Magazine article Newsweek International

A Palette for the Palate

Magazine article Newsweek International

A Palette for the Palate

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Adams

A restaurant near Taipei's National Palace Museum serves works of art that are more than metaphorical.

Imagine if the greatest works from the Chinese imperial collection of art became ... edible. That's the basic concept behind the new Silks Palace restaurant in Taipei. It opened in late June next to the National Palace Museum, which holds what is widely regarded as the world's finest collection of traditional Chinese art. The museum's prized sculpture, ceramics and artifacts come from the imperial collection of Beijing's Forbidden City, the best of which the Kuomintang took with them to Taiwan when the communists drove them off the mainland in 1949.

Silks Palace pays homage to that collection, but with a decidedly contemporary twist. Taiwan's Formosa International Hotels Corp. won the bid to run the government-owned restaurant until at least 2030, with a concept designed by Taiwan's Yao Ren-shi and Japan's Yukie Hashimoto. Then Formosa's army of chefs let their imaginations run wild. The result is a $14.8 million epicure's delight whose design and dishes offer a whimsical take on famous Chinese art and artifacts.

The exterior of the five-floor building is a boldly modern counterpoint to the imperial-style museum next door. It is covered in glass with a webbed pattern meant to evoke the cracks in Song-dynasty-era (A.D. 960-1279) ceramics. At night, the building is illuminated like a futuristic Chinese lantern. Interior designer Hashimoto continues the cracked-ceramics theme, and gives Chinese artifacts a hip but restrained twist. Four glass-enclosed pillars inspired by the Tsung tubes used in Neolithic-era Chinese religious rituals extend the height of the two-story atrium. The first floor features an a la carte dining area with soft illumination from lamps shaped like Tsung-chou bells of the late Western Chou period (about 1100-771 B. …

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