I had very high expectations for this place as it is the only restaurant from Taiwan recommended in the book “Where chefs eat”. This restaurant guide lists the favorite restaurants globally that chefs love to hang out. I also saw many rave reviews in the internet about Da-Wan Yakiniku (Da-Wan).
Aware that this place is notoriously difficult to book and our limited time in Taipei, I took the 1030pm slot available on my birthday (yay!). On the day of the booking, the chirpy staff told me we could come at 10pm instead. The restaurant is situated in the affluent Da An district, surrounded by countless cafes, fashion and random quirky stores. With less than 30 seats available, each seat (other than 1 lone table near the window) faces the counter and diners are able to watch the servers deftly cook their orders. After being seating, we were presented with a rolled up piece of leather and a drinks menu. Feeling a little confused, I unrolled the leather, then I realized it was a food menu. Man, I felt a little stupid. As it was our first visit, our friendly server recommended us to try the beef platter which consists of 3 types of wagyu beef. We also got this other plate of beef (can’t remember which part it is), beef tongue with spring onions, chicken cartilage, buttered corn, tofu sesame salad, sliced Matsusaka pork and sweet potato with cheese.
The first up was beef tongue. We were dismayed when we saw that the dish only consisted of 4 slices of tongue. The tongue took barely a minute to cook. The taste was very light and we noted that it was dripping wet when served to us. This could mean that the dish was just taken out of the fridge. (Cooking cold meat straight from the fridge causes the juices to flow out, leaving it dry.) The beef platter was alright, nothing special. When you use good quality beef, you can’t go too wrong in a bbq. On the other hand, we really liked the tofu sesame salad. It was very refreshing and perfect as a starter. The chicken cartilage was also good. The corn was steamed in butter and served cooked. We thought it was supposed to be grilled in front of us, but didn’t matter much as it was nice and sweet. The sliced pork was nothing to shout about either. It was a mistake to end the meal with the sweet potato as that made us VERY full.
On the whole, we did not quite understand the big deal about Da-Wan Yakiniku as we could get similar quality meats at other places in Taiwan, probably not as pricey either. One thing worth mentioning was the homemade chili miso sauce they have. It was so good that I bought 2 jars home.