Category Archives: dessert.

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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western: nonzero (非零)

date may 06, 2012

contact No.5, Alley 4, Ln. 27, Sec. 4, Ren Ai Rd., Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區仁愛路四段27巷4弄5號/02.2772.1630

hours 7 days a week :: [lunch] 11:30-14:30 :: [afternoon tea] 14:30-16:30 :: [dinner] 18:00-21:30

price [dinner] 900NT-1500NT + 10% service charge

rating ♥♥ (3 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT (捷運忠孝復興站)

website http://www.nonzero.com.tw (Chinese and English)

Sorry for the delay in posts. My dad unexpectedly and suddenly passed away on January 26, 2012… I immediately took the first flight back to the States. As a result, I was back in California for the last three months with my mom.

Upon returning to Taiwan a good friend of my mine was getting ready to move back to California. As one of her last meals we ended up at Nonzero (非零), located a short walk from exit 3 of Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station (捷運忠孝復興站) at the Renai-Fuxing S. Rd. intersection (仁愛復興南路口).

The inside of Nonzero is very homey and spacious. The wood tables have mismatched wooden chairs that adds some charm to the place. The decor is also very thrift store-eclectic, which really appeals to my aesthetic.

The menu at Nonzero has three set meals priced at 900NT, 1200NT, and 1500NT; they also have items al la carte. I chose to get the 900NT set meal, which included bread, soup, salad, main course, dessert, and coffee/tea. Ashley chose the 1200NT set meal, which came with the same items plus an appetizer.

First thing out was the bread. There were two types, one of which was a rosemary bread that was the table favorite. Bread was warm and fresh. A good start.

Next came the soups, which were served in these pretty pots. My soup was the Radish with Potato Nutmeg Soup (白玉蘿蔔香料洋芋濃湯) (top right). I thought it was nice and light. There was nice little dollop of creme fraiche on top that added a nice creaminess to it. Ashley’s set came with Chicken Thigh with Chayote and Mushroom Soup (土雞肉佛手瓜蕈菇蔬菜湯) (top left). The broth was pretty good, nice and light. The kind of soup that would be great for a cold winter day.

Following the soups we were presented with a complementary appetizer. The waitress described it as chicken with chicken liver accompanied with pickles and tomatoes. I’m not a huge fan of chicken liver, but this wasn’t bad. Best bite was all three ingredients together.

Salads were next. My salad was a simple Green Salad with Vinaigrette (季節生菜新鮮香草沙拉) (top right). The salad was okay, nothing special. One of our friends thought it was overdressed and a little too acidic. Ashley’s salad was the High Altitude Cabbage Salad with Caraway Seeds (茴香籽高麗菜生菜沙拉) (top right). I only had a little bite and thought it was okay; Ashley enjoyed it.

Ashley’s meal came with Pan Fried Fresh Prawns (煎烤東北角鮮蝦 佐 烤味噌筊白筍). These were very good, nice and tender, kind of melt in your mouth.

The 900NT set comes with two main course choices: pan fried market fresh fish and risotto with wild scallops, tomatoes, and asparagus. I went with the Risotto with wild scallops, tomatoes, and asparagus (加拿大野生干貝蕃茄蘆筍燉飯). I liked the flavor of this, but I personally found the rice to be a little underdone. After watching many seasons of Top Chef, I’ve learned that some chefs (i.e. Sarah from season 9) cook their rice a little more under than others. Two out of three of my scallops were cooked well (not perfect, though) and one was a little over. I’d say this was okay, not great, not bad. I’ve definitely had much better risotto in Taipei.

Both the 900NT set and 1200NT set have Pan Fried Market Fresh Fish (市場現流鮮魚) as an option for the main course. Ashley decided to go with it. The waitress asked what kind of fish she liked, so they must have several options. What she ended up with was a white fish, although I’m not sure what kind. She thought it was pretty good.

By far the standout of the night was the dessert. Each set comes with a dessert, chef’s choice. They had three desserts that night, which was perfect since there was three of us, so they gave us one of each. The desserts for the night were a fruit tartcheese cake, and chocolate hazelnut tart. The presentation of the desserts was really nice, very pretty. The fruit tart was pretty good. There was a lemony cake layer that was pretty tasty. The chocolate hazelnut tart was rich and creamy; I liked it a lot. However, the best thing of the night was the cheesecake.

If there are any Friends fans out there, I imagine the cheesecake from Mama’s Little Bakery, Chicago, Illinois to taste like this cheesecake. Light, creamy, and amazingly delicious. Seriously, one of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever had, and I’m not just talking in Taiwan. This cheesecake isn’t a traditional cheesecake, it’s much lighter in texture, but it’s creamy, cheesy, and pure awesomeness.

The meal ended with your choice of coffee or tea. I went with a latte (拿鐵). It was pretty standard, but I did like the pretty heart in my foam.

Overall, I’m a little middle of the line with this place. I thought the food was decent, but nothing particularly stood out, except for the cheese cake that is. I don’t know that I would ever crave anything (other than the cheese cake) from Nonzero again. I think the service was good, and the price for the overall meal was okay, but the food itself wasn’t special, not bad, just not memorable.

dessert: 愛玉之夢遊仙草 (àiyùzhīmèngyóuxiāncǎo; fig jelly dreams of grass jelly)

date january 09, 2012

contact No. 56, Tong Hua St., Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區通化街56號/02.2706.1257

hours 7 days a week 12:00-03:00

price 50NT (avg. dessert)

rating ♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

I love dessert, especially Asian desserts. My friend introduced me to 愛玉之夢遊仙草 (roughly translated as Fig Jelly Dreams of Grass Jelly) near Linjiang Night Market (臨江夜市), more popularly known as Tonghua Night Market (通化夜市), back in 2007.

As the name of the store suggests, they are most famous for their fig jelly (aka aiyu jelly) and grass jelly (aka xiancao) desserts, which range in price from 50NT to 60NT. They can be served on ice or hot. The store itself is pretty tiny and maybe only sits 20ish people if you cram in. There is often times a line of people waiting to get their bowl of grass jelly and/or fig jelly (they also have tofu pudding [豆花]), but the line goes pretty fast. Also, you can always get your dessert togo or even delivered (only if you are purchasing 20 or more bowls and live within a 2km radius). Personally, my favorite thing on the menu is the grass jelly ice with coffee creamer (仙草奶球冰) for  50NT, which just happens to be one of their signature dishes (招牌).

Before pouring the coffee creamer on.

The grass jelly ice with coffee creamer (仙草奶球冰) comes with grass jelly and your choice of two toppings over shaved ice with one of the small individual servings of liquid coffee creamer. They have a lot of toppings to choose from, such as: tapioca balls (珍珠), glutinous rice balls (湯圓), taro balls (芋圓), mung bean (綠豆), red bean (紅豆), peanuts (花生), jobs tears (薏仁), etc. I always get the glutinous rice balls (aka tangyuan) and taro balls (aka yuyuan). I don’t know how they do it, but their glutinous rice balls are ALWAYS cooked perfectly. The mixture of all these things together is amazing. The toppings add the perfect amount of sweetness to the unsweetened grass jelly and the coffee creamer makes the ice creamy, for a lack of better description. I also like the glutinous rice balls and taro balls because it adds a chewy texture to the dessert.

Overall this bowl of creamer, “qq” balls, grass jelly, and ice is a great dessert. It’s also pretty good for someone who doesn’t like particularly sweet desserts. I usually share this bowl with someone because it’s too much for just me, but I’ve seen plenty of people get their own, too. Either way, if you’re in the Linjiang/Tonghua Night Market area and are looking for a quick dessert, I highly recommend giving this a go.

dessert/taiwanese: s.f.t. juice & ice (辛發亭冰品名店)

date november 21, 2011

contact No. 1, Anping St., Shilin District, Taipei City/台北市士林區安平街1號/02.2883.1123

hours N/A

price <300NT

rating ♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Jiantan MRT (捷運劍潭站) at Shilin Night Market (士林夜市)

One of the things about keeping a food blog is that you become the food guide to all your friends. One thing that my friends visiting from the States always ask me about is shaved ice, more specifically “snowflake ice” or milk ice (雪花冰). One of the most famous places in Taipei for this type of shaved ice is probably S.F.T. Juice & Ice (辛發亭冰品名店) at the famous Shilin Night Market (士林夜市).

According to my friend, this store claims to have invented “snowflake ice” aka xue hua bing. They proudly boast on their banner that their shop has been around for 46 years. Whether or not they actual did invent “snowflake ice”, who knows. What I do know is that their “snowflake ice” is delicious! Note that directly across from S.F.T. Juice & Ice is another shaved ice shop. Their banner is green. When we last went it looks like they might have finally closed shop. Basically no one was ever in there. Even if there was a huge line at S.F.T. and the other place was empty, people would wait at S.F.T. Just watch out for that.

The inside of S.F.T. Juice & Ice it pretty compact. Lots of tables jammed pretty closely together. There is almost always a wait to be seated, but the turn over is pretty quick so you shouldn’t have to wait more than 15 minutes for a seat.

Menus are taped to the tables and in Chinese only. The ones marked with the little thumbs up are their most popular flavors. This place is most famous for their “snowflake ice”, which is thinly shaved milk ice. Besides from the “snowflake ice”, they also have traditional shaved ice and fresh fruit juice. I’ve had several of their “snowflake ice” flavors, including:

– Green Tea Snow Ice with Red Bean (抹茶紅豆雪片) 70NT
– Snow Ice with Fresh Mango (新鮮芒果雪片) 90NT
– Snow Ice with Maple Syrup and Tapioca (楓糖粉圓雪片) 60NT
– Cherry Snow Ice with Chocolate Syrup (櫻桃巧克力雪片)

Of all the flavors I think my favorite is the Green Tea Snow Ice with Red Bean (抹茶紅豆雪片) for 70NT. The ice tastes like creamy green tea. It’s not too sweet, and still has a little of the bitter tea taste. Condensed milk is drizzled over the top and red bean is served on the side. So good.

I was really surprised to find that they still had fresh mango at the end of November. The snow ice with fresh mango and fresh strawberries are seasonal, so I’m used to the mango being out. Anyways, it was a good surprise. The two out-of-town friends (first time to Taiwan) both loved the Snow Ice with Fresh Mango (新鮮芒果雪片) for 90NT. The milk ice is served with fresh mango chunks and condensed milk. This was gone in about 2 minutes.

Our visitors wanted more, so we got the Snow Ice with Maple Syrup and Tapioca (楓糖粉圓滿雪片) for 60NT. This was pretty tasty, too; probably the sweetest of the ones we got.

On a different occasion my friends and I decided to try the Cherry Snow Ice with Chocolate Syrup (櫻桃巧克力雪片). This was not so good…After the first bite we all just sat there staring at each other trying to figure out what it tasted like. Then it hit us, cough syrup: cherry cough syrup with Hershey’s chocolate syrup drizzled over it. If you’re a fan of the medicinal cherry flavor you might like this, but I’d stay away from it…

Overall, S.F.T. is a great place for shaved ice, and maybe even the originator of “snowflake ice”. So, if you’re in the Shilin Night Market area or looking for some tasty shaved ice, give it a go.

western/dessert: melange cafe (米朗琪咖啡館)

date august 31, 2011

contact No. 23, Ln. 16, Sec. 2, Zhongshan N. Rd., Zhongshan District, Taipei City/台北市中山區中山北路二段16巷23號/02.2567.3787

hours Store 1: Weekdays 07:30-22:00 / Weekends 09:30-22:00 :: Store 2: Everyday 09:30-22:00 :: Last call 40 minutes before closing.

price <300NT (10% service charge)

rating ♥♥♥ (3 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Zhongshan MRT (捷運中山站)

website http://www.melangecafe.com.tw/ (Chinese Only)

For a mini reunion dinner with out of town friends we decided to try Melange Cafe outside of Zhongshan MRT Exit 2 (捷運中山站2號出口). I had never heard of Melange before my friend suggested it, but as soon as he said waffles I was sold.

We didn’t get to Melange until about 8pm. Apparently this place is really popular and usually has a really long wait. On Wednesday night at 8pm there was no wait for a party of 4. Melange has two stores basically next door to each other. They originally asked us if would mind sitting at an 8 person table and sharing with another group. We didn’t care, but luckily when we walked into store 2 a party of 4 had just left.

The menu at Melange is in Chinese, English, and Japanese. There are pictures of some of the items, but not all. It looked like all of their entrees are under 200NT, but they have a 100NT minimum drink order per person. We decided we’d share a bunch of stuff so we ended up with:

– Smoked Chicken Sandwich (燻雞肉三明治) for 130NT (?)
– Egg Salad Sandwich (蛋沙拉三明治) for 120NT
– Smoked Chicken & Ham Pizza (香燻雞肉火腿比薩) for 130NT
– Strawberry Cream Waffle (草莓奶油鬆餅) for 150NT
– Caramel with Ice Cream Waffle (焦糖香草冰淇淋鬆餅) for 130NT
– Cold Green Tea au lait (冰宇治抹茶歐蕾) for 120NT
– Chocolate Calda alla panna (歐式熱巧克力) for 170NT
– Mango Soda Float (芒果蘇打) for..I don’t remember.

The guys both got the Mango Soda Float (芒果蘇打). They seemed to have differing opinions about whether or not they liked it. Wes said he thought the ice cream was good, but the soda was blah. Eddie thought it was okay. Both agreed that it was unnecessary to have ice in an ice cream float.

Debory got the Chocolate Calda alla panna (歐式熱巧克力) for 170NT, aka hot chocolate. This hot chocolate was really rich and thick. It tasted like dark chocolate because it was pretty bitter, but I actually liked it better that way. Really an entire cup of this might have been kind of intense, but a few sips was nice.

I ordered the Green Tea au lait (宇治抹茶歐蕾) for 120NT. I thought this was not bad. You can get it hot or cold. Might have better hot. I found the green tea flavor to be kind of light. I would have preferred it to be a bit stronger.

Eddie decided to get the Egg Salad Sandwich (蛋沙拉三明治) for 120NT. It looked like there was a piece of ham, tomato, cucumber, egg salad, lettuce, and mayonnaise inside the sandwich. I did not have any, but the other members of my party all decided that it was pretty bland.

Wes ordered the Smoked Chicken Sandwich (燻雞肉三明治). I thought it was funny that the sandwich came with four Pringles stacked in the center of the plate. The sandwich itself had smoked chicken, scrambled egg, ham, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, and mayonnaise. Everyone agreed that this was the better sandwich. The chicken was pretty tasty; it was tender and had a slight sweet flavor, almost like a teriyaki.

Debory and I decided to share the Smoked Chicken & Ham Pizza (香燻雞肉火腿比薩) for 130NT. Although they call this a pizza, this is obviously not a pizza. However, there is a picture on the menu so we knew what we were getting. This is basically a thick piece of toast with tomato sauce, cheese, smoked chicken, ham and tomato on it; it also came with a side of egg salad. The “pizza” was pretty good, for what it was. It tasted like a pizza, but on toast, which is what it was. The egg salad was pretty much just mashed hard boiled eggs; it didn’t really seem like they added anything to it, which is probably why the Egg Salad Sandwich was so bland. I think I would get this again.

The main reason that people come to Melange is for the waffles. I had read reviews online prior to coming and every single review talked about the Strawberry Cream Waffles (草莓奶油鬆餅) for 150NT. Reviews said that the waffles were tasty; thick, crisp on the outside, soft on the inside. I agree. I thought the waffles were pretty good, but at the same time, because they were so thick, they were pretty dry if you ate it alone. The strawberries and cream were pretty tasty. The strawberry sauce was little sweet, but the cream was pretty light, so together they balanced each other out. Best bite is a little of everything: strawberry, sauce, cream, and waffle. This is definitely something to be shared. The four of us shared two waffles and still ended up taking some of it home.

The second waffle we got was the Caramel with Ice Cream Waffle (焦糖香草冰淇淋鬆餅) for 130NT. I think I might like this one more than the strawberry one. The Caramel with Ice Cream Waffle came with drizzled caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream, walnuts, almonds, and some kind of sweet powder. Something in this tasted like coffee, but I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. The only downfall of this waffle is that again, like the Strawberry Cream Waffle, if you don’t get a little of everything it’s pretty dry. The best part of the waffle was under the scoop of ice cream because it had soaked up the ice cream.

Overall I liked this place. The menu says that there is a two hour limit, but since there was not wait, they let us stay for as long as we wanted. Compared to other waffle places in Taipei, or so I’ve heard, you definitely get more for you money at Melange. I liked the waffles even though they were kind of dry alone, but the entrees were only okay. I would come back for the waffles, maybe not the entrees though.

dessert/cafe: mövenpick cafe (莫凡彼咖啡館)

 date may 29, 2011

contact B3F, No. 1, Sec. 1, Chengde Rd., Datong District, Taipei/台北市大同區承德路一段B3/02.2552.3089

hours 7 days a week 11:00-21:30

price <300NT

rating ♥♥♥ (3 out of 5 hearts)

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

I always have room for dessert. After the discovery of the B3 floor of QSquare last week, I ended up there again with friends looking for some dessert.

After looking around at all the choices, the cheese brownie (起司布郎尼) for 75NT at Mövenpick Cafe is what caught my eye. Once I pointed out the cheese brownie, my friends and I looked at all the other “cheese pies” on display and decided to get a few things to share. We also ended up with the green tea red bean cheese pie (抹茶紅豆起司派) for 75NT and cinnamon apple pie (肉桂蘋果派) 75NT.

Chocolate and cheesecake are easily two of my favorite things in life. So when I saw a cheese brownie I was really excited. This particular brownie was okay. Overall, I thought it was a little dry. The brownie part was pretty good: had a good rich, but not too sweet, chocolate brownie taste. The cheese part, however, was disappointing. I was expecting something almost cheesecake like, but instead it was kind of dry and over-baked. Honestly, I was hoping for more, but this wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t great.

The green tea red bean cheese pie was unique, in a good way. It wasn’t so much a pie as it was a tart. The cheese taste was pretty subtle, which was a little disappointing. But, the green tea taste was pretty good. This dessert was not very sweet, very catered toward Asian tastes. Red bean and green tea is always a good combination. The crust was pretty good. Kind of thick, but it had a good flakiness.

In December, my friend and I bought a pumpkin pie from Costco and shared it with our friends for Christmas dim sum lunch. Our Australian friends had never had it before and ended up loving it, so when we saw more pies at Mövenpick, he wanted to try something else new. We went with the cinnamon apple pie. This pie, which was also more like a tart, was probably the best of the three. Very moist, very cinnamony, not too sweet. I have a really high standard for apple pie because my mom is known to make the world’s best apple pie, so obviously this was not anything near that, but it wasn’t bad. Flavorful enough and moist.

For a dessert place, this is okay. I don’t know that I’d actually get anything here again, but it served its purpose as a place to get dessert.

bakery/dessert: pozzo bakery

date February 12, 2011

contact 1F, No. 172, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao East Road, Taipei City/台北市忠孝東路四段172號1F/02.2772.2121

hours 7 days a week 07:00-22:00

rating ♥♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

website http://www.sanwant.com/en/3-0.htm

nearest mrt Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT (忠孝敦化捷運站)

For my birthday, my friend bought me a cake. I love cheesecake and that is what she decided to buy me from Pozzo Bakery located on the first floor of the San Want Hotel (神旺大飯店).

I’ve tried a lot of cheesecake in Taiwan and I must say, this was the best. I don’t really like super sweet cheesecakes like the ones they have at The Cheesecake Factory. While they’re good, I feel like all the extras drown out the cheese flavor and just make an already rich “cake” richer. This green tea cheese cake was really creamy and not at all too sweet. To me, it was the perfect sweetness. The green tea flavor was really only in the green swirl on the top, which was fine with me. It added subtle hints of green tea versus having the entire “cake” be green tea flavored. The crust was tasty, not graham cracker, but I’m actually not a huge fan of graham cracker crusts. It was crumbly and tasted kind of like pie crust, just not solid like pie crust, if that makes sense. Also, the crust had a thin layer of mochi with red bean, which was a nice surprise. Only complaint would be the weird clear gelatin layer on top of the cheesecake. I notice that they do that to a lot of cakes in Taiwan, and I’m not sure why, but I’m not a fan. Luckily, it’s easy to take off if you don’t want to eat it, which is what I did.

Overall, for cheesecake fans I highly suggest trying this. I read on the website that they recommend their pear cheesecake, so I might have to try that, too.