Category Archives: asian.

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…

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.

sushi: n.c.i.s (northern california inspired sushi/德相n.c.i.s美式加州壽司)

date july 19, 2012

contact No.17-3, Longquan St., Daan Dist., Taipei City/台北市大安區龍泉街17號之三 (師大夜市內)/ 02.2363.9931

hours 7 days a week 17:00-00:00

price 500NT-1000NT

rating ♥♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Guting MRT (捷運古亭站) or Taipower Building MRT (捷運台電大樓站)

website http://www.ncisushi.com/ (Chinese Only)

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UPDATE

The Shida location of N.C.I.S is closed, but don’t fret, they opened a new location on Zhongxiao E. Rd!

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

nearest mrt MRT Zhongxiao Dunhua (捷運忠孝敦化站)

~::~::~::~::~

Having walked passed N.C.I.S many times my friend and I decided to check it out after talking to one of the owners (who is from Sacramento) one random night.

Located inside of Shida Night Market (師大夜市), N.C.I.S is located on the main street running down the night market close to Heping E. Rd. (和平東路).

The inside of N.C.I.S is pretty small: about 5-6 tables, plus some sushi bar space.

The N.C.I.S menu is pretty intense, mostly full of rolls, which based on the name of the restaurant I was expecting. The front of the menu has basic rolls, appetizers, sashimi, and nigiri type stuff.

The back of the menu has all their speciality rolls with the names and ingredients in both English and Chinese. There are color coded dots next to the rolls to denote whether or not they are spicy, deep fried, well done or torched. Being first time customers the server introduced us to some of the more popular rolls and rolls that would suit our tastes, after telling him what we liked (which is pretty much everything).

We decided to get three rolls and an appetizer, as follows:
– Stir Fried Onion Cheese Fries (起司炒洋蔥薯條) 200NT
– Marilyn Monroll (瑪麗蓮夢露) 220NT
– Salmonlicious (鮭揨高) 220NT
– Johnny Can’t Walk (約翰走不動) 300NT

Water and miso soup is self serve and can be grabbed on the lefthand side of the sushi bar.

Upon seeing the words “stir fried onions”, “cheese”, and “fries” on the menu, Erin and I immediately looked at each other and said, “we’re getting that.” Freshly fried seasoned fries topped with freshly sauteed  onions and some fake looking nacho cheese makes this Stir Fried Onion Cheese Fries (起司炒洋蔥薯條) appetizer for 200NT super tasty. This appetizer would be great drunk food, but was delicious sober as well. The serving size isn’t very big, but that’s probably good considering this place is a sushi joint, not a place for bar food. I would totally get this again.

The Marilyn Monroll (瑪麗蓮夢露) for 220NT was listed as having fried shrimp and crab mix inside the roll topped with avocado and scallops. First impression was, where is the avocado??? To be honest, I was a little let down by this roll. When you describe something as being topped with avocado and scallop, I expect to taste both the avocado and scallop, or at least be able to see it. Upon further inspection I realized the avocado was  the green stuff spread on the top of the roll; it was not slices like sushi rolls usually have and would probably have been completely overlooked had I not looked for it. The fried shrimp inside tasted like prepackaged frozen fried shrimp from Costco, which while isn’t bad, isn’t great. This roll wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. I wouldn’t get this again.

Salmon is my favorite raw fish so the Salmonlicious (鮭揨高) for 220NT was an obvious choice for me. Described as smoked salmon, cream cheese, and cucumber on the inside (a basic Philadelphia Roll) topped with fresh salmon and lemon. Erin was afraid there would be too much cream cheese, but there wasn’t, just enough to get the taste.  This roll had a nice fresh taste to it thanks to the nice sliver of lemon on top.

The last roll we ordered was the Johnny Can’t Walk (約翰走不動) for 300NT. Described as spicy tuna, crab mix, and shrimp topped with seared tuna and bbq eel (aka unagi), this roll is torched, although it’s not marked on the menu.  This roll was recommended to us by the server, it is also one of two 300NT rolls, the most expensive on the menu. This was probably my favorite roll of the night, not because I could single out any one particular flavor (which you can’t), but because I was in the mood for the kind of saucey jumbled roll that I’d find at home (being San Diego) and this fulfilled that. You do taste the unagi, but other than that, all the sauces and flavors just meld together.

Overall, N.C.I.S is not bad. They have a lot of other rolls on the menu that I’d like to try. In terms of price, it’s pretty average for a place that sells American style rolls (150NT-300NT). I don’t know how their nigiri or sashimi is, but considering they specifically market California style rolls, I’d probably stick to rolls. I think that N.C.I.S fills a niche that the Shida area needed to be filled and I appreciate it’s proximity to my apartment. Based purely on the American style sushi roll angle I like N.C.I.S; it makes me feel like I’m eating sushi at home.

indian: saffron (香紅花印度美饌)

date july 16, 2012

contact No. 38-6, Tianmu E. Rd., Shilin District, Taipei City/台北市士林區天母東路38之6號/02.2871.4842

hours 7 days a week [lunch] 11:30-14:00 (closed Monday lunch) :: [dinner] 17:30-22:00

price 1000NT+

rating ♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Shipai MRT (捷運石牌站)

All pictures were taken with my iPhone 4S.

Having worked in a boba tea house turned Indian cafe (weird, I know.) in college, I have a soft spot for good Indian food. I have literally been wanting to go to Saffron for years. Finally, after much anticipation a friend and I made it out to Tianmu to try.

Tianmu is not exactly the most convenient place to get to. From Gongguan (公館) we were able to take the 606 directly to San Yu Temple (三玉宮), a 45 minute bus ride, which is only a few minute walk to Saffron. Via MRT, get off at Shipai ( 石牌) on the red line (Tamsui Line) and take any bus that goes to San Yu Temple (606, 645, and 646 all go).

Saffron is hidden behind Tianmu E. Rd. (天母東路) on the side of Shin Kong Mitsukoshi (新光三越). If you’re coming from San Yu Temple bus stop, head east on Tianmu E. Rd. and make a right down Lane 22, Tianmu E. Rd. From there make your first left and you’ll see Saffron on your lefthand side.

I had originally tried to make reservations for a Saturday night, but having not called far enough in advanced, there were no open seats. Monday was the first available seating before 8pm, so I made reservations for two at 6pm. Basically, make reservations, it’ll make life a lot easier.

We were greeted at the door by a server and shown to our table. Saffron is only one floor with maybe about 12-15 tables. The decor is very nice, something I imagine fitting in very well in San Francisco, but not as pretentious.

We were seated at the table along the front window of the restaurant, right next to glass room where the tandoor is. It’s pretty cool that the area is glass so that you can see in and watch the tandoor chef in action as he makes salads and mans the tandoor, making fresh naan, papadum, tandoori chicken, etc. all night.

We were handed both a beverage and food menu, both of which are in English and Chinese. After much deliberation we decided to order:

– Methi Pakora (什蔬金錢餅) 190NT
– Murgh Tikka Masala (碳烤雞肉咖喱) 410NT
– Sag Paneer (菠菜泥燴乳酪) 320NT
– Plain Naan (烤餅) 80NT
– Butter Naan (奶油烤餅) 90NT
– Kulfi (印度傳統冰淇淋) 180NT
– Lassi (傳統自製優酪乳) 140NT

The server brought us a trio of two types of raita (coconut and mint) and pickled onions, along with some papadum. I thought both the coconut raita and mint raita were pretty tasty: light and not too thick. The papadum was freshly made by the tandoor chef right behind us and was crisp and warm.

We decided to order a plain Lassi (傳統自製優酪乳) 140NT. The consistency was perfect, not too thick or thin. Also, it had just the right amount of tartness.

For an appetizer we ordered the Methi Pakora (什蔬金錢餅) 190NT. Described as a “mix of chopped fenugreek, onion, potato and green chili deep friend in ground chickpea batter”, one order comes with four 2″ disks. We were told that the raita we were given earlier could be used to accompany our methi pakora. I thought these were pretty tasty: lightly fried, crisp around the edges, but still tender in the middle. I got a pretty strong cumin taste, but nothing that was over powering. Eat them while they’re fresh or they’ll start to get hard.

For a meat dish we decided to go with the Murgh Tikka Masala (碳烤雞肉咖喱) 410NT (aka Chicken Tikka Masala). Described as “boneless chicken breast cooked in clay oven then finished in thick gravy flavoured with cumin seeds”, this chicken tikka masala was a little thicker and chunkier than what I’m used to. Regardless, this chicken tikka masala was delicious! The chicken was super tender and the flavors from the sauce were rich and tasty. You can change the spiciness of this dish to fit your palette. Erin and I decided to go with medium spice and thought it was just right, enough spice to taste it, but not spicy enough to kill your taste buds or numb your lips. I would absolutely get this again.

For our vegetable dish we went with one of my favorites, Sag Paneer (菠菜泥燴乳酪) 320NT. Described as “finger cut cottage cheese cooked with spinach puree”, this sag paneer was creamier than I’m used to; however, like the tikka masala, it was delicious. Creamy, but not too rich, this was exactly what I’ve been craving for the last year (yes, I said year.).

To go with our main dishes we got two orders of naan: one Butter Naan (奶油烤餅) 90NT and one Plain Naan (烤餅) 80NT. Note that each order comes with a single piece of naan. The naan at Saffron is delicious, fresh, and soft.

For dessert we were between the apple halwa (finely grated apple slowly reduced in thickened milk flavoured with traditional dessert spices, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream) and kulfi (traditional Indian ice cream flavoured with pistachio and saffron). Ultimately we went with our server’s recommendation and ordered the Kulfi (印度傳統冰淇淋) 180NT. The kulfi came out bright yellow served in a martini glass. At first taste I was a little unsure of what I thought because it was almost savory and the texture was unlike any ice cream I had ever had. But my hesitation was brief and I quickly was obsessed with it. The “ice cream” is denser than Western style ice cream, fattier. It reminded me of what whipped cream would taste like if denser and frozen. The saffron taste is strong, but the pistachio taste comes through (there are also bits of pistachio in the kulfi). I would definitely recommend trying this if you’re up for something a little different.

Overall, I loved Saffron. The food is great, prices are reasonable, and the service is pretty good. Our total bill came out to just over 1,550NT (10% service charge included). We thought we ordered a good amount (maybe a little much) for the two of us. The serving sizes don’t look that big, but they are bigger than they look: the dishes are deeper than they seem. In the end, even though Tianmu is a little out there, I definitely think it’s worth the trip if you’re craving some good Indian food.

sushi/japanese: hashi sushi (橋壽司)

date november 15, 2011

contact No. 292, Sec. 2, Yonghe Rd., Yonghe District, New Taipei City/新北市永和區永和路二段292號/02.8925.2223/0975.780.275

hours 7 days a week [lunch] 11:00-14:30 :: [dinner] 17:00-22:00

price 300NT-600NT

rating ♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Dingxi MRT (捷運頂溪站)

I think that every time I post about sushi I say it’s my favorite thing to eat ever. So, to drive home that point: I love sushi, it’s my favorite thing ever.

Ashley has been telling me about “the cheap sushi place in Yonghe” for a while now, but we haven’t been able to go until tonight. Totally worth it.

Hashi Sushi is located in Yonghe District right next to the original location of Yonghe Soy Milk King (永和豆漿). The nearest MRT is Dingxi (頂溪). Just walk north up Yonghe Rd. (永和路) toward Zhongzheng Bridge (中正橋) and you’ll see it right past Yonghe Soy Milk King (aka Yonghe Doujiang).

Hashi Sushi is kind of a hole in the wall kind of joint. Nothing fancy, wallpaper kind of peeling off the walls, but honestly that’s my favorite kind of sushi place. My favorite sushi place in San Francisco is Sushi Zone and it most definitely falls under the category of “hole in the wall” sushi joints. Hashi has two floors; the first floor has the sushi bar and about 6-7 tables.

I know this picture makes the second floor of Hashi look like ghosts and creepy Japanese horror film children should be lurking, but Ashley said when it’s open (which it was not when we went) she prefers to sit up here.

The main menu at Hashi is in Chinese and English. There is a picture for every item, which is always helpful. They have a pretty large variety of fish. Most of their menu is made up of nigiri sushi; they also have maki sushi, hand rolls, chirashi, sashimi, and salads. Prices are not listed on the picture menu, but on the order sheet (which is in Chinese only). All the nigiri runs about 30NT-90NT for 2 pieces. Hand rolls range from 30NT-160NT and chirashi 250NT-680NT.

On a white board behind the sushi bar they have some specials that aren’t on the main menu.

Between Ashley and I, we ordered:
– Seared Scallop Nigri Sushi (炙干貝) 90NT
– Sweet Shrimp Nigiri Sushi (胭脂蝦) 80NT
– Grilled Chicken Wings (雞翅; 2串) 60NT
– Hamachi Kama (青魽下巴) 250NT
– Mixed Seafood Chirashi (海鮮丼) 250NT
– Salmon with Salmon Roe Chirashi (鮭魚親子丼) 300NT

I love scallops. Raw, baked, pan seared, whatever, I love them all. Ashley said their Seared Scallops were delicious and she was right. For 90NT you get two pieces of Seared Scallop Nigiri Sushi (炙干貝), or on their menu “Roasting Scallop”. Lightly torched, the scallops were sweet and buttery. Melt in your mouth buttery. Squeeze some of the kumquat juice on the scallops for a little acid.

Another thing I love, amaebi, otherwise known as Sweet Shrimp. For 80NT we ordered the Sweet Shrimp Nigiri Sushi (胭脂蝦) 80NT, or “Big Sweet Shrimp” on their menu. Like the scallops, the sweet shrimp was melt in your mouth delicious. Sweet, fresh, and melted in my mouth.

Ashley ordered the Grilled Chicken Wings (雞翅) for 60NT. One order comes with two skewers of two wings each. The wings are really tender and pretty tasty. Add some lime for acid.

Ashley also ordered the Hamachi Kama (aka Yellowtail Cheek). For 250NT you get a pretty sizable portion of hamachi kama (青魽下巴). The cheek is lightly seasoned with salt and comes with a side of grated daikon radish. The fish was really tender and delicious. Add lime for some acid.

Ashley ordered herself the Mixed Seafood Chirashi (海鮮丼) for 250NT, known as Mix Sashimi with Rice on their menu. I’m not exactly sure what all was in this, but for sure there was tuna, salmon, sweet shrimp, squid, salmon roe, and tamago. She was happy with it and everything looked tasty and fresh.

My favorite fish is salmon, so I opted for the Salmon with Salmon Roe Chirashi (鮭魚親子丼) for 300NT. This bowl had some seared salmon, along with completely raw salmon, salmon roe, sliced onions and tamago. Everything was delicious and fresh. You get a lot of salmon, which is nice. For the price and quality, this is a pretty delicious deal.

Overall, I kind of love this place. The fish is fresh and affordable. There are a lot of other things on the menu that I want try and will most definitely be back here.

japanese: 紅蜻蜓食事處 (hóngqīngtíngshíshìchù)

date september 28, 2011

contact No. 35-1, Yongkang St., Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區永康街35號之一/02.2394.7517

hours Monday-Friday 18:00-01:00 :: Saturday [lunch] 12:00-15:00 [dinner] 18:00-01:00 :: Sunday  [lunch] 12:00-15:00 [dinner] 17:00-24:00

price 300NT-600NT

rating ♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt MRT Dongmen (捷運東門站) Exit 5

For the past two years I have been walking passed 紅蜻蜓食事處 on Yongkang St. (永康街) and always thought, I want to eat here, as I love Japanese izakaya places. Finally after two years, my friend Ashley took me.

紅蜻蜓食事處 is located on Yongkang St. past the park, across from the Dante’s Coffee, at the corner of Yong Kang St. Lane 37.

One of the reasons I never made it to 紅蜻蜓食事處 (roughly translated as Red Dragonfly Restaurant) is because it’s tiny and usually full. Ashley and I met at Yongkang after work around 7:30pm on a Wednesday night and managed to grab the last table, which happened to be one of the two tables they have outside by the entrance. In total, 紅蜻蜓食事處 has only 4 or 5 tables inside and the bar at the grill that in total probably seats around 25 people. Outside, where we sat, they have two tables that seat 2 to 3 people.

The menu at 紅蜻蜓食事處 is in Chinese and Japanese only. Luckily, there is a photograph for every item on the menu (note: what is written on the actual menu may slightly vary from what is written on the order sheet). Ashley and I decided to order:

– Chicken leg skewers – 3 skewers (雞腿肉 – 3串) 90NT
– Pork skewers – 3 skewers (梅花豬肉 – 3串) 90NT
– Bacon wrapped asparagus – 2 skewers (培根蘆筍 – 2串) 100NT
– Japanese style mushrooms – 2 skewers (和風香菇 – 2串) 120NT
– Cold tofu with mountain yam (山藥冷豆腐) 120NT
– Mixed stir fried vegetables (綜合炒野菜) 150NT
– Curry korokke – 2 pcs. (咖哩可樂餅 – 2個) 90NT

I ordered the curry korokke, aka curry croquette, (咖哩可樂餅) for 90NT because I love curry and I love potatoes. These were pretty tasty. For 90NT you get two lightly fried croquettes. The curry flavor was just enough and the sauce on top, which tasted like katsu sauce,  added a nice sweet/tartness.

Ashley recommended the cold tofu with mountain yam (山藥冷豆腐) for 120NT. This was probably my favorite thing we had. The cold tofu with mountain yam comes with a chunk of cold tofu with ground mountain yam, raw egg yolk, and nori (dried seaweed) shavings with some kind of light broth. We’re pretty sure you’re meant to mix it all up and eat it. Warning, this is not going to be for everyone. Mountain yam has a very slimy texture when raw, much like the sliminess of okra. On top of the raw egg, this is pretty slimy, but I really like that. To me, all the flavors work really well together, but again, this dish is not for everyone.

One order of the chicken leg skewers (雞腿肉 – 3串) comes with three skewers for 90NT. The chicken was deliciously tender and marinated in what tasted like teriyaki. Very good.

Ashley picked the meihua pork skewers (梅花豬肉) 3 skewers/90NT (left). I thought the pork was okay. I think of the skewers we ordered it was my least favorite, but it was still good. It was lightly seasoned with salt, but I kind of felt like it was tougher than I generally prefer. We also got bacon wrapped asparagus (培根蘆筍), which came with two skewers (3 pcs. each) for 100NT. I loved these. I liked the saltiness from the bacon and the crunchiness from the asparagus. So good.

For vegetables we got the mixed stir fried vegetables (綜合炒野菜) for 150NT. This was a tasty plate of vegetables (cabbage, bell peppers, onions, king oyster mushrooms, carrots, etc.). It was a little on the salty side, but for me that was okay because I like salty foods. The vegetables were cooked perfectly so that they still had a little crunch, which is great because nothing is worse than a plate of soggy veggies.

The last thing we added to our order was the Japanese style mushrooms (和風香菇), which comes with 2 skewers (6 pcs.) for 120NT. I thought these mushrooms were pretty tasty. The were grilled then topped with ground radish, green onions, and a sweet and tangy sauce. If you got one without much sauce they were kind of plain, but I still liked it; Ashley did too.

Ashley said that inside the restaurant they have on their most popular dishes up on the wall. I’m not sure if anything we ordered was part of that “most popular” list, but overall I thought it was all pretty damn tasty. The thing about going to an izakaya, though, is that it can add up quickly price wise. By the end of our meal we had decided that we had ordered the perfect amount of food for two people; our bill came out to 760NT, but we didn’t order and alcohol, so keep that in mind. There were a lot of other things I wanted to try on the menu so I will definitely have to go back and try them.

korean: mindong korean gourmet (明洞館)

date september 17, 2011

contact 1F, No. 4, Alley 5, Lane 107, Sec. 1, Fuxing S. Rd., Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區復興南路一段107巷5弄4號1F/02.2773.6949

hours 7 days a week 17:30-24:00

price 300NT-600NT

rating ♥♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)

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

website http://www.mindong.com.tw/ (Chinese and Korean Only)

For Michael’s going away dinner he decided on Mindong Korean Gourmet since last time we tried to go we couldn’t get a reservation.

I called on Wednesday night to make a reservation for 7pm on Saturday night for six. They said they were booked, but could get us in at 7:30pm. Needless to say, reservations are kind of a must for Mindong on the weekend, so be warned.

Mindong is only a few minute walk from the Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station (忠孝復興) exit 5. The restaurant called me a few times just before 7:30pm to make sure we’d be there on time. I was about 10 minutes late, but two of my friends had gotten there on time and were told that they had to wait for the rest of our party to get there before they could get seated. Once I got there we were immediately seated; I think just the majority of your party just has to be there.

The menu at Mindong is in Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and English, although the English may not be very helpful unless you are familiar with Korean food names, as they are mostly just transliterations of the Korean. For those unfamiliar with Korean food names you’re in luck because every item on the menu is accompanied by a picture.

Between four of us we decided to order a few things to share:
– Small Soon Doo Boo Jigae (小豆腐火鍋) 450NT
– Small So Gee Set Kul aka Assorted BBQ (小燒烤總匯) 650NT
– San Dong Shaw G aka Shandong Chicken (山東燒雞) 280NT
– Dog Bog aka Rice Cakes (炒年糕) 260NT
– Peach Soju (真露(水蜜桃)) 350NT

First thing to come out was the banchan (side dishes). At first we weren’t sure if the meal came with the banchan or if we had to order it because we saw it on the menu for 50NT. I think that it comes with the meal, but if not, it’s only 50NT. The weirdest thing about the banchan was that we didn’t get any cabbage kimchi…this is literally the first time in my life that I’ve gone to a Korean restaurant and not gotten any cabbage kimchi. Anyways, none of the banchan was particularly outstanding or memorable; it was all pretty average.  We ended up getting seaweed, fish cakes, bean sprouts, potato salad, peanuts, some green vegetable, something else I didn’t get to try, pickled radish, and kimchi onions. My favorite was the kimchi onions. It had a good vinegar, sweet, and salty combination although it could have used more spice.

We asked the waiter which of the starters he recommended. He recommended the hae mul pa jun aka seafood pancake (海鮮煎餅) for 280NT, dog bog aka rice cakes (炒年糕) for 260NT, and san dong shaw g aka Shandong chicken (山東燒雞) for 280NT. Mike decided on the san dong shaw g aka Shandong chicken. I thought this was pretty tasty. The chicken was really tender and had great flavor. The sauce was a tasty sweet vinegar and garlic mixture. I really liked the cucumber in it because it kind of soaked up the sauce. I would get this again.

The So Gee Set Kul aka Assorted BBQ (小燒烤總匯) comes in either a small or large portion. We asked the waiter what size we should get since we were going to split it between the four of us and get other things as well. The waiter suggested the small portion for 650NT and I think it was a good suggestion. While there isn’t a lot of meat, it’s a good portion if you’re planning on getting other things. I thought all of the meat was pretty good. I kind of wish we would have gotten some galbi or bulgogi, something marinated, but these cuts of beef were pretty good, too. Each of us were able to have one slice of each cut and all was pretty tender, just don’t over grill it. It also came with lettuce, shiso leaves, garlic, and peppers to wrap the meat in.

We also got the soon doo boo jigae (豆腐火鍋). Like the bbq meat this also comes in two portions. Again, on the recommendation of the waiter we went with the small for 450NT. I wasn’t that impressed with this sundubu. I thought the soup itself was not as flavorful as other sundubus I’ve had. Mike and I both agreed that the sundubu at Gyeongju Korean Restaurant was better. When you order the sundubu you can choose how spicy you want it (1-3, 3 being the spiciest). We went with 1 since some of our party can’t handle too much spice. Maybe with more spice this would have been better, but as it was I just felt like the soup lacked depth, not enough seafood flavor or something. Regardless I thought this was still good, just not great.

Since Will was late and we had started without him, we decided to add another dish so Will could get a little more to eat. We went with the dog bog aka rice cakes aka tteokbokki (炒年糕) for 260NT. I’ve never seen tteokbokki aka rice cakes translated at dog bog, but that’s what it is on the menu at Mindong. I thought their rice cakes were pretty tasty. The sauce was pretty standard. I thought the rice cakes were cooked pretty perfectly: nice and chewy, very “qq”.

To end the meal there is a freezer of self-serve ice cream. I went with the mint chocolate chip, but there were 5 or so other flavors as well.

We also ordered a small jug of peach soju (真露(水蜜桃)) for 350NT. They have about 5 flavored sojus on the menu so we asked the waiter which he thought was the best and he suggested lemon or peach. We decided on peach. Generally I don’t like soju. I feel like for as low as the alcohol content is it tastes pretty terrible. This peach soju was okay, but I wouldn’t want to get it again. Maybe if you like soju you’d like this, but for me this was a miss.

Overall, I thought Mindong was pretty good. There were a lot of other things on the menu that I’d like to try, so hopefully I’ll come back to Mindong to try them. I noticed that Mindong has a second location located at No.40-2, Lane 223, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Daan District, Taipei (台北市大安區忠孝東路四段223巷40號之2). Maybe I’ll try that location, too.