Category Archives: all-you-can-eat

hotpot/all-you-can-eat: tian ma mongolian hot pot (天麻蒙古鴛鴦火鍋專賣)

date november 22, 2011

contact No. 295, Sec. 3, Tingzhou Rd., Zhongzheng District, Taipei City/台北市中正區汀州路三段297號/02.2364.6215

hours Monday-Friday 11:30-04:00 :: Saturday/Sunday 11:30-05:00

price [lunch] 399NT 11:30-16:00 :: [dinner] 499NT 16:00-04:00 :: [Saturday/Sunday] 499NT 11:30-05:00 (+10% service charge)

rating ♥♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Gongguan MRT (捷運公館站)

One of the things I like to take out of country visitors to eat is all-you-can-eat “mala guo” aka spicy hotpot (麻辣鍋). Usually I like to go to Ma La (馬辣), which has two locations: one in Gongguan and another in Ximending (西門町), but if you don’t make reservations a few days in advanced, you’re likely to only get reservations for after 9pm. My neighborhood backup all-you-can-eat hotpot place is Tian Ma Mongolian Hot Pot (天麻蒙古鴛鴦火鍋專賣), which is under the same group as Ma La.

Tian Ma is in Gongguan actually right down the street from the Gongguan location of Ma La. I would recommend reservations a few days in advanced, just to be safe, but usually you can call Tian Ma the day of and get reservations around the time you want. Be aware that the colder and rainier the day, the harder it will be to get a reservation.

Tian Ma has two floors. I think I’ve only ever been seated on the first floor once. All other times I’ve been seated on the basement floor. Like your typical hotpot place, each table is equipped with a burner for your hotpot. The basement floor tables are equipped with electric burners, while the first floor tables has gas burners. Really, I don’t think the type of burner you have makes a difference. The only reason I kind of prefer sitting on the first floor is because that is where all the food is.

First thing you do when you sit down is order the type of broth you want in your hot pot. You can either get one huge pot of one broth, or you can get a split pot of two flavors. We got the Healthy Mongolian Pot (蒙古養生鍋) and the Sichuan Spicy Pot (四川麻辣鍋). Be warned, if you like spicy, but can’t handle super spicy the Sichuan Spicy Pot is really spicy, and also my favorite.

Everything at Tian Ma is self serve except for the meats and hotpot broth. When you sit down you can order up to 5 different types of meat at a time. They have beef, pork, lamb, and seafood to order via waitstaff. All the meat is pretty tasty.

They have a pretty good selection of vegetables, seafood, meatballs, tofu products, etc. to choose from. They are also pretty good at keeping everything well stocked. In the event what you want is out or running low, just tell the waitstaff. Among my favorite things are the enoki mushrooms (金針菇), fishball with fish eggs (魚包蛋), tofu skin (豆皮), pumpkin (南瓜), and baby corn (玉米筍).

There are a lot of options for drinks. You can drink juice, tea, or coffee.

You can drink various types of Coca-Cola products.

Or you can help yourself to all-you-can-drink Taiwan beer.

Don’t forget to mix your sauce! I usually end up with a garlic, onion, green onion, chili pepper, soy sauce concoction.

For dessert they have a fridge filled with various fruits and desserts. I love the milk pudding (鮮奶酪), so creamy and delicious!

They also have all you can eat ice cream! I think the only difference between Ma La and Tian Ma is that Ma La has Häagen-Dazs ice cream, and Tian Ma does not. Tian Ma carries Mövenpick, 卡比索, Meji, and Sentia brands of ice cream.

I very much like Tian Ma. If you go on a weekend it ends up being about 550NT per person and it’s totally worth it.

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vegetarian/all-you-can-eat: spring natural vegetarian restaurant (春天素菜餐廳)

date september 25, 2011

contact 3F, No. 26, Changchun Rd., Zhongshan District, Taipei City/台北市中山區長春路26號3樓/02.2525.1622 :: o2.2525.1580

hours 7 days a week [lunch] 11:45-14:00 :: [afternoon tea] 14:30-16:30 :: [dinner] 17:45-21:00

price [lunch] adults/500NT children/300NT :: [afternoon tea] adults/350NT children 250NT :: [dinner] adults/600NT children/350NT

rating ♥♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Zhongshan MRT or Shuanglian MRT (捷運中山站或捷運雙連站)

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

My mom is visiting from the States and is a vegetarian, so for my cousin’s 38th birthday we ended up at Spring Natural Vegetarian Restaurant (春天素菜餐廳).

Spring Natural Vegetarian Restaurant is located on the 3rd floor of a building on Changchun Rd. (長春路). They also have a location on Heping E. Rd. (和平東路) at 3F, No. 177, Sec. 1, Heping E. Rd., Daan District, Taipei City (台北市大安區和平東路一段177號3樓). From the street the sign for Spring Natural is green and yellow and only in Chinese. When you see the sign, just walk into the building and take the elevator to the third floor.

When you step out of the elevator you should see this sign. If you don’t, you’re on the wrong floor.

The inside of Spring Natural is huge. I’m going to guess this place easily seats over 300 people. According to their website they have 52 tables. Our table sat 6, but you could have easily squeezed a few more at our table. It would have been tight, but it would have worked. My cousin had made reservations in advance for 9 at 11:30am on a Sunday. From the way this place filled up, reservations are a must.

Spring Natural has 6 different sections: cold foods, made to order, hot foods, soups/fruit island, drinks, and desserts.

The cold food section runs along the left side of the restaurant. They have things ranging from DIY salad to vegetarian sashimi. Some of my favorite cold foods were the king oyster mushroom salad, okra, and bamboo shoots in spicy peanut sauce.

The made to order section was frying up radish cakes (蘿蔔糕) that were really tasty; nice and fresh! It looked like they were also making noodles as well, although I didn’t try any.

The hot foods section had a lot of great stuff. The start of the line had some vegetarian dim sum. I really liked the pot of boiled spicy stinky tofu (麻辣臭豆腐), sauteed king oyster mushrooms (炒杏包菇), sweet potato and ginger soup, egg rolls, among many other things. The food just keeps coming out so every time you’re in line there are new dishes.

In the middle of the area with the hot foods and made to order foods is a soup/fruit island. Lots of fresh fruit and soups. They also had almond tea (杏仁茶) and chinese donuts (油條), which were delicious!

The drink station had a good variety of drinks. They have a coffee machine that makes lattes and cappuccinos, slushy machines, juice, tea, water, and a hot tea station.

The dessert area had a good selection of desserts. My favorites were the milk pudding and chocolate truffles. I tried the cheesecake, but it was kind of dense and a little dry. They also have a freezer to the right of the table that has 8 types of ice cream.

Overall, I think this place is pretty good for a vegetarian place. I’ve been to a lot of vegetarian restaurants and a lot of vegetarian buffets in Taiwan since both my mom and grandmother are vegetarians. This place definitely ranks up there as one of the better ones. All of the food is fresh and they have a great selection. Note that this place is Buddhist so don’t waste food! There are signs on the wall asking that you only take what you can eat (lavender sign), conserve water for washing plates by not using more plates than you need (pink sign) and that you don’t talk over the food for sanitary reasons (blue sign). Also, if you have a lot of left overs, the woman there will ask that you take it with you so you’re not wasting it since wasting food is a big no no for Buddhists.

Basically, if you are a vegetarian or need a place to take a vegetarian Spring Natural Vegetarian Restaurant is a good option.

bbq/all-you-can-eat: tian ji stone bbq (田季石燒)

date may 22, 2011

contact No. 323, Fuxing N. Rd., Songshan District, Taipei City/台北市松山區復興北路323號/02.2712.0095

hours 7 days a week 12:00-03:00

price Monday-Thursday 16:00-22:00 499NT for 2.5 hours/Friday-Sunday 16:00-03:00 499NT for 2 hours/Monday-Friday 12:00-16:00 399NT for 2 hours/Monday-Friday 22:00-03:00 399NT for 2 hours (all +10% service charge)

rating ♥♥♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Zhongshan High School MRT (捷運中山國中站)

website http://www.stone-bbq.com

Two live DJs + all you can eat bbq, why not? My friend informed me that we’d be eating at an all you can eat stone bbq place that had DJs. My initial reaction was, “Wait. What? DJs?”

Tian Ji Stone BBQ is located about a 5 minute walk going south on Fuxing N. Road from Zhongshan High School MRT station. I highly suggest making reservations, because even though this place is really big, it’s also very popular and very busy. We made reservations for 7pm for 6 and were sat almost immediately upon arrival.

Each table seats four people and comes equipped with a giant stone grill and a small gas burner with a bowl of water to boil vegetables in. We asked what kind of stone it was and he said 水晶 something (some kind of crystal). Upon sitting, an employee came to show us the “proper” method of grilling on the crystal slab. We were told to squirt some water on the meat to keep it from sticking to the stone and then squirt water on the crystal to cool it down.

Everything is self serve. They seemed to do a pretty good job of keeping everything well stocked. There was a lot of seafood and meat (pork, chicken, and beef). They had a decent selection of vegetables as well.

There was a large selection of different cuts and types of meats. Everything we had was good.

Drink wise there was a pretty decent selection. They had mini cans of 7-up, Pepsi, Pocari Sweat, and some tea. They also had dispensers with juice, water, and tea, as well as calpis slushy dispenser. Dessert wise they only had frozen yogurt. The frozen yogurt was not very creamy, more icy, but really, I didn’t mind considering that we all ate a lot and creamy probably wouldn’t have made us feel any less full.

The DJ station is at the back of the restaurant. They did a lot of birthday shoutouts, but mentioned something about not really taking requests because there were too many to accommodate. They played a wide variety of music: American hip-hop, Taiwanese pop, 90’s rock, lots of random stuff. Sometimes I felt like I was at a club, other times I felt like I was at a wedding reception.

Overall, this place is pretty cool. Kind of a fun atmosphere. Good place to get dinner with friends, celebrate something. The food is good, the price isn’t bad, and it’s a fun place to be.

dessert/all-you-can-eat: pasta frolla.

pasta frolla.

date 10.24.09

contact Dun-Hua North Road, Sec. 1, Lane 236, No. 12, Da-An District, Taipei/02.2773.3736‎/台北市大安區敦化南路一段236巷12號

hours 7 days a week 11:30am-10pm

price 250-300NT

rating ♥♥♥ (3 out of 5 hearts)

If you like desserts Pasta Frolla’s all-you-can-eat cake is for you. Lunch time starts at 11:30am and goes til mid afternoon, and for 249NT + 10% service charge, you can eat cake til you burst, for up to two hours.

pasta frolla's dessert bar.
pasta frolla's dessert bar.

When you walk into Pasta Frolla, to the right is the dessert bar which holds all the cakes you can choose from, and there are a lot. For every person in your party you are given one plate for desserts. Each plate is allowed one dessert at a time. When you’re finished with your dessert and want to try another, you have to take the same plate back up. No plate, no dessert. If you plate is dirty, they’ll give you a new one, but you have to take it up to exchange it. Part of the all-you-can-eat includes the salad bar, which also has soup and bread, and food that they freshly prepare every 30 minutes or so. They’ll ring a bell when the food is done and dish it out to you in single servings up by the dessert bar. Just watch for the line that starts to form, then you’ll know food is about to come out.

salad bar.
salad bar at pasta frolla.

The best thing to do is to go with a group, that way you can try all the cakes without having to eat whole slices by yourself. The last time I went, I didn’t get to do share really, so I didn’t get to try very much. I went to Pasta Frolla for the first time about 6 years ago and between 4 people was able to try almost every dessert they had to offer. Here’s what I was able to try this last time.

cheesecake.
cheesecake.

For cheesecake in Taiwan, this wasn’t bad. It wasn’t exactly good, but it wasn’t bad. It was cheesy which was good, but it was a little dry and a little dense. Definitely no Marie Calendar’s.

tiramisu.
tiramisu.

The tiramisu wasn’t bad. It was pretty moist and not too sweet. There was just a slight hint of rum, which was good, not over powering.

corn soup.
corn soup.

Just when you feel like you’re going into sugar coma, go for the corn soup. I didn’t want to fill up on other foods, I was there for the dessert, so I went with the corn soup. It was a good choice. Creamy without being heavy with the perfect amount of salt to offset the oncoming coma.

black forest cake.
black forest cake.

I wouldn’t recommend the black forest cake. Of all the cakes I tried, the black forest was the worst. It was dry and weird. Not like black forest should be. It wasn’t sweet, it was just, dry cake with whip cream stuff in it. Not good.

creme brulee.
creme brulee.

The creme brulee was probably my favorite. In general, I love creme brulee. This wasn’t as creamy as I’m used to, but it’s still good. The flavor was there even though it was a little thicker than I’m used to. However, this was a high-light.

pasta.
pasta.

Fresh made pasta was one of the dishes served. It was actually pretty good. Too bad I was already full, all I could eat was a bite. The pasta sauce was good, not too watery like a lot of tomato sauces in Taiwan tend to be. The noodles were also a good firmness; I hate soggy noodles. At some point during our two hours they also served fried rice, french fries, and a few other random things. I didn’t have any fried rice, but I did have some fries. They were fries, nothing special.

yogurt cake.
yogurt cake.

If you are truly Asian, you grew up drinking those little yogurt drinks, sweet and tangy, and super small. This cake was supposed to be that flavor. I thought the Ritz crackers on top were weird, but you couldn’t really taste them. This cake was, eh. It was moist, but the flavor was weird. It tasted kind of like plain yogurt with white cake in between.

Overall, Pasta Frolla is a pretty cool place. It’s the only all-you-can-eat cake place that I know of, excluding buffets. The cakes aren’t the best, but every once in a while you get some really good ones. It’s worth a shot. Plus for 250NT, why not?