Category Archives: <300NT

dessert/night market: sesame peanut mochi shaved ice (芝麻花生麻糬冰)

date august 8, 2014
contact Ningxia Night Market in front of No. 35, Ningxia Rd. (in front of Family Mart)/台北市大同區寧夏路35號前(全家便利商店斜對面)
hours 17:00 to 01:30 (closed tuesdays)
price 70NT for shaved ice with two mochi balls
rating ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)
nearest mrt MRT Zhongshan Station exit 2 (捷運中山站2號出口) 
website Linji’s ipeen page (Chinese only)

One of the things I love about Taipei is that there is always something kind of random, but totally delicious to try. On the recommendation of a friend, my out-of-town friend and I went in search of the sesame peanut mochi shaved ice at Ningxia Night Market.

To get to Ningxia, take the red line (Tamsui 淡水) to MRT Zhongshan station (捷運中山站), which is only one stop north of Taipei Main Station. Exit out of exit 2 and make a right, heading west down Nanjing W. Rd. (南京西路), toward the Starbucks. Continue down Nanjing W. Rd. for about 10 minutes until you hit Ningxia St., where you will see the entrance to the night market.

Ningxia is predominately a food night market. So, if you’re looking for something savory before the sweet, have a look around, there is plenty there.

The mochi shaved ice is located at Linji Mochi (林記燒麻糬), which is stand number 97. According to Linji’s ipeen page (the Taiwan equivalent of Yelp), the stand is located in front of No. 35, Ningxia Rd., directly in front of Family Mart. When we found it, the stand was located near Family Mart, but on the other side of the street. Either way, you’ll need to keep an eye out for it.

The stand sells mochi and shaved ice, as well as other traditional Taiwanese-type desserts (i.e. peanut soup [花生湯] and red bean soup [紅豆湯]). However, we went with one very specific mission: sesame peanut mochi shaved ice (芝麻花生麻糬冰). The menu is on the stand and pasted onto the tables in Chinese and Japanese (no English)  with pictures, which should make ordering easier for non-Chinese/Japanese readers.

Based on what I could gather when ordering, how big the portion of ice is depends on how many pieces of mochi you get (refer to the menu photo). The more mochi you order, the larger the portion of ice. I think this is because they base the portion off one mochi per person. We opted to get two pieces of mochi (one sesame, one peanut), which cost us 70NT. If you choose the one mochi, one flavor option, it looks to only be 40NT. You can choose between sesame and peanut flavor. Which ever flavor you choose will determine what is sprinkled atop your ice. The mochi, which you can see being boiled at the stand, is quite large and is cut up into smaller pieces before being served. The ice itself is a milk ice, so it is a bit sweet, but we both thought this added to the richness of the overall dessert, which is one of the reasons it is so good.

Basically, I highly recommend giving this a try if you: a) like mochi, b) like shaved ice, or c) you want to try something a little special. I would recommend getting a mochi of each flavor so that the ice is half sesame, half peanut, but really, do whatever your heart (stomach) tells you, you can’t go wrong.

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.

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.

mexican: juanita burritos & tacos

outside of juanita.

date april 15, 2013

contact No. 51-1, Lane 160, Sec. 1, Dunhua S. Rd., Daan Dist., Taipei City/台北市大安區敦化南路一段160巷51-1號/02.2752.7576

hours 7 days a week 11:00-22:00

price <300NT

rating ♥♥♥ (3 out of 5 hearts)

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

All pictures taken with my iPhone 4S.

While sitting at the hair salon with my friend Val, we decided that Mexican food sounded really good. Having seen a post on Juanita Burritos & Tacos on Hungry Girl’s blog, we figured we’d give it a shot.

Disclaimer: Val grew up on homemade Mexican food (as in her dad handmade tortillas as a kid) and I’m from San Diego (basically Mexico); therefore, in terms of Mexican food, we’re hard to impress. With that said, we might be harsher than your average customer.

Juanita’s is located pretty much right in between MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing and MRT Zhongxiao Dunhua. If you get off at Fuxing, you’ll need to head NE out of Exit 4; if you get off at Dunhua, you’ll need to head NW out of Exit 8. In one of the many alleys filled with food, drinks, and clothes in the dongqu (東區) area, Juanita’s is located in Lane 160 off Dunhua S. Rd. (the alley where Sugar & Spice is located).

Upon entering our first impression was, this place is Chipotle. I remember a while back a Mexican restaurant named Oola had opened in Gongguan (公館) that was Chipotle-style as well; however, it has since closed. I never got to try Oola, but it seems like the Chipotle-style Mexican food thing is the way people are going in Taipei.

inside of juanita.

Juanita is pretty new, opened less than a year ago, so everything is still pretty shiny and new looking. Note: the chairs, while they look cool, are terribly uncomfortable. Whoever thought metal chairs with giant holes in them would be comfortable to sit in needs to revisit their idea of comfort.

menu at juanita as of april 2013.

The menu: just like Chipotle you start by choosing whether you want a burrito (波麗多捲), burrito bowl (墨式風味蓋飯), salad (墨西哥沙拉), or tacos (塔可; 1 for 70NT or 3 for 180NT). Then you choose your filler: grilled chicken (碳烤雞肉), steak (碳烤牛排), carnitas (卡尼塔燉豬肉), barbacoa (燉辣牛肉絲), or vegetarian (蔬食). Lastly, almost exactly like Chipotle you get the choices of cilantro-lime rice, pinto or black beans, salsa, cheese, sour cream, romaine lettuce, and guacamole (for 40NT extra).

Comimos:
– Grilled Chicken Burrito (碳烤雞肉波麗多捲) 170NT
– Carnitas Burrito Bowl (卡尼塔燉豬肉墨式風味蓋飯) 170NT
– Juanita Fries (混你塔薯條) 140NT

grilled chicken burrito (碳烤雞肉波麗多捲) 170NT

Val was up first. She opted for the grilled chicken burrito for 170NT. The grilled chicken was described as “free range chicken, marinated in our original Mexican sauce and grilled.”  The burrito itself is a decent size-ish, but Val was saddened by the stinginess of the ingredients: the scoops were tiny and hardly any meat was put in. The grilled chicken itself was a bit dry, which was disappointing. Also, Val specifically asked the guy behind the counter if the black beans were hard, and he assured her they weren’t, but alas, they kind of were. Regardless, Val thought that the burrito was good enough to satisfy her craving.

carnitas burrito bowl (卡尼塔燉豬肉墨式風味蓋飯) 170NT

I decided on the carnitas burrito bowl for 170NT. The carnitas were described as “naturally raised pork, seasoned with various spices, seared, then braised for hours until fall-apart tender.” Like Val, I was disappointed by the amount of ingredients I got. The carnitas were quite disappointing as well…they were kind of tough, kind of dry, pretty stringy, not very flavorful, definitely not “fall-apart tender” as they claim. Basically they were all the things you don’t want your carnitas to be. In terms of salsa, I opted for the spicy salsa, which was rather spicy, which I liked. I also added guacamole, which is supposed to be 40NT, but I was only charged 20NT? I don’t know, I’m not complaining, a little confused maybe, but a discount is a discount? I did quite enjoy their guacamole; it was pretty fresh tasting and rather delicious. All the other ingredients were pretty so-so, nothing was particularly great or terrible.

juanita fries (混你塔薯條) 140NT

Outside of the restaurant there was a chalk board with some specials on it. Among them was the Juanita fries for 140NT. We figured anything with the namesake should be ordered, so we got an order. After thinking about it, they kind of reminded me of animal-style fries from In N Out, as they had some kind of grilled onion relish deal, “special sauce” and some “premium melted cheddar cheese”. Okay, let’s be real, people, the “premium melted cheddar cheese” tasted like regular ole’ nacho cheese sauce. Either way, the fries were tasty, would have made great drunk food.

specials and ad.

The overall consensus was that Juanita is okay. If you’re really craving Mexican food, it’s good enough to satisfy a craving, just don’t come with expectations of amazing authentic Mexican cuisine, not that Chipotle is either, but at least Chipotle isn’t stingy with their ingredients, nor is their meat dry. However, on the plus, Juanita is affordable and the food is decent enough. We’ve decided maybe we’ll go back to Juanita and try the other meats, give them a second shot. Until then, Juanita,  you are a-okay, but that’s about 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.

taiwanese: old wangji beef noodle king aka taoyuan st. beef noodle (老王記牛肉麵大王 aka 桃源街牛肉麵)

date september 01, 2012

contact No. 15, Taoyuan St., Zhongzheng District, Taipei City/台北市中正區桃源街15號/02.2375.8973

hours 7 days a week 10:00-21:00

price 180NT per bowl

rating ♥♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt MRT Ximen Station Exit 4 (捷運西門站4號出口)

All photos were taken with my iPhone 4s.

Sorry for the lack of posts in 2012. Overall, 2012 was a tough year for me: several family deaths and a lot of change. Hopefully 2013 has better things in store, including food! I’ll try to be better this year.

Onto the food.

My friend and her boyfriend wanted to take me to their favorite place in Taipei for beef noodle soup (牛肉麵). Everyone knows about the famous beef noodle shops located on Yong Kang St. (永康街), but this shop is a favorite among local Taipei residents and not at all touristy. From what I’ve heard, this shop has been around for over 50 years. This super busy beef noodle shop doesn’t have a sign or any indicators identifying it as a beef noodle shop, just an open kitchen with bowls of beef noodle soup being ladled out.

Located near Ximending (西門町), the shop’s official name is Old Wangji Beef Noodle King  (老王記牛肉麵大王); however, is known more commonly known as Taoyuan St. Beef Noodle (桃源街牛肉麵), as it is located on Taoyuan St. The shop is only a short walk from exit 4 of MRT Ximen station stop, located on Taoyuan St. (桃源街) between Hengyang Rd. (衡陽路) and Baoqing Rd. (寶慶路). Easiest way to find it is to walk down Baoqing Rd. (the street the Far East Department Store [遠東百貨]) until you hit Taoyuan St., make a left on Taoyuan and you’ll see the signless shop on the right.

The store itself looks kind of ghetto from the outside, but the two-story interior is clean enough, very Taiwanese mom and pop shop-like.

According to my friends, there is often a long line vying for a seat and a delicious bowl of beef noodle soup. Luckily the night we went the line wasn’t too long. Regardless, the line went pretty quick.

One of the first things I noticed, no tourists. Unlike places like Lao Zhang and Yong Kang Beef Noodle I saw no tourists while I was waiting, eating, or exiting. This place is a local spot all the way.

The menu, which can be found on the wall in Chinese only, consists of only 7 items:
1. Taiwanese-style Kimchi (泡菜) – 30NT
2. Pig’s Feet (豬腳) – 110NT
3. Steamed Spareribs with Rice Flour (粉蒸排骨) – 110NT
4. Pig’s Feet Noodles (豬腳麵) – 150NT
5. Soup Noodles (湯麵) – 120NT
6. Beef Soup (牛肉湯) – 180NT
7. Beef Noodle Soup (牛肉麵) [clear or braised broth] – 180NT

We each ordered our own bowl of noodles (I ordered the braised broth [紅燒] beef noodle soup) and a steamed spareribs with rice flour to split.

Note that each table is equipped with a bowl of pickled mustard greens (酸菜) to add to your own taste.

My order of the braised beef noodle soup (紅燒牛肉麵) was pretty standard in size. I thought the broth was pretty tasty. It wasn’t as rich as other braised broths and not spicy at all like other establishments are said to be, such as Yong Kang Beef Noodle, but it was pretty good, a tad oily, but good. The noodles were pretty average: chewy enough, but could be chewier (for me at least). I was a little let down by the beef. It wasn’t as melt-in-your-mouth tender as I’m used to; however, my friends said that it usually is. Either way, the beef was good, just not as tender as I would have hoped. 

Val ordered the clear broth beef noodle soup (清燉牛肉麵). I had a taste and thought the broth was pretty good: rich in beef flavor, but still subtle enough to not be too salty . She was fighting off a cold so the clear broth was perfect for her. Again, the beef wasn’t as tender as I would have wanted, but still not bad.

When our order of steamed sparerib with rice flour (粉蒸排骨) came out the first thing I noticed was that it looked a little mushy…Unfortunately, the look was indicative of the taste. I’m used a little more texture in this dish, but this one was just a little mushy. The flavor, however, was pretty good. The best part was the hidden sweet potato at the bottom of the bamboo basket. The sweet potato had become infused with the pork flavor and spices used to flavor dish.

Overall, I liked Taoyuan St. Beef Noodle. In reality, there are so many beef noodle shops in Taiwan that picking the best is impossible. Like all food, “best” is subjective. Favorites are dependent on personal preference and taste. Would I say Taoyuan St. Beef Noodle is my favorite? No. But do I think it’s worth a try? Definitely.

Oh, random note. Since entering the smartphone world I’ve started foodspotting. Want to know what I’m eating on a daily basis? Follow me on foodspotting!

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.

vietnamese: cyclo noodle & rice (洛城牛肉粉)

date august 13, 2012

contact No. 377, Sec. 4, Renai Rd., Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區仁愛路四段377號/02.2752.8666

hours Monday-Saturday [lunch] 12:00-14:00 :: [dinner] 18:00-21:00 :: Closed Sundays

price <300NT (Cash only)

rating ♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall (捷運國父紀念堂站) or Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT (捷運忠孝敦化站)

website http://www.cyclopho.com/

A visiting friend from Sydney, Australia picked Cyclo for dinner based on a recommendation from his friend. I’d actually heard about Cyclo and it’s “LA style” pho from someone else, so being a Southern California girl I was excited to try.

Located on Renai Rd. (仁愛路) you can either take the MRT to Zhongxiao Dunhua (忠孝敦化) and head south on Dunhua S. Rd. (敦化南路) then left on Renai Rd. or take the MRT to Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall (國父紀念堂) and head south on Yanji St. (延吉街). If you’d rather take a bus, get off at Anhe Renai intersection (安和仁愛) and head east on Renai Rd. then left on Yanji. Although the address of Cyclo is on Renai Rd., the restaurant itself is located behind Renai Rd. off Yanji St.

On a Monday night around 7pm the restaurant was pretty crowded. I don’t think they take reservations so it’s just a waiting game.

The inside of Cyclo is pretty small and narrow. Tables run along the entire left side of the restaurant; there is also a long table on the right side near the door. At the very back of the restaurant is the kitchen, which is open so you can see what goes on behind the scenes. Everything inside Cyclo looks pretty new and clean.

The majority of the menu at Cyclo is in English and Chinese. The “For people who don’t eat noodles” and side dishes are only in Chinese, but it sounded like most of the servers speak some English. Note that each person gets their own menu to mark. Their signature dish is Vietnamese pho; however, they do offer three rice dishes, two other noodle dishes, and some side dishes.

We got:
– Beef noodle soup with three types of meat (清燉牛骨湯) 190NT
– Fried Spring Roll (炸春卷) 45NT
– LA style Spring Roll with fried shrimp (洛城生春卷) 65NT

Every table at Cyclo come equipped with a bottle of Sriracha sauce and a bottle of hoisin sauce, as well as a canister of pepper. I was happy to see the Sriracha because I’m pretty obsessed with it.

Since we ordered pho the server came out with two plates of raw bean sprouts, lemon wedges, chili peppers, and basil.

I decided to order the beef noodle soup (清燉牛肉湯) (aka pho) with light broth (淡), rare beef (生肉片), brisket (胸肉), and brisket point (黃金胸肉) for 190NT. Note that if you want to choose 4 types of beef you can for 230NT. You also have a choice between light broth and rich broth (濃); the light is the orignal. In addition you can choose between three types of noodles: rice starch noodles (細河粉), rice flour lath (板條), and thin noodles (細麵). I chose the rice starch noodles. Overall, I think this might be the best bowl of pho I’ve had in Taipei. It really did taste like pho I’d get at home in Southern California, which according to my Vietnamese friends is pretty good. The broth had a good beefy flavor and wasn’t too salty. All the meat was good, too. The noodles were also pretty good. Basically, as a whole, this was a bowl of deliciousness.

Will decided to order a few side dishes, so we ended up with the fried spring roll (炸春卷) for 45NT. One order comes with one fried spring roll cut in half. Stuffed with a pork and noodle mix, Will said it was pretty good.

Will also decided to order the LA style spring roll with fried shrimp (洛式生春卷) for 65NT. We noticed that you can choose what meat goes into the spring roll: fried shrimp (炸蝦) or American lunch meat (美式午餐肉). These spring rolls were pretty tasty. Like the fried spring roll, one order comes with one roll cut in half. While the serving size is small for the price, it’s still pretty tasty. I saw on Hungry Girl’s blog that the “American lunch meat” option is actually spam…not sure how I feel about that.

Overall, Cyclo was pretty delicious. The pho here was tasty and the side dishes were great, too. One thing we noticed was that they seemed to be out of a lot of things. Will had originally ordered the rice flour lath noodles, but they were out. He also tried ordering a variety of drinks that were all out as well. I guess the lesson learned is this: Cyclo is popular so come early to avoid lines and having everything already be sold out.

dessert: 愛玉之夢遊仙草 (àiyùzhīmèngyóuxiāncǎo; fig jelly dreams of grass jelly)

date january 09, 2012

contact No. 56, Tong Hua St., Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區通化街56號/02.2706.1257

hours 7 days a week 12:00-03:00

price 50NT (avg. dessert)

rating ♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

I love dessert, especially Asian desserts. My friend introduced me to 愛玉之夢遊仙草 (roughly translated as Fig Jelly Dreams of Grass Jelly) near Linjiang Night Market (臨江夜市), more popularly known as Tonghua Night Market (通化夜市), back in 2007.

As the name of the store suggests, they are most famous for their fig jelly (aka aiyu jelly) and grass jelly (aka xiancao) desserts, which range in price from 50NT to 60NT. They can be served on ice or hot. The store itself is pretty tiny and maybe only sits 20ish people if you cram in. There is often times a line of people waiting to get their bowl of grass jelly and/or fig jelly (they also have tofu pudding [豆花]), but the line goes pretty fast. Also, you can always get your dessert togo or even delivered (only if you are purchasing 20 or more bowls and live within a 2km radius). Personally, my favorite thing on the menu is the grass jelly ice with coffee creamer (仙草奶球冰) for  50NT, which just happens to be one of their signature dishes (招牌).

Before pouring the coffee creamer on.

The grass jelly ice with coffee creamer (仙草奶球冰) comes with grass jelly and your choice of two toppings over shaved ice with one of the small individual servings of liquid coffee creamer. They have a lot of toppings to choose from, such as: tapioca balls (珍珠), glutinous rice balls (湯圓), taro balls (芋圓), mung bean (綠豆), red bean (紅豆), peanuts (花生), jobs tears (薏仁), etc. I always get the glutinous rice balls (aka tangyuan) and taro balls (aka yuyuan). I don’t know how they do it, but their glutinous rice balls are ALWAYS cooked perfectly. The mixture of all these things together is amazing. The toppings add the perfect amount of sweetness to the unsweetened grass jelly and the coffee creamer makes the ice creamy, for a lack of better description. I also like the glutinous rice balls and taro balls because it adds a chewy texture to the dessert.

Overall this bowl of creamer, “qq” balls, grass jelly, and ice is a great dessert. It’s also pretty good for someone who doesn’t like particularly sweet desserts. I usually share this bowl with someone because it’s too much for just me, but I’ve seen plenty of people get their own, too. Either way, if you’re in the Linjiang/Tonghua Night Market area and are looking for a quick dessert, I highly recommend giving this a go.