain distinct while blending beautifully and accentuating each other.
We also opted for Spaghetti with Shrimp, Chili Peppers and Olive Oil (NT$400). The pasta was perfectly cooked and well flavored with generous portions of succulent, fresh shrimp and prawns that went well with the chilies and olive oil. Like the risotto, the spaghetti was simply prepared with the freshest ingredients to accent the best flavors.
As an accompaniment of our meal, we also tried the slightly sweet and creamy Hazelnut Milk Tea (NT$100) and robust, rich-tasting Cafe Americano (NT$70), together with Banana Bread and Panna Cotta, both delectable and a strong finish to a delicious culinary experience.
If you're planning on visiting during lunch or dinner, calling ahead for reservations is recommended as the restaurant only seats about 20 people and can fill up quickly.