Category Archives: 300-600NT

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…

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.

vegetarian: 舒果 (shū guǒ)

date january 07, 2011

contact No. 65, Sec. 2, Nanjing E. Rd., Zhongshan District, Taipei City/台北市中山區南京東路二段65號/02.2541.2511

hours 7 days a week [lunch] 11:30-14:30 (last reservation at 14:00) :: [dinner] 17:30-22:00 (last reservation at 21:00)

price 398NT (+10% service charge)

rating ♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Songjiang Nanjing MRT (捷運松江南京站)

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

Sorry being completely MIA for over a month. Complete fail on my part. I should make it a New Year’s resolution to update at least once a week. Let’s see if I can do that.

This was actually my second time to Shu Guo; I took my mom who is vegetarian in December, but forgot my camera. Anyways, my friend Andrew is in Taipei from Berkeley and since he’s a vegetarian (newly a pescatarian) I figured perfect time to go back WITH my camera.

Shu Guo has three locations in Taipei and other various location around Taiwan. We went to the location on Nanjing E. Road (南京東路) near Songjiang Nanjing MRT station Exit 8 (捷運松江南京站). I’ve also been to the location on Roosevelt Road (羅斯福路) near Guting MRT station Exit 3 (捷運古亭站); located on the third floor above the steak house Tasty.

MAKE RESERVATIONS! We originally wanted to eat at the Roosevelt Road location, but when I called in Friday afternoon for a reservation, they were booked for Saturday.

Shu Guo’s Nanjing E. Road location is three stories: the first story is the greeting area, the second story is a dining room, and I’m not sure about the third floor, but I saw people going up and down the stairs.

The inside of Shu Guo is really clean. The tables are a little close together to maximize the number of people that can dine, but it’s not like you’re eating with your neighbor, you’re just kind of close to them.

The menu at Shu Guo is in Chinese only, but luckily there is a picture for every item.

First course to come out is the appetizer course, which is made up of (from left to right) konjac with tomato (蒟蒻蕃茄), water lotus with pepper sauce (彩椒水蓮), and mountain yam with blueberry sauce (藍莓山藥). The first time I was told to eat from left to right, lightest to heaviest in flavor. The konjac has a pickled plum flavor that I’m generally not a huge fan of, but it’s not bad. I really like raw mountain yam for its crunchiness and sliminess; also, I think the blueberry sauce works well with the mountain yam.

The rosemary bread sticks (迷迭香火柴麵包) came out at the same time the appetizer did. They were warm and accompanied with a small shot glass of a ranch dressing-like dipping sauce. The bread was good, but nothing particularly outstanding.

The next course after the appetizer is the salad, which has two choices: seasonal vegetable sticks salad (時蔬棒沙拉) or yogurt fruit salad (優格水果沙拉). I opted for the seasonal vegetable sticks salad. All the veggies were fresh, cold, and crunchy. The sauce in the middle is a thousand island dressing. Best part of this dish is the little lettuce wrap in the shot glass. The dressing in the shot glass is some kind of sesame dressing. It’s delicious. I’d suggest eating the lettuce thing and then using the remaining dressing to dip the other veggies into.

Andrew opted for the yogurt fruit salad. He said it was good.

After the salad comes the soup. There are four choices of soup: Italian style stew (義式燉蔬煲), Milan pumpkin soup (米蘭南瓜濃湯), green bean mushroom soup (青漾蕈菇濃湯), and burdock cashew broth (牛蒡腰果清湯). I opted for the Millan pumpkin soup. The soup is delicious, very lightly seasoned so what stands out is the pumpkin flavor. Tasty! Andrew opted for the burdock cashew broth. It was really good and really flavorful. Inside the broth was burdock, cashews, lotus root, etc.

Right before our main course came we were served with the “non-staple item” which is five-grain rice (果香五穀炊飯). I thought this was pretty good. There are also mushrooms in the rice so it has a nice mushroom flavor.

There are a lot of choices for the main course. The first time I went to Shu Guo I got the calzone (卡洛佐尼枕頭披薩), which was delicious and big enough to share. This time around I opted for the king oyster mushrooms with twice baked potato (花香杏鮑菇[佐洋芋盅]). The king oyster mushrooms are served on top of an italian sauce with some sweet potato mash. The mushrooms were really good: tender and juicy. The twice baked potato was kind of dry and not hot…although, still good. The potato is filled with a mushroom and tomato mix. I would get this again.

Andrew went with the baked vegetable cheese macaroni (烤鮮蔬芝士通心粉). This was pretty good. I liked the cream sauce and baked cheese is always good.

Lastly is dessert and a drink. I chose the angel cheese mousse (天使起司慕斯) and chamomile pomelo tea (洋甘菊香柚花茶). I love cheesecake and this cheese mousse is like a really light fluffy cheesecake. It’s pretty delicious. There is a thin layer of chocolate cake at the bottom and some berry flavored mousse in the center of the cake. I’ve gotten this both times I’ve been and will likely get it next time I go. The chamomile pomelo tea is nice and light in flavor, so if you’re looking for something hot and not sweet, this is a good choice.

Andrew went with the sesame walnut milk pudding (芝麻核桃奶酪) and ashitaba aloe vera drink (明日葉蘆薈露). If you’re looking for a dessert that isn’t very sweet I think the sesame walnut milk pudding is a good choice. The milk pudding is really smooth and pretty tasty. The ashitaba aloe drink was interesting. I only had a sip, but it seemed pretty good.

Last time I was here, my mom got the lemon apple pie (香檸蘋果派), which is served warm. It was pretty delicious. I’d definitely get it again.

Overall everything here is pretty great. It’s clean, the service is good, the food is good, and it’s totally affordable. There are a lot of other main dishes that I want to try so I’m sure I’ll be back. If you have a vegetarian friend or family member, or just want some veggies I’d definitely recommend Shu Guo.

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.

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.

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.

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.

italian: papa gio’ (喬爸爸義大利美食餐廳)

date september 08, 2011

contact No. 22, Alley 6, Ln. 170, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區忠孝東路四段170巷6弄22號/02.2711.8720

hours 7 days a week [lunch] 11:30-14:00 :: [dinner] 18:00-22:00

price 300NT-600NT (plus 10% service charge)

rating ♥♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)

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

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

My fellow food loving food blogger friend Estella planned a lovely dinner at Papa Gio’ a few weeks ago. A lot of my friends complain about how hard it is to find good authentic Italian food in Taipei and I agree. Estella told me that the chef at Papa Gio’ is actually Italian and specializes in making authentic homestyle Italian food.

Papa Gio’ is located right out of Exit 5 of Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT (忠孝敦化).

I feel like it’s always a good thing when you walk into a restaurant and people of that country’s cuisine are there. There were a lot of Italian’s at Papa Gio’, so on first glance I knew that this place had to be at least decent. I would recommend reservations before going to Papa Gio’. We went on a Thursday night, and while when we arrived it was empty, it quickly filled. Papa Gio’ has a good amount of seating and a few “private” rooms. I say “private” because there are several tables inside these rooms, but they are rooms with doors that close. Being a bunch of loud obnoxious American’s, they ended up closing the door to the room we were in.

The menu at Papa Gio’ is in Italian, Chinese, and English. There are no pictures, but there are descriptions of all the dishes. Estella had been to Papa Gio’ several times before and recommended that we get items from the “handmade special pasta” section. As a table we decided to get a few appetizers to split on top of the entrees we each got. All together we ordered:
– Calamari e Seppioline in Umido alla Veneta su Crostone di Pane (威尼斯風格燉小墨魚佐麵包片/Small squid and small cuttlefish in Venetian style with bread crouton) 300NT
– Carpaccio di Manzo con Grana (義式生牛肉佐洋菇及芝麻菜/Thin slices of beef fillet topped with parmesan cheese, button mushrooms, extra virgin olive oil, and rocket salad in Italian style) 350NT
– Penne alla Cubana (辣味番茄蘑菇筆管麵/Penne with tomato sauce, fresh mushrooms, in spicy cream sauce) 280NT
– Lasagna alla Bolognese (手工肉醬千層麵/Homemade pasta layered with meat sauce and bechamel sauce) 400NT
– Ravioli di Manzo al Burro e Salvia (手工義式牛肉餃/Dumpling filled with minced meat, butter, sage, and parmesan cheese) 400NT
– Ravioli di Zucca al Burro e Salvia (手工義式南瓜餃/Dumpling filled with pumpkin in sage cream sauce) 400NT
– Spaghetti alla Vongole (白酒蛤蜊麵/Spaghetti with clams in white wine sauce, garlic, and basil) 280NT
– Heineken 140NT

Ron decided we should get the Calamari e Seppioline in Umido alla Veneta su Crostone di Pane (威尼斯風格燉小墨魚佐麵包片/Small squid and small cuttlefish in Venetian style with bread crouton)  for  300NT. I thought this was pretty good. The squid was really tender and the tomato sauce had good flavor. The portion is pretty small for 300NT though.

Candice picked the Carpaccio di Manzo con Grana (義式生牛肉佐洋菇及芝麻菜/Thin slices of beef fillet topped with parmesan cheese, button mushrooms, extra virgin olive oil, and rocket salad in Italian style) for 350NT. I thought this was pretty good. Everything tasted fresh and as long as you didn’t get a piece with too much seasoning it was pretty well balanced. I did, however, get a piece or two where the combination of everything kind of wiped out the beef taste, but either way, it was still pretty tasty.

Candice ordered the Penne alla Cubana (辣味番茄蘑菇筆管麵/Penne with tomato sauce, fresh mushrooms, in spicy cream sauce) for 280NT. This was under the “pasta classica” section of the menu. The pasta in this section is not made in house, which is probably why it is significantly cheaper than the “homemade special pasta”. I had a bite and thought it was pretty average. Let me rephrase, average for Italian in the US, better than average for Italian in Taipei. I thought it had a good amount of spice and thought the sauce tasted pretty good. I think most people complain that pasta sauce in Taiwan is too watered down, particularly tomato sauces. The pasta sauce at Papa Gio’ is not like that, it’s the kind of “thick” sauce we all know and love.

Both Ron and Estella ordered the Lasagna alla Bolognese (手工肉醬千層麵/Homemade pasta layered with meat sauce and bechamel sauce) and 400NT. I had a bite and it was delicious! Eat it while it’s hot before the cheese solidifies and the pasta gets a little stiff.

Mike ordered the Ravioli di Manzo al Burro e Salvia (手工義式牛肉餃/Dumpling filled with minced meat, butter, sage, and parmesan cheese) for 400NT. I didn’t have any, but he said it was good.

My choice was the Ravioli di Zucca al Burro e Salvia (手工義式南瓜餃/Dumpling filled with pumpkin in sage cream sauce) for 400NT. I love pumpkin and all things flavored pumpkin. For 400NT you get eight delicious pumpkin raviolis. The cream sauce was light with a subtle hint of sage. The pasta was a nice al dente, just they way I like my pasta. The pumpkin filling was delicious! It didn’t taste like there were a whole lot of additives to the pumpkin filling which really allowed you to get a rich full pumpkin flavor: slightly sweet, as pumpkin is, but still savory. Eat them while they’re hot for optimal taste or the pasta will stiffen.

Just for reference sake, here is the inside of the pumpkin ravioli.

We had a few late comers to our table. They both ordered the Spaghetti alla Vongole (白酒蛤蜊麵/Spaghetti with clams in white wine sauce, garlic, and basil) for 280NT. I didn’t taste any, but they both thought it was good.

Overall, I thought this place was pretty good. Price-wise it isn’t bad either considering the quality. The service was okay. After our plates were dropped off I kind of felt like they forgot about us. We ended up stealing some water from outside of the room they closed us into since they didn’t come to fill our waters. Basically, if you’re looking for tasty Italian in Taipei, Papa Gio’ is a good place to try.

western/american: forkers

date september 14, 2011

contact No.8, Alley 10, Ln. 223. Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區忠孝東路四段223巷10弄8號/02.2771.9285

hours 7 days a week 12:00-23:00

price 300NT-600NT

rating ♥♥ (3 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT or Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT(捷運忠孝復興站或捷運忠孝敦化站)

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

I’ve heard about Forkers and passed by it several times, but just never found a time to go. Since we were in the area we ended up at Forkers to get out of the rain.

Forkers has two stores: the Zhongxiao store (where we went) and the Zhongshan store (No. 15, 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15號). The Zhongxiao store is located between Zhongxiao Fuxing (忠孝復興) and Zhongxiao Dunhua (忠孝敦化) MRT stations.

The inside of Forkers is nice and seats a decent amount of people. It has a nice laidback atmosphere. We ended up there on a Friday night and didn’t need reservations.

They have menus both in English and Chinese. They originally gave us all Chinese menus, but Michael was being lazy and requested an English menu, which we all ended up looking at anyways.

All of their burgers come with two sides and a drink. They have a list of sides you can choose from on the menu that range from a garden salad  to cajun fries to macaroni salad. Between the four of us we ordered:
– The Hack Burger (海客漢堡) 290NT
– The Monster Burger (漢堡怪獸) 270NT
– The Mexican Burger (墨西哥漢堡) 270NT
– Creamy Bacon Burger (酸奶培根漢堡) 280NT
– Dijon Dill Potato Salad (蘿勒馬鈴薯沙拉)
– Hawaiian Pasta Salad (夏威夷沙拉麵)
– Salad of the Day (每日特製沙拉)
– Cajun Fries (紐奧良薯條)
– Hand cut Fries (手工薯條)
– Garlic Fries (蒜味薯條)
– Strawberry Chocolate Cheesecake (草莓巧克力起司蛋糕) 140NT

First things to come out were the “salads”.

Michael got the Dijon Dill Potato Salad (蘿勒馬鈴薯沙拉). No one really got any hint of dijon at all, but we did all get a lot of dill. Like, a lot of dill. I personally liked that there wasn’t much mayonnaise in it since I don’t like mayo, but other than that, this was mostly just mashed potatoes with dill.I decided to attempt the Salad of the Day (每日特製沙拉) which ended up being some sort of beet and green bean salad. I don’t generally like beets, but this salad wasn’t bad. It tasted like it had been tossed in some sort of creamy dressing, but I couldn’t really pin point what kind.

So the dijon was missing from the dijon dill potato salad, but it was not missing from the Hawaiian Pasta Salad (夏威夷沙拉麵). Nothing really made this “Hawaiian” except for the random pineapple thrown on top. This wasn’t great.

Michael ordered The Hack Burger  (海客漢堡) for 290NT and got Cajun Fries. The Hack Burger is described as “Crazy like the man. This burger is topped with cheese, chicken finger slices, bacon and smothered with honey mustard sauce.” This burger looked intense. I didn’t try any, but Mike said he liked it. I liked the cajun fries the best of all the fries. Salty and seasoned, but that’s kind of how I like my fries.

Kelvin opted for The Mexican Burger (墨西哥漢堡) for 270NT with regular fries. The Mexican Burger is described as “Fajita spices, sauteed onions & peppers, guacamole, cheese, jalapenos, salsa and FORKERS burger sauce.” Kelvin said he liked it, but that it was spicier than he expected, which I’m guessing was from the jalapenos.

Will went with the Creamy Bacon Burger (酸奶培根漢堡) 280NT. This burger was described as “A flavour explosion with cheddar cheese, bacon, crisp onion strips, sour cream, lettuce, onion, tomato and Forkers burger sauce.” The description sounded pretty good and Will said that he thought it was pretty good.

I got The Monster Burger (漢堡怪獸) for 270NT with garlic fries. The Monster Burger was described as “Spicy Red Hot sauce, blue cheese, fried onions, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes and creamy ranch dressing.” What ultimately made me get this burger was that it was supposed to be spicy, had blue cheese, and fried onions. I thought this burger was okay. I actually don’t remember there being ranch dressing on this…which is sad because I love ranch dressing. This burger was in no way spicy at all, which was disappointing. Also, I could have used more onions. I did like that they use wheat buns, but overall I found the meat patty itself to be rather average. It wasn’t as juice as a good burger should be. The garlic fries were not really garlicy. I was hoping they’d be more like garlic fries you’d get at Gordon Biersch with minced garlic. Instead I think they just powder on some garlic salt/powder.

Will and I decided we needed to order dessert, so we decided on the Strawberry Chocolate Cheesecake (草莓巧克力起司蛋糕) for 140NT. I’m kind of always on the search for good cheesecake, unfortunately this did not fall into that category. I found the cheesecake to be dense and dry. Also, if you describe something as strawberry cheesecake I want more than tiny specks of strawberry in the cake itself. They put two sauces on the plate. STAY AWAY FROM THE GREEN SAUCE! When we got it we were like, what is this. Mint. It’s mint sauce. Personally, I don’t think sweet minty sauce goes with strawberry chocolate cheesecake at all, and my friends agreed. I think the other sauce was a raspberry sauce, which I like, but the raspberry completely overpowers the already light strawberry flavor of the cheesecake.

Overall, I thought Forkers was okay. I love a great burger, and I don’t know that I’d classify Forkers as great, but it’s not bad either. Just average I guess. It would not be my first choice for a burger in Taipei, but at the same time I wouldn’t be opposed to coming back to Forkers.

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.