dessert/night market: sesame peanut mochi shaved ice (芝麻花生麻糬冰)

date august 8, 2014
contact Ningxia Night Market in front of No. 35, Ningxia Rd. (in front of Family Mart)/台北市大同區寧夏路35號前(全家便利商店斜對面)
hours 17:00 to 01:30 (closed tuesdays)
price 70NT for shaved ice with two mochi balls
rating ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)
nearest mrt MRT Zhongshan Station exit 2 (捷運中山站2號出口) 
website Linji’s ipeen page (Chinese only)

One of the things I love about Taipei is that there is always something kind of random, but totally delicious to try. On the recommendation of a friend, my out-of-town friend and I went in search of the sesame peanut mochi shaved ice at Ningxia Night Market.

To get to Ningxia, take the red line (Tamsui 淡水) to MRT Zhongshan station (捷運中山站), which is only one stop north of Taipei Main Station. Exit out of exit 2 and make a right, heading west down Nanjing W. Rd. (南京西路), toward the Starbucks. Continue down Nanjing W. Rd. for about 10 minutes until you hit Ningxia St., where you will see the entrance to the night market.

Ningxia is predominately a food night market. So, if you’re looking for something savory before the sweet, have a look around, there is plenty there.

The mochi shaved ice is located at Linji Mochi (林記燒麻糬), which is stand number 97. According to Linji’s ipeen page (the Taiwan equivalent of Yelp), the stand is located in front of No. 35, Ningxia Rd., directly in front of Family Mart. When we found it, the stand was located near Family Mart, but on the other side of the street. Either way, you’ll need to keep an eye out for it.

The stand sells mochi and shaved ice, as well as other traditional Taiwanese-type desserts (i.e. peanut soup [花生湯] and red bean soup [紅豆湯]). However, we went with one very specific mission: sesame peanut mochi shaved ice (芝麻花生麻糬冰). The menu is on the stand and pasted onto the tables in Chinese and Japanese (no English)  with pictures, which should make ordering easier for non-Chinese/Japanese readers.

Based on what I could gather when ordering, how big the portion of ice is depends on how many pieces of mochi you get (refer to the menu photo). The more mochi you order, the larger the portion of ice. I think this is because they base the portion off one mochi per person. We opted to get two pieces of mochi (one sesame, one peanut), which cost us 70NT. If you choose the one mochi, one flavor option, it looks to only be 40NT. You can choose between sesame and peanut flavor. Which ever flavor you choose will determine what is sprinkled atop your ice. The mochi, which you can see being boiled at the stand, is quite large and is cut up into smaller pieces before being served. The ice itself is a milk ice, so it is a bit sweet, but we both thought this added to the richness of the overall dessert, which is one of the reasons it is so good.

Basically, I highly recommend giving this a try if you: a) like mochi, b) like shaved ice, or c) you want to try something a little special. I would recommend getting a mochi of each flavor so that the ice is half sesame, half peanut, but really, do whatever your heart (stomach) tells you, you can’t go wrong.

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indian/tibetan: tibet kitchen (西藏廚房)


date: august 6, 2014
contact: no. 217, sec. 2, heping e. rd., daan dist., taipei city/台北市大安區和平東路二段217號/02.2705.4770
hours: 7 days a week [lunch] 11:30-14:30 :: [dinner] 17:30-21:30
price: 300NT-600NT
rating: ♥♥♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)
nearest mrt: MRT technology building (捷運科技大樓站)

I really like Indian food, which I’ve mentioned on this blog before. It probably has to do with my days slinging chicken tikka masala and saag tofu in college. Whatever the reason,  I’m always on the hunt for good, affordable Indian food.

Tibet Kitchen is less than a five-minute walk from MRT Technology Building station on the brown line. Out of the exit (there is only one), make a left onto Fuxing S. Rd. (福興南路) toward Heping E. Rd. (和平東路). Once you hit Heping (which will be the first traffic light), cross make a right down Heping toward the Taipei Fubon Bank and you should reach the restaurant within minutes.

I pass by Tibet Kitchen everyday on my way home from work and there is generally a decent crowd (generally, not always). I don’t think reservations are necessary unless you have a particularly large group of people, as there is a pretty good amount of seating. On a Wednesday at 7pm, other than a large group of about 16 and two tables of four, we were the only ones dining.

The menu at Tibet Kitchen is in both English and Mandarin, with dishes divided into several sections: Indian vegetarian, Indian non-vegetarian, Tibetan non-vegetarian, drinks, sides, starters, etc.

My friend and I decided to do the two person set meal for 899NT (+10% service charge). The meal came with:
– two samosas
– two  pieces of tandoori chicken
– one non-veg item
– one vege item
– two bread items
– two bowls of rice
– two drinks
– two desserts
The non-veg, vege, bread, dessert, and drinks can be anything on the menu. I chose the vege item, palak paneer, and Ariel chose the meat item, chicken jaipuri.

First out were the samosas (印度咖哩餃). They came out hot and fresh with a side of coriander chutney for dipping. The samosa stuffing had a nice yellow curry flavor, but the outside tasted a little too much like fried wontons to me… Not bad, just not my favorite. I probably wouldn’t order these individually.

Next was the tandoori chicken (印度酸乳碳烤雞). With the two person meal you get a drumstick and a breast piece. The chicken itself was decently tender and had pretty good flavor.

For bread options I chose the butter naan (印式奶油烤餅) and Ariel went with the chapati (印式煎餅). Both were okay.

The palak paneer (咖哩菠菜乳酪) was the first out of the main dishes to arrive. Palak paneer is easily my favorite vegetarian Indian dish–I get it everywhere I go. For the most part I thought this was pretty good. It could have been a little heavier on the spices, but overall, I liked this.  While this doesn’t really rank up there with my favorite palak paneers, this definitely satisfied the craving.

The meat jaipuri (霽浦爾咖哩), for which we selected chicken as our meat (you can also choose from beef and mutton), was something neither of us had ever had. I get cliche when I go to Indian restaurants and order chicken tikka masala, so we were both up for something different. According to the menu, this is an “authentic dish cooked with extensive use of chopped onions, tomatoes, and topped with sliced omelette.” I was a little iffy about this dish, not because it wasn’t good, but because I’m not really sure how “Indian” it was. To me, other than the fact that the chicken used was tandoori chicken, the sauce and vegetables tasted like a Chinese dish with onions and bell peppers. Next time, I’ll try the butter chicken or chicken tikka masala.

Desserts were the last thing and by this time we were both pretty full. There are only two dessert items so we decided to get one of each: gulab jamun (印度香甜球) and fruit yogurt. The fruit yogurt was literally just some plain yogurt with some canned peaches thrown in…so…if you’re looking for something special, this is not it. On the other hand the gulab jamun is pretty unique. The menu says it’s a “cottage cheese ball fried and soaked in flavored syrup.” The ball itself was quite small, probably about the size of pingpong ball. The texture is hard to describe, it does taste like fried cheese curds in a way, just soaked in a very sweet honey-like syrup. It actually reminded me of something I recently ate while at a cafe in Little India in Singapore. Really, desserts at Tibet Kitchen can be skipped.

Overall I thought Tibet Kitchen was decent. The drinks were pretty standard. I got cold Indian tea, but it tasted kind of watered down. I would probably give Tibet Kitchen more like 3.5 hearts, but for now the dishes were good enough to make me say I’d go back. There are a few vegetarian items I would like to try, such as the baigan bharta (香炒茄子) and bindi masala (香炒秋葵), and maybe the butter chicken and chicken tikka masala, so I’ll be back, if not for any other reason than I pass by it every day…