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homenews what the press say Restaurant review: chiba

Restaurant review: chiba

May 31, 2012 | Taipei Times


Crowded with tourists and teens, Ximending doesn’t quickly spring to mind when thinking of places to relax. But with the addition of Amba Taipei, a hotel that opened in February, and its dining outlet Chiba, unwinding is on the menu.

Chiba offers a decent selection of light meals served in a setting that oozes style.

Photo: Ho Yi, Taipei Times

A new brand from the Ambassador Hotel Group, Amba Taipei was designed by an international team including Taiwan-born, Bangkok-based interior designer Eugene Yeh, artist Marvin Minto Fang and Chinese graphic designer Deng Bingbing.

The vibe is young and chic. Sunlight streams through a skylight into the lobby, populated by potted trees and flowers, while an array of colorful installation art works vies for attention on the other side of the room. The facilities are playfully and straightforwardly named. Take for example Wenba the hotel counter, which is made out of recycled plastic bottles. In Mandarin the name means “ask.”

This fun-loving spirit continues in Chiba, where the open space is divided not by walls but bookshelves. Toys, games and vintage items such as an old vinyl player are among the knickknacks displayed on the shelves. Books are abundant too and cover a diversity of interests and topics.

The menu offers a compact selection of generously portioned light meals, including soup and salads, at wallet-friendly prices. Service here is more of a casual, do-it-yourself affair. First, diners choose what they want to eat on an order sheet, which is taken to the ring-shaped bar to settle the bill. The dishes are then prepared by a group of young, uniformed cooks, and brought to the table.

Chiba offers a decent selection of light meals served in a setting that oozes style.

Gyros and panini feature predominantly on the menu. The Greek lamb gyro bread (NT$260) is a yummy option made of chewy pita bread filled with tender roast lamb, goat cheese, lettuce, tomato and mint yogurt sauce. The Italian meatball panini (NT$200 for a half serving and NT$320 for full serving), made of mozzarella, basil, beef meatballs and garlic and tomato sauce, is another flavorful sandwich.

For herbivores, the vegetarian gyro bread (NT$240), made of slices of cucumber, yellow and red bell pepper, mozzarella and fresh arugula leaves, is a pleasantly nutty and bitter sandwich.

While the main dishes are mostly pastas, such as spaghetti carbonara with ham (NT$280) and seafood linguine arrabiata (NT$300), appetizers and snacks have a more universal appeal. Items include beer battered fish and chips (NT$180), grilled lamb kebabs with mint yogurt dressing (NT$200) and Korean fried chicken wings (NT$180), which are slightly spicy and sweet and come with a mayonnaise dipping sauce.

The beverage menu contains only nonalcoholic drinks, including freshly squeezed juice (NT$100 to NT$130), teas (NT$120 to NT$150) and coffees (NT$80 to NT$140).

Tipplers should check out the hotel’s lounge bar, Tingba, where vinyl records are used as curtains, and jeans and amplifiers are made into decorative art.

Chiba 吃吧

Address: 5F, 77, Wuchang St Sec 2, Taipei City (台北市武昌街二段77號5樓)

Telephone: (02) 2375-2075

Open: From 11:30am to 10pm

Average meal: NT$400

Details: Chinese and English menu, credit cards accepted

On the Net: www.amba-hotels.com

Source: Taipei Times,  Ho Yi  /  Staff reporter