Anyone familiar with Japan will know of its kissaten, the country’s old-fashioned cafes that date back to before World War II. That’s the inspiration behind Wan, a Taiwanese fusion restaurant in Meriton’s new Unity restaurant district, a short distance from Mascot Station.
Elvan Fan and Carol Xu, who are also co-owners of the beautiful Rosebery Moon and Back Cafe, wanted to create a place where people could drop by for a snack and drink or stay for a longer meal.
“A lot of mascots are fast food. There aren’t many places to sit down and chat with a friend or have a drink or a meal,” Xu says. Large format.
“Mascot cafes close around 3 p.m., but kissaten in Japan are open all day. They have coffee, drinks, sweets, savory dishes. Everyone can find a reason to visit.
Like Moon and Back, Wan has a decidedly cool artisanal vibe, with a clay wall inspired by the wrought-iron window grills typical of old Taiwanese homes. A winding tiled entrance wall offers sweeping views of the sky. There are plans to introduce handcrafted bowls (Fan is a designer) to tie into the idea of ”wan”, a word meaning “bowl” in Mandarin. The main dining table is shaped like a bowl.
The small restaurant is a pleasant place to linger over drinks and snacks or share plates which, in keeping with the concept, are served in bowls of all shapes and sizes.
“Taiwanese cuisine is heavily influenced by Japanese culture. We wanted the menu to reflect that, but also our personalities,” says Fan, originally from Taiwan, nodding to Xu, originally from mainland China.
The playful menu fuses Taiwanese, Japanese and mainland Chinese flavors. The signature Wagyu somen is inspired by traditional Taiwanese beef noodle soup – but a Japanese influence is felt via the somen rice noodles, which are thinner than the Taiwanese dish, and a bone marrow chintan ramen broth bone 12 hours.
Mapo Tofu combines aged tofu and pork with a thick, decadent soy ponzu sauce – without the Sichuan fire. “We wanted it to be really soft, not hot,” says Xu.
‘Hamburg’ rice, a mainstay of Japanese kissaten and the ultimate comfort food, features a pork belly patty, gooey provolone, caramelized onion, miso butter and runny egg yolk served on a rice bed.
Snacks range from edamame and karaage to spicy pickled cucumber, cheesy spring rolls and fun sweet corn ribs topped with aonori, a dried green seaweed and “nacho” (dehydrated cheese) powder. Japanese yakisoba-pan, the carbo-on-carb street food of yakisoba (stir-fried noodles) stuffed into a hot dog bun, is reimagined in a kimchi or avocado brioche bun.
For drinks, there are teas, Japanese beers, cans of Taiwanese beer, and fruity sake, which are best poured over ice.
For dessert, the coffee jelly is a time capsule of the Japanese kissaten, served here with a dollop of cream, sea salt and a pinch of shiso powder. There is also a milk mochi. “It’s a street dessert in Taiwan,” says Xu, a pastry chef. “In Taipei, they use a lot of peanut butter, but we make it with black sugar syrup and kinako powder. It tastes really good.
G03/256 Coward Street, mascot
Wed, Thu and Sun 5pm–9pm
Fri & Sat 5pm–10pm