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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

Coco Curry House: Japanese Curry

8 Oct
photo (2)locationdesLocation: Closest MRT station is Gongguan; leave from exit 2 and walk towards the university entrance
Information: To me, a big plate of Japanese curry is real comfort food. After a day of hard work, sitting down at the table and getting served a plate of homemade curry is the best. Eating it brings back memories of my childhood. I am actually surprised by the lack of curry restaurants in Taipei, even though Japanese cuisine is so intertwined with Taiwanese cuisine. Luckily, the Japanese curry chain restaurant has multiple locations in Taipei. The one we went to in Gongguan (right next to the MRT station) had a fairly trendy décor. The menu is really similar to that in Japan with lots of different options; fried chicken, fried pork cutlet (tonkatsu), prawns, hamburger and lots more.  In addition, you can change the portion of rice and choose the spiciness of the curry.  Plus, you can select extra toppings, including an egg, extra meat and vegetables.  I had picked a fried pork cutlet with my curry and a hard-boiled egg (only had those). The taste was pretty much the same as in Japan; in other words it was pretty good. On another occasion I had tried the fried chicken with cheese curry. Although the cheese doesn’t have a strong taste it really adds to the texture in a good way. The fried chicken, however, was too tender, and not so fatty. This might be a plus for some people, but I didn’t enjoy it too much.
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Rating: Prices are around NTD 200, including free water, which the staff constantly keeps pouring. The curry, although not homemade, tastes authentic and is nice. I would recommend this place, especially when you are really hungry as the portions are big.

Categories: photo (5)

Prince Ramen Restaurant

21 Sep
photo (1)locationdesNearest MRT station is Xindian. Walk towards the river and look for the boulevard.

Information: There is this perfect spot around Xindian MRT station where you can relax along the river, rent a paddle boat while watching the turtles in the water, and have a refreshing beverage. On the boulevard there are lots of small restaurants with all sorts of different food. Prices are generally a little higher, because of the lovely view and location. A ramen restaurant caught my eye, while strolling along all the eateries, and after some thinking we decided to take a seat there. There is a minimum order of NTD 220 per person, but we wanted to order less than that. After consulting with the manager it was okay to just eat a single bowl of ramen. The ramen being sold here is tonkotsu ramen (ramen with a broth made of pig bones). I decided to go for the original bowl of tonkotsu ramen. The slices of pork seemed a little burnt to me and after a taste test it did not really impress me; it was tough, a little burnt, and the flavor was off. The egg was hard-boiled (we seem to get that a lot here) and not soft-boiled, which I prefer. The broth and the noodles were good though. The broth was fatty and very tasteful and complimented the noodles very well. The rest of the garnish was so-so: a little scallion and konjac. It left me with mixed feelings of how to rate this ramen shop.

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Rating: Overall the ramen here isn’t bad at all. The broth and noodles are good, but the meat and egg were disappointing. If I would be nearby I would like to test out a different bowl of ramen here. Besides, the scenery and the atmosphere definitely make up for its flaws.

Categories: photo (5)

Maru Sushi

11 Sep

Upscale Sushi Restaurant photo (2)locationdes

The nearest MRT station is Taipei Main Station. Follow M8 until you are in the station hall. There are two locations; one on the ground floor and one upstairs in the food court.

Information: For me, sushi is one of those things that I all of a sudden get a real craving for. Today was one of those days and then I immediately start looking for a sushi bar. We happened to be around Taipei Main Station and decided to go to a more upscale sushi bar. Maru Sushi has two branches around the food court there. We went to the one that only had the conveyor belt along the counter. But don’t be fooled by its appearance, it is not really the same as Sushi Express. Most of the sushi has to be ordered; only a few different kinds of pieces are actually on the belt. Every seat had a menu as a placemat on which all the different sushi was being shown with their prices. At Maru Sushi it is not the usual two or three different types of plate that point out the price, but there were a total of seven. Some colors fairly similar to one each other. Many of the pieces can be found at every sushi shop and most of the standard ones were around NTD 60-100 per two pieces. The quality was, as one might expect of these prices, a lot better than at Sushi Express. There were also unusual pieces, which we had not seen before. We had salt roasted tuna sushi that was tasty, but for me not as good as raw fatty tuna (which they unfortunately did not have). The dried scallop sushi was NTD 150, but the flavors were weak and the texture was too soft. The most interesting piece was a sushi, which at first glance looked somewhat like poo, but was actually crab meat (the black parts that can be found in the shell of the crab) with miso and topped of with roe. The taste was somewhat interesting; the texture combined with the rice was good, but the aftertaste was way too strong and did not go away. In addition, we ordered a donburi (bowl with rice on the bottom and a topping on it) with tuna that was so-so and somewhat expensive.

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Rating: The quality of the sushi was good, but some of the sushi was too expensive. I don’t think the extra money is worth visiting this shop, but if you stick to the standard (cheaper) ones it won’t hurt your wallet too much. Expect to spend around NTD 800 a person.

Categories: photo (5)

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.

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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.

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