By Michael Karlo Lim
TO “date yourself” is not such a strange idea in this narcissistic era of selfies. While the Me, Myself and I may seem to be everyone’s focus now, between vanity and illusions are the outward projections we all both knowingly and unknowingly mask our insecurities and issues with. We check ourselves out on any available reflective surfaces multiple times every day but when was the last time you really took a long, good look at yourself? When was the last time you truly had some me-time?
We found this novel solo dining experience in Taipei, Table For one, on Klook. The exercise is counterintuitive to Maslow Level 3, but the premise was to disengage from others and, perhaps, or so I understood, the need to seek acceptance or validation from those parties. What first came across as a somewhat quirky affair quickly turned into one of introspection.
Checking into the reservation couldn’t have been more convenient than just a quick QR code scan of our Klook vouchers on our mobile phones. From reception, we were led into the all-white space, making an eclectic collection of knickknacks stand out, where we were both seated at individual tables against the shopfront windows.
We were first served earphones and began with the Theme from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind playing both whimsical and incredibly melancholic. Beach Song and Photograph from the movie Her pushed the pensive mood and Mamerico’s Waltz For Hulot completed that rather heavy appetizer of memories and feelings. The actual starter was lighter with steamed egg whites appearing like seared scallops topped with roe and served with cucumber slices, shredded daikon, nasturtiums, green pea puree and pesto.
The accompanying guidebook instructed to “learn to appreciate from different angles and surprise yourself” as a mirror was served for the second starter. After a good several minutes of confronting age and imperfections, an acrylic tray was placed on top of the mirror. On it, an abstract arrangement of assorted vegetables, herbs, and mushrooms of various cooking treatments anchored to the surface with savory mustard and sesame paste – this “garden” quite possibly an allusion to second chances and fresh hope.
A booklet with the title Story For One on the jacket opens to a Kobo reader with selected excerpts from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince. Sad movies do it for Sue Thompson. Great food experiences do it for me. Kat and I looked up and across from our individual tables to find each other crying over the main course, Asteroid B-612, as inspired by that in the book. I had to choke back a sob along with my first bite. Talk about eating your feelings.
A very organic-shaped blob of savory black sesame paste represented the planet. Around it, mushrooms stood for the Baobabs and the Rose out of strips of confit tomato. While the sheep in the story was only a drawing, the seared lamb was both the figurative and literal meat of the dish.
A chocolate mousse dome on a sable cookie base was served on an empty picture frame with a side of multicolored gels in miniature squeeze bottles and the instructions to make the dessert “as unique as you are in the world.” Of course, the competitive kid in me put my elbow into it and finished a saccharine mandala. I washed my sweet finish down with a cold apple juice and black tea infusion topped with coconut mousse as she did hers with a hot black tea with a roasted marshmallow.
Other diners had grins plastered on their faces throughout, others looked nonplussed and some terribly stoic. Of course, the experience would be different for each individual. It follows that my interpretation of their reactions is also only mine. I’d say this has been the most exciting dining experience I’ve had to date. Go enjoy a meal by yourself at Table For One through @klooktravel_ph. It would do you wonders.
Facebook: Michael Karlo