But in 2014, Taiwan-born chef André Chiang returned to his birthplace with the ultimate homecoming gift: RAW, an award-winning restaurant aimed at reinterpreting the flavors of Taiwan.
The 60-seater serving up French bistronomy is perhaps the toughest reservation to snag in Taipei. Empty spots, released just two weeks in advance, are often filled within seconds.
"Taiwan's cuisine has always been underestimated," says Chiang.
The star chef trained under some of the biggest names in the culinary world, including Joel Robuchon and Pierre Gagnaire in France before taking the helm of three-Michelin-star Le Jardin des Sens in Montpellier, France, then opening Restaurant André in Singapore.
He says it was only natural that he'd want to travel back to Taiwan and focus on the flavors of his homeland.
"Being a Taiwanese, I feel that I've a responsibility to have something in Taiwan that really redefined our generation of Taiwanese flavor," he says.
Humble ingredients in the best condition
RAW's menu changes according to Taiwan's 24 micro-seasons.
courtesy Black Buddha
What can diners visiting RAW expect?
The restaurant's ever-changing menu features the freshest ingredients available on the island, according to its 24 micro seasons.
"Geographically, we're in a great position, whether for our seafood or our agriculture, you don't need to have fancy ingredients," says Chiang. "They're all humble ingredients that we have and they're in the best condition."
Humble, yes. Until Chiang and his RAW team give them an experimental makeover.
"If you look at the same produce in a different perspective, it becomes something brand new," he says.
"We could have a green pea for dessert, and we can have a peanut butter with sea urchin for first course. What we do is we just bring these great things together. It's a responsibility and it's a passion, to cuisine."
Watch the above video, produced by Black Buddha, to find out more about Chiang's culinary philosophy. RAW, No. 301, Lequn 3rd Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10491; +886 2 8501 5800