When I first heard Vivo was a Spanish Tapas place, I was imagining another quaint, fairly authentic, restaurant. One that serves to a group of few, but loyal customers. Really though, I mostly couldn’t get that strange, slightly unsettling, mask logo out of my mind. But as I have come to find, Vivo is not only an enormous 2-story is ultra-modern, ultra-artistic and ultra-high tech restaurant, it is also as authentic as they come.
Sitting right in the middle of the East Area off of Zhongxiao Dunhua (忠孝敦化), the restaurant demands to be noticed with it’s giant wall of bright light and the signature logo. Vivo has spared no expense on making itself one of the most innovative dining establishments in Taipei, spending NT$30 million on completely redesigning the building, even spending NT$10,000 per chair, not to mention the designer art pieces, chandeliers, gelato machine, projector and giant LED Screen.
Ok, Sure. But How is the Food?
Although there is a lot to talk about regarding the decor, let’s get on the food first. You can rest assured that the tapas offered at Vivo are 100% authentic. That’s because the owner, after interviewing 100s of chefs in Spain, finally asked Vivo’s head-chef Sergio to move from his home in Barcelona to come work his magic over here in Taipei. Having never even left Spain before, Sergio’s tapas are as authentic as they come, and everything is made from scratch.
We first had a simple salad covered with a light oil/lemon sauce and topped with porchetta and parmesan. The salad was actually quite tasty and had multiple forms of leafy veggies inside. It was a nice, light opener and big enough for a couple of people to share while we awaited the main dishes.
First was a dish of seared potato cubes covered in a spicy cheese sauce. It had a very unique flavor, one that I had not encountered before, but the potato was cooked to perfection, and the particularly creamy sauce may have been mixed with a mayo or something. Sure it was probably quite fatty, but absolutely worth every bite.
That was followed by meatballs in marinara sauce, which were equally as delicious, but pretty typical as far as meatballs go. Same went for the deep fried calamari. The light batter kept the dish from being too oily, which was a welcome surprise in Taiwan; however, we did hope they could be a bit crispier and have a little more flavor. That isn’t to say they weren’t delicious, but perhaps not as unique when compared to the cheesy potatoes and what followed next.
Next up was the marinated chicken wings, which were just excellent. The bite-sized wings were packed with delicious flavor and were still tender and moist by the time they got to our table. Finally we tried a squid-ink rice topped with boiled squid. This was really good. However, even though I have had squid ink before, the rich quality and unique substance kept me from going all out (Basically, I couldn’t get over the fact that I was eating squid ink). And some others will also have trouble with the texture, color… fact that there is squid in your food. But it was very good, and definitely worth a try.
Along with the extensive range of tasty foods, Vivo also imports and labels its own select wines. There are five wines in total: 1 Red, 1 White, 2 Sparkling White, and 1 very surprising Sparkling Red. We, of course, had to try the sparkling red since we had never seen anything like it. I quite enjoyed it. In fact, I prefer it to sparkling white wine, while my dining partner said she felt it was a little flat.
We hadn’t even touched half of the menu and we were already stuffed. But we had to make room for dessert. This was by far my favorite part of the of meal, and it’s because of one thing: Rice Pudding: semi-sweet with a dash of cinnamon. I absolutely love the stuff. The creamy, cool texture and even a bonus cinnamon stick makes for a refreshing treat after so much rich food.
We also tried the regular pudding which was probably the best I have had, no joke. It wasn’t too sweet and was accompanied by homemade Spanish biscuits, a very nice combination of salty and sweet. In fact you can bring the biscuits to take home (which we did).
You might think that a fine dining experience, lots of fancy art, designer furniture, a foreign chef and all of the best ingredients would cost you a pretty penny, and in most cases you would be right. But Vivo isn’t like most places in Taipei. The dishes run on average of NT$180 and they are your typical tiny portions (although they are Tapas, so don’t expect a full meal either). That’s cheaper than sushi, and about the same as some of the fancier 熱炒 places out there.
A glass of wine is only NT$169, and a bottle is only NT$799.
With the 6 dishes we had, plus 2 glasses of wine and 2 desserts, we only spent NT$1800 for two! That’s an inexpensive date, an average work dinner, and a good deal.
Back to Living the Vivo Way
Before we get into the environment, what is up with that mask? It’s everywhere. They even have custom made chairs that look like masks. Well, the idea is that during our everyday lives we conduct ourselves behind a mask, acting how we want to be perceived, not as we really are. The crew at Vivo hope you can come in with your friends/family and remove the mask. That way you can be yourself and feel completely comfortable with who you are while dining.
As for the design, Vivo is a cool combination of modern color schemes and lighting, similar more to a lounge than a restaurant. There are QR codes built into the door handles (that to to the Vivo Facebook page when scanned), hi-tech gadgets for sale within the restaurant and even a bar area where you can grab a quick drink and possibly a gelato.
The top floor is where more of the dining is done. A quieter, more intimate setting, you will find candlelit tables and lots of wine on display. This spot is great for any kind of dining, but especially for dates!
The bottom floor has been designed for larger groups. There are even two VIP rooms which let you play your own music from your phone via bluetooth speakers. So you can fight your friends for airwaves as you are waiting for dinner.
You might also notice the giant LED screen on the bottom level. Not only does the restaurant use it for big events and games like the World Cup, but it is interactive as well. You can connect to it through any android phone an upload a picture of you and your friends enjoying dinner (or anything else that you want really).
Throughout the restaurant you will also find amazing pieces of art like some traditional pieces from Spain, as well as some made specially for the restaurant by local artists, such as the big red/blue apples, and the girl holding Taipei 101 in the palm of her hand. There are even one of a kind (and very pricey) pieces from Chanel and other fashion brand artists given to the restaurant as opening gifts.
So What Does It All Come Down To?
There is so much more we could talk about (check the other pics), but without saying too much more: Vivo is a one-of-a-kind concept restaurant with a lot of thought (and $Dollaz$) put into every little detail. Tastes may vary, but we both agreed that the Tapas were amazing, and there is no denying the authenticity with Chef Sergio behind the kitchen. The ingredients are fresh, the food is all homemade and the prices are very, very reasonable.
The environment may be something to get used to, but it is certainly unique. The large size of the the restaurant gives you options for a intimate date, a private party, a large group or whatever else you may be looking for. Plus you have a lot of cool little gimmicks to try out, like the Bluetooth speakers and LED screen.
So check it out! Find our more on the Facebook fan page here!