Opened four years ago, with plans to open a second branch later this year, cool-as-a-cucumber Taiwanese eatery Check-In Taipei continues to score big with the crowds. On a Monday night, it was filled to the brim with young, local, IG-loving diners who were snapping away, eating and then running.
New executive chef Tai Pei Tak, formerly of yè shanghai, has overhauled the menu, focusing on affordable all-day dining, with the small-plate dishes priced from a wallet-friendly $36–88.
We started with one of the dishes beloved by Taiwanese cuisine aficionados: fried chicken. A popular street food, the crisp, highly seasoned (think soy sauce, garlic and five-spice powder in addition to salt and pepper) popcorn chicken pieces at Check-In Taipei were excellent.
The crispy chicken with signature sauces ($75) was the standout – a classic done right – though the sauces (truffle and a strangely sweet and not spicy Sichuan-flavoured sauce) were an afterthought for us with chicken that finger-licking good.
The chicken & waffles ($65) was a disappointment in comparison. While the chicken itself was just as tasty as its predecessor, the basil-flecked waffle fell flat with a bland flavour and unappealing, spongy texture. Ditch the waffles, guys.
Another new dish, the extremely cheesy egg pancake roll ($85), also left us shaking our heads. While the we liked the idea in theory, the flaky pancakes had a hard, chewy bite and were smothered in a blanket of quite sweet, and frankly off-putting, molten cheese. But they seemed to be devoured by the surrounding tables, so maybe we’re just a bit long in the tooth to appreciate this dish.
To break up the heavy flavours, we ordered the plum-infused tomatoes ($36). The tomatoes’ texture was icy – like they had been previously frozen – so we weren’t sure if this was deliberate or not, but we enjoyed the light, refreshing flavours from the plum, spring onion and sesame, good complements to the naturally sweet toms.
The marinated tofu ($36) was another light dish that we enjoyed – simple but moreish.
We shared a bowl of premium Taiwanese beef noodles ($88). We loved the clear broth, redolent with ginger, star anise and five-spice, the tender, fatty short rib chunks and the chewy, springy noodles – Asian comfort food at its best.
Ending on a high, the Earl Grey jelly and taro balls dessert ($58) was addictive. Those who like traditional cake-y desserts and puddings may be dumbfounded as to what this bowl contains, and we were too – until we began savouring all the different components. Our favourite toppings were the delightfully chewy boba pearls, the purple-hued taro balls and the plump sweet potato balls.
Though there were some hits and misses with our meal – we definitely preferred the classic to the more creative dishes – overall we enjoyed our dining experience at buzzy Check-In Taipei. The crispy chicken (sans waffles) and beef noodles were fab, and it would be hard to beat those prices at another restaurant in Central.
Tip: wash down your meal with a newly introduced frozen fruit beer ($75), which comes in strawberry, pineapple and lychee flavours – ours, made with lychee-flavoured ice cubes, went down a treat.
27 Hollywood Road, Central, 2351 2622
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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