Friday, April 18, 2014

Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining (Taipei, Taiwan)

Hello Kitty Sweets
No. 90, Section 1, Da'an Rd, Daan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Fri 04/18/2014, 07:30p-09:35p

Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining Exterior

I was in Taipei recently for a short while visiting family, and given the Taiwanese penchant for both theme restaurants and Hello Kitty, the existence of this Sanrio-approved eatery (it used to be a dessert-only joint) didn't surprise me one bit. A friend had actually mentioned the place to me, and it was sort of in the back of my mind, but when I found out that it was right across the street from my hotel (kitty-corner, if you will), I had no excuse not to go.

Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining Interior: First Floor
Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining Interior: Second Floor
The restaurant is split into two levels, and inside things are about what you'd expect: lots of pink, and HK heads abound, all the better to distract you from the food. There's a pâtisserie on the first floor selling cakes and other pastry items to go, and looking back, I wish I'd visited the bathrooms, just to see what they're like.

Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining Menu Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining Menu Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining Menu Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining Menu Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining Menu Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining Menu
Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining Menu Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining Menu Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining Dessert Menu Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining Dessert Menu Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining Dessert Menu Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining Dessert Menu
Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining's menu is surprisingly extensive, and features "Western" dishes in a mostly prix fixe format (you choose your main dish and everything else is included) as well as a large array of sweets. Click for larger versions.

Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining Drink Menu Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining Drink Menu Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining Drink Menu
There's also a wide variety of beverages available, though sadly, booze isn't an option (as it'd certainly help the food go down). Click for larger versions.

A mishmash of limp greens was dressed with a tangy, Thousand Island-ish condiment. The most interesting thing here was the inclusion of seaweed into the mix, which did give the salad a nice crunch.

The soup course arrived piping hot, tasting vaguely of bread and potato, and was palatable enough, though quite thin and with an institutional quality to it.

Hello Kitty Napkins
The napkins certainly fit the bill. And yes, I did take some to go.

Emblazoned with a Hello Kitty head, the bread was surprisingly enjoyable, with an intriguing sweetness to it that I rather liked.

Appetizer - Kitty Roasted Rice
Appetizer - Kitty Roasted Rice
And now for the first of our two appetizers. The rice was reasonably acceptable, the grains coming out on the firm side and imbued with a mysterious sort of flavor that I couldn't quite put my finger on. It felt a tad weird eating this.

Appetizer - Baked Vegetables
Appetizer - Baked Vegetables
The second app wasn't as successful, a medley of veggies (mostly mushrooms) coated in a thick layer of cheese, a misguided gratin of sorts. Unfortunately, the dish arrived stone cold in spots, and needed to be sent back. Once properly cooked, it was technically edible, though certainly not enjoyably so.

Beef Stew With Kitty Bread-cup
Beef Stew With Kitty Bread-cup
Beef Stew With Kitty Bread-cup [NT$480]
Served in a slightly scary Kitty head bread bowl, the beef stew really wasn't much like a beef stew, but rather more like meatballs in a marinara-esque sauce. The balls themselves were actually quite tasty, like what you might get from a mid-level frozen dinner, though the tomato sugo had a strange, disconcerting metallic taste to it. I was, however, impressed that the kitchen had the gall to toss a runny egg in there.

Hello Kitty Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi is ostensibly available here, protected by just about the most unsecure password possible.

Kitty Mushroom Beef Burger
Kitty Mushroom Beef Burger [NT$500]
Our mushroom burger didn't really taste much of mushrooms at all, and the patty itself was quite unlike any other I'd had before, displaying a consistency that reminded me of IKEA Swedish meatballs. That being said, it wasn't half bad, with a decent amount of juiciness and a peppery kick to it that went nicely with the cheese. We were quite satisfied with the fries here too, as well as the cuteness of the Hello Kitty head-shaped top bun. It was almost too cute to eat, almost.

Mexican Spicy Kitty Pizza
Mexican Spicy Kitty Pizza [NT$400]
The "Mexican" pizza (I'm assuming anything spicy can be considered Mexican here) was the clear winner among our mains, and was available à la carte for some reason (at a NT$100 discount). It did indeed have a bit of heat to it, and along with the cheese and the peppers and the crust, managed to amount to something that I wouldn't mind eating again, like a decent frozen pizza. I still prefer Taco Bell's rendition though.

Dessert for the set menu was some sort of gelatin concoction with an unidentifiable, but unoffensive flavor.

Comprehensive Berry Tea
Comprehensive Berry Tea [NT$180]
Drinks strangely come at the end of the meal by default, and my choice of beverage was this unfortunately-titled mixed berry tea.

Pink Sweetheart
Pink Sweetheart [NT$120]
Given that this used to be a dedicated dessert place, we opted for this strawberry mousse cake to close, which wasn't bad (despite the rock-hard Hello Kitty white chocolate on top), though we were disappointed that it didn't come with all the trappings depicted on the menu.

Sadly, our meal here wasn't nearly as good as we were hoping for. In fact, it's rare that I get the opportunity to eat food this laughable. The cuisine clearly didn't measure up, and that pains me because I certainly respect Kitty White as one of the preeminent cross-cultural icons of our time. It's not like they're trying to be fancy with the food here, so if they could just put in more than the absolute minimal amount of effort (e.g. shoot for Applebee's quality), I think that the restaurant could achieve a level of cooking commensurate with the undeniable appeal of Miss White, because right now, they're doing a disservice to her good name. If you're willing accept a less pink environment and a larger cast of Sanrio characters, the nearby Kiko's Diner would probably be a better bet.


Blogger H.Peter said...

That was a fun read.
Such a departure from your usual haunts.
And your politeness is impressive.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 5:18:00 AM  
Blogger Allan said...

I laughed so hard, I might have let out a little pee here in the restaurant. You seemed amazed that the food did not rival Jose Andres, or at least Burger King. Too funny, well written as a goof, and happy you are trying foods on the dark side.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 5:30:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


but if i ever went to taipie i wouldnt bother with the theme restaurants

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 8:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Darin said...

I wouldn't say I visited so willingly but it was an interesting experience to say the least. I thought the dessert pudding kind of tasted like artificial mango?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 9:10:00 AM  
Blogger Wayne said...

Glad you reppin the home town.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 9:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really think you were dragged there by somebody but glad you did..finally see a restaurant from Taipei..probably not the best representation either though..This is where my 6 year old had her birthday last summer. Agree with you on bread and pudding but nothing too memorable from last experience. I really thought I read wrong when I saw "hello kitty"... Are you also trying out DN innovación? Heard mixed reviews about it but thinking about trying it this summer. Enjoy your time in Tpe

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 2:16:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Bahahahaha. This is one of the many reasons I've stuck around reading your blog for these last 4 years. ;)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 2:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Rich said...

This makes me want to read your Marilyn Hagerty write-up on Modern Toilet.

I hope you had a chance to visit some gastronomy restaurants while you were in Taiwan.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 2:51:00 PM  
Blogger Charlie Fu said...

The wife also wanted to go here when we were in taiwan a few years ago.

Glad you guys found some common ground ;D

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 5:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. Which hotel did you stay?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 5:51:00 PM  
Blogger Sam C. said...

This is the ultimate form of being dragged to watch a chick flick. At least you can say you've been there? :)

Thursday, May 29, 2014 8:20:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

H.Peter: Indeed. It was a fun one, both to experience and to document.

Allan: That's the ticket. Let out a little pee, let it dry, and repeat lol.

Josh: Well this is probably the funniest thing I've ever written on here, but that's not saying much.

Darin: It could've been mango. It didn't taste like mango to me, but who knows with this place.

Wayne: More like my parents' hometown, but I gotcha.

A: Definitely not the best representation, but I knew that going in. Also, I wanted to try out DN, but alas, no one wanted to go with me.

Nicole: What are the other reasons?

Rich: There's no way Modern Toilet could've been crappier. But unfortunately I didn't really get to eat out much in the City; it was mostly a family type visit. The best meal was at Din Tai Fung.

Charlie: Did you end up going? I believe it was still a dessert place back then.

Anonymous: The Royal Palace, which wasn't bad at all.

Sam: Like a chick flick that falls into the "so bad it's good" category perhaps? Sex and the City 2?

Wednesday, June 04, 2014 1:12:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Other reasons include, but are not limited to:
1) Your writing is fun to read (and your descriptions are far more vivid than the majority of blogs out there)
2) I'm a poor college student and I live vicariously through your blog.
3) Your photos are generally fantastic.

In fact, you inspired me a year or so ago to start a food blog of my own! It's small, and is in dire need of actual regular updating, but it all started right here.

Thursday, June 05, 2014 11:46:00 AM  

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