Other than Japan, no other place has embraced the Japanese culinary cultures and made it its own. I am talking about Taiwan. Despite a period of colonization by the Japanese, the Taiwanese has not rejected this kink in history to disown all the best of Japan has to offer. And Teppanyaki, a live cooking style that inspired shows like Iron Chef, sank its roots deep into this island. From high end restaurants to stores in night markets, you get a decent Teppanyaki meal from a range of NT250 to astronomical figures. Ben 犇 has been on top of this pyramid for many years. They got their fame for serving Teppanyaki to the luminaries and who’s who in Taiwan for many years, as well as beef par excellence. The sublime melt in mouth waygu gets elevated in the master’s hands.
Ben’s menu featured set meals. You get to build your own selection based on the budget (or price of the set). Starting from NT$4200 onwards, you get an appetiser and/or soup, a first course, a main course, and a dessert. Starch came in the form of bread. Basically the style was more French fining dining than your Japanese Teppanyaki. We started with the soup of the day, which is a potato chowder. Highlight of the soup was the liberal shavings of black truffles in there.
Foie Gras, I have no idea where the Grade A came from. I guessed it meant “expensive”.
Technically, this is not Abalone that we know. Although from the same family of mollusk, this variouslly coloured abalone is different from the greenlip or blacklip abalone that we are familiar with that we serve during Chinese New Year. Nevertheless, when done properly, this 九孔 tasted no different from the more expensive (and endangered) cousins. And this is sustainable variety of abalone as it can be farmed quite abundantly as demonstrated in Taiwan. It does not grow to the size of the usual abalone, as it will become quite tough, and it can be identified with the “9 holes” (hence the Chinese name) on the shell.
Fried Kaki on a hot pan? This was done in front of us without a pot of oil. Chef Jason did a great job without drying out the oyster.
The lobster with cheese sauce was a tad disappointing, because the cheese sauce was nothing spectacular.
Cod is an oily fish and goes well with vegetables. Endives (slightly bitter) and figs were in season (we visited the restaurant in Jun), and Lahfoo from Taiwan was really succulent and sweet made this a really well balanced dish. The binding factor was the unassuming pickled plum that was used in the sauce delicately.
If you are steak lover like me, the waygu beed was huge disappointment. Due to the rarity and price, you get a 120g piece of Wagyu that will be further sliced before serving. Done to perfection, it was all over before you can count to ten. The buttery, melt-in-mouth Grade AA Japanese Kobe Waygu did not fall its reputation. But really, nothing beefy about this.
The dessert consisted of 3 parts – a Lava cake, a selection of fruits (really cheap stuff) and a scoop of ice cream – was a bit of disappointment considering the price you have paid for the dinner. You also get another choice of Banana crepe instead of the lava cake.
Chef Jason has been with Ben since the beginning, starting as a Sous Chef, and finally when the master retired, took over as the Executive Chef. We were very lucky that night (Sunday) as it was usually his day off, but another chef was on urgent leave, so he had to take over the slot. And the piece de resistance was the Fried Kaki on a teppan.
Ben is not your mid range teppan. Average dinner set will easily cost you NT4500++ excluding the drinks. Expect to spend NT$6000 pax. Definitely the place to impress your Japanese customers or that Atoga client.
Ben Cuisine 犇鐵板燒
No. 2, Lane 102, Section 1, Ānhé Rd, Daan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
+886 2 2703 2296