Archive | August, 2013

Cash City (錢都): Shabu-shabu Restaurant

30 Aug
imagelocationdesNearest MRT station (although not that close to the actual location): 七張(Qizhang).  Take a bus towards Jingmei Girls Highschool (景美女中)and you’ll find the orange colored restaurant on your right after a mere 50 meters.

Information: Taiwanese cuisine has been really influenced by Japanese food. Adoption of similar flavors and names can be found in the dishes. A popular dish is shabu-shabu, a hot pot, which originated in Japan. Just as in the case of other hot pots, the idea of shabu-shabu is to put various ingredients into a cooking pot and then dip them into a sauce before eating. We tried shabu-shabu at a local chain (one of many) where you can pick from various meat and fish options. An assortment of ingredients was already included in the price and served right away once we took our seats. We each had our own small hot pot built into our table, which is not that common in Japan where it is usually shared. We struggled a little before we were able to figure out how to turn on the heat (push a button that was under the table). Unlike Japanese shabu-shabu the hot pot was filled with chicken stock (but there were various other kinds of stock to choose from). After putting some of the ingredients in the pot our option of choice was served; thinly sliced pork and a seafood banquet. Slowly simmering we feasted on these accompanied by vegetables, tofu, fish balls, surimi, and fried seafood. This hotpot chain also offered a sidebar with free tea, various sauces (different from Japanese sauces), and ice cream. It was a very pleasurable experience overall. Nom nom nom.

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Rating: The food was nice, service was fast and the prices were really reasonable (200-250 NTD a person). We will definitely visit this place again; also because we received a coupon for some free meat or seafood.

Categories: photo (5)

Sushi Express

28 Aug

 photolocationdesNearest MRT station 西門町 (ximending), but you can find Sushi Express nearly everywhere in Taipei.

Information: It is inevitable to not write a review about the biggest sushi chain in Taipei: Sushi Express. I’d heard some bad stories about their take-away food, but we still decided to test their conveyor belt sushi. It was extremely busy and there was actually a line right after we were seated. The idea of conveyor belt sushi is that the sushi  (on a conveyor belt) passes all the tables. If you see a piece of sushi you like, you just grab it. At Sushi Express there is a lot of a sushi that is normally not on a normal menu in Japan: sushi with pork floss, sushi with soy sauce egg, and sushi with chili peppers. I didn’t feel so adventurous today so I picked a lot of normal sushi. The salmon sashimi and nigiri was fairly tasty, but the tuna was really tasteless, but I find that this is really common in these cheaper sushi restaurants. The tamagoyaki (grilled egg) was way too sweet and the herring was also disappointing. I had my doubts about the pork floss sushi, because it is pretty dry, but once it is in your mouth for a split-second it is actually really tasty. There was one thing at Sushi Express of which we had not idea what it was. It turned out to be artificial abalone, but it is still a mystery how this was produced. Surprisingly, its taste was close to squid, but less chewy. It is certainly worth a try.

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 Rating: This sushi is really not that bad especially considering the price of 30 NTD per plate. If you fancy eating some quick sushi without paying a pretty penny you should try Sushi Express.

 Categories: photo (5)

Steamed Bread Dumplings (蒸包)

28 Aug

 location dum+lingsNearest MRT Station: Zhongshan Elementary School Station (See Map).

Information:  When I first heard people were going to take me to eat steamed dumplings, I just thought I was going to eat the regular kind (like this one), but steamed. I was in for a surprise. Located around a small temple, breakfast/brunch restaurant 圓山老崔蒸包 serves up some delicious steamed dumplings made of a chewy kind of bread. These were just like filled Chinese buns (包子), in the size of a regular dumpling, but the texture was very different, probably because of its smaller size. The dumplings came with many kinds of homemade dipping sauces. You could choose between a pork or beef filling;  the taste was wonderful. Steaming food is a great way to preserve flavor and you could really tell that none of the juices and flavors had left the dumplings after taking a bite; full flavor, really nice. Sauce created that little extra ‘oomph’.   As a starter you can order some hot and sour soup (酸辣湯) with stinky tofu; very thick, rich and tasty soup; give it a try! It tastes different every time.dumpling breaed restaurantdumpling bread

Rating: Prices: 10 dumplings for 80 NTD; I couldn’t stop eating! Fresh, handmade, delicious. A power breakfast! I was told this restaurant had great quality food. I was also told people often go here because it’s close to a temple and people believe buying food around a temple will give them good fortune. (A little contradictory; nevertheless, great food!) The restaurant opens around 5:00 and closes around 13:00, so better go there early! (Although I’m sure you can find other places. I also wonder if this could also be served for late lunch or dinner; any ideas?)

Categories: image

Bitter Tea

27 Aug

Bitter (bitter bitter) Tea

Bitter Tealocationdes

Nearest MRT Station: either Taipei Main Station or Zhongshan station (See Map).

This place (house of bitter tea (苦茶之家)has 2 other branches. 1: 台北市林森北路263號 (長春路口) & 台北市松隆路368號(五分埔)

Note: Many places have bitter tea, but a lot of these add flavor or make it less bitter to suit general taste (which is already really really bitter). If you want the real deal however; this is the place to go.

Information: Think you know the meaning of bitter? I thought I did; so I wasn’t scared at all to try Taiwanese Bitter Tea. When it comes to Tea making; Taiwan is definitely in the top 10 of tea kinds and flavors. Each county even has it’s own special Tea.  Bitter tea is definitely among the popular health teas (as you can also find fruit tea, milk tea, bubble tea, and so on…). This pitch black tea is supposed to be good for all kinds of health issues such as digestion problems, fever, headaches and it’s even supposed to help get rid of pimples. I wouldn’t know about the health benefits, but what I do know is that the taste is quite peculiar. Upon smelling it, it reminded me of a very strong kind of (European) licorice. The taste was initially fresh; then came the aftertaste; this was unlike any kind of bitter drink or food I had ever tasted .. in my life.  Luckily, Taiwanese people think the same way, so the tea came with some dried hawthorn (kind of berry)  (山楂)to get rid of the bitterness (that will linger the entire day if you don’t eat something else). Buy a very small cup and give it a try. You’ll feel refreshed afterwards!

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Categories:  Drinks

Duo Yakiniku: Japanese Barbecue

25 Aug
Duo1locationdesNearest MRT station: Taipei Main Station

Information: There is an amazing food court at Taipei Main Station with lots of different options. We decided to go to a Japanese barbecue restaurant. I think barbecuing your own meat is one of the best things in the world. Grilling the meat while it is slowly becoming edible, wonderful. In Japan my heart would start beating faster every time I went to eat there. I was really excited when I saw this place, because it really reminded me of Japan. The menu is in Chinese, Japanese and English; so it is really easy to order here if you don’t know any Chinese. I decided to go for beef tongue, ribs, thinly sliced steak, chicken, and an assortment of vegetables (just to eat a little healthy). We were able to choose from different quality meats from ‘normal’ steak to premium Japanese steak (wagyu). Usually at the cheaper places in Japan they don’t use real charcoal, but they did here. The meat tends to be grilled a little slower than at restaurants that use a heating element. Obviously getting the real deal is a lot cooler. Every platter of meat had 4 to 7 pieces on it depending on the meat you pick. It was really nice, even though I had picked the cheaper option. The meat had been marinated in some semisweet sauce, which added a lot of flavor, but wasn’t overwhelming. The vegetables were so-so, but who goes to a barbecue to eat veggies, right?

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Rating: Expect to spend at least 500 NTD a person, but it was really tasty. I don’t know if it is worth it, as I don’t know the prices of other yakiniku places. Service is fast and the atmosphere Japanese.

A Taipei Style Breakfast/Brunch

23 Aug

A Taipei Style Breakfast

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Name: Morning熊Brunch (really cute place with teddybears, worked for me)

Nearest MRT stop: Qizhang Station, then take bus 1 to 8 towards the NCCU University; just forget about the location though, it’s a little troublesome to go to unless you live closeby; any breakfast/brunch shop in Taipei will have this!

Information: One thing I’ve noticed about the kind of breakfast people eat in Taipei (Taiwan), is that there actually is no such thing as a typical breakfast. People eat everything; rice, noodles, soup, dumplings, cake, hamburgers; anything can be breakfast. However, Taipei is a big city, people often want to have a quick bite before going to school or work and often don’t find the time to have a big breakfast. In such cases, Asian-Western-Fusion breakfast places are convenient and very popular. These places serve hamburgers, sandwiches, omelettes, dumplings, quick noodle dishes, small snacks and coffee, tea or soy milk. They usually open up around 5:00 in the morning and close around lunchtime. I finally managed to wake up early enough (it’s the holidays, what can I say) to go there and we ordered a chicken omelette, radish cake (also very typical breakfast food ) and some pan-fried dumplings. Even though the English translation is omelette, it’s actually a very thin rice-pancake with a thin omelette on top (with or without toppings), the savory radish cake is made by combining shredded Chinese radish and rice flour. Sometimes they add meat or vegetables. The dumplings were different in that some herbs were added; so I’m guessing that makes them breakfast-style dumplings. I personally would not recommend the sandwiches, as a lot of sugar is added to Taiwanese bread, but I’m just not used to sweet bread, so it’s a matter of taste.  A typical busy street in Taipei may have 10 or more breakfast/brunch (take-out) restaurants.

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Categories: image

Kagetsu Arashi Ramen

22 Aug

arashi1      locationdesNearest MRT station: 中山 exit 1 (zhongshan) see map

Information: As an avid ramen (Japanese noodle dish) eater I was really excited to go and eat at Arashi Ramen, a ramen chain founded in Japan. The store is located in the basement of a famous Japanese department store. The first thing I noticed was that the menu was kind of difficult to understand, because the options of ramen weren’t clear. I went for the Konniku Genkotsu Chashumen; ramen in a pork bone broth, topped with slices of pork and an egg. In addition I ordered an extra half-boiled egg, because it wasn’t an option to pick this egg over the hardboiled egg included in the dish. The thinly sliced pork was plentiful and tasty, but a little too thin for my taste. The broth was also too weak of taste and therefore the noodles were fairly tasteless, although the texture of the noodles was nice. I could have ordered a stronger broth, but I wanted to try the original one first. The half-boiled egg was also not great; not so much flavor and not quite as creamy as I am used to.

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Rating: I wouldn’t recommend this ramen chain. In fact, I am really disappointed with the overall quality and the prices (prices vary from 160~250 NTD), especially when there are so many better and cheaper options where you can eat. Food not so tasty and the service is nothing special.

Categories: image

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