Category Archives: gongguan (公館)

food at a glance: sawasdee | thai-style sweet pepper chicken cold noodles (椒麻雞涼麵)

photo 1

date july 27, 2014
contact No. 10, Alley 4, Lane 286, Sec. 3, Roosevelt Road, Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區羅斯福路三段286巷4弄10號/02-2368-4300
hours 7 days a week [lunch]11:30-14:00/[dinner]17:00-21:00
price <NT300
rating ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)
nearest mrt Gongguan MRT (公館捷運站)

Read my original review of Sawasdee.

July in Taiwan means the whole country is your own personal outdoor sauna. This also means cold noodles are a perfect way to enjoy living on the sun. One of my favorite things about summer in Taipei (other than mango season) is that it is time for Thai-style sweet pepper chicken cold noodles (椒麻雞涼麵) at my go to Thai restaurant, Sawasdee.

In general, I love the sweet pepper chicken at Sawasdee — I get it often. But during the summer they do something a little different: they stick the chicken on top of a bed of cold noodles. For 100NT you can get a delicious plate of these cold noodles, which comes with a cup of soup (their usual is a daikon radish broth). The serving is pretty big (I pack half to go) and is served with some sliced cucumbers, carrots, and half a boiled egg.

photo 2

Get it while you can because this is a summertime offering only!

taiwanese/snack: xinglong handmade cold noodles (興隆手工涼麵)

outside of xing long handmade cold noodles

date: june 10, 2014
contact: no. 2-1, alley 333, sec. 3, roosevelt rd., daan dist., taipei city/台北市大安區羅斯福路三段333巷2-1號旁/02.2363.0429
hours: 7 days a week 11:00-23:20 (as according to ipeen)
price: <100NT (CASH ONLY)
rating: ♥♥♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)
nearest mrt: MRT Gongguan (捷運公館站)

Okay. It’s been about a year since I last updated this blog. Terrible, I know. However, I will try to do better.

It’s June in Taipei, summer is fast approaching, and well, it’s muggy out. Perfect time to eat some cold noodles. The first time I went to Xinglong was sometime last fall. I meant to write something about it then, but obviously that did not happen.

Located near National Taiwan University (NTU [台大]) in Gongguan (公館), Xinglong is located in alley 333 off of Roosevelt Road. If you’re coming from the MRT Gongguan Station, take exit 3 and head north on Roosevelt towards MRT Taipower Building. You’ll need to cross Xinsheng North Road (新生南路) and continue north on Roosevelt–alley 333 will be your first right. When you hit the fork in the road veer right–you should see Xinglong on the right. Alternatively, you can make a right onto Xinsheng (on the side of the street opposite NTU) and make your first left–the “restaurant” will be on the left.

inside xinglong's small shop.

As you can see from the outside shot of the shop at the top of this post, Xinglong is just a little stand on the side of the road. There are a few tables inside and a few outside. In terms of cleanliness, this place is like anything else you expect to find on the side of the street: clean enough to eat at, but I wouldn’t eat anything off the table.

the things we ate:
– Cold noodles with tomato “salsa” (蕃茄沙沙醬涼麵) 45NT
– Braised fried/oily bean curd (油豆腐) 10NT
– Braised radish (菜頭) 20NT

wall menu at xinglong (as of june 2014).

The menu is all in Chinese. Ordering is done through a standard order sheet where you mark what you want. There is also a menu on the wall (also in Chinese). There are a few random photos of food around, but nothing that helpful.

cold noodles with tomato "salsa" 45NT

Really, this place stands out because it has something I’ve never seen before: cold noodles with tomato “salsa” (蕃茄沙沙醬涼麵). For 45NT you get a plate of cold noodles served with shredded cucumber, bean sprouts, and most importantly some tomato “salsa.” Now I put salsa in quotations because if you’re American like me, I’m guessing when you hear the word salsa you start thinking about Mexican food. This is not that. It is, however, fresh tomatoes, garlic, and some other stuff mashed into a salsa-like sauce. Mix it all up, throw on some chili oil if you like (which I do) and eat. On a hot day, this perfectly hits the spot. It’s light and pretty refreshing. The portion size is probably too small to be a meal in itself, but you can order some side dishes to supplement that.

braised fried/oily tofu and turnip (10NT and 20NT, respectively).

We decided to get some braised fried/oily tofu (油豆腐) and radish (菜頭). Again, the serving size is pretty small, but good enough for a nice side dish. Both the tofu and radish were good. Add some chili oil (if you are so inclined)–it adds a nice little kick.

owners hard at work.

Overall, this place is pretty great for a light meal or snack on a hot day. Really, it’s pretty good for a non-hot day too. The first time I came here my friend and I split an order of the fried stinky tofu (炸臭豆腐). The tofu was pretty standard fare–not stinky enough for my particular taste, but okay. Really, the best thing is the cold noodles with “salsa.” Very tasty. I kind of love it.

thai: thai-style restaurant (泰風味小吃店/tàifēngwèi xiǎochīdiàn)

IMG_2120R

date march 22, 2012

contact No. 2, Lane 108, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Rd., Zhongzheng District, Taipei City/台北市中正區羅斯福路四段108巷2號/02.2364.5750

hours 7 days a week 11:30-21:00

price <300NT

rating ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt MRT Gongguan Station Exit 1 (捷運公館站1號出口)

All pictures taken with my iPhone 4S.

Anyone that has walked around the Gongguan/NTU area will probably notice the disproportionate amount of Thai restaurants in the area. It seems like there are at least 2 Thai restaurants to every 1 of any other style cuisine. Even with so many Thai places, I’ve actually tried very few having found favorites that I continually go back to. However, in an attempt to try new things to blog about I wandered into 泰風味小吃店 (roughly translated as Thai-Style Restaurant).

Finding 泰風味小吃店 isn’t too bad. It’s in the alley on the next to the Shuiyuan Market building (水源市場) outside of exit 1 of MRT Gongguan station. It’s in the alley to the left of building if you’re heading south on Roosevelt Rd. (羅斯福路). You can see a large purple sign that says Thai Food on it (it is next door to a branch of the dumpling chain 鮮天下, which has a green sign). The large purple sign looks quite generic, which at first was off putting; however, after seeing an ample amount of patrons go in and/or get something to-go I figured why not.

inside of 泰風味小吃店.

The restaurant itself is nothing special to look at. It’s pretty much the definition of “hole-in-the-wall”: it’s very narrow, with small tables lined up against the left and right side and not particularly the cleanest or prettiest to look at. I happen to be a believer that these types of mom and pop shops often have the best food, and I found that in the case of 泰風味小吃店 I was right.

menu at 泰風味小吃店.

The menu is a standard Taiwan-style mark the menu deal in Chinese only.

picture menu at 泰風味小吃店.

There are pictures of some of the dishes on the wall, but not all. I saw quite a few foreigners come in and it looked as though they have an English menu; however, it didn’t look like it had all the menu items on it.

set menu options at 泰風味小吃店.

In addition, they have several set menu options (also in Chinese).

Anyways, I’ve now been to 泰風味 on several different occasions; therefore, I’ve managed to try a few different things on the menu, which include:
– Cold Eggplant (涼拌茄子) 30NT
– Thai-Style Pepper Chicken with Rice Noodles (椒麻雞米線) 130NT
– Green Curry Chicken with Thai Rice Vermicelli (綠咖哩雞湯巴巴絲麵) 100NT
– Tom Kha Kai (椰子南薑雞湯) 100NT

cold eggplant (涼拌茄子) 30nt

The cold eggplant was pretty delicious. I happen to love eggplant, which I’ve probably mentioned a thousand times, and this little side dish did not disappoint. There was definitely a spicy kick, but there was great flavor in the sauce: a little sweet, a little sour, a little spicy. Be warned, for me “a little” spicy might be very spicy for those particularly sensitive to heat.

thai-style pepper chicken with rice noodles (椒麻雞米線) 130nt

My latest trip to 泰風味小吃店 had me ordering the thai-style pepper chicken with rice noodles. I love pepper chicken (aka jiaoma ji) and get it often. I generally prefer noodles to rice; however, jiaoma ji generally comes with rice. I was happy to see it come with rice noodles, which is why I had to try it. The jiaoma ji here was really good. It was pretty spicy, a good spice to me, but, again, likely very spicy for someone sensitive to heat. The sauce was delicious: good balance of sweet, sour, salt and spice. The chicken also didn’t taste particularly greasy for being fried. The overall combination of the chicken and sauce with the noodles was great. There weren’t a whole lot of noodles, so for a super hungry person, or someone that likes a lot of carbs with their meal, this might not be filling enough; however, for me, it was the perfect size. I will definitely be getting this again.

green curry chicken soup with thai rice vermicelli (綠咖哩雞湯巴巴絲麵) 100nt

On a previous visit I tried the green curry chicken soup with Thai rice vermicelli. There is another place in Gongguan that I always get this dish from. It’s my “go to” place for green curry chicken soup. However, upon seeing it on the menu here, I figured I should try it for comparison (plus, it’s 50NT cheaper than the other place). Boy was I glad I tried it. I thought the green curry soup here was delicious, maybe even better than my other place. The soup here is basically just a slightly less thick green curry sauce. It was pretty spicy, definitely not for someone with a sensitive palette. The chicken was super tender and the soup had great flavor. Vegetable-wise there was corn, green peas, eggplant, and bean sprouts in the soup. They have five different choices for the type of noodles you can put in your soup. I asked a server for which one they though was best with the green curry soup. He recommended the 巴巴絲 (bābāsī/Thai-style rice vermicelli). The texture was basically identical to other types of rice vermicelli and a perfect match for the soup. This is another thing I will definitely be getting again.

The first time I came to 泰風味小吃店 was because I was craving tom kha kai and hadn’t found a good one that I liked in Gongguan yet. I saw it on the menu and decided to give it a shot. I thought it was pretty delicious, perfect for a cold night. You can get it with noodles, but I just got the soup (note that without the noodles it’s still the same price). The balance of the lemongrass to galangal to coconut milk to kaffir lime leaf was great. The soup felt really warm in my stomach and was just really comforting. The chicken was tender, too. There have been times that I’ve had tom kha kai and thought it was too heavy, too thick to drink a whole bowl of, but this one was not. It wasn’t watery, but it was not so heavy that you felt like you were drinking straight coconut milk either. Very good.

Overall, there was something about this place that tasted a little more local Thai to me (and yes, I’ve been to Thailand). Maybe it’s because it’s spicier than most other Thai places I’ve been to in Gongguan or there is just a certain flavor I get more of here…I’m not quite sure. With the plethora of Thai joints in Gongguan I’m sure that everyone has their favorites, but 泰風味小吃店 has definitely won me over and earned itself the title of one of my favorites.

vietnamese: yinzuo vietnamese cuisine (銀座越南美食)

date july 17, 2012

contact No. 6, Alley 4, Lane 286, Sec. 3, Roosevelt Rd., Zhongzheng District, Taipei City/台北市中正區羅斯福路3段286 巷4弄6號/02.2369.1733

hours 7 days a week [lunch] 11:00-14:00 (14:30 on weekends) :: [dinner] 17:00-21:00 (closed two random days a month)

price <300NT

rating ♥♥♥ (3 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt MRT Gongguan Station Exit 4 (捷運公館站4號出口)

All pictures taken with my iPhone 4S.

I’ve passed by Yinzuo Vietnamese Cuisine many many times, as it’s located two doors from Sawasdee, one of my favorite cheap go to Thai places in Taipei, and every time I think, “I need to try this place.” I finally did.

Undecided on what to eat, Erin and I decided we wanted Vietnamese and this was the nearest place I could think of to my apartment.

Usually when I pass by Yinzuo on my way to Sawasdee it’s pretty full. The random Tuesday night we went was no exception, although the turnover seems pretty quick so I doubt a wait would be long. The inside of Yinzuo is clean enough, pretty typical for the mom and pop type restaurants in the Gongguan/NTU area. Tables here are pretty close together so it might feel like you’re eating with the party next to you, we know we did.

At the back of the restaurant is a self serve area with soup, sauces, and extra tableware/utensils. We didn’t get any soup, but it looked like pretty standard seaweed soup.

Like most of the restaurants in the Gongguan/NTU area, the menu is all in Chinese. Their menu is divided into sections (from top to bottom): appetizers, cold dishes, noodle dishes, rice dishes, and beverages.

Each table has a picture menu under the glass as well. While not all items are pictured, a large majority are. Note that there is no English on this picture menu.

Food:
– Cold rice noodles with chicken (涼拌雞絲米粉) 90NT
– Cold rice noodles with BBQ pork (涼拌烤豬肉米粉) 100NT
– Fried spring roll (越皮炸春卷) 85NT

We decided to get an appetizer of the fried spring rolls (越皮炸春卷) for 85NT. One order comes with two spring rolls that have been cut into three, for a total of six tasty pieces. The skin on these spring rolls is nice and thin and fried so that it’s crispy; they are filled with a noodle, pork, and vegetable mix; very tasty. Be sure to dip it in the accompanying fish sauce mixture.

I opted for the cold rice noodles with BBQ pork ((涼拌烤豬肉米粉) for 100NT. For 100NT you get a bowl of cold rice noodles (米粉) topped with BBQ pork, slices of cucumber, shredded carrots, and crushed peanuts. The fish sauce concoction that usually accompanies cold noodle Vietnamese dishes is added before the dish comes out to you. Overall I thought this was good, but not particularly awesome. There was something a little bland about the fish sauce mix, which is strange to me because fish sauce usually has such a strong flavor. The BBQ pork itself was pretty good and the dish comes with a decent amount. All together I guess there was just a certain something lacking in the sauce to noodle to topping ratio that would have made this awesome. Still though, pretty good.

Erin decided to get the cold rice noodles with chicken (涼拌雞絲米粉) for 90NT. With the chicken comes some sliced cucumber, shredded carrots, and peanuts. She had the same thoughts I did about my food: good, but lacking something.

According to the menu, their signature dish is chicken curry (咖喱雞), but for some reason neither of us got it so maybe I should go back and try it. Overall, for the price the food here is pretty decent. There are definitely other things on the menu that looked good and this place is always busy, which is a good sign. Maybe I’ll go back and try something different.

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.

updated/thai: sawasdee

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

Read my original review of Sawasdee.

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

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

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

thai: sawasdee

date December 19, 2010

contact No. 10, Alley 4, Lane 286, Sec. 3, Roosevelt Road, Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區羅斯福路三段286巷4弄10號/02.2368-4300

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

price <NT300

rating ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Gongguan MRT (公館捷運站)

Read my updated review of Sawasdee.

I first ate at Sawasdee about a year and a half ago when a good friend who lives near it took me. I really love thai food and Sawasdee has since become one of my favorite places in Taipei for good cheap Thai.

Located in a small alley off of Roosevelt Road (羅斯福路) in Gongguan (公館), Sawasdee is kind of hard to find and also right next to another Thai place. I have not been to the Thai place next to it, which you pass getting to Sawasdee, but have never felt the need to since Sawasdee is delicious.

The inside of Sawasdee is pretty small. They have two large round tables and about six other tables that sit either two or four. Around dinner time it’s always pretty packed. If you have a small group, they might just have you share a large round table with others if there is no other seating.

Like most typical Taiwanese mom and pop shops, the menu is in Chinese only; however, they do have pictures on the wall of some of their more popular dishes.

I usually go to Sawasdee for dinner and get one of their set meals. I often end up with their green curry chicken set meal for 100NT. For 100NT you get soup, steamed egg, veggies, a bowl of curry, and rice, pretty amazing deal if you ask me. Everything is delicious. The steamed egg is always tasty and light. The veggies are always lightly seasoned and never over cooked. The soup is nothing special, but it’s not bad at all. The curry is great: coconuty and creamy with a hint of spice. I really love that the coconut taste doesn’t completely overwhelm the dish. The basil also adds great flavor without overwhelming the other flavors. The chicken is always tender, never overcooked. Really, it’s a deliciously tasty deal for 100NT. AND it’s filling.

Stephanie and I decided to try the papaya salad for 120NT. To be honest, for the price, it’s not worth it. The papaya salad by my work is half the price and better. There isn’t really any wrong with it, it’s just not worth how much you pay for it. Everything tastes fresh, the sauce is a little sweeter than I prefer, but I’ve had much better.

Their signature dish is fried chicken with a sweet pepper sauce. I’ve had it before and really like it. One of my favorite parts is the shredded cabbage they put under the chicken: it soaks up the sauce. You can get it in a set meal for 110NT. Their shrimp moon cake is good, pretty standard. You can get it in a large portion or small portion which is nice. I’ve had other things on the menu, but can’t really remember what. What I do remember is that it was all good.

Overall, I really love this place. You can call in orders to pick up (no delivery), but the portions are much smaller. Eating in is the best option. So if you need some good cheap Thai, I highly recommend Sawasdee.