Saturday, December 17, 2011

New pizza place in my neighborhood

A new pizza place just opened up in my neighborhood. It's called Mr. Pizza. Today was the grand opening. It touts itself as a wood fired pizza place. So after a leisurely day of more rock climbing, Yuki and I headed over to check it out. Fortunately, we headed there super early, because there was a 4 hour wait for the pizza. We ordered at 4 pm and they said it would be ready by 8 pm. By the time 8 pm rolled around, we were both pretty hungry. The pizzas are indeed wood fired as can be seen by the stacks of wood kindles piled outside. The stove is a bit crudely constructed though. mostly of brick and spare parts it seems. But the oven bed did seem like it was made of one piece of large ceramic. The interior lacked design and looked like it was haphazardly put together at the last moment. Which could be the case, since they are newly opened and perhaps wanted to make the due date. What's important is the pizza pie. At $160 a pie, it is a bit expensive. Although Yuki and I shared one, one was not enough. I can see myself easily finishing one whole pie myself (approx. 10 inches). The taste, wasn't that bad. Pretty darn good I must say. Yuki says it's the best she's had outside of Aunt Su's. But there's still two negatives I'd like to get out there. First off, there's no parmesan cheese! Hot pepper, salt and pepper. Salt and pepper!? WTF? Secondly, I hate thin crust. Granted it wasn't as thin and crappy as Bollywood Pizza, but it's still a thin flavorless toasted flatbread-like crust. I don't get it. Do the Taiwanese prefer it like that or has no one taught them how to make decent pizza bread. I'm undecided on this place. Super convienant, wood fired, tasty toppings versus overpriced flavorless flatbread.

Mr. Pizza
145號, 明德路, Beitou District Taipei City, Taiwan 112

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Chien Yen Hot Pot...redux!

Here we are again! Gut-busting All You Can Eat hot pot at Ximending. One of my good friends here in Taipei was recently turned onto my blog. So after reading the article about Chien Yen hot pot, she really really wanted to me to revisit the place with her. According to her, mainly for the dessert/cake display not the hot pot! Well, in my original post, I only posted pictures of the cake display and not of any hot pot action. At first she was unable to decide if she wanted this much food. But at the last minute, I got a call from her stating that she was IN! Well, for gut-busting desserts perhaps. So we met up, walked in and put our names down on the waiting list. Even for a Sunday evening, it's still quite packed and thus we waited about 15 minutes. I'm sure it would have been worse had we walked in without reservations on a Friday or Saturday evening. We sat, we ate, we burped, we ate some more and then went dessert binging! yadda yadda. You get the idea from my last post about this gem of a place. Oh although they don't have froyo, they do have soft serve ice cream. In the end, she liked it so much she vowed to return with her family members when they visited. You should should visit too!

Chien Yen Hot Pot

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Bouldering is my anti-age

First day of my new age. I'm going to exercise. "I'm not old, I'm not old" I keep telling myself. So I brought Yuki along with me to a local rock climbing/bouldering gym near my house. It's off the Shipai MRT station so it's about a 20 minute walkable distance from my house. It's a fairly sizable rock climbing gym (They call themselves IDEA) standing at 3 stories tall, inside the much larger Beitou activities center. The Beitou activities center has a olympic size pool, billiards tables, basketball courts, squash/racquetball courts, weights gym, spinning room, fitness room, store and a Moss Burger. Yes, a Mos Burger. Ironic how the only food choice in an activities/fitness facility is a fast food establishment. The rock climbing gym isn't that bad. It definitely has height, but falls short on the space. Most of the space is for belaying. There isn't much space for bouldering (no ropes), which is what I prefer. I found traffic jams a frequent occurrence. There are no overhangs except for the one 50 feet above your head for the advanced belay climbers. If there's a class going on, they boot you off your spot. You can't belay unless you have a license from them. It costs $990 NT and is only held once a month. The marking system is different than the standardized system the US uses. Speaking with a instructor, they say they don't have their own path marked out. All the tape is from other climbers. Sometimes they aren't maintained and they peal off, creating an incomplete path. So you essentially have to create your own path. That can be taken as a positive or a negative. Bouldering fees cost $150 per person all day. $80 for shoe rental. $20 for chalk rental, but it can be shared. But it's reasonable priced for an all day entrance and walking distance from my house, so it'll suffice. Others that don't live near, may not like it as much. I also hear there is a larger, more challenging facility called Y-17 in Taipei city. I'll have to visit that one another day. Well this is good for now, my hands are very crunchy and dry and sore from the climbing. See you when my fingers heal!

100號, Lane 39, Section 1, Shípái Road, Beitou District
Taipei City, Taiwan 112

Friday, December 9, 2011

熱炒 with friends makes me happy!

Today I celebrated my birthday with several of my close friends (minus a few that couldn't make it). I chose one of my favorite rechao (熱炒) restaurants, 中央市場-生猛活海鮮. It's no where near any MRT stations. The closest one is probably Songjiang Nanjing station (捷運松江南京站), and it's still a 15 minute walk southwest from there. My Taiwanese friend commented that it's really local place to hang out at, because obviously foreigners have a tendency to not stray too far from the MRT stations. But I give credit to my California church friends that visited me a few weeks ago. They introduced it to me. Moving on, I chose a rechao location over a much more elegant and obviously more expensive place is because I just enjoy the atmosphere better. You can be loud, drink lots of beer, eat really good cheap food ($100/plate), look at beer girls (not that pretty though), and karaoke ;). I feel more comfortable and care-free there or maybe because it's so cheap, I can eat 'till i'm stuffed. We had deep fried japanese burdock chips, deep fried oysters, GongBao chicken (拱抱雞丁)or KungPao as some people say, 空心菜… We all had a great time! We went through a mild 8 600ml of Taiwan beer ($80 NT per bottle). But everyone was having a good time and some even got up the courage to sing a chinese karaoke song. If you go to this location, go downstairs. They use regular seats with big tables and round lazy-susan things (you know the ones that you see in chinese restaurants). The tables upstairs are more traditional, stools and short table tops. I'm too tall for those and I find them annoying. Plenty of free refillable rice to go around and lots of photos and even more jokes and stories. Thanks everyone for a happy birthday! Cheers!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

金色三麥 Leble'dor

The day for my one year anniversary with Yuki is coming up. However with the coming arrival of my parents next week, we thought this weekend would be a last time to celebrate it privately. So for dinner we decided to go to a Taiwanese german restaurant at the top floor of the Q Square mall. It's called Leble'dor. It's a famous Taiwanese beer brand that is heavily influenced by the german art of beer. It was first introduced to me at CitySuper market in Sogo Tianmu by a sales representative. It tasted awesome! I mean Taiwan beer (the brand) has it's merits, but not for it's superior taste. The beer brewers at Leble'dor really did their research. It's some great tasting beer similar to what you'd find with American microbrews like Blue Moon, Fat Tire, Longboard or Anchor Steam. So we were much anticipating our first experience to eat and drink there (on tap). Walking in, the interior design is reminiscent of a log cabin/wine cellar. With wood logs, iron fencing, stone, wood barrels and candle chandeliers, it really gives off a warm cozy atmosphere. first things first, two 40oz steins of seasonal beer please! The selections were Hefe-weizen, Honey, Dunkel, Seasonal Lager. Looking through the menu, it's' mainly a mish-mash of fusion asian, german and american fare. Pizza, salads, bratwursts, onion rings, steaks, fries, pasta, hot pot, soup and mexican. We ordered a mix of food + one recommended: the garlic beer-flavored shrimps (recommended), beef steak with sauce, onion rings. The food turned out pretty good. Well as far as onion rings, steak and fries goes. Perhaps because I've been an American for too long, I don't find a good set of fries, onion rings and steak as that special. But I'll give Leble'dor credit in that, those were one of the best fries and onion rings i've had so far in Taipei. Next time I really want to try out their pork knuckles, german sausage platter and grilled chicken leg cartilage. The only disappointing part is the most shocking to me. The beer! It still has the same great taste that I had at Sogo, but they served it mildly cold. Beer needs to be served ice cold! I asked the waiter if he could bring me back an ice cold one, but he said that's the temperature they keep their refrigerator at. So much research and development went into some great beer that the Taiwanese can call their own, and they shoot themselves in the foot by serving it under chilled :(. Their own bottle even says serve chilled at 5° C. I definitely want to revisit this restaurant in the future. I love the beer and the menu looks delicious (albeit more american than german), but please oh please put my beer in the freezer for 15 minutes before serving it to me. As a side note, You can go to the many other Lebre'dor locations around Taiwan and buy the liter bottles of any of the four varieties. The Sogo CitySuper in Tianmu seems to only sell the Lager and Dunkel.

金色三麥 Leble'dor

金色三麥 Leble'dor (XinYi Eslite Mall)

金色三麥 Leble'dor (Miramar Mall)

金色三麥 Leble'dor (BanQiao)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Oil rice with rice wine chicken

First off, due to some really confusing and complicated favor, I ended up having to meet Yuki for lunch at her work to deliver something. Which I'm quite OK with, because I've been wanting to join her for a weekday lunch for some time now. We ended up at a Japanese restaurant with rather cheap prices for the non-sushi items on the menu. Probably because it's Daan district and there are many local businesses around. For what our meal costs, it was a rather respectable clean and well decorated place. I asked the waitress for a glass of ice water (with ice cubes) and it took her a while to understand that and then she gave me a weird look. Asians like luke warm water, because they think ice water is bad for your health. I don't buy into it. But whether I do or not, it was a hot day and my body runs abnormally hot so I was burning up. My katsudon lunch turned out pretty good. Reminds me of my favorite Katsudon place in San Mateo, CA next to the Suruki super market. However the miso soup is something completely different. For some reason, my miso soup tasted sour. I don't know if it was a different variation of miso base they use, but that's not what i'm used to. I've tried hundreds of miso soups in Taiwan and in the states, never tasted a sour one. So I left it alone, for fear of getting sick from spoiled miso. Luckily dinner was better. Yuki's workplace gifted her a package of glutinous rice with mushrooms aka "oil rice" (油飯). It came in a fancy box, like it was some japanese dessert cake. But upon opening it, we discovered it was not sealed. So it's more like a bento box than a gift box. It's a good thing I felt like eating immediately tonight rather than storing it in the fridge for a later day. The rice turned out excellent! Not too oily and all the great traditional taste of good You Fan (油飯). It came with two chicken thighs and two eggs. Despite the pink coloring of the eggs, they're just normal boiled eggs. The chicken had a fried skin on it. But after being packaged for a few hours, it was soggy. Still great, but I'd like to try it when it was fresh and possible crispy from the frier. What was surprising was the chicken meat. It had a rice wine taste to it. Similar to drunken chicken or three cups chicken (三杯雞). Very very tasty and of course it tastes better when it's free. Thanks Yuki's company! Google mapping the name 太子油飯 (found on the box), brought up a location in Taipei. It's near the Daqiaotou MRT station (大橋頭捷運站). I must remember the next time I'm near that area, that there's a good 油飯 place, hopefully a restaurant and not a take-out only. All's well that ends well.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Home cookin': Kimchi Beef with potatoes

Yuki decided to cook some japanese dinner for me tonight. Well mayhaps not entirely Japanese as she could find a few key ingredients, so she substituted. She made a Kimchi Beef with potatoes and Bonito soup. So I guess it's a Korean/Japanese fusion dish? Anyways, I really like the combination. I'm do not know what went into this, but it tasted great! And the soup was awesome too. She soaked bonito flakes in boiling water, then strained out the bonito flakes to extract the flavor into the soup. Then she added mochi balls and beef balls and some vegetables. No need to describe it any further, because you'll never be able to experience her cooking. Haha just kidding. If you make it over here to Taipei and meet me and Yuki, I'm sure we can work something out. Sorry, the photo did not come out so well.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Can't get enough HK 茶餐廳

So due to yesterday's post, I couldn't help myself tonight. I had to head back to the Hong Kong diner, 好好味菠蘿包, at Shida night market for a proper dinner and try out their Cantonese food. You all remember the post from yesterday, so I can save the normal yapping and head straight to the food. I ordered some pork short ribs over rice. Excellent! The pork was soft and has some soft bone, but they're short ribs, what do you expect. The pork turned out to be just chewy enough and no where near dry. Excellent pieces of pork short ribs similar to what you'd find at a Dim Sum place. The rice they use is some long grain white rice, that was soft and not sticky, just the way I like it. And the die for. I'm not familiar with it, but perhaps it was some sort of XO sauce, Yuki guesses. A high price tag of $130 NT for a simple dish, but the taste is just about worth it. I should be able to make this at home right? Yuki ordered a noodle soup, 金牌車仔麵. I'm not sure what's in it. Typical Hong Kong style, it's a mix of several cultures and cheap ingredients. I see egg, sprouts, duck blood, beef balls, ramen noodles, green onion and intestines (*Stolen from Google Images). I'm no expert, but I've never actually seen this dish in Hong Kong, but it certainly plays the part of a HK dish. Looks and tastes like a hodge podge of random leftovers from the pantry, like you do when you're trying to clear your fridge before moving day. It's not award winning by any means, but maybe it's in my blood. I love this down-home, simple, cheap, hodge podge of ingredients that I think makes up most Hong Kong 茶餐廳 dishes. And of course, you can go here with out a pineapple bun finisher with loads of artery cloggin' butter.

Hohomei Shida location (好好味港式菠蘿包)

Hohomei Zhongxiao DunHua location (好好味港式菠蘿包)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

That Hong Kong restaurant

Today Yuki and I decided to hang out with some of our female friends and show them around the Dongqu area (東區). Unfortunately, we didn't expect to walk into a ghost town. This area is usually a very trendy and busy area for young adults. However. I guess on an early Sunday noon hour, all the shop owners are sleeping in. Thus there wasn't much to see other than window shopping (literally). Since it was too early, we decided to take an early lunch. Earlier last week, Yuki discovered a nice cafe with a large outdoor patio in the Dongqu area and wanted to try it out. I forgot the name, sorry. It has a small driveway in the front, leading to a large double door. Once inside you get a nice sensation of industrial cement, mixed with earthy wood and muted photos. Nice, but I'm not sure what it reminds me of. We ended up outside on the patio anyways. Just as we sat down, the sun started to peek through and warm us up. The weather was starting to agree with me. Slightly cool in the shade and slightly warm in the sun. We each ordered our meals. Some soup, grilled chicken pita and nachos. I didn't try out the soup, but it looked very creamy and tasty (cream of corn). My grilled chicken pita ended up being OK. The pita bread was over grilled, so it was too fragile to pick up and eat. Putting wasabi mayonnaise on it didn't help either. So I guess they expect you to fork and knife it. That ok, I can roll with that. The chicken was pretty good as it really works with that wasabi mayonnaise, but not spectacular. It could have been larger (slightly smaller than my hand) for the price of $220. The nachos was by far the worst disappointment. It's Doritos with flavorless sour cream, sweet salsa and so called "nacho cheese" orange sauce. Yuki said the tastes didn't match. According to her, the Doritos have too strong of a processed cheese flavor and it clashed with the salsa and sour cream. There's a reason why it's done with Tortilla chips. Unfortunately, we didn't get to try out any coffee. Perhaps that's where their skills are at. In my opinion, this place is like a dumb supermodel; Pretty on the outside, but damn bland and empty on the inside. If you happen to end up at this joint, please stay away from the food. The chef needs to go back to culinary school or arrested for selling overpriced Dorito chips. After our lackluster lunch, we continued our troll around the Dongqu area. Thankfully some of the shops started opening up. It was around 1:30 in the afternoon. So note to readers, don't come here before 2pm on a Sunday, it's deadsville. Luckly, along with the weather, shopping got more sunny and bright. We discovered a cute little treats and tea shop with a heavy influence of white and pink antique decor. It had a vintage (possible circa 1940's) expresso machine. The tall shiny copper ones with elaborate designs on the corners. And glass tubes of various hard candies lined up in the front, reminiscent of an victorian candy shop of yesteryear. There's also a small gift shop in the back full of unique food themed gifts. Although this is much better suited for females only, it won't look awkward as long as you have a few female companions in the vicinity. Haha. I wouldn't mind having high tea with cupcakes here. This store is called VVG Bon Bon and the cupcakes run about $80 NT each. *Photo from Google Images. After that, we hopped on to the MRT over to Ximending to look for some messenger bags. But you don't want to hear about that. Fast forward a few hours, my friends all headed home as I headed over to church.

Later on in the night, post church, Yuki and I decided to check out a new indian + pizza place at the Shida night market with some new friends that we met in church in tow. We walked through the heavy crowds to finally arrive at the end of a street in the Shida night market. Newly opened and rather busy, it's called Bollywood Pizza. Lucky we were early enough to not have to wait for a table of five. Because shortly thereafter, the restaurant started to fill up. We ordered a thai chicken pizza and a lamb curry pizza along with a pasta. The pizzas were a bit pricey at $300+ per pie. One could suffice for two people, however two small people. I'm pretty sure I can finish a whole one by myself. The pizzas ended up pretty tasty. Although, not a lot of spice as I had hoped, as it may be more catered to the Taiwanese taste buds. Oddly enough, I found the Thai chicken pizza better than the Lamb Masala pizza. However I have three big gripes with the pizza. 1. All the indian pizzas are masala curry based. No tandoori, Makhani, Vindaloo in site. Come on, lets get some variety here! 2. Pees! What the hell are peas doing on my pizza! 3. Shitty thin crumbly bread. It's more like toasted pita bread than pizza bread. I think I have to blame the Taiwanese influence here. Most "pizza" places I go to in Taiwan prefer to use this thin, flavorless toasted pita bread type crust and pass it off as pizza bread. The one at Bollywood Pizza was the worst, it couldn't hold up it own weight because it was so weak and thin. It makes it a very annoying and messy dining experience having to use a fork to eat most of my pizza that just fell onto my plate. The pasta was so-so. Not exactly sure what it was, but it tasted fine, despite being drenched in sauce. I felt like I was eating noodle soup, not pasta. To the owner, if you ever get a chance to read this, use some real pizza bread and you might have two decent pizza dishes. Otherwise, I don't see this restaurant lasting more than 3 months after the "new place" allure dies down.

Lastly, for dessert we headed to a Hong Kong style restaurant in the Shida night market. Now this deserves a new paragraph. I've eaten here before when I tried out their pineapple bun (菠蘿包, Bo Luo Bao) to-go, but never entered the restaurant. They actually call it ice-fire pineapple bun with butter (冰火菠蘿油). The name of the place is hohomei (好好味港式菠蘿包). Despite the small store front, there is usually always a huge crowd waiting outside for their order of pineapple bun (Save $10 NT if you take it to go). The small front eludes to a small dining area, but in fact it's quite large and occupies two floors. Since most of the people are outside taking it to go, it wasn't difficult to find seating for 5. Once inside, I have to say, I LOVE the interior decorations. The owner, which I am honored to have met, imported over several trinkets, stairwell railings, wallpaper, movie posters from Hong Kong to decorate the place. It really gives it the feeling of a 1970's Hong Kong diner (茶餐廳). Yes, I wrote stairwell railings. Soo distinctly Hong Kong and so cool. Moving on to the food. The pineapple bun was as excellent as ever. I don't know how they get the top so crunchy, but it adds a new depth to the texture. They also sandwich a slab of butter in the middle. Totally not healthy, but you can opt for it without butter, and it would still taste awesome. The HK milk tea was also good in it's own right. In addition to the pineapple bun, we ordered 法蘭西多士。 I'm not sure what it is, but it comes recommended by the owner. It's like a peanut butter cake with butter and pastry flake. I don't know how to better describe it. Tastes awesome, but it doesn't matter, go there, order it, put it in your mouth and enjoy. Since we already had dinner, we didn't get a chance to try out their cantonese cuisine, but my friend says it's close to authentic. So i'll take his word on it and definitely put that on my list of must try out next time I'm in the Shida night market. The prices are decent hovering below or slightly above $100 NT. The Dinxi 茶餐廳 was not satisfactory for me as a proper HK style diner (茶餐廳) and it takes advantage of the Hong Kong name by putting a premium on in it's pricing. Oh one last thing, to "Custard" girl if your reading this, 好好味港式菠蘿包 has egg custard buns (奶黃包)!

Costumice Cafe

VVG Bon Bon

Bollywood Pizza

Hohomei Shida location (好好味港式菠蘿包)

Hohomei Zhongxiao DunHua location (好好味港式菠蘿包)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Home cookin': Hot Pot

Yuki and I have been wanted to do this for a long time. It's as simple as getting some vegetables, meat, fish balls, and soup base. But it's just not cost effective, so we just opt to eat out for our hot pot fix. But after eating some great hot pot with my friend from out of town last Sunday, we decided to pull the trigger. It motivated us to plan it for tonight. I'd grab all the ingredients before hand and Yuki would show up at my place where I would have everything all prepared. Preparing for it was easier than preparing for cooking a western meal. Shopping around the Carrefour, it was so much easier finding the ingredients and with so many choices. They have hot pot assorted vegetables and roots packages for singles, doubles or triples. Next, they have specific meat cuts for hot pot. And don't get me started on beef balls, soup dumplings and fish paste balls (and various shapes, no english name for this that I can think of). They have freezer cases full of these in just about every brand, shape, filling and size. It was all too convenient. However it still took me a while to shop because I couldn't decide. Usually I spend too much time there because I can't find what I need. Anyways, as for the soup base, Yuki wanted to introduce me to a Japanese tomato base hot pot. Taiwan conveniently also imports this Japanese brand. So in the end, the DIY hot pot at home was a success. Although the tomato hot pot was delicious, I still prefer my mongolian mala (麻辣) flavor. Next time time on hot pot at home, it's going to be spicy! Just in time, because the evenings are getting really chilly here (22 Celsius).

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bone soup beef noodle

It's been a busy past month with so many visitors from out of town, and it still doesn't let up. This weekend I have another friend from California coming to vacation here in Taipei. This noon-ish brunch, she knew of a recommended beef noodle soup place. Unfortunately, I forgot where it was and I forgot to grab a business card. However it's famous for having, what I think is, cow bones strewn across the front of the store as you can see from the photos. The noodles were machine processed. The soup was very good. The meat was excellent, but not to boast too much about. So I guess my overall impression wasn't spectacular. If I ran into this place again, i wouldn't hesitate to try it again, but I wouldn't be seeking it out in the future. Unfortunately in a city saturated with beef noodle soup places, it's tough competition to try and stand out amongst the sea of choices. I do my best, but I'm probably not the best judge of it either. 'Till we meet again.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Home cookin': Lemon Cupcakes

One for my Taiwanese friends has been wanting for me to cook with her for a while. I was busy all last week, so I wasn't able to get around to it. She attempted to make some lemon cupcakes but they turned out bland. So later into the early evening, we went shopping for some butter. That was the last of the ingredients. Most of the ingredients were pretty common and she already had them at her home. However I did buy some pure lemon juice earlier in Tianmu Sogo. It's the only place I know of that has it. Other wise it's just limes. Taiwan only has these smaller green colored "lemons". And I put that in quotes because although they call it lemons in Chinese, they look like and taste like limes. And they only sell it as a fresh produce, not bottled. I prefer bottled because it lasts longer and is easier to use. I can always count on the Tianmu Sogo for my western ingredient depot. After churning out some dough and cooking them in the oven, I decided to add one more element. Some lemon custard! Just eggs, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and butter in a pot stirring constantly over a double pot boiler (similar to melting chocolate). They turned out awesome! Warm and soft, with a good amount of lemon flavor. I used a lot of lemon zest in it, so each cupcake had bits of zest in it, sort of like flavor crystals. After the cup cakes cooled, I poked a hole on top and injected the lemon custard. The custard has a strong but silky smooth lemon flavor. And to finish it off, some powdered sugar. Looking at my photos though, the presentation is a bit ugly. But I just didn't feel like going to extra mile to make some light whip cream on top with a lemon or cranberry candy topper. That was the original idea, but I don't have a electric or manual hand mixer. This was all done by hand. If i had to bake on a daily basis without the help of an electric hand mixer, i'd have the arms of Popeye. However I may try this again to share with my girlfriend's coworkers. Eat with your eyes, enjoy the photo!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Mexican dinner with a panda

Tonight was a unprecedented evening for this blog. It's the first time I got to meet one of my blog readers, in person, for the first time. Is she some creepy weird psychopath that i'll regret meeting? haha, No. She turned out just fine. She is cheerful, an ease to be around with, sociable and eager to be here in Taiwan to learn Chinese. Although I'm sure my blog had a very minor influence, it makes me proud I started something of value and where I have opportunities to meet some genuinely good people as a bonus. This blog started out only as my personnel online journal of my stay here in Taiwan. But then my stay, originally expected to only be temporary, has turned into a much longer if not permanent stay. And my blog has changed from a private log to a food blog to a blog that a few strangers follow along with on my adventures here in Taiwan. Hopefully I can meet some you that are reading this or at the very least, the information I post will be of help to you. So I dedicate this entry to "panda" (i'm not sure if she wants to be mentioned by her real name). Thank you!

I'll try to keep it short and simple for tonight's epicurean adventure. I went with "panda" and my girlfriend to Eddy's Cantina. This is also another mexican restaurant that I've been wishing to try out ever since I saw their business card on the bulletin board at my gym. It's in Tianmu near the Taipei American School. Story goes, Eddy is Mexican by ethnicity and Canadian by birth, then later moved to Taiwan. He decided to open a Mexican cantina in two locations: Tianmu and DanShui, using the recipes passed down to him from his family. The food turned out to be OK. But it's partially my fault for ordering a burrito, which is about as mexican as Jay Leno. What can I say, I'm from California and I love me some burritos. My burrito was typical tasting. The skin was warm, powdered with dough to give it that made at home texture. But it ended up being too thin and broke up easily spilling out my burrito contents. I ended up resorting to a fork and knife. Macho Tacos still prefered on this one. On the other hand, Yuki ordered the tacos and she said they were pretty damn good. "Panda" said her's was pretty good too, and the spicy salsa is spicy haha. I'd be willing to have a second go at this place since it's so close by my home. Damage to the wallet is around $200+, thus not considered a cheap eat, but a moderate infliction.

Eddy's Cantina Tianmu

Eddy's Cantina DanShui

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Oh I want my Baby Back Ribs!

For the last of the three restaurants and for American food, we went to Dan Ryan's Chicago Grill. FINALLY, I get to go to this place after passing by it several times and reading about it online. Not only is it known for it's western food and western portions, but it praises itself in representing a Chicago style restaurant. Being born and raised in Chicago, I was very eager to try to place out. So after a fine afternoon at Maokong, we headed down to the closest station. Nanjing East Road MRT station. It's called 芝加哥餐廳 in Chinese, which directly translated just means Chicago Restaurant. Lame. Anyways, to begin, the decor is very old school Italian steakhouse. This is true to Chicago. There's heavy influence of Italians in Chicago so a lot of the steak houses have that similar dimly lit, red leather covered booths with high wall seat back made of wood. If you've been to a Maggiano's before, it's similar to that. Although we basically went to for steak, looking at the menu, they also offer hamburgers, salads and pastas. I didn't see any deep dish pizzas or Vienna hot dogs, but this is supposed to be in the fashion of a grill house, not a pizzeria. But it'd be nice to have a real Chicago style deep dish pizza in Taipei wouldn't it? I'd be the first to line up for it. We ordered crab cakes for appetizers, then for the main course; filet mignon, prime rib and baby back ribs (full slab) for myself. They are big portions! I've gotten too used to the asian portions, i've forgotten how large the portion size was in the states. Now I know how I got fat. The filet mignon was tender and juicy from what Yuki's mom said. The prime rib was bloody and it did come with a cup of it's own juices to use for dipping. However they did not offer horseradish, but I never asked for it either. I ordered the baby back ribs however. It's been a while since I had a good slab. Although it was quite tasty, it was no 18 hour fall-off-the-bone smoked ribs. But I'll still give it credit, with the help of a fork and a knife, the juicy meat did scrap off cleanly. They do offer garlic fries, but only as a independent order. The service is ok and they did know English since they probably have their share of american foreigners visit. This place will put a hurt on the pocket book though. Expect the damages to be around $500-1000 per person depending on appetizers, drinks and desserts ordered. I recommend this place, it's excellent. I'd bring my friends back here once I have the cash flow and a larger belt. I've also heard of another western restaurant called Carnegie's, although it's more of a Bennigans/TGIF party atmosphere than the gentlemen's grill house that Dan Ryan's is. Until my next epicurean adventure...good night!

Dan Ryan's Chicago Grill (芝加哥餐廳)

*Note: While at Dan Ryan's they informed us that they're moving to Xinyi district near 101, inside of a mall. So the independent location listed above will be closed by January 2012.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shin Yeh: Japanese

The second selection of the three restaurants was Shin Yeh. Shin Yeh is a Taiwanese restaurant that usually serves Taiwanese food, but they have one location that serves Japanese style. At first I thought it was the 101 Shin Kong Mitsukoshi location, but it isn't. Yuki had the privilege of picking out this restaurant. Although it's not truly Japanese fare, she opted to not go completely Japanese with more traditional Japanese food. The Japanese branch of the Shin Yeh is near the Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station. When you first walk in, you'll see a female receptionist greet you in a traditional kimono in a black marble lobby accented with wood and japanese decor. They have table downstairs, but hopefully you won't be seated at any of those because all the food is upstairs. Fortunately we got seated upstairs next to the windows. The food turned out to be pretty darn good. Of course, there is still a lot of Taiwanese dishes and Taiwanese influenced Japanese dishes, but it's delicious. They also have unlimited beer (Taiwan beer not Asahi, sadly), wine and champaign. My only complaint about the food is the sushi selection. Other than the boring shrimp, eel, egg, octopus sushi, they only had yellowtail, salmon and tuna. But Yuki pointed something out that I never noticed before. Taiwan really doesn't have any sushi selection outside of tuna, salmon and yellowtail. Unless you go to a ridiculously expensive Japanese restaurant that can import more fish varieties. It seems to always be these same three selections. Well, in the end, I still enjoyed myself and left with a very happy tummy. The decor, food, drinks, desserts, service was all good to great. I don't remember the price tag, but expect somewhere between $500-600 NT/person. Once again I must apologize for coming back with no photos. Enjoy the one I stole from Lynette Sun courtesy of Google Images, LOL.

Shin Yeh: Zhongxiao [Japanese] branch

Friday, November 18, 2011

Favorite Hot Pot place contender

A very strong contender, if not the best AYCE hot pot place I know of in Taipei. My first visit here was when my cousin introduced it to me several months back. So this time since Yuki's mother was visiting for a short few days, we wanted to pick restaurants from three cultures that represented the relationship we had. Japan, Taiwan and America. Day 1 was Taiwan, so we picked hot pot. The hot pot place is called Chien Yen Hot Pot (千葉火鍋) near Ximen MRT station exit 5. I love this place because it's large and well designed. The interior design is minimalistically elegant and the food is pretty much all equidistant from the tables. But those are the minor points. The big points are the food, drinks and dessert. To start out with, they have several selections of broth including my favorite Spicy Mala (麻辣). Next they have a wide variety of seafood, vegetables, meats and other meats (animal organs). Drink-wise they also have a huge selection. From yogurt drinks to soda to taiwanese drinks (some may say cocktail drinks). Just for desserts, they have scoop ice cream, cones, ice cream bars, fruits, yogurt, cookies, cakes and a chocolate fountain. I didn't see any frozen yogurt though. Although the food there isn't the absolute best, it doesn't have to. The beef and lamb doesn't have too much fat or gnarly hard to chew bits. The quality is above standard and good enough for the price. Speaking of price, it runs about $450 NT per adult. I'd definitely recommend this place if you want to experience some good hot pot for a decent price. Yuki's mother liked it and said she'd wish to bring her husband here next time they're in Taipei. Awesome! I'll be bringing my family and friends here in the future. It's also very convienant that it's next to Ximending, one of my favorite places to be at night.

Chien Yen Hot Pot

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Home cookin': Lasagna

Garfield's favorite, one of my favorites, and a dish rarely seen in the numerous so called italian restaurants around Taipei. Lasagna! I love digging in to a square layered patties of beef, cheese and pasta. Especially the Ricotta, which by the way is super expensive here in Taiwan. $259 per 250g package. It was probably the same package I saw weeks before in the Tianmu SOGO grocery market, because not many people use that ingredient. The semolina lasagna sheets weren't cheap either. I have got to stop cooking western food. It's just not financially feasible anymore with all the, considered rare, ingredients. Pardon the frustration. I take those simple grocery trips to the Safeway (american grocery chain) for granted now. I'm enjoying my Lasagna for now, but I need to start cooking Chinese dishes. On a positive note, it'll be cheaper and a good motivation to learn eastern styles (a chapter missing out of my personal recipe book). Here's a photo of the Lasagna, eat with your eyes. And yes, I ran a little short on the pasta sauce and cheese.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Best stuffed chicken wing evar!

The last few days with my California church friends here in Taipei has been exciting. However, tonight was the last night and the last chance to experience the night markets of Taipei. So we went to the Raohe night market. The last on the list. Once there, I discovered these chicken wings. They are not your normal chicken wings. First off, they're boneless for the win. I hate picking out bones, it's annoying. Second, they're stuffed with rice. The rice comes in two flavors, one is Taiwanese sticky rice (油飯) and the other is Thai flavored rice (泰式吵飯). I chose the Thai flavor as i'm a fan of strong flavors. Awesome idea! It ended up being deliciously awesome. The stuffing could of had a stronger flavor, but it's still a killer snack. The breading has the same texture as Shake-N-Bake which I kind of liked. It's no panko, but it'll do. So basically they're definitely on to something good. The combination of the Thai flavored rice stuffed in a deep fried breaded boneless chicken wing tastes great together. KFC should pick this up (if they haven't already, I don't eat KFC often)! I'd just improve the flavor of the stuffing and keep the Shake-N-Bake breading. Two thumbs up! I want to go back and get another two. Anyone want to go with me?

This second photo is of duck blood stinky tofu soup. Foreigner's be warned. It's a very strong Taiwanese flavor and odor. I think it's delicious, but probably way over the comfort bar of a western foreigner. It's common. Nothing special. You can probably order this at any night market restaurant. But I thought my parents would appreciate this photo. MMmmmm stinky, irony, tasty duck blood stinky tofu soup!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Discovering new beef noodle soup locations

With my friends from the states in town, they wanted some recommendations to good beef noodle soup locations. I told them you can find a decent beef noodle soup stand just about anywhere. The quality doesn't vary by much. I feel ashamed that I don't know where the famous ones are. But it's not like I have totally ignored eating it during my stay here. At first I recommended the knife cut beef noodle soup place at Shida night market that I frequent. They either didn't hear me or weren't very receptive to that. So in the end, with some public wifi help, I still ended up doing my own search on google to see if there were any famous or outstanding restaurants. Eventually, I found a beef shop near the Zhongshan MRT station called 金春發牛肉 (JinChunFaNiuRou). It's actually about a 10 minute walk away from the station. But it's famous for it's beef, as it's primarily a beef butchery shop. This location didn't have Hongshao (紅燒) flavor, but instead it had the milder clear broth version. The soup and the noodles were sub-par in my opinion. My friend's liked it and praised the super tender beef as did I. But I think in order to really experience the Taiwanese beef noodle soup, you need excellent beef, 紅燒 soup and knife cut noodles. Obviously not on the same day, but for a second try at this, we found a famous shop in the YongKang street area. It's called Lao Zhang (老張牛肉麵店). The broth was much better here and they have three different flavors; Spicy, stewed and tomato. The noodles were still pre-packaged machine processed looking, but still good none the less. The beef isn't as good and tender as 金春發牛肉. So in conclusion, I'd still recommend the Shida night market location. It has two floors, free drinks, convenient location, good beef, awesome broth and knife-cut noodles.

P.S. There is also another famous beef noodle shop in YongKang street simple called Beef Noodle Master. Find the address below.

金春發牛肉 (Jin Chun Fa Beef)
No. 20號, Tiānshuǐ Road, Datong District
Taipei City, Taiwan 103

老張牛肉麵店 (Lao Zhang Beef Noodles)

永康牛肉麵 (YongKang Beef Noodles)
No. 17號, Lane 31, Section 2, Jīnshān South Road, Daan District
Taipei City, Taiwan 106

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Xinyi Din Tai Fung

So, I had a few friends (about 25) from my church in California visit me here in Taipei for a few days. The first thing on they're agenda, as with most ABC foreigners, was Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐). They made reservations at the Xinyi location (信義區). Restaurant-wise, everything's the same, so I'll keep this short. I'm only going to comment on the environment of the Xinyi 101 location as I heard concerns from other people about the mall location of Din Tai Fung. Yes, it's true, the front of the Xinyi location looks like another cheap restaurant in a mall. But some of the dining areas sit deep enough into the restaurant that you can't see the front entrance. So once seated, it feels like a normal restaurant outside of a mall. In contrary, I think it has the advantage of being more roomy. Definitely more roomy than the original location and the Zhongxiao Dunhua location. So definitely don't be turned off by the mall location, it's still worth it. And some pre/post dinner shopping is very convenient.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New Taiwanese breakfast discovery

This is a long deserved posting. A few months back, my friend introduced me to RuLuoBing (乳酩餅). It doesn't have an english name. It consists of egg, cucumber, soft white crustless bread, two fried chicken patties wrapped in a flaky pastry wrap. The pastry is buttery, flaky and warm. This was probably a Taiwanese take on a European sandwich or something. But I don't care, the end result is delicious success! The combination of buttery flaky pastry with slightly runny sunny-side up eggs and hot crispy chicken nugget patties is perfection. I almost try to get this every other morning now. I also realize there seems to be two types of Taiwanese breakfast shop types. One that's more traditional and has more soybean soups. And the other that is more western influenced with more sandwiches and pastas. 乳酩餅 comes from the latter. Thankfully the western influenced one is much closer to my house, like half a block away. So I'm happy for now, until maybe I find even better! What will I discover next?

p.s. Google translate says the pinyin is RuMingBing. It's possible a Taiwanese language pronunciation, not chinese. I don't know.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Probably not Thai chicken

Well, it's Thai fried chicken. But I'm not sure if they even have that in Thai cuisine. Probably completely made up by western chefs. Perhaps someone can enlighten me. Anyways, I forgot when and where I ate this. But I love it, always have always will. I love that combination of spicy and citrus and crunchy fried skin. Enjoy the picture!

edit: oh yeah, it was the Sogo food court in Tianmu, but I still don't remember the date.

Monday, November 7, 2011

My friend's Beef Panang curry

I'll keep this short and simple. For dinner my friend decided to try his hand at cooking Beef Panang curry. It was a package brought back from Thailand, for a roommate, but they never decided to cook with it. So since we already had all the ingredients we needed and not wanted to let it waste away, he cooked it up. It came out really good! Thick and soupy with enough oily spicy kick. Thanks, awesome cook!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lin Family gardens

Today, we went to Lin Family gardens in Banqiao, New Taipei City, Taiwan. We joined her coworkers for a full day of relaxing and strolling through the gardens and the old houses of the Lin family. "The Garden was built during 1888 to 1893 and it is the only classic garden as historical site. It is also the well-kept model building representing gardens and residences of Qing Dynasty. Its garden scenes are inspired by Chinese traditional gardens as well as the style of south of Yangtze. The place is eloquent and is listed as 2nd degree historical site." The size of the property, various architecture, ponds, artwork, flowers make this a worthwhile visit. They also have occasional traditional art performances. Last time I visited, I was unable to catch a show, but this time I was able to catch a traditional chinese puppet show. Afterwards we headed into the traditional market nearby called HuangShi (黃石市場). There, Yuki's coworkers introduced us to many famous food stands. The famous squid soup shop, breakfast shop, shaved ice shop. Unfortunately the market was too big for me to remember where they were. Traditional markets like these are really off a tourists radar and "local". With no street names and similar looking street stall really make you depend on local Taiwanese help. Of course, you can also just follow the lines of people outside of the famous stands. Here's a picture of the squid soup place. Hard to miss that line wrapping around the corner! I thoroughly enjoyed my day. Thanks to Yuki's local tour guide friends for showing me the local side of Banqiao instead of the typical Far-Eastern mall and Global mall that I visited earlier this year.I hope to revisit this place as it's very convenient to get to. It's just a short skip and a hop away from the Fuzhong MRT station (捷運府中站) on the blue line.

*Photos taken from Google Images

Lin Family Garden (
No.9, Ximen St., Banqiao Dist., New Taipei City 22056, Taiwan

No. 37號, Gōngkǒu Street, Banciao District
New Taipei City, Taiwan 220

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Home cookin': Chocolate chip cookies

To kick off my new toaster oven, Yuki and I decided to bake some cookies. It's basic but something so significant with it's simplicity. Just about everyone has baked cookies before, and everyone has happy memories with it. So tonight, we baked some dark chocolate chip cookies from scratch. I told her that in the states, we usually just buy cookie dough. Open the packaging, cut, and put it in the oven. Done. So convenient (and lazy)! haha! Although they came out kind of flat. They still tasted great! I probably used too warm of butter or whipped it too hard (too many bubbles mixed in). After making the house smell like fresh baked cookies and probably the whole condo complex, we watched a movie together with a plate of freshly baked cookies and a cup of tea. Such a great aroma and warming experience! Good night!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween 2011!

Happy Halloween! Other than the design expo, Ikea and a roof fire this weekend, I did not do anything partying. I did not dress up, I did not Trick'r Treat, I did not go to a bar/club. I'm so boring! Well my excuse is that I didn't plan ahead, wasn't that interested and didn't feel like spending that much money. But I did see several Taiwanese get festive and celebrate Halloween with costumes all over the streets. Bars, clubs and restaurants were all getting to the mood and had specials for Halloween weekend. I took advantage of said specials, and bought me a toaster oven on discount. It'll do as a oven short of the real thing. So let's get it on! You'll be seeing much more oven cooked recipes in my future blog posts!

The roof is on fire!

Today is a continuation of yesterday. We decided to head back to Songshan Tobacco Factory to finish off the exhibits that we didn't get a chance to see on Saturday. The main halls 1-5, were the largest exhibits and had the longest waiting line. So it still took us until early evening to finish off the last 5 exhibit halls out of 14. After finished up the first location, we took a free shuttle to the second location at Taipei World Trade Center exhibition hall. But in the end, we gave up. It was getting late and we were tired. I also had to head to church at 5:30. Normally, I wouldn't mention anything about Church but this evening ended spectacularly. Well at least for me. First, near the end of service, the building next to us caught on fire. I think it first started on the roof, then spread to the entire building. It was approximately 50 feet away. I could feel the heat from the fire. Sparks were flying, flames were licking the aluminum roofs, thick black smoke was billowing from the fire and electrical units were exploding due to the heat. So the service ended prematurely and we all headed out for dinner as a safety measure from the fire. We ended up having dinner at Macho Tacos (Shida location). Yes, a second location to my favorite (and only) fresh-mex restaurant. They open right next to my school, and after I no longer go there. How unfair. But at least i'm there often, so it add fresh-mex to the option of foods to the Shida area. Coming back from dinner, the firemen were still trying to put out the flames. Fortunately, it seems everyone got out fine and no one was injured. But it made me realize with such a vertically packed city with disorganized alley ways, it must be very difficult for firetrucks to navigate directly to the optimal position to fight a high-rise fire. This blog post goes out to the brave fire men of the Taipei Fire department. God bless you!

Macho Tacos (Shida location)
No. 15, Pǔchéng St, Daan District (Taipower or Guting MRT would be the closest)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Taipei International Design Expo 2011

Today I went to the Taipei International Design Expo 2011. It was the last weekend so it was my last chance to see it. It's actually gigantic and spans three locations. It's all forms of design including environmental, building, interior, architecture, product, advertisement, media, etc. I went to the old Songshan Tobacco Factory location. It's a collection of rustic old cement buildings much like Huashan Creative Park 1914. It boasts a beautiful garden with a large fountain in the atrium though. As with Huashan, the city uses these old historic locations to hold art events or music events, to help fund the preservation of the buildings. Back to the expo, It turned out to be pretty cool. Being free of cost was also a very kind gesture. Some of the painted art and interior design, I didn't have much interest in. But the product design, packaging design and technological design were very interesting. Basically anything with a model or physical object to see. haha. Although it was a design expo, I did find parts of it more of an art show than a design concept exhibition. And of course the Made In Taiwan product had a big presence there. The Taiwanese are very proud of their creative, out-of-the-box, Taiwanese design products. I bought a 8-bit rubber alien earphone cord organizer. It's cute. The earphones snap in to form the eyes, then you wrap the cord around it's body and finally stick the audio plug up it's butt-ular region. It was a fun day! Even though we had plans to visit the second location on the same day, we never finished the first location. So there's plenty to see when you're taking your time. After that, Yuki and I went to Ikea. It was my first time at an Ikea here in Taipei. It's near the Nanjing East rd. MRT station and right next to the Momo mall. Taking a rest, we went straight to the Ikea cafeteria for some drinks and sweets. I don't quite remember the prices of the swedish meatballs in the US, but I think it's more expensive here in Taipei. $200 NT or $7 USD. With an order of pasta, a side dish and a drink, it's run over $300NT. I don't think the Taiwanese think Ikea food is as "cheap eats" as we do in the States. After the refreshments, we were recharged to do a little shopping in Ikea. It's set up exactly the same and let me just say, I really miss Ikea. They have a lot of simple, cheap but creative ideas for furniture. I reminisced about the times at Ikea buying cups, utensils, picture frames, lights, pillows, comforter covers, tables, etc. Their living room, kitchen and bedroom displays really temp you to buy something you really don't need so perhaps your place can look just like that. It makes me want to replace the aging furniture at my current place! Haha! Alas no, But perhaps at a later time. I really don't know why Ikea makes me happy and want to buy stuff. Wonderful marketing strategy! Lastly, after Ikea, we headed over to the Momo mall next door. Yuki said I have visited this mall before, but I have no recollection of it. Perhaps it was another city. But she assured me it was a crappy mall anyways and not worth the time to shop there. So we headed down to it's food court, which is more promising. Along with your typical chinese, Thai, steak, italian, Indian food at mall food courts, we found a Hong Kong Cantonese tea diner (茶餐廳). They're the restaurants made famous in Hong Kong, known for being open 24 hours. There you can always get a simple and cheap Cantonese meal. Although the one we went to was much fancier than what you'd find in HK and definitely not open 24 hours. But they did have Chow Mien (炒麵) with lemon coke. I love Cantonese food and I really don't know much about it. I should get to know it more in the future.

The lake and patio area at Songshan Tobacco Factory where you can take a seat and eat and rest. Ironically, the entire Tobacco Factory is a smoke-free zone.

No. 100, Dūnhuà North Road, Songshan District
Taipei City, Taiwan 105

Songshan Tobacco Factory

Monday, October 24, 2011

Visitor Visa extension legwork

Today I had to head in to the Immigration office to extend my visitor visa. I underestimated the amount of time it would require to finish this task. I had the idea it was as simple as going in and asking for an extension. It was naive of me to think that. So for future reference, I need a copy of my US Passport (+ the visitor visa in it), proof of return flight, visa extension application (duh!), proof of a bank account with $100,000+ NT. Last time I also had to print something out, but didn't know of any place nearby that could do that. But This time, with some walking around, I found several shops that are setup specifically for copy/print work. I Fortunately, someone directed me to one nearby the Immigration office called Double A. It's right across the street on 愛國西路, facing the ancient west gate structure. Although I still got lost a bit, but I did discover a Taiwan pride shop (gift shop). If that's what you would call it. Basically, they sell gifts all with the Taiwanese flag on it. Towels, shirts, armbands, pins, flags, pens...etc. However they did not carry a large Taiwanese flag with the special 100 year anniversary label on it. I'm not sure if they carry that, but I want one. A patron at the store, kindly directed me to the City Hall store, as my chances of finding something like that may be more likely. In addition, I still had to walk to Taipei Main Station to visit the travel agency for a flight itinerary. Walking through the large main railroad station hall (the one with a 10 story high atrium), I passed by a temporary museum exhibit they had setup. They had several historic exhibits and artifacts about the Taiwan railway system. It seemed to be free of charge. Interesting! I'll have to try to visit this one day, perhaps during the afternoon so I can grab some lunch on the second floor food court at the same time. Well that was an exhausting day for such a simple task. I'll be more prepared next time and hopefully it won't take that long. See you next blog entry!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cafe Trouve

Cafe Trouve, another old colonial-era Japanese house turned espresso cafe. Not that it's a bad thing. They each have their own appeal and comfort. This one is near my school at Shida (師大). It's not in the night market but close by it and definitely walking distance from it. As Yuki mentioned, it's an old wooden Japanese house used as Taida (台大大學) faculty housing before and in May 2011 was converted to an espresso cafe. Although you wouldn't know it unless you looked up or at some of the support beams. The old logs of wood criss-crosses everywhere to form the skeletal structure of the roof. What's unique about this place, is the small antiques store at the back of the store. Walking through it, they're mostly antique oddities from the United States, Europe or Russia (yes, russia). I found that odd to find russian antiques in Taipei. They also have a few black & white photos framed on the wall to enjoy. The coffee was great and so are the fruit slushes. It was a hot day, so slushes and A/C was just comforting. Coming to this nice cafe though, expect a wait time. We lucked out at 2 minutes, but it was pretty packed. On the other hand, it was a sunday afternoon and 4 tables were reserved for a large party. Prices run around the typical Taipei cafe prices of $150-200. Here's the location and website info below as well as a google image from Catherine Shu of the Taipei Times.

Cafe Trouve (找到咖啡)
No. 4, Lane 16, Tàishùn St, Daan District
Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Sunday - Thursday 10AM-11PM
Friday - Saturday 10AM-Midnight

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Lost my camera

Yup, lost my camera tonight. I just got back from a great evening at Maokong's 邀月茶坊 tea house celebrating my friend's birthday. About 15 people showed up and the food was great! The homemade chocolate cake and cupcakes were awesome. Then afterwards, Yuki had a friend visiting from out of town, so we headed to Raohe night market. Somewhere between the taxi and halfway down the street, I lost track of my camera. I do remember digging through my right pocket for cab fare. I must have not put it back into my pocket securely and it fell out in the cab. So my only hopes is that the cab driver noticed and turned it into the local police station. So i'll have to check the police station lost and found later. Chances are slim though, so it looks like i'll have to go back to my old compact camera. I'm not actually mad that I lost the camera, as it was cheap, but I wish I could have my memory card from it. Well there's nothing I can do now. So I guess, some time down the road, I'll be looking into a new replacement compact camera. Possible the new micro 4/3s format that's recently been so popular. And to conclude, that means no photos today obviously. Edit: Actually it looks like I save two to my computer before heading off to Maokong. We went to Din Tai Fung in the afternoon for lunch and had the red oil dumplings (紅油餛飩). Always a winner in my books. I'll leave with you the other photo of the original Din Tai Fung kitchen.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Home cookin': Jalapeno popper grilled cheese sandwich

This afternoon, I decided to grill some classic comfort food. It's like american cooking 101 chapter 1. Ok maybe chapter 2, boiling an egg is like chapter 1. It's a simple recipe and everyone knows it. Butter on the outside and cheese on the inside. Place on hot pan for a few seconds and viola! But thanks for a Google search of different grilled cheese recipes, there's a page with over 100 of them, I found one I liked. It was the jalapeno popper grilled cheese sandwich. I'm a fan of hot and Jalapeno poppers are just one of my favorites! The combination of deep fried outside, with that distinct spicy Jalapeno and a creamy cream cheese core gets my mouth watering. This recipe is also pretty simple too. Just layer Jalapenos, cheese, cream cheese and panko bread crumbs inside. The recipe asked for whole Jalapeno's slitted lengthwise, but those are not easily as source-able here in Taipei. I changed up the cheese a bit with Pepper Jack Cheese to give it more kick. But I'd gather any cheese would work. It really hit the spot and I just can't get enough. You really can't go wrong with this simple american classic.