The last time I went to the Hello Kitty Sweets restaurant in Taipei was a couple of years ago for a Valentines Day afternoon tea time with my wife and kids. The coffee and free wifi were good, the desserts were overpriced but okay, and the pink level was overwhelming. Since then a few friends have gone (usually after some severe prodding by a significant other) and said that I really need to experience a full meal there. I was hesitant until a friend tweeted out a photo of a Hello Kitty burger. It then became my mission to find an excuse to return and fully experience what the Hello Kitty restaurant had to offer.
That excuse? Mothers Day.
Like many restaurants in Taipei, the dinner menu at Hello Kitty Sweets is built around the ‘set’. One price includes a salad, appetizer, entree, dessert, and drink. What this means is that the dinner price is more reasonable then it might first appear when doing a quick scan of the menu. NT$450 (US$15) for a burger?!?! No, NT$450 for a burger, simple salad, beef roll appetizer, a dinner roll, pudding, and an iced coffee, tea, or soda.
And yes, I ordered the hamburger set. First came a small lettuce salad with dried cranberries and thousand island dressing.
This was quickly followed by corn soup, a Taiwanese staple, and a dinner roll. At this point you might have forgotten where you were. Don’t worry, they are not about to let you forget.
The soup was probably the worst piece of the whole meal. It’s not that it tasted bad, it’s that it that the soup had absolutely no taste at all. It was like eating warm water with the consistency of milk. I caught one of my sons dumping way too much pepper into his. Next was the appetizer I had picked from what was available: beef wrapped around a little shaved onion and a sprig of parsley.
It was okay, but nothing great. If you consider that the prior benchmark was the soup, then the beef roll was very good. It had taste. Next up was probably the creepiest thing I’ve seen for a long time: the burger.
If I were a cat-lover, I’d be horrified. If I were a vegetarian, I’d be laughing my ass off. As I’m neither, I was just creeped out a little. Once that passed, I took a bite…and was not happy. The eerie Hello Kitty bun was very dense and tasted closer to a croissant then how it should. The meat actually tasted pretty good and I would have given it a thumbs up if not for the pieces of gristle that I came across every other bite.
My wife and the kids had noodle dishes. The kids devoured theirs (clam pasta) in a matter of seconds without a word and my wife commented ‘salty’ after finishing her tomato seafood noodles.
Finally came the dessert, pudding.
This ranks as the second worst part of my meal. It was obnoxiously sweet and had a sand-like texture, so it’s a safe bet that it was made from a powder mix and not fresh.
At the end of the meal, I felt cheated. For the same price I could have gotten something fresh, more original, and more tasty at any number of other restaurants. This is especially true considering their location in a major city nexus with loads of great, small, family-run joints nearby. For the novelty of it, it is worth a single visit for an afternoon cake & coffee (as I did my first time), but I do not suggest a full meal here.
My feelings are best summed up by the quote from a friend posted recently on my Facebook wall about Hello Kitty Sweets “…And overpriced. And the food tastes weird. But (my daughter) liked it.”
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