UPDATED FOR 2017. Not much has changed except that they’ve remodelled the former “home goods” area of the grocery into a four-sided counter with even more food options, including an expanded menu of cooked foods.
One of the little pleasures unique to Taipei that I always seem to forget about is the abundance of amazing Japanese food. Whether it’s due to Taiwan’s past as a Japanese colony or the immense gusto for all things culinary that seem to be as much of a proof of Taiwanese citizenship as the Taiwanese passport itself, it is undeniable that Taiwan has some damn good Japanese joints.
I’m a personally a bit intimidated by the former, as I always sit down at the bar absolutely ravenous and end up stalking the chef’s every move with desperate, hungry eyes: as he carefully rolls the ball of rice-vinegar infused rice in his palms, as he places the smallest pat of wasabi to the—oh, get on with it, I’m dying here, my eyes beg, which makes for discomfort on both sides of the counter. As for izakaya—though there are quite a few of these charming places in the Yongkang St. area where I live, I somehow find myself making the trek over to my tried-and-true Taiwanese rechao (熱炒) when looking for cheap eats and drinks with friends. I suppose cheap being the operative word, as I may or may not have had a scarring experience at an izakaya where I got a tad too skewer happy and racked up an eye-boggling bill.
“Cheap” is a word you should never associate with AAD, in both food quality and the amount of NTDs you’ll be paying out, but it is one of the few Japanese spots that I frequent on a regular basis. Opened by the Japan-based Mitsui group (who has opened several upscale restaurants throughout the city), AAD is a carefully planned celebration of seafood, located right next to Taipei’s traditional fish market. Although you first enter AAD through a fluorescent-lit room of humming fish tanks, the complex caters mostly to those looking for prepared foods, available both at its famous raw bar and an adjoining grocery store (think Dean & Deluca, but done infinitely better by a Japanese company). An plein-air BBQ patio serves beer and grilled seafood, seating diners under an array of twinkling lights at night.
I’m not always running off to the shops and bringing home new shoes every weekend, but I don’t mind (in fact, I “don’t mind” a bit too often as of late) spending a mini-fortune on a very aesthetically pleasing arrangement of delicious, dead things from the sea. It’s the colors, the careful placement—the ice.
Although the downstairs sushi bar is an “experience” in the truest sense, I personally always pass by and feel equal parts indignant and amazed at how AAD has been able to charge premium prices for (admittedly premium-quality) sushi, require their customers to remain standing while consuming said sushi, and manage to keep the queues going all day long. I’ve been to AAD at various intervals during the day, and have never seen it without a wait time – all this in the name of an “authentic” sushi bar experience.
Many people don’t realise that just a few steps away from the hustle-bustle of AAD’s famous standing sushi bar lies Tresors de la Mer (上引煮海), a full-scale restaurant with multiple floors, round family-style tables, and a gorgeous balcony overlooking AAD’s outdoor BBQ patio.
As you may have deduced from my little diatribe, I much prefer Tresors. While AAD’s main floor fish market/upscale supermarket/sushi bar is a stellar place to take out-of-town visitors and the outdoor BBQ patio is surprisingly cheap for a casual Friday night dinner with friends (although I would recommend that you don’t actually go to the BBQ patio on Friday night without reservations, and that you do make sure to order the Japanese frozen beer foam concoction from the adorable booth outside), Tresors is preferable for family dinners and dates.
I decided last month that I would finally use being finished with midterms as an excuse to visit Tresors. During many a caffeine-fueled study marathon, I’d comfort myself by staring longingly at Peray’s blog post on the venue, starring a particularly sexy-looking raw seafood spread. Ringing in at 1200NT (check my UPDATE for the latest prices), it’s a steal.
My mother and I ordered a few more hand-rolls and noodles, and a few glasses of white wine. I am mildly ashamed to report to I ate most of the platter myself, as my mother does not share my borderline-obsessive affinity for raw dead things from the sea; and as you may expect, the platter meant for two proved to be entirely too overwhelming for one person. I left Tresors with a regretful little smile on my face; three plump, beautiful oysters still glistening on the melting ice.
UPDATE, MARCH 2017
I have been back to Addiction Aquatic quite a few times since I wrote this post (it HAS been three plus years) – but haven’t found the time to blog about it. Friends were in town and we decided to go in for the seafood platter again; this time the medium sized platter for 2080NT The prices are now 1280NT (S), 2080 (M), 3280 (L). The platter was amazing, per usual. (Couldn’t say the same for the fried udon and miso soup, though). Also don’t miss the uni hand rolls! The wine bar next the standing raw bar area has now been converted to another area serving some cooked seafood and meats. Some mouth-watering pictures:
Tresors de La Mer (上引煮海)
Address: No. 18 Alley 2 Ln. 410 Minzu E. Rd
Phone: (02) 2508-1268
Reservations strongly recommended
Tresors de la Mer website