Affordable Italian pasta in an alley hideaway
Written and translated by Diva Yang
Photos by Andy Lin
9, Lane 60, MinQuan E Rd, Sec 3
Hours: 11:30 am-9:30 pm (closed Sundays)
MRT: near Chung Shan Middle School Station
Credit cards accepted. 10% service charge.
Last September, ip institution of pasta opened in an alley behind the Chung Shan Middle School MRT station, and quickly went from being the new kid in the block to a popular neighborhood lunch venue. This success is due to two 20-somethings, Jerry and Jimmy, who built the business from scratch and are respectively in charge of operations and food. Together they have managed to find a niche market for their establishment and offer flavors that have mass appeal to diners.
"Ip" is an acronym for "Italian Pasta". The menu here includes appetizers, soups, pasta, vegetarian pasta, risotto and gratin, with a wide variety that allows customers to sample something different every time when they come here. A main course or pasta order can be upgraded to a set meal with bread, soup of the day, salad and drink for only an additional NT$80. For an added NT$120, you get the set plus dessert and, if you want to top your soup with a puff pastry or your pasta with grated cheese, add another NT$20. Finally, those with big appetites can ask to double the amount of pasta in their order--it's free of charge!
From Monday to Friday, the menu features 12 business lunch choices that are great bargains. Every two weeks a special lunchtime dish is introduced and is limited to 50 orders per day. For NT$99 (plus 10% service charge), you get a soup, bread, the biweekly special and a drink. An example is Margarita Pasta, a traditional Italian recipe consisting of tomato, basil, angel hair pasta and mascarpone cheese--simple yet delicious. Gondola Seafood Handmade Noodles in Soup (NT$300) is also very unique--a pasta served in soup. Most local diners have never heard of it and even fewer have tried it.
Summer is just around the corner and Japanese Style Salmon Salad (NT$150) is a refreshing, healthy choice for the season. For meat eaters, U.S. Prime Beef of Rib Eye With Anchovy Sauce (NT$520) is unique from most steaks you've probably tried because it is seasoned with anchovies. Its price also means you won't have to spend a fortune for a juicy U.S. steak. The Afternoon Tea Set (NT$120) gives you a handmade in-house dessert and a drink. Every day, nine desserts are available and, if you like brownies, try the Brownie Cheesecake, which will take you by surprise with its rich, dense and creamy texture.