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T2C2 / 1997

Medium / The China News
Date / 1997.10.10
Writer / John Noakes

Steel yourself for a riveting culinary experience at t2c2

  Walk in to almost any restaurant on Section 1 of Anho Road and you'd better be parking a fully loaded wallet or an asbestos credit card. Anho, between Tunhua and Jenai, is "Sogo" country, where Taiwan's well-heeled toss their Mercedes keys to parking valets and stroll into some of the chicest joints in town.

  Newly-nestled among these caterers to the elite is an establishment that looks in no way out of place. With its full-width glass frontage, flood-lit palms flanking the doors and its polished stainless steel entrance, Taipei Tokyo Contemporary Cuisine (or "t2c2" as it's commonly known) looks like the kind of restaurant that's going to chew up your monthly paycheck and spit out a few NT$ coins in the sidewalk when you leave.

  Once seated inside, the sense of being somewhere extremely expensive endures. The tables are ultra-trendy unvarnished hardwood, while the decor is minimalist with a capital H - for hip. This is one of the coolest designs of any restaurant in the city. Subtle touches abound, like pebbles as chopstick rests and the lighting - emanating from both the edges of the steel floor and the ceiling. The latter uses low-power spotlights to paint gentle pools of light in the center of each table.

  With a deep breath and plenty of trepidation, we remove the parchment-like menu from the lacquer box that it is rolled into. Can we even afford the soup? Then - heavens to murgatroyd! What's this? The most expensive dish on the menu is only NT$300!

Once imminent penury is averted, t2c2 becomes a far more relaxing experience. But surely, the place can't have superb decor, reasonable prices AND good food? It does.   Although some of the menu items may sound western or Chinese - garlic beef steak and tofu stuffed with shrimp, for instance - this is a function of the English translation. The menu is actually 100percent Japanese, prepared by eight Tokyo-trained chefs using mainly ingredients imported from Japan.

  But this is Japanese food as contemporary Taipei has never seen before. Normally, Nippon nosh comes in only three varieties here: sushi, ultra formal, or fast. This is different; this is "homestyle" Japanese food, and it's generally delicious.

  We tried a selection of different dishes, starting with a fish roll and crab meat salad (NT$180). This turned out to be a blend of fascinating taste and textures, from delicate crispy noodles to crab meat in a tart sauce that gushed flavor.

  Next came a deep fried chicken and potato cake (NT$150) accompanied by a delicious egg mayonnaise-coated salad. The rest of our selected dishes arrived in quick succession - deep-fried tofu with shrimp, fried chicken served in the house special sauce, deep-fried fish with mushroom sauce and garlic beef steak (NT$280).

  Although they are all reasonably priced, none of the dishes should be thought of as a "main course." Servings are generally quite small and are designed so diners can sample many different dishes in one meal.

  Therefore, it pays to take a few friends and order a selection of dishes to share. Doing this, each diner will end up with a food bill of a few hundred dollars, depending on how many are eating (drinks are also reasonable, with beers starting at NT$100 a bottle). If our experience is replicated, it's unlikely you'll regret ordering any of the dishes. Incidentally, this style of food is cooked using little oil so it is refreshingly light.

  The restaurant is part of the Apocalypse Now chain, the company that has, over the years, been responsible for such establishments as TU, the Music Kitchen and the Peace hotel restaurants. Public Relations Manager Roberto Lee Jr., explains that their aim in setting up t2c2 was to being affordable Japanese food to Taipei in a casual Setting.

Though we refused to believe that anything is perfect, it's very difficult to find fault with this restaurant. Unusual and delicious food, reasonable prices, a relaxed atmosphere, good service and stunning design make t2c2 an experience not to be missed.

T2c2 (Taipei Tokyo Contemporary Cuisine)
Address: 33, Anho Rd., Sec. 1, Taipei
TEL: (02) 731-9266
Cuisine: "Homestyle" Japanese.
Seats: 151
Hours: 11 am - midnight (food served until 10:30 pm) inc.
Japanese-style afternoon tea
English Menu: Yes
Smoking Area: Restaurant is totally non-smoking
Average Price: NT$300-500 per person
Service Charge: 10%