03 9663 6663
273 Swanston St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
(Click here for a map)
My dining experience at the Taiwan cafe is a fine example of a buzz may not equate good food. Recently, on various occasions when I commuted along Swanston Street, I noticed that there was a new asian restaurant that replaced Old Town (Click here for the existing Old Town). Then, I could not help thinking that how volatile food business can be and the queues that formed outside this new venue. This queuing phenomenon was rather novel in Melbourne and hence motivated me to taste their menu, thinking how fabulous their food could be.
We arrived outside the Taiwan Cafe at 5.30pm and found out the restaurant would oddly only open at 6pm. Shortly after which, a queue started to form. In the queue, I was thinking why would a food business restrict its dinner business hours and not capitalize on potential business. Could it be given it is still the new kid in the block and creating a queue bottleneck of diners looking for a fad would create a buzz: hence, potentially attracting more patrons? Oh well, me and my conspiracy theories? We then comforted ourselves that this would be a great dining experience while queuing for the next 30 minutes. Eventually, Taiwan cafe opened at 6.10pm.
Unfortunately, everything seemed to go spirally downwards from here. When the business opened, we were designated with a miniscule table, which was literally 10cm between two other similarly-sized tables. Given the crowd and the small dining floor, we were basically packed like sardines (this line is so primary school). The venue was so congested and the noise from the crowd in a small volume gave me a slight headache. On a good note, I did observe that there were many servers and the decors seemed very refreshing.
We tried to order a few other dishes from the menu but was told that they were unavailable for the day. The numerous servers on many occasions seemed very dazed and disorganized. Thus, this suggested that the number of servers does not relate to good service. Serving of the dishes was also irregular. Eventually, after various iterations of what they had or not, we ordered four items:
1. Chilled beancurd & Century Egg
In this dish, the chilled tofu and the century egg were garnished with chopped green onion, meat floss and some oyster-like sauce. Although, the dish was refreshing to the palette, it was plain ordinary and lacked creativity.
2. Taiwanese beef noodle soup
Here, the noodle was slightly overcooked and had this rather mushy texture. The broth was rather diluted and lacked favor. Sliced beef; the supposedly hero of the dish was sadly tough, another good sign of being overcooked.
3. Pan-fried beef dumplings
These pan-fried beef dumplings were the worst I had in Melbourne. They came last, after a lengthy 15 minutes when we had finished all other ordered dishes. We were told by the manager that they needed 20 minutes to prepare this when queried. These dumplings were greasy and seemed very stale/frozen. When I took a bite, tasteless and oily liquid dripped over the table. This was definitely not a pleasant dining sight.
4. Red milk tea with extra pearl
The red milk tea was nice but one could easily find better ones in the CBD.
Our dining experience at the Taiwan Cafe disapproved the hypothesis that buzz on a food joint suggests good dining. Moreover, the queue outdoor appeared to be fabricated by poor time and serving management. As a food lover, it hurts to write a critical review on a new food eatery. But when writing a review, genuine opinions should be brought forward. The lack of time management, poor service and disappointing food left us with no options. This was a 1 out of 5 dinner.