Review: Taipei Dao, a Dubai hidden food gem revealed
A healthy Taiwanese restaurant, bakery and teahouse, tucked away in Downtown.
Step inside Taipei Dao, and you’ll feel as though you’ve uncovered a culinary secret. This little slice of Taiwan is nestled beneath a quiet residential building, with virtually zero foot traffic.
Open the menu, and the mystery deepens. All of your Chinese takeaway favourites are there – spring rolls, fried rice, sweet and sour sauce – yet this is a restaurant that claims to serve dishes that are healthy and wholesome, with no chemicals or additives.
What’s the secret? Owner Felice Liao insists there is none. In fact, she couldn’t be more open about her restaurant’s all-natural ingredients, many of which are imported from Taiwan.
The key, she says, is using the finest quality – from the salt to the oil – so although your body will notice the difference, your tastebuds won’t. It’s a philosophy that has earned her a small but vocal following.
Book your table a day ahead, and you’ll get a free jug of special detox water, infused overnight with fruits, vegetables and grains. There are more than 50 recipes, each with different health benefits. Ours was meant to help eliminate bloating, which was just as well, considering we were already eyeing up the selection of fried dim sum.
One must-try dish is the spring onion pancake (Dhs28), which was beautifully light and crunchy-chewy, served with a tasty dipping sauce. The chicken spring rolls (Dhs28) were also fried to golden perfection, using antioxidant-rich tea seed oil.
Mains were well-presented, packed full of colourful vegetables. A stand-out was the salted crispy pepper chicken (Dhs60), coated with natural sweet potato flour. The texture was perfect – neither greasy nor dry.
The sweet and sour fish (Dhs60) tasted nothing like the cheap, ketchup-based sauce we’ve come to expect. Instead, Taipei Dao uses real plum juice mixed with organic palm sugar to give the dish its distinctive tangy flavour.
After stuffing ourselves with more food than we thought possible, we were thoughtfully offered a shot of apple vinegar with lavender, to aid digestion. Then it was time for dessert – Taipei Dao’s signature chocolate lava cake (Dhs38).
How do they get away with this sweet treat? Again, it’s all about the ingredients – organic whole wheatflour, organic palm sugar, and 70 per cent dark chocolate. The rich molten centre was mellowed by a tart scoop of homemade pomelo ice cream. It took all of our willpower not to lick the plate clean.
Feeling uncharacteristically inspired by our nourishing meal, we made sure to check out Taipei Dao’s on-site specialty food shop, where you can purchase many of the organic ingredients used in their dishes. There’s also a small bakery, and teahouse, where Felice conducts traditional tea ceremonies.
We left Taipei Dao feeling pleasantly well-fed, without being full to bursting – a nice change from our usual stodgy Chinese banquets. If you’re after feel-good food, Taipei Dao is definitely worth seeking out.
Taipei Dao, Southridge Tower 4, Downtown Dubai, Dubai, 12pm to 3pm; 6.30pm to 10.30pm, closed Mondays. Tel: (04) 451 0694. Taxi: Southridge. taipeidao.com