Category Archives: updated.

updated/sushi: n.c.i.s (northern california inspired sushi/德相N.C.I.S美式加州壽司)

n.c.i.s (northern california inspired sushi)

date March 09, 2013

contact No. 4, Alley 27, Lane 216, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區忠孝東路四段216巷27弄4號/02.2721.6952

hours 7 days a week [lunch] 11:30-14:00 :: [dinner] 17:00-21:30

price 500NT-1000NT

rating ♥♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt MRT Zhongxiao Dunhua Station, Exit 3 (捷運忠孝敦化站3號出口)

website http://www.ncisushi.com/ or http://www.facebook.com/ncisushi

You know how they say food is the way to a man’s heart? Well, sushi is the way to mine.

For a ladies night out, a college friend (a Santa Barbara native) requested some California-style sushi. Since she was getting her hair done across the street, literally, we decided to meet at 德相N.C.I.S.美式加州壽司. This was my first trip to their new location off Zhongxiao E. Rd.; I had previously been to their Shida Night Market location.

inside ncis.

On a Saturday night around 8pm the restaurant was pretty full. We managed to grab the last open table. The new location of NCIS is noticeably  roomier than their previous location at Shida.

menu at ncis as of march 2013.

We were quickly sat and handed menus. I noticed that the prices for some of the rolls have gone up, but nothing too drastic. Menu is still in English and Chinese. Speciality rolls range from 200-300NT.

Itadakimasu:
– Seasoned Soy Beans (椒鹽毛豆) 70NT
– BBQ Eel Nigiri Sushi (aka Unagi/鰻魚) 100NT/2pcs.
– Halibut Fin Nigiri Sushi (比目魚緣側) 160NT/2pcs.
– Toyota Roll (豐田) 200NT
– Sofa-King-BOMB Roll (沙發王棒) 280NT
– Spicy Ji Jimmy Roll (辣吉吉米) 300NT
– Johnny Can’t Walk Roll (約翰走不動) 300NT
– Geikeikan Sake (月桂冠) 250NT/250ml

complementary soup.

Complimentary soup was the first thing out. Tasted like some sort of light miso broth with salmon.

First things out were the Toyota Roll (豐田) for 200NT, Sofa-King-BOMB Roll (沙發王棒) for 280NT and Johnny Can’t Walk Roll (約翰走不動) for 300NT.

IMG_2062

The Toyota specialty roll was described as fried shrimp and cream cheese on the inside, topped with smoked salmon and avocado. I liked this roll. Cream cheese and smoked salmon are a natural combination (a la cream cheese and lox and the standard Philadelphia roll). With the added sauce, fish eggs, and green onion this roll was delicious. We particularly appreciated was that they aren’t too heavy handed with the cream cheese. As much as I love cream cheese, too much in sushi drowns out all other flavors.

johnny can’t walk (約翰走不動) 300NT.

The only thing we ordered that I had previously ordered on my last visit to NCIS was the Johnny Can’t Walk specialty roll. Described as a roll of spicy tuna, crab mix, and shrimp topped with seared tuna and bbq eel (unagi), this was easily one of the favorites of the night. I had suggested it since it was our favorite roll from my last visit. My friends liked the slightly charred tasted from the searing and in general just liked the combination of flavors. I think I liked the roll better this time than I did the last. Last time there was a lot of random sauce on the plate. While for presentation sauces can be pretty, I’m kind of the opinion that what is put on a plate should compliment the dish and be edible. It’s like that idea of random ass sprigs of parsley on a plate: don’t put it on my plate if I’m not supposed to eat it. Especially with sauce, since if it gets on the food you can’t really just wipe it off. Okay, end tangent.

sofa-king-BOMB! (沙發王-棒!) 280NT.

Before being moved to the bar, Val and I spotted some roll with salsa on it. We immediately asked a server what it was because we wanted it! The Sofa-King-BOMB! specialty roll is a fried roll with chicken strips, cream cheese, and smoke salmon topped with salsa. At first the idea of chicken strips in my sushi was unappealing, but I actually liked this roll. Something about the combination of the fresh salsa with the saltiness of the chicken strips and salmon and the creamy cheese was tasty. This roll wasn’t as popular with my friends, but I liked it.

spicy ji jimmy (辣吉吉米) 300NT.

Still hungry we asked for a recommendation. Sitting at the bar we got to watch everything come out, including the Spicy Ji Jimmy specialty roll, which ended up being recommended to us. A roll with fried shrimp and spicy tuna topped with bbq eel (unagi) and avocado, this roll was probably the favorite of the night. With some spicy mayonaise sauce, and sriracha on the sides, this roll was only mildly spicy, but delicious. So delicious, in fact, that Xiao Yan got one to go.

[top] bbq eel (unagi) nigiri sushi (鰻魚) 100NT/2pcs. :: [bottom] halibut fin nigiri sushi (比目魚緣側) 160/2pcs.

On the nigiri sushi side we got two orders of BBQ eel (unagi) nigiri sushi and one order of halibut fin nigiri sushi. The unagi was pretty standard, nothing special. Xiao Yan ordered the halibut fin. Neither Val nor I had ever had it before, but I must say, it was quite delicious. Halibut fin (engawa) is apparently the “thin muscle of the dorsal fin”. The halibut fin had a bit of a chewy fatty texture, and the slight searing helped to bring out the flavor in the fat. Very delicious. Also, the sushi chef was kind enough to give us an extra piece since there were three of us.

seasoned soybeans (椒鹽毛豆) 70NT.

Val wanted something to break up all the sushi, so we got an order of the seasoned soybeans. The seasoning on the soybeans kind of tasted like some sort of italian herb seasoning with chili flakes. Kind of interesting on the soybeans, but not bad at all.

We also ordered some sake. Pretty standard tasting sake; served cold.

Our only complaint would be regarding the servers. The female servers seemed a little clueless as to what was going on and not particularly warm or friendly either. When we asked one about what roll a table had ordered, after looking at it she still had to go ask one of the chefs what it was. Maybe we’re harsh since we’ve both worked in food service, and maybe I’m a little extra critical because I served in sushi restaurants for 7 years, but if you can’t tell what a roll is by the look of it, I think it’s time to do a little homework.

Overall, I much enjoyed NCIS. It was a nice taste of home for two California girls and fun to introduce our Taiwanese friend to California-style sushi. Rolls were great and decently priced. Our bill came out to about 1700NT or so, so between the 3 of us, about 600NT (~US$20) each. Sitting at the bar we got to talk a little to the owner, who introduced himself as Jo, from Sacramento. Even while busy he still managed to make conversation and seems to genuinely like what he does. We also overheard him say that if we had requests for other types of sushi not on their menu we could ask them to make it, which we will definitely do on our next visit.

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closed/vietnamese: paris in the orient (東方小巴黎)

 date may 25, 2011

contact B3F, No. 1, Sec. 1, Chengde Rd., Datong District, Taipei/台北市大同區承德路一段B3/02.2552.7255

hours 7 days a week 11:00-21:30

price 300NT (according to their website)

rating ♥♥♥ (3 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Taipei Main Station MRT (捷運台北車站站)

website http://www.dcb.com.tw/

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UPDATE

My most recent trip to the QSquare food court found that Paris in the Orient has closed. I’m not sure when it closed, but a new restaurant has been opened in its place.

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A last minute dinner invite from a friend landed us at the QSquare food court at Taipei Main Station. For someone who has lived in Taipei for two years, I totally failed to realize that A) QSquare had a food court, and B) there was a B3 level. My friends said they found Paris in the Orient by accident one day while lost at Taipei Main.

According to their website, Paris in the Orient sits 86 people. I believe it. It was pretty spacious. We ate at around 7pm on a Friday night and there was plenty of seating.  The menu is in both English and Chinese and has pictures of every item on the menu. They have a small section of set meals and the rest is mostly family style dishes. Of our group of five, two decided to order set meals for themselves, and then the remaining three of us decided to get stuff to share.

We ordered three of the Spinach Rice and John Dory Fish with Tamarind Sauce (翡翠飯香酥魚排佐酸子醬) for 199NT. I liked this. I thought the fish was fried perfectly: crispy on the outside, nice and tender on the inside. The rice was good, but not special. I feel like for something called “spinach rice” it didn’t really have a spinachy taste. The tamarind sauce tasted more like sweet and sour sauce, which isn’t bad, it just didn’t taste like anything special.

The waitress ordered us the wrong thing so we ended up with the Turmeric Rice and Fried Chicken with Sour and Spicy Sauce (鬱金香飯雞排佐椒麻雞醬) for 199NT. Funny thing was, we were just about to add this to our order when it came out. Angela preferred the turmeric rice over the spinach rice. I think I did, too; it was more flavorful. The fried chicken was good, but I felt like parts of it were over fried. The chicken was still tender, but the batter on some portions was just hard, not crisp. The sauce was pretty standard and tasted more like a marinade to me than a dipping sauce, but that okay, because I still liked it. I liked that it had sesame seeds and cilantro in it.

What we had originally ordered before the Turmeric Rice dish was the Stir-Fried Vietnam Pho (越南炒河粉) for 180NT.  So this was not what I was expecting, although, I should have known based on the photograph because it looked exactly like the picture. This was basically Pad See Ew, a Thai dish, right down to the flavor. It had the same sweetness that Pad See Ew does, same type of vegetables. This dish was probably my least favorite. I wouldn’t say it was bland, but I feel like it could have had more flavor. I ended up adding some of the marinade-like sauce to add some more flavor. The chicken in it was a little dry and tasteless. I mean, this dish wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t what I was expecting.

Overall, this place is alright. Everything was edible, service was good, the restaurant is clean. I don’t know how Vietnamese this place actually is, though. They had some other dishes that looked pretty good. I would eat here again, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to.

updated/thai: sawasdee

date March 18, 2011
contact No. 10, Alley 4, Lane 286, Sec. 3, Roosevelt Road, Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區羅斯福路三段286巷4弄10號/02-2368-4300
hours 7 days a week [lunch]11:30-14:00/[dinner]17:00-21:00
price <NT300
rating ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)
nearest mrt Gongguan MRT (公館捷運站)

Read my original review of Sawasdee.

I went to Sawasdee on a Friday night after work. Got there around 7:15pm and it was full as usual. Luckily I grabbed a table right as a couple left, so I didn’t have to wait.

I mostly just wanted to update this post because I got a picture of their signature fried chicken with sweet pepper sauce rice meal (招牌椒麻雞飯).

For 110NT if you order the meal you get the chicken, rice, soup, steamed egg, and some stir fried veggies (carrots, cauliflower, bok choy, and cabage). As usually all the sides were delicious. Steamed egg was good, soup was flavorful, and the veggies were well seasoned and not overcooked. The chicken was delicious. The batter on the chicken is not very thick; I think it might just be flour and egg. I really love the raw shredded cabbage under the chicken. Let it sit for a while under the hot chicken to warm up and soak up the sauce. The sweet pepper sauce is seriously delicious. It has a pretty good balance of sweet, garlic, chili pepper, and vinegar taste. It’s not too spicy for those sensitive to spice; the kick is pretty light in my opinion, however if you are particularly sensitive to spicy things (for example if you get things small spicy [小辣] or mini spicy [微辣] and think it’s still spicy) I’d maybe stay away. I literally left no sauce on the plate. It tastes great on the chicken and great on the rice. Really I just wanted to share this. Too good not to. Plus for the ridiculously great price of 110NT, this place never disappoints.

updated/mexican: eddy’s cantina (艾迪墨西哥餐廳)

date February 27, 2011

contact No. 151-1, Zhong Shan Road, Danshui, Taipei/台北縣淡水鎮中山路151-1號/02.2628.2638

hours CLOSED ON TUESDAYS/ Weekdays 11:30-14:30, 16:30-22:00/ Saturday & Sunday 11:30-22:00

price 150NT-350NT (excluding drinks)

rating ♥♥♥ (3 out of 5 hearts)

website http://www.eddyscantina.com

nearest MRT Danshui MRT (淡水捷運站)

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UPDATE

The Danshui location of Eddie’s Cantina is closed, but don’t fret, they have a second location in Tianmu!

1. No.1, Alley 3, Lane 450, Sec. 6, Zhongshan N. Rd., Shilin Dist., Taipei City/台北市士林區中山北路六段450巷3弄1號/02.2873.7612

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It’s been about a year since I was last at Eddy’s (here is my first review). My friend had never been, but heard a lot about it so she wanted to try.

It looked like there was a few new items on their menu, but for the most part it was the same; prices were the same, too.

Stephanie decided to get a Corona, which I think cost 110NT. We decided to split the papas fritas a la mexicana or something like that for 210NT (?). It’s pretty much Eddy’s nachos, but with potatoes instead. Only difference is, the papas fritas does NOT come with meat; however you can add meat for like 60NT or something. The papas fritas come with potatoes (obviously), tomatoes, onions, melted (I’m guessing) jack cheese, nacho cheese, and sour cream. Overall, this was not bad. Biggest complaint would be that it was a little dry and not hot enough; I could also have used more cheese. I remembered from the first time that they provide you with some salsa, but they didn’t give us the salsa until our main course came. It would have been really useful for this. Also, because it wasn’t hot enough, the cheese wasn’t as melty as it should have been. I would however get this again, probably, because I love potatoes.

Stephanie decided to go with the carnitas enchiladas for 250NT. For an extra 85NT you can make it a meal and add three sides, which Steph decided to do. There is a little clock next to the enchiladas on the menu to let customers know that this item takes a while. For an item that takes a while you’d expect it to be hot, unfortunately this was not. The plate arrived almost at room temperature. Cold food is never good, but it’s even worse when you have large globs of cheese that don’t melt because the food isn’t hot. This is what happened here. Steph did appreciate the tortilla chips, since apparently a lot of Mexican places serve dorritos for tortilla chips, but the other sides I think were whatever. The enchilada sauce reminded us of pasta sauce, which while not bad is not what we were expecting for enchiladas. Also, the tortilla was kind of dense, and since it was cold, especially not great. Steph ended up just eating the insides. The meat, however, was pretty good. The large awkward globs of unmelted shredded cheese was not.

So this picture is old; it’s from my last visit to Eddy’s because I didn’t take a picture this time. This picture kind of lies because my fish tacos this time did not look as good, nor did they taste as good. This time around the tortilla was bigger and they skimped on the insides. Biggest problem, again, was that my food was not hot. The tortilla, which was already way too big for the amount of fish and toppings they gave, was cold and dense. The fish was okay, a little dry, but seasoned well; however, the ratio of fish to tortilla was just off and threw off the whole meal.

The one thing that was consistent was the salsa. The red salsa on the left was spicy and maybe could have used more salt or acid or something, but still was good. The salsa verde was pretty tasty. I think that both were homemade, but I’m not sure. Either way, the addition of the salsa to our meals helped a little.

Really, the whole experience for me was not nearly as great as the first time I went. The food was just not hot and as a result suffered. While the restaurant was full, it seemed like no one was getting food, so I’m wondering if there were communication issues between the front of the house and the kitchen. Maybe the food was just sitting in the back for too long. Either way, Stephanie thought it wasn’t bad, but thinks that some of the other Mexican places in Taipei – Macho Taco, Yuma (which is now On Tap) – are just as good. I have yet to try these new places, but intend to. For now, Eddy’s is no longer a five heart favorite. While I’d still recommend this place to homesick Californian’s or anyone else craving Mexican, I must admit I was disappointed. Maybe it was just an off day…

american: toasteria cafe.

date 12. 23.2009

contact No. 1, Lane 72, YunHe Street, Daan District, Taipei/02.2365.3051/台北市大安區雲和街72巷1號

hours Monday-Thursday 10am-11pm; Friday-Saturday 10am-2am; Sunday 11am-9pm

happy hour Monday-Friday 3pm-7pm

price 100-200NT

rating ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

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UPDATE

While walking around Shida Night Market I noticed that the Shida location of Toasteria closed on June 04, 2012! Not to worry, they still have two other locations in Taipei.

1. No.2, Lane 248, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Taipei/台北市忠孝東路4段248巷2號/02.2731.8004
2. No.3, Lane 169, Sec. 1, Dunhua S. Rd., Taipei/台北市敦化南路1段169號3號/02.2752.0033

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A good friend of mine found Toasteria Cafe and decided with our love of salads and paninis we had to try it. Toasteria is located inside of Shida Night Market (師大夜市) off of YunHe Street (雲和街). The cafe itself is really cute and open; go on a nice day and enjoy the open patio-like feel.

The menu has a wide variety of grilled sandwiches, at least 20. They boast proudly on their business card that they are “Taipei’s home for the grilled cheese”. While I don’t necessarily know if that’s true, they do make a pretty mean panini. The average sandwich ranges from about 100nt to 170nt and for an extra 70nt you can add fries and a drink (coke or grape fanta). My friend and I opted to share a sandwich, salad, and add the fries and a coke.

grilled jack chicken 160NT

We finally decided on the Grilled Jack Chicken sandwich, grilled jack cheese, chicken, and caper aioli for 160NT. First off, the fries were really good. They were really cripsy without being hard or oily. I’m sure they came out of a bag from Costco or something, but still they were very good. The sandwich was great. There was a nice spicy kick to it from the jack cheese which I’m pretty sure was pepper jack. The chicken was also well seasoned and not dried out. Another awesome thing about this sandwich, the caper aioli sauce on the side, SO GOOD. We didn’t put it on the sandwich, instead we just dipped the fries in it. Highly recommended.

gouda salad 170NT

For salad we had narrowed it down to either the Toasteria salad or the gouda salad. We decided to go for the gouda salad because both of us love cheese. Unfortunately the first salad that was brought out to us had a worm, like full on slug/worm, in it. We took it back to the counter and they apologized and made us a new one. Usually something like that would turn me off from a restaurant, but they were very apologetic, made us a brand new salad and gave it to us free of charge. Back home in the US you would expect this kind of service, but in Asia I’m more used to just picking certain things out and eating around it. So the free salad was a nice surprise. After that issue was taken care of, the salad itself was actually pretty good. The vinaigrette was some sort of balsamic red wine mix that was pretty good. Other then that there was three slices of gouda, red onions, watercress, and some toast. The salad is a little pricey considering its size, but in my opinion it’s pretty worth it considering how tough it is to find good salads in Taipei.

Overall, Toasteria is a great place to grab some lunch or maybe even dinner. There are definitely plenty more of the panini’s that I want to try and they have Stella Artois on TAP! I will definitely be going back for that. I read on the happy hour menu that all beers are 90NT during happy hour, so maybe I’ll go then. Also, they have buy one get one free margarita’s Monday and Tuesday according to the chalk board inside. I think next I’ll try the Spicy Grilled Cheese or the Eggplant one.