Island 1 Kitchen
Words and photos by Josie Wu
Translated by Niccole Yang
10, Ln. 102, AnHe Rd., Sec. 1, DaAn Dist., Taipei City (Xinyi/Anhe MRT Station)
Hours: 12 pm-23 pm (Mon.-Thu), 12 pm-12 am (Fri.-Sat.)
10% service charge.
Credit Cards accepted.
English and Chinese menu.
Catering has seasonal trends just like fashion. After the waves of brunch and bistro spots, the newest trend is Taiwanese dishes, and maybe this wave can open new window for Taiwan catering.
Ian Lee, the owner of Island 1 Kitchen, is a young man with a lot of ideas. He not only uses local Taiwan-sourced food ingredients, but also integrates those with Taiwanese flavors and "taste bud memories"--but which also will appeal to foreigners. He does not have a catering background so he is able to think out of the box with his cooking. Island 1 Kitchen provides western dishes; but also serves sesame oil chicken soup, milkfish and angelica duck. Mr. Lee said he didn't deliberately set out to create a mix of Chinese and Western styles. He just wants to make localized food using his own concepts.
A. Island 1 Kitchen has a large selection of risotto dishes. Because Ian Lee insists on making traditional risotto with authentic Italian rice, his risotto requires an extra 15 minute wait. The texture of this Italian rice risotto is different than patrons are used to, but he enjoys exposing his patrons to a new experience. The reason why Sesame Oil Chicken Risotto (NT$350) is surprising for most customers is because Ian uses vegetable stock instead of chicken stock to make the rice, uses sesame oil instead of butter and cheese to smolder the rice and uses sake instead of rice wine. He also uses two different kinds of sesame oil to enhance the flavor of the marinade. This changes the traditional sesame oil chicken soup to a more delicate dish, which even in summer doesn't feel overly hot.
B. Pork Belly Confit & Pan-Fried Pork Neck (NT$520) is the only fixed main dish on the menu. It contains two parts of pork with two different flavors. For the first one, Ian wanted the pork to taste like like Dongpo pork, which has a tender texture. He then marinades the pork with lots of salt for one night, then the next day, he confit the pork for four hours. Before it is served on the table, he will add some nuts and put it in the oven. The nuts enhance the flavor and texture of the pork belly and the red wine reduces the greasy taste. Besides side dishes, don't miss out on the pork neck.
C. The inspiration of Angel Hair, Duck Breast with Angelica comes from angelica duck noodle soup. In order to seek Taiwanese classic angelica, Ian personally visited farmers in Hualian who master in planting healthy plants. He uses organic angelica and marinade duck with those, and then puts some angelica leaves as flavoring while boiling the noodles. You can't see angelica in the soup, but you can smell it. This is another dish where smell and ingredients are integrated perfectly.
D. As you enter Island 1 Kitchen, you will see an open kitchen next to a large table. This is where the spirit of the restaurant abides and you can see it is clean and in order. The open kitchen is just like mom cooking and washing in the kitchen at home and the smell from the kitchen evokes memories of home. Customers sit around the table and often converse about the food or chat with the chefs. As you look around the restaurant, some corners feel like a living room at home. At Island 1 Kitchen, you can feel the difference between here and other restaurants.