This Downtown restaurant serves the healthiest food you can ingest into your body.
If you want to get a real feel of the food culture of Taiwan and enjoy a slice of Taiwanese warmth and hospitality, check Taipei Dao – a restaurant tucked away in a slightly quieter neighborhood of Downtown Dubai. We warn you, you will get addicted! That’s because this restaurant not just serves tasty food, but tasty and 100 percent healthy food.
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, one of the pioneers of French gastronomy writing once penned this famous observation ‘Tell me what kind of food you eat, and I will tell you what kind of man you are.’
Food is an integral part of Taiwanese culture and that reflects in the personality of Taiwanese people too : friendly, open, warm, hospitable and guileless. As a gastronomic epicenter of Asia, Taiwan’s culinary scene is quite exciting, to say the least. Renowned internationally for lip smacking food and gleaming night markets, many travelers go to Taiwan mainly to experience this incredibly delicious and unique food culture.
Taste aside, there is a health aspect to the Taiwanese cuisine too. Taiwan being in the sub tropical belt enjoys a steady supply of fresh fruits and vegetables all year round. The Taiwanese people are also known to use a lot of nutritious, healthy and organically grown vegetables in their cooking. The best part is that Taiwanese food is generally not as oily or salty as other Asian cuisines, setting it apart.
Even the oil they use is natural and quite healthy, like sunflower, oil for instance. The use of MSG (also known as sodium glutamate) is not as ubiquitous, either. Little wonder that despite being all-day-gourmet-snackers, the Taiwanese have healthy glowing skin and impressive fitness.
While all of the above may actually tempt you to book your next holiday to Taiwan for a culinary extravagance, which I certainly recommend, the good news is that you can also experience it all, sitting right here in Dubai too ; at a downtown restaurant called Taipei Dao.
Indulge in a completely guilt free and tasty culinary experience that can transfer you from the Middle East straight to the the Far East
Taipei Dao is one of those rare gems in Dubai that can leave you wanting more. And why?
Taipei Dao, which, roughly translated from Taiwanese means “Pathway to Taipei” serves up one of the healthiest food in Dubai. What with their stringent no MSG, No Transfat, no GMO and no artificial additives policy, which assures that everything you ingest into your body there is 100 percent healthy and safe.
Taiwanese food and no MSG (?!) you might wonder. Obviously, considering that Taiwanese cuisine is greatly influenced by Chinese culinary traditions which are known to use a lot of MSG in their cooking. Well you can be assured that not only is Taipei Dao anti MSG, they also ensure that only the most authentic and freshly sourced ingredients and condiments are used in their cooking.
If healthy eating is your thing, then this Tea house restaurant & bakery must be on your top list
Right from the Deep Sea Mineral Salt , extracted from 662 meters below sea level off the coast of Taiwan, to the nutritious GBR (Germinated Brown rice) sprouted under strictly controlled conditions in the rice fields of Taichung, or even the palm sugar used used to sweeten their drinks and desserts, everything that gets prepared at this restaurant can be trusted to be 100 pure and healthy.
Having their own general trading company both in UAE and Taiwan and partnerships with farms in the Taiwanese countryside mean sourcing the best ingredients directly from the place of origin without having to rely on local distributors for supplies. This is one thing that sets Taipei Dao leap years ahead of the other similar restaurant concepts in Dubai – the ingredients are always sourced directly from the origin. All sourced products are guaranteed free of flavouring enhancers, MSG, GMO artificial colouring and preservatives.
Tea and Tranquility
As I stepped into Taipei Dao, it felt like I’m entering an art house or museum than a restaurant. With traditional tea pots, subtle lighting, artsy décor, souvenirs imported from Taiwan, artistic inscriptions on the walls and ceiling, the place looked straight out of a busy neighborhood in Taipei.
I was welcomed personally by Ms. Felice Liao the restaurateur and Mr. Bhaskar Rao, the operations manager.
They offered me a refreshing jug of detox water – a melange of Kiwi, Yellow Capsicum, Germinated Brown Rice, Chinese Kale, Asparagus, Apple, Tomato and Cold brew green tea. Felice Liao tells me that everyone who booked a table 24 hours in advance gets this complementary welcome drink to kick-start their guilt-free dining experience. Upon probing further, I learnt that the ingredients are soaked over night so it fully dissolves in the water and creates that perfect, healthy and tasty concoction. What a way to start a healthy meal!
Felice was kind enough to show me around the place and offer some tidbits of information about Taipei Dao’s cuisine, their philosophy, the artifacts from Taiwan and of course her passion for this business.
I learnt that Felice spent several years travelling around the world and learning about healthy food and what it takes to run such a business. So, every aspect of the restaurant – be it the decor, the cuisine or the details are products of several years of thought and planning.
Bhaskar Rao the operations manager tells me “She is indeed very passionate about running this restaurant. Felice is so serious about this business, she spends most of her time here. On any day she could be found meeting and greeting the guests, most times she randomly stops by at the diners table to share some knowledge about her cuisine or to find out if the guests are enjoying their food. Whenever possible, she also tries to infuse some knowledge to the guests about healthy eating and Taiwanese food culture.”
As we sat over a cup of cold bubble tea in the artsy tea corner, she revealed the painstaking efforts that went into setting up Taipei Dao in Dubai. First off, she said even registering the restaurants name was so hard, thanks to Dubai municipality’s rule of not licensing any restaurant named after a city. Finally after much efforts and support from the Consulate of Taiwan, the name Taipei Dao was approved. According to her the name “Taipei Dao” was suggested by her husband who is also a partner in her business.
“When people hear the name Taipei Dao they have no doubt it’s a Taiwanese restaurant” she avers. The couple earlier ran a similar concept restaurant in Healthcare city under the name Sino Chai. The name created some confusion with many thinking Sino Chai to be a Chinese Tea House, when it was actually a full-fledged Taiwanese Restaurant. This time around, she wanted to ensure important lessons learnt running her first restaurant are not forgotten.
How it all started….
The idea to start a second business first hit their minds 15 years ago. At that point they believed that retail business was the most profitable thing to do in the UAE. And talk about retail business, whats better than a restaurant?!
Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that Felice does not see this as merely a commercial venture. It is her passion to serve “real healthy” food to the health conscious diners in this country, that led her to establish Taipei Dao.
Though there is no dearth of restaurants and eateries in Dubai, there are very limited healthy-eating options as compared to fast food eateries and others. Noticing this lacunae, Felice and her husband decided to start a healthy food restaurant which would serve 100 percent healthy food in its real sense.
“I love cooking and I am also a good cook. I do not serve anything here in the restaurant that I can offer to my family” she says. According to her “real healthy” food starts from the “essential ingredients“. “That’s why we always start from the essential ingredients.” She continues “If you can’t have essential ingredients, even if you have organic chicken or organic vegetable, it’s of no use. The oil is bad, the salt is bad, the sugar is bad, or maybe you add MSG to make it tasty.”
Aside from the healthy food dimension, Felice decided to infuse some cultural aspect to Taipei Dao, too. And what better symbolic representation than Tea, which is unarguably an indispensable part of Taiwanese culture.
So the teapots, the mugs, the Oolong tea sachets and traditional tea serving ceremonies makes perfect sense there. Coming from a country famous of its tea estates and being a producer of tea myself, I fell in love instantly with her tea philosophy.
Felice says quality here goes beyond merely avoiding GMO and MSG in the dishes. Their concept is to make the food “ 100% Safe, clean and healthy”
Cleanliness at the restaurant was about making sure the vegetables are washed in the right way. As regards using fruits or vegetables from the local ripe market, she says in case there is an urgent need, they occasionally do source some products locally, but they ensure that only organic items are purchased. When not sure whether an item is non-GMO, they always rely on organic.
She claims that 90% of families in the UAE don’t have access to so many fresh, pure and safe ingredients as her restaurant. Little wonder that a majority of her guests are regular customers with new ones being brought along or referred by her existing customers. Pointing to a few occupied tables she said “All those customers are our regular customers, there are no ‘passing-by’(sic) customers. A few ‘new ones’ are seated along with our regular customers” The secret to the success of the restaurant is this word of mouth marketing built on trust and experience.
On a question of who her target audience were, she says “Anyone who likes to eat healthy, tasty, safe and nutritious food” are my target audience. Her statement was further reiterated by Mr. Bhaskar Rao, who attributed quality and freshness as being the main factors that drew in existing customers – many of whom are health conscious people and frequent visitors.
Tempted so much by the place and on Felice Liao’s insistence, I decided to try out some of their popular dishes. I peered at the menu which read more like one of those strictly Chinese restaurant menus with seemingly Chinese names. Assumptions aside, in the end it was the subtle and uniquely Formosan dishes that made the experience much more authentically Taiwanese, for me.
For the starters I ordered Garlic golden tofu cube, green tea prawn chives dumpling, Jasmine tea chicken shu mai.
Though not a great tofu lover, I some how enjoyed it here. The tofu cubes were crisp, had the perfect hint of garlic and came with lots of green and red chilli that made it look colourful and tempting. It definitely tasted as wonderful as it looked.
Prawn chives dumpling (prawns, chives and green tea powder) was extremely soft, succulent and tasty. The tea part really intrigued me. In fact, many of their dishes have tea as an essential ingredient viz-a-viz Osmanthus tea vegetarian dumplings, ten li tea beef dumpling, dragon well tea chicken spring roll, chin hsuan tea seafood, tung ting oolong tea beef wrap, and the list goes on.
Shu mai made out of jasmine green tea, chicken, prawns, mushroom and topped with crabs egg came steamy hot and it left me craving for more. It was extremely soft and delicious to eat.
The main course : For the main course I settled for Sea food with xo sause hot pot and seafood fried rice. Yes, it was time to awaken the sea food lover in me and Taipei Dao seemed just perfect to unleash the beast.
The Seafood hot pot was a delicious combination of cuttle fish, prawns, tofu, scallop, xo sause, dried shrimp, tea oil , garlic, soy sause, broccoli and carrots. It made for a perfect meal. The taste and softness of the seafood testified to its freshness and quality. I enjoyed the seafood fried rice as well, which was unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before, in this part of the world.
Two and half hours later, after a very indulgent dinner i walked out, feeling completely guilt free in every sense of the word.
Taipei Dao also has an in-house bakery selling the famous pineapple cake, muffins and pastries. You can also purchase a variety of authentic organic Taiwanese Oolong tea, germinated brown rice, deep sea salts, oil, sauce, vinegar and a host of other items imported by their general trading division.
Overall Rating : 9
For reservations contact : 04 4510694
Location: Southridge Tower 4, Downtown Dubai, Dubai
Opening hours: 12 Noon to 3 PM, 6:30 PM to 10:30 PM (Monday Holiday)