Saturday, April 30, 2011

Swimming competition

Today I woke up really really early, 6:00 AM early. All to watch my friend at his swimming competition at NTU campus. He did very very well. 1:11 for a 100M breast stroke. He's a very good swimmer, near olympic levels. He obliterated the competition. It was fun watching him and the competition. My first competition in chinese. A few of my old classmates also came to cheer him on too. It was great! Afterwards I went to the Taida cafeteria. It's very nice and cheap. Comfortable, open atmosphere and a nice selection of food. About 4 food stalls (like a food court) and 1 buffet counter. Food runs about $35-55. So it's priced really really cheap for students. You'll see a lot of older adults there too. Taking advantage of a cheap meal and saving the money for a rainy day. Beats the student cafeteria at Shida :(

Friday, April 29, 2011

1885 Burger

Yesterday I was out looking for 1885 Burger and was unable to find this fabled burger joint. So I rechecked the google maps and finally found this new burger establishment near Shida night market today after school. From what I hear, there's been several burger joints popping up around Taipei in the past few years. All competing for the best burger in town. 1885 is one of them. Hidden away in a small corner off Heping road, is a decent sized restaurant with a big obvious banner saying "1885 Burger". When Yuki and I got there, there was a line outside and a 30 minute wait. But they called us in after only 10 minutes. I ordered a blue cheese burger. The patties were small, but seem to be genuinely hand-packed as it didn't have a hockeypuck shape and sized differed between each burger. They have daily specials and the atmosphere was very rustic. The only two negatives i have to point out is the patty size and the blue cheese was runny and not thick and clumpy like it should be. But the taste was all there! I still think Allen&Dickenson's has it beat by a very small margin. The fries at 1885 are excellent too. Each burger comes with fries in a tin bucket. The majority of the burgers run from $180-230 ($40 extra for unlimited refill drinks). Overall an enjoyable experience. I forgot to check if they have beer. You need a beer with your burger if it's a friday night! To the next burger joint!

No. 24之1號, PǔChéng Street, Daan District
Taipei City, Taiwan

Monday, April 25, 2011

Roahe teppanyaki

After school, Yuki and I went exploring for a restaurant called 1885 Burger. We couldn't find it, but discovered a very unique residence. You never know what you'll discover when you walk around amiable in and out of the Taipei alleyways. At first we thought it was a restaurant, but it was just someone's house that he decorated with random objects that he/she collected. But, since we didn't 1885, we headed back to Raohe night market and WuFenBu clothing warehouse district. We shopped around and I picked up a new shirt. However I was still unsuccessful in finding a decent khaki pants. For dinner we ate a little street food or xiaochi (小吃). I had some "black pig" sausage (黑豬大腸). It's at a small cart stand at the end of the night market alley. You'll see the lines. It was very sweet and tasty for a sausage. I don't recall seeing that at any other market, so I'd recommend that one. $30 NT. I also found one of my favorites from LeHua night market in YongHe. Grilled lamb shish kabob. Although this one is slightly smaller in portions, it's significally cheaper and has the same great taste. Only $15NT each. If I remember correctly, LeHua's was around $50 NT. So just buy three of them from Roahe and you'll get twice as much as LeHua's and still be cheaper. I think i'll just return with $100 NT and make a dinner out of that! haha. Alas we didn't, and ended up in a nice Teppanyaki restaurant. I ordered lamb…obviously. She ordered beef. No, the meal didn't come with a show of onion volcanos, buddha mugs and flipping food into chef hats. I never really cared for that Bennihana show nor the hefty price tag that came with it. Yuki and I had a great meal with free soda, free soup and a very filling teppanyaki meal for $150 NT each. So with a full belly, a new article of clothing and an empty wallet, we headed home to our awaiting homework :(.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Surprise! DiHua street (迪化街)

Today we went to go to DiHua Jie (迪化街). It's 15 minutes walking distance from the Shuanglian station, towards the coast. Along the coast the city provides a means to rent bicycles to ride along the river. The cost is really really cheap. It ended up being $120NT for 2 people and 2 hours, and you get a free bottle of water for each rider. The Taiwanese government really takes care of it's citizens. I believe that price to be the most expensive too. So it'll probably be a lot cheaper during a weekday or off-peak time. When we went there, we had to wait in line for about 5 minutes for people to return bikes. It was very busy, but the bike ride was awesome! The view from the river was beautiful (especially during sunset) and the bike path is very long. It stretches on for kilometers. You can ride a marathon if you want. There is also food stalls next to the rental booths. It's Taiwan, you can't escape the food stalls! In case you don't want street food, there's always plenty of restaurants along DiHua street on your way back to the Shuanglian MRT. And if you happen to be walking back after sunset like us, you'll bump into and discover another night market. It's called NingXia night market (寧夏夜市). We were't expecting a night market to surprise us like that, so we took a quick stroll into the thick of it. Size…about 2-3 blocks. Food…ok. We didn't see anything unique to this market that we haven't seen at other markets, but we browsed through rather quickly. It's still a worthy night market to revisit. Sometimes visiting the same market over and over gets boring, at least a change in scenery is welcomed. Yuki wasn't feeling good, so we called it an early night. In the picture, I have no idea when or where I ate this, but it's dated the 24th. LOL.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Takashi Murakami exhibit

Yuki introduced me to an art gallery that was happening at Taipei main station. It's was in a small exhibition center next to the Z10 exit, so not really IN the main station, but in a similar underground area next door. I don't remember how she got wind of this exhibition but it turned out to be pretty cool. One of the exhibits were of famed Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. He is most famous for his "superflat" artwork. In another exhibition next door, it exhibited digital media art. The more memorable exhibits is a CG animation of an ancient japanese pictorial scroll. You know, those long chinese painted scrolls that usually depict a certain event in time. Well imagine that animated into a 5 minute movie. The second was a large black room projecting a 180 degree view of a CG sea. The waves gradually grow larger and higher as the environmental music (i don't know what to call it, more like an oscillating tone). The overall feeling was an electrifying tension with the waves. All the exhibits were free of charge. Thats just so cool. I'm still used to american culture trying to charge you whenever, wherever possible. I thoroughly enjoyed the digital art as well as some of the cute creative japanese art of Takashi Murakami. Click here,Google, to see more of his work.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I went with Yuki and my language partner to a new restaurant that my language partner recommended to me. It's called Murano. It's near the DunHua station. The interior design is very beautiful. The owner must love tiffany stained glass because they decor is all stained glass and Tiffany lamps. Some I believe to be real and most probably fake. There was one lamp next to our table that had a price tag on it for $10,000 USD. And they still use it. Not often do you get have dinner lit by a $10,000 Tiffany lamp. The food was only OK. I had the curry beef over rice. But I tried some of Yuki's pasta, and it was better. So next time I should stick to their pastas. I did like my coffee though. It tasted very good and the creme/coffee mixture would cascade down the frosty glass and paint what seemed to me like NY city and the empire state building :) See the picture, i swear! The cost is relatively low, with a set menu of an appetizer, drink and dinner for $280. Individual meals run around $150-200. That night, there were very few customers, so I got to enjoy a quiet and comfortable atmosphere with elegant decor. Honestly it'd be a great place to sit down and study too. Drinks are affordable and it's quite comfortable with several couches and plush chairs. If I ever return, it'd be for the environment and decor, not the food. For you Tiffany fans, come and check out the Tiffany lamps and decor, you'll be pleased!

No. 38, Lane 51, Section 1, DàĀn Rd, Daan District
Taipei City, Taiwan

Sunday, April 17, 2011

HuaXi aka Snake alley

So today I had a pretty lazy day. Sat around, studied a little. played Forza 3 on my Xbox and got some errands done. Come dinner, Yuki was freed up, so we met up and headed over to HuaXi. It's been a night market that neither of us has visited. Since the normal night markets were getting boring, we need to start exploring some of the lesser frequented night markets. HuaXi's nickname is Snake Alley. It used to be a legalized red district, but has long been converted to a two-block long night market in the Wanhua district, the oldest district of Taipei, Taiwan. It is noted for its restaurants which serve bizarre "delicacies" including snake blood and meat, turtle blood and meat and deer penis wine. It was a unique night market to say the least. Not too much traffic and definitely sets itself apart from the normal night market food. It's still a rather unsavory place to be, so be careful with cleanliness and criminal activities. I'll visit back again, sooner or later. I have to try some of that snake blood and meat!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hui Lai Hot Springs 會來尖石

Today, Yuki and I got up pretty damn early...for hot springs day! We've been waiting for this day for quite some time. So we headed out straight for the Taipei main station (bus terminal). We grabbed a quick on-the-go 7-11 breakfast and jumped on the bus to Hsinchu. The buses are even cheaper than the train. We got a student fare of $105 NTD. And it takes just about the same time as the train (non HSR). Despite the signs, they let you eat and drink on the bus. Don't spill though, I'm pretty sure they'll get pissed. Leather seats and very cushy, but a little short on the leg room (I'm over 6' tall) compared to the train (non HSR). But you can't beat $105 NTD and 1.5 hours. After meeting up with Lucy and friends we took a taxi straight to the Hui-Lai hot springs (會來尖石). Although the location is a little further to get to, the place was great! The bathrooms are clean and the park was pretty large. They had several hot springs with varying temperatures, two children's play pools, two swimming pools, two water slides, sauna, massage house and doctor fish. Doctor fishes or nibble fish are those tiny fishes used in medical purposes that eat dead skin from your feet to expose the healthy skin underneath. It's good for people with psoriasis. Sounds nasty but it really tickles! Back to the hot springs, They also have scented springs too, like salt and lavender. The scenery is beautiful and the park wasn't that crowded, so it was peaceful and quiet. After 4 hours or kind of lose track of time, we headed back down the mountain towards the city. We had an belated birthday dinner for Grace, Lucy's roommate at Kanpai Classic Hsingchu (乾杯日式燒肉). It's a much fancier and expensive version of the flagship store in Taipei. It's japanese Yakiniku. Highly expensive and exceptional meats. I'm glad I experienced it, but not again without a nice paying job. I chose to forget the price tag, but if i recall it was above $1300/person. Perhaps i'll try the Taipei location instead. Then we headed to a sports bar afterwards and drank beer from a beer tower. All Carlsberg. Beer Tower!!!

Kanpai Classic (
Hui-Lai Hot Springs (

Monday, April 11, 2011

DIY noodles; don't know what to call it

For tonight's fare, we ate at a choose your own ingredients noodle place in Shida night market. It's very popular with the college crowd apparently as you'll always see lines of taiwanese students line up. There is constantly a line being formed starting from around 5:30. This may just be a taiwanese staple food for night markets, because just about every night market has these type of noodle houses. You line up, pick your noodles, pick your ingredients, then hand it off to the service men/cooks. They'll ask if you want lettuce, then the cook will stew it in a pot for a few minutes. The options are hot sauce, add more soup, add more sour cabbage. There's probably more options, but i'll learn it as I continue to go there. It's like an unwritten/secret menu that you just have to find out for yourself after several visits. Cost is either by weight or number of ingredients, i'm not sure. but basically, the more you want to eat the more it costs. So expect $120NT+.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Taipei Storyland (closed)

I'm going to make this short. Woke up, went to the Taipei Train Station food court (second level). The giant old building not the underground metro mall. Then headed over to the building across the way for Taipei Storyland, which was the main purpose of traveling there. Guess what? Taipei Storyland is permanently closed. It's now a World Gym fitness center. I'm really really sad that i procrastinated on this. I really missed out. It WAS "a nostalgic recreation of a yesteryear town, replete with shops, restaurants, a museum and more that take you back to the Taiwan of the 1960s". So disappointed, we headed to the Y13 market (Y13 exit outside). It's a street full of bulk sales stores for bags, gifts, containers. Basically for business that need to buy bulk product packaging. They also have a small street of food stalls and 1 very special gift shop called "beautiful gifts" (i think). Kinda generic, but it's like a cheap Spencer's Gifts in the states. It's special to me because it's the only place that sells knockoff camera lens mugs. If you don't know what that is, google "camera lens mug" and you'll know. I bought a Canon 70-200 F2.8 camera mug with functional buttons for $500 NTD. Afterwards I headed to Guanghua digital department store (光華商場). It's a six-story, indoor technological and electronics market. Across the street is old Guanghua where there are now many food stalls. We had some red oil dumplings (紅油水餃) among many other fried delicacies. I also found a shop at the end of a street selling old cameras (nikon, canon and Leitz) and oddly enough, Series 1 androids miniatures (the phone OS). There was also an underground antiques plaza but it was closed. Sneaking a peak it seems to be all high dollar vases and large sculptures. Not the antiques i'm interested in. But given the chance, I wouldn't mind giving it a browse through next time. Ok so today's entry didn't end up being short.

GuangHua Digital Plaza
No. 8號, Section 3, ShìMín Boulevard, Jhongjheng District
Taipei City, Taiwan 100

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hankyou department store

Well, I woke up this fine weekend morning and the first thing that popped in my head was STEAK. I need me some slab o' meat! So I immediately head to Shipai night market for the Taiwanese steak house they have there. Unfortunately, taiwanese steak not american steak. But I think i'm starting to prefer taiwanese steaks anyways. It's less gut busting and comes with so many extras at a cheaper price. So with my craving for steak satisfied, Yuki and I headed to the Hankyou department store (stolen picture on right). You can get to it directly from the City Hall MRT stop. It branches off the MRT underground. Yuki said it's a rather new mall that opened recently and the interior design is very good. It's special to her, because on one of the top floors (i forgot, 7th?), it has a large japanese bookstore. Majority if not all the books are in japanese. Afterwards, we met up with Yuki's friend and ate at a special japanese shabu shabu place near Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station. Tabitabi which is the company she works for, had a review on this place and it came recommended. But we'd like to mention, it's not really shabu shabu, but a compromise between a taiwanese hot pot and shabu shabu. It's not all you can eat, but it really is delicious and clean in there. But I have to complain about the bad ventilation. There's doesn't seem to be any. So the steam from the pots really fill the air like a steam room. After dinner, we all hitched a cab over to RaoHe night market (饒河夜市). I noticed some new food there, but didn't get a chance to try it out since I already ate dinner. So i'll just make a note about it here for next time. I saw some coffin bread, crispy thai chicken and some bbq lamb on a stick. Afterwards, we went to wufenbu (五分埔) since it was down the street. I saw a lot of sections that i have not visited before because it is really huge and kind of like a maze. It'll definitely take several revisits for me to map this place out. Since most of the shops cater to women clothing, I really have to make a mental note of the good male clothing shops. But it doesn't help if I can't find it again.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Daughter's Cafe

Yuki's been talking about a coffee shop near the Songshan Airport for some time. So today, we didn't have any real plans, and headed up to the Songshan Airport station. From there it's about a 10 minute walk to Daughter's Cafe. Once upon arrival, we discovered it's in an odd location. It's in the middle of a neighborhood. House after house, then suddenly a coffee shop out of nowhere. Inside, it's a cute comfortable environment. The walls were adorned with trinkets and there were a few couches around the room. The room really gave off a baby blue vibe. The main focus is the big island counter in the center. It serves as a coffee bar, so we took the last two seats at the end. It wasn't too crowded and wasn't too noisy. Coffee prices range from $150+. The history goes that, this shop was originally a movie set for the movie Taipei Exchanges (第36個故事). They loved the cafe so much, that they decided to keep it and turn it into a real business. Seeing as it was so popular and loved, we had to see what the reason was. We saw the movie poster on the wall of the cafe, so we decided to go home and rent the movie. I made some quick pesto pasta and we got comfortable on the couch and enjoyed our "dinner and a movie". To wrap this up, it turned out to be a great movie. Very clever and sweet. Probably more of a women's movie, but definitely something to pick up if you feel like watching a native Taiwanese movie.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Thai Town and Cat Cafe

Lucy and Grace decided to stay over night in Taipei. So after a nice long morning (read slept-in), we hunted for lunch...something local in Tian Mu(天母). We ended up at Thai Town, just about 10 minutes walk from my home. Same great taste, same great decor and same price as the one in Kaohsiung. What'd you expect, it's a chain store. I do love their Thai pancakes and fried chicken. Papaya salad is very refreshing too. Some of my GoTo staples at Thai Town. After lunch, I introduced Lucy to Minimal Cafe aka Cat Cafe at ShiDa night market (師大夜市). We took it leisurely, petted some cats and took some pictures. Besides the one cat sleeping on the chair next to Lucy throwing a fit, I think Lucy enjoyed it. Afterwards, we headed over to my cousin, Yoh-Yi's place to cook indian food in appreciation for helping me so much here in Taiwan. It's my Appreciation dinner. It's really a challenge cooking in a foreign kitchen, on top of that, there are some ingredients that are difficult to find in Taiwan. Like hard yogurt instead of liquid yogurt. It made the butter chicken sauce a little too soupy. But it was definitely fun and spicy. I hope it wasn't too spicy for them, since the Taiwanese palette really isn't used to that level of spiciness. Next time I'll choose something lighter and less spicy. :)

Ceiling Cat spyz you!

Chair Cat haz tail

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Hakka breakfast

This noon I introduced Yuki to the Hakka stall at the traditional market near XInSheng. It's the same Hakka stall that my father introduced to me last month. I tried to remember what me and my father ordered last time, but I'm not too sure if it was correct. We ordered Hakka rice noodles (米粉麵一碗), 豬心? and 油豆腐. It's definitely a unique flavor and you have to really appreciate Hakka cuisine in order to stand the dirty market environment and lines. I loved it. Definitely a hole-in-the-wall, local-only type of thing. No tourists in sight. This traditional market is on the corner of Section 1, XinYi Rd. and Section 1, JinShan South Rd. Afterwards we met up with Lucy and her roommate Grace from Hsingchu. We immediately headed out to Keelung. Once we arrived we explored around before heading into the MiaoKou (廟口夜市) night market. We ate a few small snacks that we can't find in Taipei. Like giant squid arm and fresh Uni right out of the body. The uni was awesome, but expensive. I LOVE Uni and I've never ate it straight out of the shell. Afterwards, we decided to head back to Taipei early for some further dinner and drinks. First a drop off to Macho Tacos, because Lucy and friends haven't had decent Fresh-Mex since California. Afterwards, back to the bars behind Ximen Red House. It was Grace's birthday. So Happy Birthday and bottoms-up!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Taipei International Flower Expo 2010

So today, after some very long procrastinating, I finally went to the 2010 Taipei International Flower Expo finally. It officially closes it's doors on 4/25. It was really big with lots of attractions to see. Of course, there were lots of flowers as well as massive crowds. It's been like that for the past several months, every day of the week. The flowers were interesting, to a certain degree. There were fields upon fields of exotic colorful flowers arranged into artistic rows. Beautiful, but I really have no interest. We saw almost everything, but missed the Dream Experience, story house and the building made out of recycled bottles. You needed line up for tickets and wait in line for these. We got a ticket when we got there in the morning, but it was for the 7pm show (at the earliest). If it hadn't been so cheap ($150 MRT card discount), I would have probably enjoyed it less. Actually, I do remember one part that I do like. The food court. Haha, alway food with me. They had a main food court as well as a smaller one in the back of the expo. They have a large variety to choose from, from Italian, Taiwanese, Chinese, Hakka, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, etc. I had some Hakka sticky rice :). Afterwards and later into the night, we joined my old classmates Fabien (second semester) and Florian (First semester) for a few drinks at the Ximen Red House bars. Good day and I hope Yuki enjoyed the Flower Expo more than I did. I also hope I didn't get any sun burn. I hate sun burns. 'Till later!