May 31, 2012

Dazzling Cafe

Address: No. 3, Lane 248, Section 4, Zhōngxiào East Rd, Daan District
Telephone: (02) 2731-5199
Hours: Sun - Thurs 12pm to 10pm, Fri - Sat 12pm to 11pm
Price: $$

Having heard wonderful things about Dazzling, my friends and I decided to make a Dazzling Sunday brunch date. Since opening in 2010, Dazzling is nothing if not wildly popular! I have had several Taiwanese friends tell me that the "honey toast" is "to die for", so naturally I had to see what all the hype was about. Sans reservations, the four of us walked into the Dazzling Cafe near On Tap around 1pm and were immediately seated. Success!
Food isn't the only thing at Dazzling that's aesthetically pleasing. Serving a wide range of teas, coffees, and hot chocolates (between $100 - $160 NT), Dazzling has decorated many of the drinks after their namesakes. My friend ordered the Iced Pomelo Tea with Peach ($140 NT) and it came garnished with a slice of pomelo, a mint leaf, and pomelo rinds hanging down from the glass. There was also the Iced Fruit Tea ($160 NT), which included pieces of mango, pineapple, and pomelo; and my Rose Latte ($150 NT) not only had shredded rose pedals on top (!) but included a flavorful shot of liqueur.
After ordering the Party in Your Mouth Honey Box Toast ($220 NT) and the Dark Chocolate Honey Box Toast [Danish style] ($290 NT), we chatted under the full power blast of the air-conditioner. After a 15 minute wait, the waitress brought out our two dishes.
We were all in awe of the spectacle before us, none of us ever having seen anything like "honey box toast" before. The waitress let us take our pictures, asked if we wanted a group photo, and then began disassembling our toast boxes. Personally, I appreciated this. The boxes are so daunting in shape and size, I wouldn't know where to begin and how to divvy up the toppings evenly. But I can understand people wanting to disassemble their own food thank-you-very-much.
Starting with the Dark Chocolate box, I poured some of the honey along the top of my portion and helped myself to a spoonful of ice cream. The ice cream was delicious! The dark chocolate flavor was thick and creamy, while the dark chocolate chucks broke up the creamy consistency so the ice cream wasn't too overwhelming. The toast box itself was more of a croissant-type affair, being extremely flaky and tasting faintly of butter. It wasn't dense, as regular toast is, but the lightness of the box was contrasted with the custard filling. One of the main features of this box toast is the custard (those pretty yellow dollops that look like icing), but I found the custard to be disappointing. It was thick, creamy, and didn't really have much of a taste. You felt like you were eating 3,000 calories of some insane dessert (and you were), yet it tasted of nothing. Many times I found myself, fork in hand, eating mouthful after mouthful of custard in an attempt to taste it. 

The Party in Your Mouth box was better, in that you weren't eating tasteless custard the entire time. The toast box is actually made from a loaf of bread, and while there is custard in this dish, it's only a small dollop that you can avoid if you would like. The strawberries were ripe, the ice cream was quite good (not as delicious as the dark chocolate ice cream), and one of my friends ate the macaroon ... but it looks scrumptious, doesn't it? My only complaint was that the "honey toast" didn't taste of honey and the honey brought to the table wasn't enough for four people to share. 
Overall, Dazzling has made a decent attempt at honey box toast. If invited by a friend, I would go back and have the same latte, but completely forgo any of the "Danish Toast Boxes", ignore Party in Your Mouth, and try a new toast box. That being said, these toast boxes are rather pricey ... and I would rather have a pint at On Tap instead.
There are many reviews for Dazzling online, and even some Youtube videos! Dazzling has a Facebook page and lists all of its Taipei locations. As always, menus are in English and Chinese and many members of the staff speak both. There's a 10% service charge, and the Dazzling rule is that each customer must order at least one drink. 

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