Category Archives: brown [wenhu] line (文湖線)

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…

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food at a glance: vegetarian mushroom congee (香菇粥)

photo

date july 30, 2014
contact No. 381, Sec. 1, Neihu Rd., Neihu Dist., Taipei City/台北市內湖區內湖路一段381號
hours [weekday lunch] around 11:30-14:00 (or when sold out)
price small bowl 35NT :: large bowl 45NT
rating ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)
nearest mrt MRT Xihu Station (捷運西湖站)

I love congee. I grew up on it and I can be quite picky about what kind I like. For instance, I prefer traditional Taiwanese-style congee with just rice and sweet potatoes to Cantonese-style congee loaded up with century eggs (皮蛋) and what not. Despite this, I must say I really like the vegetarian mushroom congee from the little vegetarian cart near my office in Neihu.

At MRT Xihu station, take exit 1 and head east on Neihu Rd. (內湖路)  towards the Cosmed and Starbucks. The unnamed vegetarian stand sits between Hearty Dental Clinic and Pizza Hut (which is No. 381). You’ll see a table out front and a sign in Chinese with the character 素 (sù), which means vegetarian.  Aside for the congee, they also have vegetarian mushroom mianxian (香菇麵線), which I get quite often because it’s delicious, as well as rice dumplings (素食粽子), curry rice, miso soup (味噌湯).

The congee comes in two sizes: small for 35NT and large for 45NT. Inside the congee is black wood ear, shitake mushrooms, taro, tofu, carrot, pickled daikon radish (菜脯), etc. If you like spicy foods, like I do, ask them to add some chili sauce (加辣)–you only need a little, as a little goes a long way.

thai: thai ya thai food (泰亞南洋料理店)

date June 30, 2012

contact 1F, No. 47, Lane 313, Fuxing N. Rd., Songshan District, Taipei City/台北市松山區復興北路313巷47號1F/02.8712.7788

hours 7 days a week [lunch] 11:300-14:00 :: [dinner] 17:30-21:30

price 600NT and up

rating ♥♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Zhongshan Junior High School MRT (捷運中山國中站) or Songshan Airport MRT (捷運松山機場站)

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

All pictures were taken with my iPhone 4S.

After an extremely long overdue reunion with an old college classmate we decided on Thai food for dinner. Her boyfriend said he knew of a good place so off to Thai Ya Thai Food we went.

Thai Ya is located about a 5-10 minute walk from Zhongshan Junior High School MRT (捷運中山國中站) and Songshan Airport MRT (捷運松山機場站). Note that it is easier to find from Zhongshan Junior High School MRT.

According to Thai Ya’s website they have seating for 85. We got dinner around 7:30pm on Saturday evening and the place was pretty packed. I would suggest reservations just in case to avoiding waiting around.

The menu at Thai Ya is pretty extensive and should have something for everyone. It is in both Chinese and English, and there is a picture for each item on their menu. In the back of their menu they have set menus (套餐) for parties of 2 and up. For the three of us we decided to get a set menu for 2 and then order some other stuff a la carte. The waitress allowed us to modify our order to have each dish be a smaller portion so that we could get more stuff. Pretty awesome.

Unfortunately since I didn’t order, I’m not actually sure what we ordered or how much it cost, but I’ll do my best.

As with most Thai restaurants, rice came with the meal. We all appreciated that it was short grain sticky rice vs. long grain jasmine rice.

First out wast the cold pork, which was accompanied by a type of spicy chili vinaigrette. It was pretty good and the pork had a nice “crisp” to it.

I happen to really love pepper chicken and Thai Ya’s Yunnan pepper chicken (雲南椒麻雞) is pretty good. Lightly coated and crispy, it’s not too spicy, vingary, or salty.

I thought we had ordered green curry chicken, but I think we ended up with the coconut chicken, which we had ordered first, but “cancelled” when we ordered the green curry chicken. My friend can’t eat spicy food, so we ordered this sans chilis. The chicken was incredibly tender, but the coconut sauce was not quite coconutty enough for me. While it was good, it could have used a little more coconut flavor.

I know that I’ve mentioned about a zillion times how much I love eggplant, but it’s because I do. I thought this eggplant with meat was very good. It wasn’t too oily, as eggplant dishes often are, or too salty.

Chinese water spinach or water morning glory or whatever you want to call it (I prefer to just call it kong xin cai), is probably my favorite leafy green vegetable. This plate of water spinach (空心菜) was quite delicious. Pretty standard, but nonetheless not overcooked, still crunchy and not over seasoned.

We decided to get another cold dish and based off our server’s suggestion we got the cold seafood salad (涼拌海鮮). Seafoodwise there was shrimp, squid, clams, and fish. If there was more, I missed it. There was also cucumbers, onions, and cherry tomatoes. All the seafood was nice and tender and the dressing on this had a nice tartness to it.

The shrimp pancake (月亮蝦餅) was pretty tasty, pretty standard. We ordered a small portion, which came with four slices, so I’m not sure what a normal comes with.

I’m generally not a fan of bittermelon (苦瓜), but this soup wasn’t bad. This  bittermelon soup had mushrooms and green onions in it. I’m not sure if there was any meat in it, but if there was, I didn’t get any. The broth was pretty good, maybe a little salty for some, but I have a pretty salty palette, so I thought it was fine.

Since we had ordered a two person set meal we got to choose two desserts. These were the low points of the night. We ordered one mixed whatever with sago and other various things, and one with just sago. The coconut soup in both of these were both super watered down and pretty tasteless, which was disappointing because I love sago in coconut soup.

We also ordered a small pitcher of thai iced tea that was not that small. The waitress said that it could pour about 2.5 small cups per person in our party of three, but we think it was way more than that. The tea itself was not bad, a little watered down from what I’m used to, but okay.

Overall, this place is pretty good. Lots of variety, and with the exception of the dessert, nothing was bad. Service was pretty good, too. This place is definitely best for large parties, or small parties like us that like to eat a lot. Based on the prices I saw on the menu, everything is reasonably priced, about 200-300NT per dish, unless you get something super fancy. Thanks to my friend’s boyfriend, who decided to treat us ladies to dinner, I’m not sure what our total was; however, I feel like you could easily eat here for about 1000NT (maybe with less variety than we got) total for a small party of 3-4.

italian: la giara ristorante

date october 28, 2011

contact 2F, No. 352, Sec. 1, Fuxing S. Rd., Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區復興南路一段352號2F/02.2705.0345

hours 7 days a week :: [lunch] 12:00-14:30 :: [afternoon tea] 12:00-17:00 :: [dinner] 18:00-23:30

price 600NT-3000NT (+10% service charge; excludes alcohol)

rating ♥♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Daan MRT (捷運大安站)

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

My fellow food blogging friend at I Am Gourmand once again planned another lovely romantic dinner at an Italian restaurant in Taipei.

If you are walking north on Fuxing N. Rd. (復興南路) from Daan MRT station (捷運大安站) the restaurant will be on the left-hand side of Fuxing. Be warned, there are two No. 352’s on Fuxing N. Rd. If you’re coming from the MRT station, it’s not the first one, it’s the second one after the clothing store.

From the street, the entrance of La Giara looks the photo above. Walk into the lobby and follow the black and white checkered floor up the stairs.

At the top of the stairs is the entrance to La Giara.

Make reservations before coming! The restaurant didn’t fill up while we were there, but I hear this place is popular, so better safe than sorry. The inside of La Giara is a giant open space with rooms on both ends of the dining area. The lighting is pretty dim, the tables have fresh flowers, and there is soft Italian music playing in the background, which makes for a pretty romantic setting; I can see why everyone says this is a good date place. In researching what to order prior to coming I had read on several reviews that this is a popular spot for proposals. We didn’t happen to witness any, but I can see why it is.

The menu at La Giara is in Chinese, Italian, and English. I noticed that the prices on their website differ from the actual menu; the website probably hasn’t been updated. The menu selection is pretty good. I was surprised that they didn’t have more pasta options, but they have a decent amount of main meat based courses. Between the three of us in our party we ordered:

– Stuffed squid topped with breadcrumb, served with salmoriglio olive oil dressing, lemon juice, garlic, oregano and parsley (西西里式香料麵包丁透抽捲/Calamari alla trapanese, serviti con salmoriglio) 490NT
– Fresh spinach leaves tossed in a dressing of olive oil, rice vinegar, garlic and ginger (菠菜沙拉/Insalata di spinaci) 380NT
– Risotto in four kind cheese sauce (起司燉飯/Risotto quatro for maggi) 530NT
– Risotto with shrimps and scallops (螯蝦干貝海味燉飯/Risotto gamberi e cappesante) 530NT
– Potato dumplings with gorgonzola cheese (藍乳酪馬鈴薯麵糰/Gnocchi di patate al gorgonzola) 530NT
– Semi-frozen almond cake with chocolate (巧克力杏仁霜/Semifreddo di mandorle con cioccolata) 270NT

First thing to come out was the complimentary bread sticks. We all thought the bread was pretty tasty. I think that of the Italian restaurants that I’ve been to thus far in Taipei, these were my favorite. They had a herb, salt, seasoning sprinkled on top and the bread itself was fresh and hot. Note, the olive oil and vinegar bottle do not have spouts, even though they look like they do. The tops are actually caps, so don’t embarrass yourself like I did and pour before taking the top of: you’ll make a loud noise as the cap clanks onto the plate.

After the bread the server put a plate with three tiny fried balls pierced by toothpicks down in front of us. We noticed that no other tables got this, so we were a little confused, but decided to go with it. I mean, who doesn’t like a complementary  amuse. First impression, it tasted like a delicious tater tot. This ball was tiny, like the size of your thumb nail tiny, but it tasted pretty good. We asked the server later what it actually was and found out that it was actually rice and beef. Tasty, although, they could have taken the wrapper all the way off the toothpick… We later learned that the chef thought it was one of our birthdays, hence the amuse.

So the nice thing about this place is that they will split everything on the menu for you onto different plates to make it easier to share. We decided to get the stuffed squid topped with breadcrumb, served with salmoriglio olive oil dressing, lemon juice, garlic, oregano and parsley (西西里式香料麵包丁透抽捲/Calamari alla trapanese, serviti con salmoriglio) for 490NT and fresh spinach leaves tossed in a dressing of olive oil, rice vinegar, garlic and ginger (菠菜沙拉/Insalata di spinaci) for 380NT. The server said that the salad was big enough to split between 2-3 people, so had the chef split the salad onto three plates for us. We didn’t know that they were going to slit the squid too, but he did. The salad was a hit with all three of us. The dressing was delicious: light and well balanced. Also, for the price, I think it’s a pretty decent size. The stuffed squid was ordered based on reviews both Estella and I had seen online. First, for the price, the serving seemed small. The server said it was because the chef split it into three portions to split equally so it just looked smaller. Anyways, we were all underwhelmed by the stuffed squid, which was sad because we all really wanted to like it; I mean, it looked delicious. The stuffing lacked something that was as simple as salt. There was a sauce drizzled around the squid: you have to get some of the lemon sauce on each bite. The lemon sauce adds some much needed acidity to the dish, but even so, we were all still kind of let down.

I love risotto and I love cheese, so I got the risotto in four kind cheese sauce (起司燉飯/Risotto quatro for maggi) for 530NT. I was originally thinking about getting the seafood risotto, but since Andrea was getting that, I figured I’d go with the cheese risotto. When it was put down in front of me Estella said, now that’s a real risotto. It looked delicious on the plate, spreading on the plate like I learned a risotto should from watching a lot of Top Chef. The rice was a delicious al dente and the sauce was cheesy. Like, super cheesy. I’m not sure what four cheese were in this sauce, but I can tell you that bleu cheese was most definitely one of them. This risotto was rich. Really rich, and honestly not for those who 1) don’t like cheese 2) don’t like strong flavors. Even I could only finish half of it. With that said, I still really liked this. The rice was cooked well and the sauce was cheesy, rich, and creamy. But, if you’re looking for something subtle, something light, don’t get this.

Andrea ordered the risotto with shrimps and scallops (螯蝦干貝海味燉飯/Risotto gamberi e cappesante) for 530NT. This was really good. Again, the rice was a nice al dente and the tomato sauced was pretty good. I think I actually liked the sauce better at Luna D’Italia, but either way, this was tasty and Andrea really liked it.

By far the biggest hit of the night were the potato dumplings with gorgonzola cheese (藍乳酪馬鈴薯麵糰/Gnocchi di patate al gorgonzola) aka potato gnocchi for 530NT. Estella loves gnocchi, as do I, and the gnocchi at La Giara definitely hits the spot. Light, fluffy, creamy, and amazingly delicious. They were like little potato clouds of creamy tastiness. By far the best gnocchi in Taipei, and the best gnocchi I’ve ever had (not that I’m an gnocchi guru or anything). The sauce was also tasty, light, and creamy. I would definitely go back to La Giara just to order this.

For dessert, we decided to split the semi-frozen almond cake with chocolate (巧克力杏仁霜/Semifreddo di mandorle con cioccolata) for 270NT. We had originally wanted to order the homemade semifreddo pistachios (melting ice cream) (大廚特製開心果霜淇淋) for 300NT under the Chef’s Specials, but they were out. The semifreddo we ended up with, though, was delicious! Creamy, not too sweet, and nice and nutty. Compared to the one at Luna D’Italia, I liked this one better. I just thought the overall flavor and texture was better.

Note that water here is not free, but they tell you that upon being seated. They have two options, sparkling water and mineral water. You pay by the bottle, which comes out to 140NT per bottle. Service here is pretty good, although, we had issues trying to get the attention of servers every once in a while. Overall, the food was pretty good.  The portions are kind of small for the price, but the quality was good. Quality over quantity, right? The chef/owner is frequently on the floor and in and out of the kitchen, which I had read about in other reviews. It’s almost like he’s a little ADD needing to constantly move around and/or check to see how people are reacting to the food. It’s a little distracting, but other then that I’d definitely come back for some of dishes here, ie the gnocchi, and maybe leave some others out, ie the stuffed squid.

For a grand total of 3157NT – about 1000NT per person – we were able to get appetizers, a main course, and a dessert, and all left feeling pretty full and satisfied. I noticed that they do have set dinner meals for either 1800NT or 2500NT, which was out of my price range. You can also just order a la carte if you wanted, which would probably run you around 600NT or so. Regardless, it was nice to find out you could still get a tasty three course meal at a reasonable rate. Good job, La Giara.

italian: luna d’italia (月之意大利餐廳)

date october 04, 2011

contact No. 3, Lane 265, Sec. 2, Dunhua S. Rd., Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區敦化南路二段265巷3號/02.2733.9635

hours 7 days a week [lunch] 11:30-14:40 [dinner] 17:45-22:30

price 400NT and up (+ 10% service charge)

rating ♥♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Liuzhangli MRT (捷運六張黎站)

My food blogging friend Estella planned another lovely dinner at Luna D’Italia, another delicious authentic Italian restaurant in Taipei.

The nearest MRT station is Liuzhangli (六張黎), but it might just be easier to take a bus to somewhere around Dunhua S. Rd. (敦化南路) and Heping E. Rd. (和平東路). Luna D’Italia is in the lane in front of the Shangrila Hotel Mall on Dunhua S. Rd. with the Starbucks at the corner.

I was told that reservations at Luna D’Italia are a must. Estella made reservations for 2 at 19:30 on a Tuesday night. The restaurant was full all night.

The menu is in Italian, English, and Chinese. There are random pictures throughout the menu, but no labels. They have a deal where you can make your entree a set meal for an extra 250NT at dinner and extra 150NT at lunch. This set meal includes bread; daily salad, daily soup, or dessert (choose 2 of 3); and coffee or tea. The items on their entrees ranged from about 400NT to over 1500NT (without the set meal). Estella, Wesley and I all decided to do the set meal to accompany our entrees. We ordered:

– Gnocchi ragu ed funghi (番茄肉醬佐蘑菇義式手工麵疙瘩/Potato gnocchi with mushroom and traditional meat sauce) 420NT
– Lasagna (傳統焗烤千層麵/Traditional roast pasta with meat sauce) 380NT
– Risotto alla pescatora (番茄海鮮燉飯/Risotto with seafood in tomato base) 460NT
– Bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
– Insalata di spinaci (菠菜沙拉/Spinach salad)
– Tiramisu (提拉米蘇/Classic tiramisu)
– Semifreddo di mandorle con cioccolata (杏仁霜派/Semi-frozen almond cake)

First thing that came out was the bread. The flat pita-like bread was pretty tasty. It had some roasted herbs sprinkled on top that added some flavor. Eat it while it’s warm or else it gets hard.

The salad of the day happened to be the Insalata di spinaci (菠菜沙拉/Spinach salad). I was originally debating between salad and soup (which was cream of broccoli), but I decided to go with salad – actually all three of us ended up with the salad. The salad was good. I thought the dressing was tasty and light: some kind of vinaigrette.

Estella chose the Gnocchi ragu ed funghi (番茄肉醬佐蘑菇義式手工麵疙瘩/Potato gnocchi with mushroom and traditional meat sauce) for 420NT. According to research I had done on the restaurant prior to dinner, patrons said that Luna D’Italia was known for it gnocchi and risotto. Both Estella and I found the gnocchi to be less than stellar: they just weren’t as light and fluffy as I like my gnocchi. In fact they were maybe even a little dense; however, the meat sauce was delicious. The meat, the tomato sauce, the mushrooms made for a hearty robust sauce.

Wesley went with the Lasagna (傳統焗烤千層麵/Traditional roast pasta with meat sauce) for 380NT. I thought this was pretty tasty, as did Wesley. Compared to the Lasagna at Papa Gio’ I think they had different strengths. I liked the actual lasagna better at Papa Gio’ as I found the lasagna in this one to be over cooked. On the other hand, I liked the filling at Luna D’Italia better. It is just juicier and more flavorful in my opinion.

I opted for the Risotto alla pescatora (番茄海鮮燉飯/Risotto with seafood in tomato base) for 460NT. I love risotto and was very happy with this dish. The rice was a nice al dente and the sauce had a lovely tomato seafood flavor. There was also a hint of spice to this dish, which was a wonderful surprise since I love spicy food. Seafood-wise there was some sort of white fish, calamari, clams, and a muscle: all were delicious!

I had read that for dessert the Semifreddo di mandorle con cioccolata (杏仁霜派/Semi-frozen almond cake) was a must. Estella and I both ordered the semifreddo and it was delicious! I had never had a semifreddo before and I feel like I have been missing out. This wasn’t that sweet, but it had a great almond mocha taste to it.

Wesley is allergic to nuts so he opted for the Tiramisu (提拉米蘇/Classic tiramisu). It was delicious!  I didn’t really taste the mascarpone, but other then that I felt like everything was really well balanced. I’ve had some tiramisu that tasted way too alcoholic and others that tasted way too sweet. This was a good balance of everything.

At the end of our meal they brought out our coffees and teas. Nothing special. The most annoying thing at this restaurant is that they serve Evian water THAT THEY CHARGE YOU FOR. When we got our check we were like, what are these 35NT charges? We asked a waiter and she was like, oh, it’s for the water. Now, I find it interesting that it’s not mentioned to you that they are going to charge you for water that they pour for you upon sitting down. I thought that was kind of annoying and a little dishonest on behalf of the restaurant. Other then that the service was good and the ambiance nice. They let us sit at our table after we were done and kept refilling our waters. We had joked before seeing our check that Wesley had drank an entire bottle of the water himself, and once we found out we had to pay for it he was like, well then I’m going to get my monies worth. It sounded like the servers spoke some English for those who do not speak Chinese. Overall, I thought this place was pretty tasty and worth the price you pay. I’d come back. They had some pretty tasty looking pizzas and another risotto that sounded good.

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.

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.