Dining Out 4 minutes 18 March 2020

5 MICHELIN-Starred Restaurants For The Best Non-alcoholic Pairings In Taipei

These starred restaurants in Taipei are serving up intriguing, sophisticated non-alcoholic food and beverage pairings for your booze-free days.

pairings alcohol Taipei

Pairing food with wine elevates the experience of both with complementary flavours and textures working together in magical harmony, leaving long-lasting sensations that linger on the palate. But there are some occasions which will for a break from alcohol, especially when one is driving, pregnant or taking medications. In recent years, many restaurants have come up with sophisticated beverage pairing alternatives for those booze-free days, by taking into account the chemical reactions between non-alcoholic drinks like tea and fermented juices and the food to provide a comparable dining experience.

These are five restaurants recommended in the MICHELIN Guide Taipei that are pairing their food with non-alcoholic beverages in inventive ways.


Deep-Fried Cheese Pastry is paired with a Hakka specialty of Citrus Green Tea (Photo: Le Palais)
Deep-Fried Cheese Pastry is paired with a Hakka specialty of Citrus Green Tea (Photo: Le Palais)

Le Palais
Three MICHELIN stars, MICHELIN Guide Taipei 2019

Naturally, tea is the pairing of choice when it comes to the fine Chinese cuisine of three-MICHELIN starred Le Palais of the Palais de Chine Hotel. Exclusive tea blends are paired with three of the nine courses in the restaurant's premium set menu.

The Dong Ding Oolong Tea, winner of the 2013 Lugu Farmers' Association Tea Competition First Prize Award, is matched with the dish of Braised 30-Head Japanese Abalone With Goose Foot. The tea was harvested in 2013, when due to the cold conditions, temperature varied greatly between day and night. The tea trees thrived with the abundant rain in the second half of the year resulting in a beverage with a lovely mild acidity that creates a stark contrast between the rich, full-bodied flavours of the abalone and gooseberry in the dish.

The Le Palais Private Label Tea features the aroma of longan and a honeyed finish. It is paired with the Cod Roll With Pickled Chinese Mustard. Pickled mustard is wrapped around fresh deep-sea cod fish before it is steamed in fish sauce and served alongside egg tofu. Finally, a dish of Deep-Fried Cheese Pastry is paired with a Hakka specialty of Citrus Green Tea. Flawlessly complementing the sweet dessert, this gently acidic blend is traditionally prepared with dried tiger orange produced by Hakka families.


RAW's 'bitter gourd / jasmine green tea / sorbic acid' (Photo: RAW)
RAW's 'bitter gourd / jasmine green tea / sorbic acid' (Photo: RAW)

RAW
Two MICHELIN stars, MICHELIN Guide Taipei 2019

Passionate flavour researcher and chef Andre Chiang of two-MICHELIN-starred RAW is known for his extensive knowledge in making non-alcoholic beverages. Back when he was based in Singapore, more than ten varieties of fermented juices were served at his celebrated Restaurant Andre, each created lovingly by the chef. Since last year, Chiang has started working with non-alcoholic distilled beverage brand Seedlip at RAW in Taipei, providing a wide selection of alcoholic-free drinks for his guests. 

All menus at RAW are paired with four non-alcoholic drinks where the principle of each pairing is similar to that of wine: the drinks complement the ingredients and seasonings used in each dish. For instance, acidic drinks are paired with dishes in thick sauces, so as to cut through the strong flavours.

The most popular beverage here is the blend of bitter gourd, jasmine green tea and sorbic acid. Reminiscent to beer, the bitter flavours from the gourd is brings the flavour of hops to mind; the jasmine green tea gives the drink a beer-like bright golden hue while the aroma of shiso and the sweet-sour taste of citrus leaves a lasting and refreshing impression.

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Shoun Ryugin's tea sommeliers showcase the tea leaves as they serve their premium tea pairings for each diner's appreciation (Photo: Shoun Ryugin)
Shoun Ryugin's tea sommeliers showcase the tea leaves as they serve their premium tea pairings for each diner's appreciation (Photo: Shoun Ryugin)

Shoun RyuGin
Two MICHELIN stars, MICHELIN Guide Taipei 2019

Inspired by chef Seiji Yamamoto of the original Nihonryori RyuGin in Tokyo, two-MICHELIN-starred Shoun RyuGin in Taipei has been offering a sublime tea pairing since its opening in 2014. Certified tea artists working in the Tokyo restaurant helped conceptualise the tea menu at the Taipei restaurant by incorporating local elements. Shoun Ryugin officially introduced their own tea sommeliers in 2018.

The tea pairing at Shoun RyuGin brings out the Taiwanese character in both the tea and the cuisine. A Gangkou tea from Pingtung is served with sashimi; a main course of squab last season was paired with the aged tea of Meishan from the 1980s — brewed table-side using a vacuum siphon coffee maker, while this season's duck is paired with hot Dong Ding Oolong Tea.

The 11-course and 7-course menus are paired with five tea blends (pictured in banner image). Among which, the most classic is the Oriental Beauty Fizzy Tea. The tea is carbonated and blended with honey and bears a floral aroma, a perfect pairing for appetizers and fried food as well as celebratory toasts.

"Even with the same variety, we are exploring its possibilities every season, how they can match with different produce. We experiment with diverse brewing and extraction techniques and use a variety of vessels to create a unique experience for our guests every time," says tea sommelier Chen Peiyin. For instance, the same Japanese Tea cold-brewed to go with abalone in an earlier season is now served as a thicker frozen tea soup to pair with Ayu fish. "We condensed the unique umami flavour and delicate bitter aftertaste of the Japanese tea, all into 20ml of tea, to serve alongside the charcoal-grilled Ayu," explains Chen. 

logy's non-alcholic beverages as are sophisticated and complex as a conventional wine pairing (Photo: logy)
logy's non-alcholic beverages as are sophisticated and complex as a conventional wine pairing (Photo: logy)

logy
One MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide Taipei 2019

Since its opening last year, non-alcoholic pairings have been made available at the one-MICHELIN-starred logy to cater to non-drinking guests at its 13-seater location. “Guests will be amazed by the unexpected yet interesting beverage combinations that are not only limited to tea, but also seasonal food elements, to match with the cuisine," says chef Ryogo Tahara, adding that about 35% of guests at logy opt for non-alcoholic pairings.

A total of five non-alcoholic drinks are available a la carte at logy or each paired with a dish. When conceptualizing the beverages, Tahara focused on the harmony of fragrances, the enhancement of umami and the neutralization of any greasy aftertastes. For example, he created a drink that is as complex and robust as a red wine to pair with the main course. Using Pu’er as the base, Tahara blends the acidity of roselle petals with the earthy taste of beetroot and the spicy aroma of juniper and clove syrup before adding pomegranate to create the texture of tannin found in red wine.


Organic Taiwanese teas are served at Mountain And Sea House (Photo: Mountain And Sea House)
Organic Taiwanese teas are served at Mountain And Sea House (Photo: Mountain And Sea House)

Mountain And Sea House 
One MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide Taipei 2019

Known for its refined take on Taiwanesecuisine, one-MICHELIN-starred Mountain & Sea House offers four exquisite tea blends to go with their food. Served in tea ware made in the kilns of the famed Hsiaofang Pottery, the organic teas are carefully brewed by tea masters at the restaurant.

To pair with cold appetizers, organic Lishan Tea is cold-brewed in Jyukaku Onsen water for 12 hours before longan honey and sparkling water are added. Osmanthus flowers are added to the Dong Ding Oolong such that a floral aroma is released when the tea is brewed in boiling water — the refreshing beverage neutralizes the greasiness in meat dishes. As with the Lishan Tea, the Oriental Beauty tea is also cold-brewed in Jyukaku Onsen water for 12 hours before it is served alongside seafood dishes while a jam made from golden dates is added to cold-brewed Ruby Black Tea to pair with sweet desserts and fruits.

RECOMMENDED READING: Recipe: Classic Fried Vermicelli From Mountain And Sea House

This story is written by Hsieh Ming-ling and translated by Tang Jie. Click here to read the original article.

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