Chamkar, meaning “garden” in Cambodian, is a Cambodian-French inspired vegetarian restaurant situated in the Tienmu area of Taipei. It’s a bit out of the central area, but well worth a trip out and a great option for an intimate date setting. This is also one of the few vegetarian places in Taipei that serves wine and beer (although unconfirmed if vegan.)
Upon entering the spacious restaurant, you are greeted by the aroma of essential oil wafting in the air. Elegant sculptures decorate the walls and the use of dark wood furniture creates a rustic modern feel. The overall atmosphere is perfect for a cosy and intimate dining experience.
The menu differs between the week and weekend, and we dined on a Saturday night so could order off a small al a carte menu. Almost all the options are vegan, bar one starter and some desserts. While small, the menu was adequate and reflected what was obvious a very refined and polished set of dishes. While big menus can provide the illusion of choice; small menus give a certain confidence that this dining experience will be very special.
We started with a vegetable soup and “wedding dip” with bread. The wedding dip is a light green curry sauce with finely chopped mushroom and nuts mixed through; giving it an almost pesto-like texture.
The first thing you will notice about the food is the freshness of the locally sourced ingredients; most of which are from an organic farm close to the Yangminshan area of Taipei. The flavours here are subtle; and intentionally so; with the light aromatic and fragrant spices simply helping to highlight the taste of the vegetables as opposed to hiding it. You can spend each bite slowly tasting the very present but not overwhelming flavours. The chef evidently has place a lot of time and effort into preserving the original taste of food.
Mains were pumpkin and pineapple stir-fried in a light coconut sauce with chopped peanuts, served with brown rice, and a nice light eggplant tofu coconut curry; also packed with fresh green beans. The mains are delicious, light and subtle in flavour. If you do like a bit more kick; you can ask for some extra chilli to add to your dish.
The best part about these dishes is actually being able to taste the combination of ingredients without heavy seasoning. Nothing is masked or over seasoned. Some might think its bland, but it really is the talented chef bringing out each ingredients individual flavours, a feat that must be applauded.
The pineapple, pumpkin combination are paired perfectly with their sauce to create this aromatic and slightly sweet dish, with the perfect added touch of crunchy peanuts. The eggplant tofu curry was fragrant, with light khmer flavours that allowed you to appreciate the fresh produce in each bite.
Dessert options are a bit more limited for vegans, with a cake and fruit platter to choose from. We had the cake with coffee. The cake was small, but delicious, but I would describe it more as a chocolate fudge bar. None the less; it was soft and paired nicely with the coffee.
We weren’t expecting much from the coffee but were pleasantly surprised. Chamkar offer an Italian coffee and a Cambodian coffee. We chose the Cambodian coffee which is usually a darker roast, and it did have a nice flavour. A great compliment to the dessert and a nice way to slowly finish our meal at Chamkar.
The staff are lovely, the environment is serene, and we can’t wait to return. This place is a hidden gem and certainly a fresh, unique place for Taipei to have.
How To Get There?
Address: 111台北市士林區忠誠路二段50巷7號 No. 7, Lane 50, Section 2, Zhongcheng Rd, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111
Phone: +886 2 2838 3400
Hours: Closed on Mondays; Tuesdays to Friday 11:30 am – 8:00 pm ; Saturday to Sunday 11:30 am – 9:30 pm