When I go to restaurants, I often have some sort of idea what the food will be like based on the surroundings. In China, it is often good advice to look at the quality of surroundings in a restaurant. If it looks nice, it is often a clear signal that the food is absolute crap. The tastiest food will often be at places that are absolutely filthy and have the absolute cheapest tables and stools to sit at. Taiwan might differ a bit from mainland China because of large Japanese influence, but I still find I get the best food at places that aren’t particularly visually appealing.
This adage immediately popped into my head as I visited Om阿 Hum today, since it seemed completely out of place. All around it, ugly and old concrete buildings about 6 storeys tall. The place itself, a building that appeared to be a large, single family house with a gated driveway. It is even hidden on a cul-de-sac, not exactly the most common street feature in Taiwan. The address, 台北市泰順街60巷18弄6號, indicates it is pretty well hidden from main roads, but the sign shows it all:
As I go inside, it also appears to be a far nicer looking restaurant than one that would serve good food here. Well-groomed poodles walked around, very well behaved. Rainforest sounds mixed with classical music played on the stereo. I thought that was even a bit over the top, considering it was pouring rain outside.
The meals come in sets. I ordered a curry noodle dish in a set that iincluded a nice tea arrangement. It started innocently enough with a small fruit plate:
A large soup bowl with a souffle on top was delivered. I wasn’t intending to have dairy, but I went along, as I had already ordered. I should remember for next time. Still, I found the preparation to be very high quality. The vegetables in the soup, particularly the carrots, were not overcooked like they often are at most restaurants. Definitely one of the better soups I’ve had recently.
The main course looked as if maybe they brought the wrong thing. It looked like lasagna, but underneath that top, it in fact was a curry noodle dish. The Chinese is 咖哩焗麵, or Steam-baked curry noodles. The curry flavour wasn’t that strong, but it was strong enough and did not have the sweetness or texture of curries commonly found in Taiwan. In other words, the texture was excellent.
Finally, tea was brought to the table. The tea was in a bag inside a tea ball inside the teapot, but at least the presentation was interesting. The accompanying items tasted better than the 心之道 organic restaurant, but 心之道 had much better tea.
Not bad for 380NT. A 280NT set is also available, but it does not include the souffle over soup or chocolate – it has a much more basic bowl of soup. I will go back, partially because of the interesting food preparation and partially because it is simply a very nice place to be.