James Kitchen exalts classic Taiwanese dishes from a cozy space on the quiet side of Yong Kang Street. Hidden in plain sight, James’s understated storefront can confuse unsuspecting new patrons looking for this much heralded spot. The restaurant invokes a modest, nostalgic aesthetic harking to the days of Taiwan’s Japanese occupation. Photos of old Taipei streets, vintage chopstick boxes and other relics recall a simpler time – certainly a humble backdrop for one of the top spots for classic Taiwanese cuisine.
Nothing too fancy, James is all about simple, rustic food prepared and presented well. These dishes have the feel of traditions passed down from generation to generation, but executed with an edge sharper than your grandma’s knife. Notable standouts include Grilled Threadfish (prepared one day in advance and dried overnight), Scallion Lard Rice and Fried Oyster Roll. Even provincial fare like a Dried Turnip Omelet will have you salivating for more.
Reservations are recommended – upstairs, two tatami tables and a VIP room are great for larger groups, but don’t plan on hosting a wedding banquet here. Just in case, there’s also a second location down the street to handle the overflow traffic. We don’t use the B-word that often, but foodies, locals and tourists would agree – James is the best place for authentic Taiwanese food served in a very Taiwanese setting. Casual, down home, delicious – that’s James.