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Kiwi Gourmet Burgers (KGB)

9 Apr

10154791_10202974587862792_1509327977_nlocationdesNearest MRT Station: 捷運台電大樓 (Taipower Building) Take exit 3, turn right and cross the street. Take a right, walk about 50 meters and take the second street on your left.

Information: Every once in a while you want to eat a big, juicy burger, and you don’t want to have that disgusting guilty feeling that you get after eating McDonalds or Burger King. For those people there is a nice, small burger place hidden in an alley near Taipower Building MRT station. The menu holds a variety of options including beef, chicken, lamb and vegetarian burgers. All burgers are accompanied by either french fries or a small salad. They have a few wild creations on the menu that are certainly worth a try, but even for the less adventurous among us there is plenty of choice. Go for a traditional cheeseburger or try the Kiwi Burger with pineapple, beetroot and egg. The burgers are served without sauce so the ingredients keep their natural flavors, but you can, of course, put some sauce on them. If you don’t fancy a burger, you can always go for one of the delicious salads to which you can add grilled chicken or a lentil patty. Sarah is a big fan of these, and I have to say that they have a surprisingly refreshing taste. I didn’t like their milkshakes too much. The taste of the banana milkshake was quite plain and not really sweet either. If you happen to still be hungry after the burger, try one of their warm brownies with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. Those really make my belly happy.

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Rating: Good burger and salad place for a decent price. Expect to pay around NTD 300. During the weekdays there is a daily burger special so keep an eye out for those. The service, however, is so-so.

Categories: Restaurants

Kushi Bar

5 Apr

Kushi Bar: Izakaya

photo_3locationdesNearest MRT Station: Kushi Bar is located between Zhongxiao Fuxing Station and Zhongxiao Dunhua Station. Click on ‘location’ to see the exact address or check their website to find out about their other locations.

Information: Kushi bar is a popular Japanese izakaya (sort of bar that also sells tasty food) in Taipei so it is recommended to make a reservation, especially if you are planning to go there on a Friday or Saturday. Although we had made a reservation it turned out we had gone to the wrong restaurant from this chain. One of the waiters hailed a taxi for us, explained the driver where it was and he also paid the taxi fare for us. Great service!
The restaurant was really cozy and has long wooden tables and bar seats. We were seated at the bar and had a good view of the kitchen. There are a lot of dishes on the menu and many grilled meat options also have a more luxurious option in the form of better quality meat. There is no need to order all your food in one go. So we picked a few dishes that looked appealing, while keeping an eye on the grill in front of us to see if anything else looked good. The first round consisted of a yakitori assortment (literally grilled chicken); chicken breast, chicken neck, wings and heart. In addition, we had some grilled beef and kimchi. All of the meat was incredibly tender and really tasty; just what one would expect of a grill restaurant. We noticed that the service wasn’t as great after ordering again. The dishes took way longer to arrive; most likely due to it being really busy. We had some fish and vegetables (fried) that were both nice, but when we were about to leave some more dishes we had ordered suddenly arrived. I guess we had just totally forgotten about them as it is sometimes quite difficult to keep track of all the small dishes you’ve ordered. Overall, I would say that it is really authentic and it really felt like I was back in Japan.

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Rating: Delicious, but also very pricy. Expect to spend at least 800 dollars per person and this only includes one not too expensive drink. If you don’t order one of the bigger dishes (yakisoba or a donburi) your stomach might not be too satisfied. Best thing of the night for me was the foie gras with beef on a stick.

Categories: Restaurants

(The Horror Of) Themed Restaurants – Barbie Café

29 Jan

barbielocationdesNearest MRT Station: Zhongxiao Dunhua (map)

Information: As Taiwanese culture is deeply influenced by Japanese, you just cannot help but notice the huge amount of themed restaurants in Taipei City. Though I should probably warn you; if you’re a foodie like myself, then the culinary brilliance of these places is a little hard to find. If it wasn’t for friends, I probably would’ve never visited any of them. But, I have already had a chance to explore the cuteness of the Hello Kitty Restaurant and this year: Barbie Café. If you think decoration is key to a good restaurant, look no further. The entire restaurant is in pink, staff wears pink, the wall is covered in Barbie paintings and you’re surrounded by pretty (in pink) barbie dolls (sounds a little creepy if you ask me). From the menu you can choose from a number of semi-western dishes and you can choose between either a set menu or single dishes. However, you need to spend a minimum amount, so you either end up with a lot of desserts or a set menu. I chose a risotto as my main dish. Starters included a small salad, some seafood and a piece of bread. All of the flavors and textures and creativity were just so-so, nothing special and definitely not worth paying a lot of money for. That’s when I realized the main reason people go here is merely for decoration. I was a little disappointed honestly =(. They put a lot of effort (like the hello kitty restaurant) in their desserts though. Most of these were handmade, either in barbie shape or covered in pink/glittery sparkly things and pretty tasty. Downside: rather expensive. A real downside for me was that you couldn’t just go here for a drink, a slice of cake and enjoy the pinkness. So would I go here again? Definitely not. Would I recommend it to anyone? Probably not. But; I do believe this place is great for children, birthday parties and all of those obsessed with barbie and pink 😉 So don’t judge the restaurant based on my opinion, go check it out for yourself 🙂 barbi32 barbie4 barbie5

Note: If you’re interested in themed restaurants (as I probably won’t be reviewing a lot), Taipei has a toilet-themed restaurant, a Ninja Restaurant a Hello Kitty Restaurant and an Airplane -themed restaurant (and probably more) The people at www.acruisingcouple.com did a pretty good job at reviewing a lot of them, I suggest you go check them out 🙂

Rating: You need to spend a minimum of 300, but if you actually want to eat anything, you’ll end up spending at least 500NTD or more. Quality of the food is not that great, decoration and desserts : 10/10. It really depends on what you’re looking for 🙂  A great girls night out maybe?

Ippudo Ramen

27 Dec

photolocationdesNearest MRT Station: Zhongshan, exit 3. Keep going straight, cross the road and turn right. Walk a little further along this road and Ippudo Ramen will be on your left hand side.

Information: The ramen that I have tried in Taiwan were all really disappointing so far. So without any expectations I visited the popular ramen chain Ippudo Ramen. We had to wait for 15 minutes on a Saturday evening, which wasn’t too bad. We were able to check out the menu while waiting and the ‘Shiromaru Motoaji’ caught my eye. It is a classical ramen bowl with a pork bone broth, noodles, chashu, some vegetables, seaweed (nori), and an egg. Unsure about the portion size we decided to order some gyoza (Japanese fried dumplings) and pickled cucumber. The pickled cucumber was a great appetizer. The cucumber is topped off with crushed sesame seeds and sesame oil. It looks a little bit oily, but most of the oil isn’t soaked into the cucumber so the cucumber remains having a good bite. Then came the moment of truth: the ramen. The broth was good, very tasteful and a little fatty. The chashu was tasty, although still a little to thinly sliced for my taste. The addition of crispy nori is really nice and a must for a good bowl of noodles. Also, the egg is half-boiled so the egg yolk remained slightly runny. The ramen were so-so, because the noodles were a little too thin for me. I was also able to taste a seasonal special: chicken broth ramen. This one was extremely tasty. Instead of pork chicken was used and the results were fantastic. I had never thought chicken broth ramen could be so good. Unfortunately, Ippudo ramen doesn’t sell this one anymore.

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Rating: I was happily surprised by the quality of the ramen and I have visited it several times after my initial visit. For the ramen junky it is a good place to enjoy an authentic bowl of ramen. Quality wise there are better Ramen restaurants in Japan, but for a chain, Ippudo Ramen does a really good job. So far I haven’t found a better ramen restaurant in Taiwan.

Categories: image

Organic Hot Pot

14 Dec

Organic Hot Pot – 齊民集火鍋organic hotpotlocationdes

 Information: A new documentary hit the Taiwan screen recently called: 看見台灣(English: Taiwan From Above). Besides showing you Taiwan’s stunning scenery, the main focus of the film is on the devastating effects the Taiwanese industry has had on Taiwanese soil, air pollution, water pollution and so forth. It also tries to encourage people to care for the environment and it applauds the upcoming and slowly rising organic farming trend. So what better way to take part in improving Taiwan than going to an organic restaurant ey? Honestly, I am a big fan of wholefoods and was really excited to hear about this hot pot chain. I was not disappointed at all; not only were all of their products organic, but a lot of it was also handmade, which gave for some interesting and super tasty combinations of food. I recommend trying their homemade fish/meat or vegetarian balls, I couldn’t get enough of those. Overall you could tell that the quality of the food was really good and really fresh. Besides the restaurant, they also sell a number of handmade products. It was a new experience for me here, as organic food is hard to find.(and usually extremely expensive). I also liked their non-plastic approach on plates, chopsticks etc; the entire restaurant had a very no-nonsense feel to it. organic3

Rating: A little more expensive than your average hot pot, expect to spend 300-900NTD, but I think it’s worth the money. It’s less expensive than buying organic food in stores and there really is loads to choose from. Here’s their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/qiminmarketorganic2

Aboriginal Dishes in Wulai

20 Nov

Bees and Raw Meat (and a beautiful waterfall)

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Wulai is a beautiful mountainous area just outside of Taipei New City, takes about 30 minutes by bus from Xindian Station (map). It’ll take you to a lovely market street, an uphill walk to a beautiful waterfall and an aboriginal theme park. Oh and a lot of hot springs.
Information: Wulai 烏來 is a town in Taipei County. It’s known for a large amount of public and private hot springs and its aboriginal history (not to mention stunning scenery). It’s crazy how you can find such beauty just outside of the city. One of the popular restaurants is Taiya Po Po, which specializes in aboriginal food, like that of the Atayal people. The restaurant was mentioned several times on the internet as well as some food programmes; so we had to give it a try. There were two dishes on the menu that were hard to resist for the average food adventurer; Fried Bees and Raw Pork Meat (的麼面), next to those we also ordered some traditional rice steamed in a bamboo tube and some stir-fried vegetables. But let me begin with the beeezzzz. I had no expectations, other than the fact that I hoped I wouldn’t have to taste any hair. Luckily the dish was quite good. The bees came on a plate with several fried vegetables, which made for a very crunchy combination. Bees were crispy and although they didn’t have that much flavor; they complemented the rest of the dish. Crispy protein rich treats, pretty tasty really, surprised me! The fried vegetables were really good as well. Texture-wise, I think this dish is worth a try. flavor-wise I’d give it a 7 or so. Speaking of flavor! Raw pork meat; something that was unfamiliar to us as well. This dish 的麼面 consisted out of raw mountain pork with rice and salt, stuffed in a jar, left to ferment for 2 weeks and served on a plate with ice cubes. Such a crazy idea, you might think, but if you were missing out on the flavor till now, then I wouldn’t skip out on this one. 的麼面 tasted like a very very salty dry-cured sausage. The texture was a little too tough though; the chunks of meat were quite big and it took a while to ‘devour’ them. (hah, website-pun joke in there).  But, trying new things (I believe) is all part of living here, and so it was worth a try and the flavors were worth it. Oh yeah, the bees were also caught in the mountains, and so the price for that particular dish was a little higher than expected (450 NTD). But what better way to blend in than to try the local food (that even Taiwanese people may not have tried before).  Wulai; highly recommended, beautiful place, interesting history.. and loads of food! wulai3 wulai4 wulai5 wulai6
Categories: Lunch / Dinner

Ringer Hut: Nagasaki Cuisine

5 Nov
photo (2)locationdesNearest MRT Station: Taipei Main Station. Go to the food court on the first floor in the main hall of the station.
Information: The Ringer Hut is a Japanese chain restaurant (although not a really big chain) that is specialized in Nagasaki-style noodles. These noodles include champon ramen and sara udon. Champon ramen is a type of noodles with a salty broth made from pig and chicken bones. This is normally topped of with various vegetables, meat, and seafood. The champon ramen at the Ringer Hut was stuffed with vegetables, pork and seafood. The broth, however, was a little bland. Sara udon is a interesting type of noodle. The noodles are basically not cooked, but are in fact solid. Have you ever tried eating your cup noodles without adding water? It probably tasted like crisps. Try to imagine this, but with a thick sauce with lots of vegetables on top, plus some seafood and meat. It’s great and it has a unique crispy flavor to it. The Ringer Hut knows how to serve you a good plate of sara udon. No nonsense, good food. The side dishes tasted pretty standard; nothing special about it and also not bad at all.
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Rating: Although the champon ramen might not be the best the sara udon is really tasty. I would recommend everyone to give the sara udon a try. It is most likely my favorite dish from the Nagasaki prefecture, and there probably aren’t many places in Taiwan that sell it besides the Ringer hut. Expect to spend about NTD220 a person.
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