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Bellagio Café
11am – 1am
Bailian Tianfu Mall, 9 Central Kehua Rd., ground floor external entrance (next to Ajisen Ramen)
028 8525 4321
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Mark Hiew (more chengdu)
A Taiwanese chain with branches in the usual mainland haunts, Bellagio is a typically smooth affair, offering a hip, though refreshingly unpretentious, dining experience at mid-level prices. While its extensive Guangdong/Taiwanese-leaning dishes are consistently tasty, it’s the restaurant’s remarkable ice desserts that will have you dragging friends back.

The restaurant is modern in all the ways one would hope for: think Wagamamas - cool, color-coordinated minimalism and black-clad young waitstaff - but with a far more extensive menu. Informal shared dishes, selected from a bi-lingual, photo-heavy menu, feature a number of Taiwanese specialties such as Hakka-style meatballs (RMB32) and balsam pear with salted eggs (20). It’s also very vegetarian friendly, with an extensive veggie selection and standouts such as the must-try fried Chinese radish cakes, served with a tangy soy chili sauce (18) - a revelation for our party - and the succulent Taiwanese-style clay pot tofu (24).

The winning black pepper sizzling beef fillet (42) was pleasingly spicy in a way distinct from Sichuanese cuisine, while the spicy perch (48), swimming in chili broth, was much closer to familiar territory. The braised chicken with mixed sauce (39), like most of the other dishes served in a black clay pot, was perfectly prepared. Its gentle flavors provided caressing relief to those whose palates have faced the locals’ fiery brimstone a little too often. Naturally, there’s also a Sichuanese menu, some individual rice set meals (30-40) for the lunch crowd, and local beer and wine are available.

Choosing from the lengthy, shaved-ice dessert menu (22-28), we found the mountainous red/mung bean tower a little bland, and the mango sherbet, while certainly tasty, still lacked that desired oomph to close the meal. Enter the peanut smoothie. If it sounds overly rich, it’s because it is. It’s what Ben and Jerry’s and Reese’s Pieces would taste like if they merged into the shaved-ice dessert field and it won unanimous applause from our party. The restaurant’s desserts are reason enough to come, and indeed, that’s exactly what some of the well-heeled couples here on a late Sunday evening had done. Service was speedy. For a full meal, including dessert, expect to pay between RMB50-70/person.

Bellagio Café
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