Tag Archives: dinner

western: nonzero (非零)

date may 06, 2012

contact No.5, Alley 4, Ln. 27, Sec. 4, Ren Ai Rd., Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區仁愛路四段27巷4弄5號/02.2772.1630

hours 7 days a week :: [lunch] 11:30-14:30 :: [afternoon tea] 14:30-16:30 :: [dinner] 18:00-21:30

price [dinner] 900NT-1500NT + 10% service charge

rating ♥♥ (3 out of 5 hearts)

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

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

Sorry for the delay in posts. My dad unexpectedly and suddenly passed away on January 26, 2012… I immediately took the first flight back to the States. As a result, I was back in California for the last three months with my mom.

Upon returning to Taiwan a good friend of my mine was getting ready to move back to California. As one of her last meals we ended up at Nonzero (非零), located a short walk from exit 3 of Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station (捷運忠孝復興站) at the Renai-Fuxing S. Rd. intersection (仁愛復興南路口).

The inside of Nonzero is very homey and spacious. The wood tables have mismatched wooden chairs that adds some charm to the place. The decor is also very thrift store-eclectic, which really appeals to my aesthetic.

The menu at Nonzero has three set meals priced at 900NT, 1200NT, and 1500NT; they also have items al la carte. I chose to get the 900NT set meal, which included bread, soup, salad, main course, dessert, and coffee/tea. Ashley chose the 1200NT set meal, which came with the same items plus an appetizer.

First thing out was the bread. There were two types, one of which was a rosemary bread that was the table favorite. Bread was warm and fresh. A good start.

Next came the soups, which were served in these pretty pots. My soup was the Radish with Potato Nutmeg Soup (白玉蘿蔔香料洋芋濃湯) (top right). I thought it was nice and light. There was nice little dollop of creme fraiche on top that added a nice creaminess to it. Ashley’s set came with Chicken Thigh with Chayote and Mushroom Soup (土雞肉佛手瓜蕈菇蔬菜湯) (top left). The broth was pretty good, nice and light. The kind of soup that would be great for a cold winter day.

Following the soups we were presented with a complementary appetizer. The waitress described it as chicken with chicken liver accompanied with pickles and tomatoes. I’m not a huge fan of chicken liver, but this wasn’t bad. Best bite was all three ingredients together.

Salads were next. My salad was a simple Green Salad with Vinaigrette (季節生菜新鮮香草沙拉) (top right). The salad was okay, nothing special. One of our friends thought it was overdressed and a little too acidic. Ashley’s salad was the High Altitude Cabbage Salad with Caraway Seeds (茴香籽高麗菜生菜沙拉) (top right). I only had a little bite and thought it was okay; Ashley enjoyed it.

Ashley’s meal came with Pan Fried Fresh Prawns (煎烤東北角鮮蝦 佐 烤味噌筊白筍). These were very good, nice and tender, kind of melt in your mouth.

The 900NT set comes with two main course choices: pan fried market fresh fish and risotto with wild scallops, tomatoes, and asparagus. I went with the Risotto with wild scallops, tomatoes, and asparagus (加拿大野生干貝蕃茄蘆筍燉飯). I liked the flavor of this, but I personally found the rice to be a little underdone. After watching many seasons of Top Chef, I’ve learned that some chefs (i.e. Sarah from season 9) cook their rice a little more under than others. Two out of three of my scallops were cooked well (not perfect, though) and one was a little over. I’d say this was okay, not great, not bad. I’ve definitely had much better risotto in Taipei.

Both the 900NT set and 1200NT set have Pan Fried Market Fresh Fish (市場現流鮮魚) as an option for the main course. Ashley decided to go with it. The waitress asked what kind of fish she liked, so they must have several options. What she ended up with was a white fish, although I’m not sure what kind. She thought it was pretty good.

By far the standout of the night was the dessert. Each set comes with a dessert, chef’s choice. They had three desserts that night, which was perfect since there was three of us, so they gave us one of each. The desserts for the night were a fruit tartcheese cake, and chocolate hazelnut tart. The presentation of the desserts was really nice, very pretty. The fruit tart was pretty good. There was a lemony cake layer that was pretty tasty. The chocolate hazelnut tart was rich and creamy; I liked it a lot. However, the best thing of the night was the cheesecake.

If there are any Friends fans out there, I imagine the cheesecake from Mama’s Little Bakery, Chicago, Illinois to taste like this cheesecake. Light, creamy, and amazingly delicious. Seriously, one of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever had, and I’m not just talking in Taiwan. This cheesecake isn’t a traditional cheesecake, it’s much lighter in texture, but it’s creamy, cheesy, and pure awesomeness.

The meal ended with your choice of coffee or tea. I went with a latte (拿鐵). It was pretty standard, but I did like the pretty heart in my foam.

Overall, I’m a little middle of the line with this place. I thought the food was decent, but nothing particularly stood out, except for the cheese cake that is. I don’t know that I would ever crave anything (other than the cheese cake) from Nonzero again. I think the service was good, and the price for the overall meal was okay, but the food itself wasn’t special, not bad, just not memorable.

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taiwanese: yong-kang beef noodle (永康牛肉麵)

yong-kang beef noodle.

date 11.04.09

contact Jin-Shan South Road, Sec. 2, Lane 31, No. 17, XinYi District, Taipei/02.2351.0109/台北市金山南路二段31巷17號

hours 7 days a week 11am-9:30pm

price 150-200NT

website http://www.beefnoodle-master.com (Chinese Only)

rating ♥♥♥♥(4 out of 5 hearts)

One of my favorite things to eat in Taiwan is beef noodle soup (牛肉麵). The beef noodle soup on Yong-Kang St. is famous and rightfully so. Yong-Kang Beef Noodle is a two story building and often busy during prime meal time. Every bowl comes in small or large, I opt for the small which is more than plenty for me. My favorite is the braised beef noodle soup (紅燒牛肉麵, 160NT for a small bowl).

Braised beef noodle soup (160NT).
braised beef noodle soup (160NT).

One of the best things about the beef noodle soup here is that the beef is always tender; I hate when the beef is chewy and dry. I am all about the broth when it comes to noodle soups. If the broth isn’t good, I don’t want it. Here at Yong-Kang Beef Noodle the broth is one of my favorite parts. Yes it’s salty, it’s supposed to be it’s soy sauce flavored, but it’s good. The flavor is great, rich, but in a good way. It is, however, not very spicy for those used to braised beef noodle soup being spicy. The noodles are good too: not too chewy, not soggy, thin though, not thick like many places are. Overall, this is a good bowl of noodle soup worth your 160NT.

Eggplant side dish (40NT).
eggplant side dish (40NT).
Side dish madness.
side dish madness.

The side dish selection here is amazing. Unlike other stores where the side dishes are already pre-dished out, you have to go up to the front and tell them what you want. From there they’ll scoop out a portion for you and send it to your table or just hand it to you there. My favorite is the eggplant. It’s perfectly seasoned and never tastes old. I’ve also had the cucumbers here which are good as well. They are a little more on the sweeter side if you’re expecting pickled and salty. However, they’re really crunchy, which is good, and not overly sweet, just sweet enough to possibly throw you if it’s not what you’re expecting.

Overall, the beef noodle soup here is famous for a reason. It’s pretty averaged priced for beef noodle soup, but not average tasting. The large bowls don’t look that much larger than the small bowls, but then again looks could be deceiving.

american: the diner

the diner.

date 10.23.2009

contact No. 145, Rui-An St., Da An District, Taipei/02.2700.1680/台北市大安區瑞安街145號

hours Mon.-Fri. 10am-10pm, Sat.-Sun. 9am-10pm

price 150NT-300NT

rating ♥♥♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)

website http://www.thediner.com.tw

I came here for the first time three years ago while studying abroad at National Taiwan University. At that time it had just opened and we were a bunch of hungry American exchange students that after almost a year couldn’t wait to get some American food into our stomachs. I must say, The Diner does the job.

outside of the diner.
outside of the diner.

The Diner is located on Rui-An St. (瑞安街) off of Heping East Road (和平東路). The bus will drop you off less than 5 minutes from The Diner (get off at either 安東市場 or 龍門國中) which is right up Rei-An St. a few minutes.

inside the diner (ground floor).
inside the diner (ground floor).

I don’t know about the decor necessarily feeling “American”, but the menu for sure is. They have a lot of good options for breakfast, along with burgers, sandwiches and SALADS! My friend and I love salads and being in Taiwan makes us miss them. We decided that we’d split a salad and a burger, which ended up being the perfect serving size. We ended up with the spinach salad and BBQ burger while my boyfriend opted for the California burger.

spinach salad with bacon, hard boiled eggs, croutons, and red onion with vinaigrette (220NT)
spinach salad with bacon, hard boiled eggs, croutons, and red onion with vinaigrette (220NT)

First thing that came was the salad. We both love spinach salad so it was the obvious choice for us and I we were not disappointed. The spinach was fresh, the croutons were crunchy, the vinaigrette was light and the bacon was delicious. My only complaint would be that the spinach needed to be cut up. The leaves were huge so it got a bit messy trying to eat it, but the taste was great. I’ll definitely be getting that again.

the diner.
bbq burger with cheddar cheese, grilled onions, and bbq sauce (200NT)

The BBQ burger was tasty. I have to admit that the hamburger patty at California Grill was more moist though. Even so, the burger was great. I like that they put the lettuce, onion, tomato and pickles on the side so that you can chose what you put in and so that the lettuce doesn’t wilt. The BBQ sauce was nice and tangy and the cheese was cheesy. Their buns are also really good: moist and fluffy.

 

california burger with avocado (200NT)
california burger with avocado and swiss cheese (200NT)

The California burger was also good. The avocado was really good and even better in the burger. Like the BBQ burger, the hamburger patty was not as good as it could have been, but still overall the burger was good. Dan also opted to turn his burger into a combination meal. All burgers come with fries, but for 80NT more you can add a soup or salad and drink. Dan got the soup of the day, which turned out to be Minestrone and he said it was pretty good.

Basically The Diner is good American food in Taipei. I’ve only had their burgers so far, but I am eager to try their breakfast foods. I saw a lot of it go by and it all looked good. I’ve also been craving buffalo wings lately which they have and I plan to try. There was a Bloody Mary on the menu too, which I am curious about. I love a good Bloody Mary, and my bar used to make a great one, so I’m curious about The Diner’s. Hm…maybe I’ll have to go for breakfast one weekend afternoon and order a nice Bloody Mary to wash it down.

korean: jong ga house.

date 11.21.08

contact 372 Grand Ave/Oakland, CA 94610/510.444.7658I

hours Mon.-Sat. 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m./Sun. 12:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.

price $10 – $30

I was on some mission to find all the best restaurants in the Oakland/Berkeley area, so I yelped all the foods I liked and bookmarked them. Feeling like Korean food, Dan and I decided we’d go to Jong Ga House in Oakland near Lake Merritt. We usually go to a different Korean place down Telegraph, but we figured we’d try this place. The first time we went, I forgot my camera. Erin came down for the weekend and we went again, with my camera.

The inside of this place is pretty big and pretty nice. I guess this place does Korean BBQ as well; all the tables are equipped to BBQ.

Inside of Jong Ga House.
Inside of Jong Ga House.

Once you order they give you a small bowl of cold kimchee soup with noodles. It’s pretty tasty. Then my favorite part, the side dishes. They give like 18 side dishes! It’s amazing!

Side dishes.
Side dishes.

Jong Ga House has some sides that I’ve never gotten before and they are good! One of our favorites is the tempura-ed broccoli. It’s served cold with some dried chili(I think) on top.

Tempura-ed broccoli side dish.
Tempura-ed broccoli side dish.

Another one of our favorites is the deep-fried potato pieces. It’s fried in some kind of tempura like batter then drenched in a honey like sauce. It’s served cold, which makes the batter drenched in honey kind of hard, but it’s still really good.

Fried potato side dish.
Fried potato side dish.

The menu here is quite extensive. They have something for everyone. Noodles, rice, soups, meat, veggies, seafood, they have it all. For someone like me, who is very indecisive, this menu is quite a feat to tackle, but I like that there are so many choices. After much deliberation I decided on the kimchee fried rice with beef ($9.95).

Kimchee Fried Rice with Beef.
Kimchee Fried Rice with Beef.

When I saw the plate come out it looked amazing; lots of kimchee and lots of sauce. I wasn’t expecting it to be as sweet as it was. Actually I wasn’t expecting it to be sweet at all, I mean, it’s fried rice. The first bite was interesting. For fried rice this was pretty saucy. The sauce was sweet with chili in it and I wasn’t sure if I liked it that much or not. However, the more I ate it, the more I liked it. The beef in mine was a little tough. I felt like I got pieces with lots of gristle or something, but the ones that didn’t have it were good. The best part of it was all the chopped up kimchee. I love kimchee. I pretty much went to Korea to eat kimchee. The kimchee was very good, not too vinegary, not too spicy, and still crunchy after being stir fried. Of course there was a sunny side up egg which seems to come with every Korean dish. I liked the yolk on the rice. I tend to like yolk on most things, but the yolk on the rice tasted really good. It kind of balanced out the sweetness of the rice. I only ended up eating half of my meal and taking the other half home. Honestly, I think I liked it better a day old and cold. It didn’t taste as sweet and the sauce made the rice kind of gooey in a good way. I don’t know that I’d get this again, but I’m glad that I tried it.

Overall I love this place. The price is good for as much as you get and the service is great. Not to stero-type, but generally I’m not used to good service at Korean places unless I’m with someone who speaks Korean. At Jong Ga House the servers are attentive and very kind. They filled waters, cleared plates, and asked us if we wanted anymore side dishes, even though we hadn’t touched most of them they saw that we’d finished the ones we liked. So, if you’re in the Oakland/Berkeley area and are looking for good Korean food, stop by Jong Ga House in Oakland. It’s good eats!

japanese: katana-ya.

date 11.09.08

contact 430 Geary St (at Mason)/San Francisco, CA 94102/415.771.1280

hours Mon-Fri 11:30 a.m.-2:00 a.m./Sat-Sun 12:00 p.m.-2:00 a.m.

price <$10 for ramen

I’ve been here several times before and must say, it’s probably my favorite ramen place in the US. I came here for the first time probably about a year ago. A friend brought me and ever since it’s been one of the places I had to go when I came up to visit. Now that I live up North I very happy to be closer to Katana-Ya’s delicious ramen.

Katana-Ya is a small restaurant with only maybe eight tables and a small sushi bar that seats six or so. Last night we went with a party of six so we had to wait a while to get a table, but the wait was well worth it.

Inside Katana-Ya.
Inside Katana-Ya.

The reviews posted on the window at Katana-Ya are all for it’s ramen, so I always get ramen. My favorite is the kimchee ramen with rich miso soup ($8.50). When ordering ramen you can choose from three different soup bases: miso, soy sauce, and salt. You can also choose whether or not you want it rich or light. If you don’t specify rich or light they just make it regular. I was told to get the miso base rich and I’ve stuck with it ever since. The rich miso soup base is just right, not too salty and just so good. The ramen also comes with a slice of pork, green onions, seaweed, and bamboo. Since I got the kimchee it obviously came with kimchee as well. The pork is always good and tender and the kimchee adds the perfect crunch. On a cold night in the city, this is hands down my number one choice of food.

Kimchee Ramen with rich miso soup ($8.50).
Kimchee Ramen with rich miso soup ($8.50).

italian: mona lisa.

date 10.27.08

contact 353 Columbus Ave./San Francisco/94133/415.989.4817

hours Sun-Thurs 11am-11pm/Fri-Sat 11am-12am

price $15-$30

http://www.monalisasf.com/

After having minor difficulties loading a dresser into the car Dan and I knew we weren’t going to make it to the ramen place in Daly City in time to eat.

Plan B: drive around SF until we found something open that we thought looked good.

Dan decided that North Beach would be a good place to go because they had a lot of restaurants open pretty late. After walking around and looking at a few menus we found ourselves at Mona Lisa. For me what did it was their extensive menu. I like to have choices and this place has LOTS of choices.

I wasn’t expecting this place to be as big as it was. From the outside it looked pretty small, but it was a decent size. On a Monday night at 9pm this place was pretty packed, which was also one of the reasons we chose this place. We figured if that many people were there eating, it had to be somewhat good. The tables are close together and the lighting is pretty dim, but I think it adds to the charm of the place. Everywhere you look there is some kind of decoration. Lots of busts of statues, paintings on the ceilings and walls, pretty much every inch is covered with some kind of something. Our waiter was nice, helpful when I asked which risotto was better. As a former waitress I can be very picky about service, but I was happy with the service here.

Inside Mona Lisa.

I ordered the Risotto San Francisco. It was VERY tasty, something I would order again. Chunks of crab meat, slices of asparagus, and tomatoes in some kind of sauce. It was just what I was looking for. Some of the crab was still in the shell which made me a little scared that I’d have one of those Pretty Woman moments where I pick the meat out with my fork and knife and then have the crab fly across the room. Luckily that didn’t happen. Having to pick the meat out was a little annoying, but the food was good enough where I didn’t really care. I could have finished the whole dish, but stopped myself because I was full. For $16.95, I feel like I got my money’s worth.

Risotto San Francisco: Salsa Rosa, Asparagus, and Crab.

I am a dessert whore, so of course we got dessert. The dessert menu has a picture and description of every dessert which I like, that way I have a better idea of what I’m ordering. There were a lot of choices, fruity or chocolatey, whichever you prefer, they have. We decided we’d get two, one fruity and one with chocolate, just to cover our bases. We decided on the Exotic Bomba and Black Forest Cake, each of which were $8.00.

The Exotic Bomba was quite tasty: mango, passion fruit, and raspberry sorbetto covered in white chocolate. It was a lot bigger than it looked in the picture, but I wasn’t complaining. The raspberry sorbetto in the middle was probably my favorite, but none the less, it was a nice lite dessert.

Mango, Passion Fruit, and Raspberry sorbetto covered in white chocolate.
Exotic Bomba: Mango, Passion Fruit, and Raspberry sorbetto covered in white chocolate.

The Black Forest Cake was okay. Chocolate sponge cake with a layer of chocolate cream, chantilly cream with cherries and white sponge cake, with chocolate on top, this dessert was a little dry, but still tasty. If you get all the layers in one bite it isn’t so dry, but if you only get the cake, it’s pretty dry. Maybe it wasold or an off day, either way, probably wouldn’t get it again.

Chocolate cake with a layer of chocolate cream, chantilly
Black Forest Cake: Chocolate cake with a layer of chocolate cream, chantilly

Overall, for about $60, $70 after we added tip, we got two entrees, a glass of wine, and two desserts. Not bad for a good late night meal. Would I go back? Definitely.