[UPDATED March 2017] In the last couple of months two well-known American steakhouse chains opened their doors in Taiwan for the first time. One is Alexander’s Steakhouse from Cupertino, California* and the other is the famous Morton’s Steakhouse. When I heard about these openings I was rather excited but apprehensive as well because for some reason finding an actual good piece of steak is quite hard in Taiwan, despite the numerous steakhouses around. So far the better if not best place for a well-rounded meal of steak and sides is probably at Danny and Company, they offer steak at both their Bistro and Teppanyaki. A close runner-up is A-Cut at the Ambassador Hotel.
In the last week I had dinner at both Alexander’s Steakhouse and Morton’s steakhouse and have concluded that there definitely is a clear winner in this face-off, and that would be Morton’s. Both have a dark-toned, dim light high-end ambiance, and both are not cheap at all in Taiwanese pricing standards, but when converted, its about the same as their counterparts in the States, so no real surprise there. And both use primarily American USDA beef. But the similarities basically stop there. Review of Alexander’s is first followed by Morton’s. Another great option, albeit a chain in the US is Ruth Chris, they do a really good job in the few franchises they have in Taipei, with classic American sides.
[UPDATE] Ok, I probably should have updated this post when I did return to Alexander’s after they revamped their menu, offerings and meal times (now available for lunch), but I just never got around to it. Recently the restaurant themselves contacted me and asked that I do in fact update this so that folks who read this post can know, new hours posted below. I returned to Alexander’s with family and family friends in July 2016 for a lunch service. The steak itself was improved, and tasted better. So it looks like they are making an effort to improve things v. when I first went per my below review. It now falls under a give it a try category, rather than dont go.
Alexander’s is set in a second floor space, with just a few tables and two private rooms. Its intimate, romantic, and comes with excellent service from an almost 100% English speaking staff. The general manager came from the original Cupertino store and was keen to hire staff who could speak fluent English. Interestingly enough the owner and founder of Alexander’s is Taiwanese-American!
There is an NTD$8000 (USD$239) 8 course Omakase dinner, and a 3 course dinner offering with price depending on the cut or seafood you choose. The 32oz. prime dry-aged porter for two is about NTD$4200 (USD$125) per person; a 6oz. Australian Wagyu A5 Cabassi full blood tenderloin would be at NTD$6000 (USD$179) per person. The three course comes with an appetizer (3 to choose from) and dessert (2 to choose from), as well as optional a-la-carte side dishes to order. There is also an extensive cocktail, liquor and wine list to order from to pair with your meal. My Alexander’s Old Fashioned was quite tasty as was a glass of house red from Napa.
We ordered the Uni Toast served with oxtail and thousand island sauce, as well as Alexander’s signature side: the Hamachi shot (prepared differently in each locale) with apple, vinegar and verjus. The oxtail overpowered the Uni Toast and I couldnt taste Uni, but the hamachi shot was unique and tasty. Our steak tartare and grilled Hokkaido scallop appetizers were both delicious. The two desserts were both mediocre at best.
The Steak. Between three people we ordered a 32 oz. porterhouse and the 6 oz. A5 Aussie Wagyu tenderloin. Steak comes with three side dishes, mushrooms, greens and mashed potatoes (this was delicious). The best was the fillet portion of the porterhouse. But overall the steak here just was not that good. There was no natural flavors and I found myself constantly dabbing my meat in one of 5 salts they give you to go with the steak. The Wagyu failed to impress and the NY Strip portion of the porterhouse was not tender at all. It was cooked just fine at medium-rare, but just lacked the tenderness and flavors of a good piece of steak, despite the fact that the porterhouse was dry-aged! Over all we were not that impressed with the main event of the meal, despite the good service, appetizers and ambiance. We also noticed very few options for non-steak lovers, so it’d be hard to take a vegetarian, or a seafood kind of guy here. Definitely not worth it.
Located on the 45th floor of the newly opened Xinyi Breeze Center department store, the restaurant occupies and entire half of the floor, the better half that has uninterrupted views of Taipei 101. This make a trip up to the restaurant worth it and really adds to the ambiance of the whole place. The service here is a tad bit dodgy at best, but I think they are still working out some kinks and definitely many staff are still in training phase as the restaurant has been opened for less than a month.
Morton’s is far bigger than Alexander’s and has many more seating options for varying party sizes as well as two-three private rooms (although these have a minimum charge). However, I would note that the table here are rather small and creates a bit of a logistical chaos when, like us, you tend to share and want to try every dish on the menu. The cocktail list is not as extensive as Alexander’s but nonetheless offers some nice choices with a few seasonal varieties. I had a very good and bold winter season Manhattan East cocktail, basically a Manhattan with sake and ginger liqueur added to it. The wine list is extensive and offers some very good and few rare bottles that go well with the steak and seafood at Morton’s. We ordered two half-bottles to go with our meal, a 2010 Chianti and 2014 Penfold’s Shiraz/Cab blend.
The menu is basically the same as any Morton’s around the world. With wide-range of appetizers, soups and salads, seafoods, steaks, surf and turf, and extensive sides to choose from. Definitely a more well-balanced menu for all appetites here. The prices were also not as staggering as Alexander’s with the most expensive piece of Wagyu costing around NTD$4400++ (USD$131++). We ordered the oyster Rockefeller to start, a 24oz. porterhouse and a American Wagyu ribeye, with sides of bacon mac and cheese, creamed spinach and creamed corn. As well as truffle butter and cognac petter sauce on the side for the steak (each at NTD$80 each or USD$3).
Everything here was regular old American sized portions. The oysters were great, most of the sides were good except the creamed spinach was not as creamy as we had hoped (perhaps they toned the creaminess down to suit the Taiwanese taste buds?). The steaks were delicious. The NY Strip and Fillet from the porterhouse and the wagyu riberye were all very tender, juicy, hearty and full of natural flavors. Each was cooked to perfection. One didnt really need salt or any of the side sauces we got to truly enjoy the succulent steaks but I nonetheless used the butter and cognac pepper sauce because they too were delicious. Also they served ketchup as well, which was a bit confusing. And it was interesting to us that none of the cuts at Morton’s were dry-aged but Alexander’s prides itself with its dry-aged cuts yet they weren’t very tender or flavorful. Needless to say we were happy and stuffed by the end of the meal but we obviously still got dessert.
We ordered a souffle for two, they have four flavors to choose from and we chose chocolate. The souffle requires extra prep time so order far in advance. The souffle was quite good for Taiwanese standards albeit on the moist side.
Overall we were far more satisfied with Morton’s, our bill for around the same amount of food and alcohol was NT$5000 (USD$149) less expensive than Alexander’s, so there is a better value here as well. Also the view definitely helps! Like I said already, the clear winner between the two new U.S. Branded steakhouses in Taipei is without a doubt Morton’s. And I’d place the Morton’s steak experience right with Danny’s for steak in Taipei.
Call or online reservations available.
Tuesday- Sunday11:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Sunday – Thursday 5:30 – 9:00 PM
Frida y- Saturday 5:30 – 10:00 PM
Level 45, Breeze Xinyi,
No. 68, Section 5, Zhongxiao East Road,
Xinyi District, Taipei City 11071
Monday – Sunday 11:30am-10pm
Monday – Sunday 11:30am-10pm
Note: There is a separate lunch menu that is simpler and offer a business lunch set.
*Edit: In the original post I had said Alexander’s was founded in Palo Alto, California when in fact it was founded in Cupertino. I have since corrected this oversight.