One of our friends who knew the Zhongshan area very well had recently introduced us to a sake-themed izakaya for dinner. The restaurant draws in customers to enjoy the special selections of sake and delicious foods.
The owners are professional and enthusiastic sake experts who like to introduce diverse flavors of sake according to the customers’ individual preferences.
Their concept here is, when pairing the right sake with the right food, it can make an ideal place to drink and relax for the evening.
Koma Sake Bistro is very close to Taipei Main Station but also hidden in plain sight – making it fairly difficult to find by Google Maps. We initially missed it as we struggled to find the entrance straight away.
You must make a booking to eat and drink at this izakaya to avoid disappointment if there isn’t a table free.
It’s located on the second floor of a building just outside Exit Y17 of the Taipei City Mall. Since it can be tricky to find, we’ve included some instructions on how to find them.
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1. How to Find Them
If you take the MRT, you can get off at Taipei Main Station, and head to the Taipei City Mall (Taipei Underground Street) to Exit Y17.
When you exit Y17, turn left and head to this entrance (marked by the yellow arrow below).
The sign for Koma Sake Bistro confirms the right entrance. Go in, and take the elevator (or stairs) to the second floor.
The entrance is this rustic wooden door, which you can see on your right as you come out of the elevator on the 2nd floor.
As soon as we entered through the sliding door, we were met with the strong nostalgia of a traditional wooden Japanese restaurant.
The dining space inside is small and cozy, but you’d never need to worry about getting a table since you have to book.
Despite the fact that the customers are mainly Taiwanese, the staff can speak well enough English – making it an English friendly environment.
As it’s a sake-themed izakaya, it came as no surprise that it’s predominantly decorated with bottles of various types of sake from different regions across Japan.
When it came to deciding on what to drink, we had a lot of guidance from the owner, who is also a sake expert.
On top of that, we had the pleasure of choosing from a wide variety of alcoholic beverages on display in the huge refrigerator.
We noticed from the menu that some of the Japanese foods had a mix of Taiwanese culture in order to be better suited for the locals.
Since we were hungry, we picked out quite a few items each to share that would also go nicely with a good bottle of sake.
We finally settled on the owner’s expert opinion as he based his suggestion on the food we ordered, called the Kinoene Haruzake Kanbashi.
This sake is cold and pretty light, so it doesn’t burn the back of your neck like many types of sake do.
We were sharing between us, so we got three different appetizers.
- Salted Edamame – Soybean ($60) is a typical food item in many Japanese restaurants which always makes an awesome appetizer.
- Sesame Oil Cucumber ($80) The Sesame Oil Cucumber was crunchy and has a faintly pleasing salty taste to it.
- Honey Simmered Clove Fish with Pecan ($120) is a walnut appetizer made with brown sugar.
All of the starter options went really well with the sake, and just as awesome with beer!
Special Dried Noodles ($80)
The dry noodles are ramen which has a nice chewy texture to them. They also have an added bit of sesame oil in the taste.
The sauce on top is a special sauce made at the restaurant by which you need to mix in with the ramen noodles before eating to make it super delicious.
It takes a little while to mix it all in. Once you’ve got it all the same brownish color, it’s ready to eat.
Shio Koji Sous Vide Chicken w/Black Pepper ($120)
Next, we ordered the Shio Koji Sous Vide Chicken, which is the meat from the chicken leg.
The chicken was served cold, and with a reddish spicy dip sauce. If you’re not a fan of cold chicken, we suggest using the strong and spicy dip sauce as it goes really well with it.
Deep-Fried Dumplings ($120)
These weren’t just your typical pork fried dumplings as they use a different kind of dough, called old dough. This made the fried dumplings rather crunchy when biting into them.
They come with a vinegar dip which is quite strong, so we suggest biting into them a bit first, before dipping them into the vinegar for best taste results.
Shio Koji Fried Chicken ($180)
The next to arrive was the fried chicken legs. These were very enjoyable to eat since the meat is quite juicy, tender and they’re completely boneless.
If you find the fried chicken quite oily, try making the most out of the tartar sauce they come with – it improves it a lot.
We really enjoyed them with beer as it paired super well with these chunky fried chicken portions.
This is a type of Japanese one-pot dish, consisting of several ingredients like tofu, radish, pork, stewed in a light broth. You get the broth separately in a large metallic cup.
Oden was our clear favorite, and we also felt this was the best pairing with sake out of our entire order.
The broth had a deep taste of the meat and vegetables it simmered with – we couldn’t get enough!
The owner had also suggested we mix it with a little sake to enhance the taste. When we did so, it was delicious, and we couldn’t taste the alcohol at all.
Check out their menu below:
We certainly think so. It’s the place to go for any kind of Japanese alcohol that you can enjoy with delicious and inexpensive food.
Another awesome feature we liked is the advanced payment options which they have available. They can accept payment by Apple Pay or Samsung Pay, removing the need to withdraw cash.
It’s nice not having to worry about getting a table, especially since it’s a popular izakaya that’s not very big.
The best way to reserve a table through their booking app – it’s English-friendly and super convenient to use.
Will we go back?
We’re sure to return as we liked how hidden it is – almost like a secret base. This makes it an ideal place to relax while watching the bustling city from out the window.
Telephone: (02) 2558-0836
Facebook: 獨樂清酒食堂 Koma Sake Bistro
English address: 2nd Floor, No. 1, Section 1, Chongqing North Road, Datong District, Taipei City
Chinese address: 103台北市大同區重慶北路一段1號2樓
Taipei Main Station, Exit Y17
🗓️ Updated: April 2021 – Taipei.Expats