Tag Archives: taiwanese

sichuan/taiwanese/chinese: kiki restaurant – yanji store (kiki 餐廳 – 延吉店)

 date august 11, 2011

contact No. 47, Lane 47, Guang Fu S. Rd., Taipei/台北市光復南路280巷47號1樓/02.2781.4250

hours Monday-Saturday [lunch] 11:50-15:00/[dinner] 17:15-23:00 :: Sunday [lunch] 11:50-15:00/[dinner] 17:15-22:00

price 300NT-600NT (per person)

rating ♥♥♥ (3 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall MRT (捷運國父紀念館站)

website http://www.kiki1991.com/

I’ve been really delinquent on new reviews, sorry. I was back in California for most of July, but I’m now back in Taipei.

I have heard a lot about Kiki over the past year from several friends, but never had the time to go. So when my friend Will asked if I wanted to go I was excited to finally try it out. Kiki has three locations in Taipei, one in Taizhong, as well as a Thai restaurant (Kiki Thai Cafe) and a cafe (Kiki Cafe), both in Taipei. We ended up at the Yanji store (延吉店), which is located near Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall (國父紀念館).

My friend made reservations for 8pm on a Thursday night. When I asked why so late, he said it was because it was all they had. Apparently, Kiki is pretty popular, so making reservations first is a good idea. It looks like Kiki has two floors, but I didn’t go up to see if it’s actually seating; however, according to their website this location can seat 104 people so I’m pretty sure that the upstairs has additional seating.

The menu at Kiki is in both English and Chinese. There are also pictures of a few of the dishes and a spiciness level guide (1-5 stars, the more stars the more spicy). When we asked our server for suggestions he pointed us to the first page of the menu, house specials. Then we asked which specific items he would suggest and he said the house specials were listed in order of popularity. Basically, our server was useless in making suggestions. The three of us decided we’d order four dishes, noodles, and a small dish:

– Crispy Deep Fried Egg Tofu (老皮嫩肉) for 200NT
– Stir Fried Minced Pork with Chinese Chives and Fermented Black Beans (蒼蠅頭) for 220NT
– Steamed Pork with Preserved Vegetables (梅干扣肉) for 270NT
– Stir Fried Chinese Watercress with Chili Peppers (宮保空心菜) for 150NT
– Soft Noodles Topped with Shredded Chicken and Bean Sprouts (雞油伴麵) for 80NT
– Stir Fried Bamboo Shoots with Shredded Pork in Chef’s Special Spicy Sauce (川味竹筍) for 80NT.

I love bamboo shoots so I decided to order the Stir Fried Bamboo Shoots with Shredded Pork in Chef’s Special Spicy Sauce (川味竹筍) for 80NT, which had three stars for spiciness. I though this was pretty good. The bamboo wasn’t as crispy as I would have liked, but it was still good. The “special spicy sauce” kind of just tasted like chili oil with some garlic. For three stars I didn’t think this was that spicy, but if you don’t like spicy food or are sensitive to spice I’d advise against this.

The number one thing on the House Special list is the Crispy Deep Fried Egg Tofu (老皮嫩肉) for 200NT. This dish has no spice for those who don’t like spicy foods. For a name like Crispy Deep Fried Egg Tofu this is not what I was expecting. The outside of the egg tofu was not crispy at all. The tofu was delicious though. It was super soft and almost like a custard. I can’t imagine that this is actually the most popular dish on their entire menu, but either way, it’s pretty good.

For our vegetable we went with the Stir Fried Chinese Watercress with Chili Peppers (宮保空心菜) for 150NT. The Chinese name for this dish says it’s Kung Pao Chinese Watercress, so I think I was kind of expecting something different with a sauce or something. This was better than what I thought it was going to be. The Chinese watercress is simply stir fried with garlic, chili peppers, and salt. Simple and fresh. The menu put two stars next to this, but it wasn’t really spicy at all, just avoid the peppers.

The Stir Fried Minced Pork with Chinese Chives and Fermented Black Beans (蒼蠅頭) for 220NT is the second item listed under House Specials. I like the Chinese name for this dish, literally housefly heads. Why that is the name, I don’t know. Looking around the restaurant a lot of tables had this so we figured why not. I thought this was pretty tasty. The combination of everything together was pretty good. This dish is kind of salty and would be best with rice or noodles. This dish had three stars and was probably the spiciest of the dishes we had. If you don’t eat the chilies it’s not that spicy, but if you get a chili you’ll probably be reaching for your water. The fermented black beans are pretty salty, so be warned if you get a lot of them in one bite.

Will loves pork belly, as do I, so he really wanted to order the Steamed Pork with Preserved Vegetables (梅干扣肉) for 270NT. This dish was okay. I’ve most definitely had better pork belly (the pork belly pyramid at Shanghai Pavilion comes to mind) that was more tender and more flavorful. The slices of pork belly in this dish are pretty thick compared to most other pork belly dishes like this. I liked that they were thicker because there was more meat, but because it was thicker it wasn’t as tender and melt in your mouth as it could have been. The preserved vegetables under the pork was pretty good; not too salty. Will really liked the preserved vegetables.

I’m not a huge rice fan so we ordered noodles instead. The server told us that one bowl could serve two people, so we figured we’d just get one and order more if we needed; we did not need to. Mike saw the word bean sprouts so we ordered the Soft Noodles Topped with Shredded Chicken and Bean Sprouts (雞油伴麵) for 80NT. When the bowl arrived Mike noticed that there was no chicken or bean sprouts, but Will and I were going by the Chinese name, literally “chicken oil noodles”, so we didn’t notice. The noodles were good, but not like it is described. I’m not sure if the English for this dish is wrong or if they forgot the chicken and bean sprouts, but either way, something was wrong. The noodles are pretty simple; good for eating with the main dishes. The sauce “chicken oil” was had just enough flavor to not make the noodles plain.

Our bill came out to an even 1000NT for three people. I think that we ordered just the right amount for three people; the main dishes are not that big. I thought this place was  good, but it wasn’t super spectacular. The service was not great. It was hard to get anyones attention and our waters were often empty. Also when I asked for a menu, the girl seemed really annoyed. Overall I think because of the hype I was expecting more; however, either way this place was pretty good and I would go back.

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taiwanese/hakka: jinjiang tea house (晉江茶堂)

date january 23, 2011

contact No. 1, Jin Jiang Street, Zhong Zheng District, Taipei/02.8369.1785/台北市中正區晉江街1號

hours 7 days a week 11:00-21:00

price 200-600NT

rating ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 hearts out of 5)

nearest mrt Guting (古亭捷運站)

Hidden on Jinjiang Street (晉江街) off of Heping West Road (和平西路) is Jinjiang Tea House. The outside of Jinjiang is really cute; it looks like an old house. My friend Stephanie took me to Jinjiang for the first time a few weeks ago, but I couldn’t find the cord for my camera to upload photos. So tonight, Steph and I took my mom to Jinjiang for some tasty Hakka goodness.

The inside of Jinjiang is pretty small. It probably seats around 20. While it doesn’t look super clean, it’s clean enough and the food is delicious.

The menu at Jinjiang is only in Chinese. So be warned those who cannot read Chinese. They have some pretty great items on their menu that aren’t super common that I love such as water lily and betel nut flower. Meat items go for about 250NT a plate and vegetable items between 100-200NT.

I had never had water lily before I came to Jinjiang a few weeks ago. Now, I love it. I have no idea what part of the water lily this is or if it is even water lily, but the Chinese name for it is water lily, so I’m going with it. For 150NT, the stir fried water lily (炒水蓮) is super crunchy and refreshing. The water lily is lightly seasoned with salt and stir fried with garlic and chilies. The chilies don’t really add any spice to the dish, so if you’re sensitive to spicy food, as long as you avoid the actual chilies, I think you’ll be fine.

I really love betel nut flower, but I rarely see it on menus. So when I saw that Jinjiang had it I was super excited. The stir fried betel nut flower (炒檳榔花) for 180NT is made with carrots, chilies, and green onions. For those who have never had betel nut flower before, it is the white strings in the picture above. Texturally it is a little similar to bamboo shoots, however the taste is not. Unfortunately I am not really sure how to describe the flavor other than to say it’s really good. Like the water lily, the betel nut flower is lightly seasoned with salt, and although there are chilies, as long as you don’t eat the chilies themselves, this dish is not spicy.

For those who love tomatoes, I highly recommend the tomato fish pot (番茄鮮魚煲) for 250NT. Served in a pot on top of a flame is pieces of fried fish, tomatoes, and tofu. While the fish in this isn’t anything that special, the tomato base is really good. Also, soft tofu is hidden under the fish which is a nice surprise.

I love eggplant. I get it anytime I see it on a menu. The basil eggplant (九層塔茄子) for 150NT is pretty good. It’s actually pretty standard, nothing special. Lot of basil, some green onion, and chilies. Again, like the other dishes with chili this is not spicy at all, just avoid the chilies. Really, I ate the chilies and they weren’t that spicy, but I love spicy food, so if you’re sensitive to spice, just avoid them.

The meal ends with a complementary bowl of grass jelly. This is nothing special, it’s just grass jelly, but it’s a nice free dessert.

Since this place is called Jinjiang Tea House they do sell tea, Hakka ground tea to be more specific or 擂茶 (lei cha). I’ve gone on Hakka culture trips before and made some lei cha myself. Lei cha is made by grounding several different ingredients (sesame seeds, corn, tea leaves, rice, etc.) and then just adding water. I love this stuff, and I’m so glad I know that Jinjiang sells it now. They sell it by the box for 250NT or buy 5 get 1 free. They have many different flavors including cocoa, almond, original, etc. They didn’t have any almond or unsweetened original on hand, but the owner told us to leave our number and he’d order it for us and call when it came in. Can’t wait!

While this place is a little more expensive than Double Happiness it’s total worth it for the hard to find dishes. The portions are not very big, but I think Jinjiang is a quality over quantity type of place. Highly recommend that anyone who likes Hakka food give this place a try.

taiwanese/festival: 2009 beef noodle festival.

date November 22, 2009

contact Civic Hall in front of Taipei City Hall (Taipei City)

hours November 20-22 2009/9am-7pm

price 50NT per bowl

rating ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

website http://sinotour.com/news/609.html

nearest mrt MRT Taipei City Hall (市政府捷運站)

Since the 2010 Beef Noodle Festival is fast approaching, I figured I should write about my experience last year at the 2009 Beef Noodle Festival (aka 2009 Taipei International New Row Mian Festival). I love festivals and try to go to as many as I can, especially ones where the main event is food. I went to the International Food Expo in Taipei earlier this year, and went to the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, CA in 2008, so when I heard there was a beef noodle soup festival, I had to go.

We went on the last day of the festival around 17:00. Being the last day of the festival and close to closing time we hit the jackpot: buy one get one free! Best thing to do is go with a group. That way, you can share the bowls and try a lot of them. The bowls are not big, they are small cups, but good enough helpings where you don’t want to eat a whole one yourself.

I ended up trying beef noodle soup from 4 stalls all for 100NT (I went in a group of two couples, so we each bought bowls from two stalls, and then since it was buy one get one, swapped bowls). Super amazing bargain. You can get a pamphlet that has all the shops listed who participated in the festival. It’s pretty awesome. They have places to sit and everything is covered, so if it rains, you’re safe-ish.

There were lots of people at the festival and it’s not very big, so it’s kind of a mad house. Lots of lines, and lots of people yelling into microphones. It’s kind of hilarious because every stall starts to have specials to get rid of their stock. One stand will start with, buy one get two free, then the stand next to it will be like, buy one get two plus a drink, and so on. Be ready for it to be loud and crowded, but it’s too good to not go.

This year’s festival will be held once again at Civic Plaza this coming weekend December 3-5. Festivities will begin on Friday the 3rd at 2pm. Don’t miss out!

For more information about this year’s Beef Noodle Festival visit the Taipei City Government’s website (English) or the official 2010 Taipei International New Row Mian Festival website (Chinese).

taiwanese/hakka: double happiness hakka cuisine (雙囍家常料理)

date january 4, 2010

contact No.2, Lane 48, Sec. 2, Roosevelt Road, Zhong Zheng District, Taipei/02.2358.4662/台北市中正區羅斯福路二段48巷2號

hours not listed

price <300NT

rating ♥♥♥♥ (4 hearts out of 5)

nearest mrt guting (古亭捷運站)

I found this place through friends who happen to live right across the street from it. It recently opened and they had been telling me about how great it is so I wanted to see for myself. They said they didn’t want to over hype it and have me be disappointed, but honestly, it’s really good.

inside.

The inside of Double Happiness isn’t that big, but it’s nice and it’s clean. Every time we go in they play a very random mix of old American soft rock. I think they see the foreigners and think, oooh time for the soft rock mix! We think it’s hilarious and we like the music, so it’s cool. The menu has a pretty good mix of stir fry, soups, rices, noodles, and other miscellaneous items, so there should be something there for everyone.

dry pan fried yellow croaker 160NT (乾煎黃魚)

I love fish and this one was very good. Lightly fried, not too oily and not dried out. The meat of the fish was still moist and flaky and the skin was nice and crisp. There isn’t a lot of added flavor which is nice because you can taste the flavor of the fish. Squeeze the lime on for some extra juices and don’t forget to dip it into the 5 spice.

beef with green onion 120NT (蔥爆牛肉).

The beef with green onion dish is one of Double Happiness’ most popular dishes (as identified on the menu). The meat is tender and the sauce isn’t too salty. There is a lot of green onion, garlic, and ginger, so if you don’t like any of those things, maybe wouldn’t recommend this dish, but honestly, you can eat around all that stuff and just eat the meat.

basil eggplant with pork 110NT (九層塔茄子).

Eggplant is one of my favorite things and this dish does not disappoint. Each time I’ve had this dish it tastes great. The slices of pork are tender and the eggplant is always cooked well. There is also a lot of garlic in this dish as well, which for me is awesome because I love garlic. The sauce in this is very similar to the one in the beef with green onion dish, maybe even the same? Either way, it’s really good.

sauteed clams 120NT (炒蛤蠣).

I love clams and these clams are delicious. Like a lot of the other dishes here there is a lot of basil, garlic, and ginger. The sauce on these clams is really good, garlicy and very clamy. The clams are always well cooked and rarely are their any clams that can’t be eaten.

kung pao chicken 140NT (宮保雞丁).

The kung pao chicken was good. Nothing particularly great about it, just kung pao chicken. The meat was tender though, and the sauce had a good balance between salty and sweet. Again lots of garlic. Wish there were more bell peppers though.

salt and pepper shrimp 170NT (椒鹽蝦).

The salt and pepper shrimp here is really good. The butterfly the shrimps which make it difficult to peel, if you want to peel them. Honestly, the skin is so crisp and thin that you could just eat it. I love that they aren’t super oily and all the basil, green onion, garlic, and red peppers that come with the shrimp. You get a pretty decent amount of shrimp too for the price. Be careful though: I bit into one and had the shell dig into my gums.

sauteed cabbage 70NT (高麗菜).

The only green vegetable I’ve ever had here is the sauteed cabbage. It’s pretty good, a little oily, but still really good.

Don’t waste rice here. A friend and I didn’t finish our rice once and the owner told us that we shouldn’t waste food and that next time we should share. We took her advice and shared this time. Between 4 people we usually order 6 dishes and our bill usually comes out to about 200NT a person, which for the amount of food and the variety is totally worth it. So if you like garlicy, good food, Double Happiness is a good place to try.

taiwanese: A-Mei’s Noodle Shop (阿妹麵點)

date 12.31.2009

contact No. 105, Sec. 2, Nan Chang Road, Zhong Zheng District, Taipei/02.2364.4732/台北市中正區南昌路二段105號

hours Tuesday – Sunday 7:30am-8pm (Closed Mondays)

price 50NT-150NT

rating ♥♥♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)

I love good cheap noodles, even better I like it when it’s close to my house, A-Mei’s Noodle Shop is all three of these things. They have a few different types of noodles here with about 10 different ways to have them. So far I’ve only tried the yi mian with wontons (餛飩意麵), yi mian with lean pork (瘦肉意麵), and rice noodles with wontons (餛飩細米麵), all of which are really good. This place seems to be very popular because it’s always full and they run out of things quickly. We usually go for dinner, but on several occasions they’ve been out of what we wanted (usually the lean pork/瘦肉 and the oil tofu/油豆腐). So I would recommend going earlier rather than later for optimal choice selection.

yi mian with lean pork 80NT (瘦肉意麵).

I love the lean pork. It’s probably some of the most tender pork I’ve ever had, like ever. The broth is really good too with really good flavor, not to salty or oily. It looks like a pork stock with dry onion and garlic (maybe). Whatever it is, it’s really good. The noodles are also very good, not soggy or too hard. If you get to-go they separate the soup from the noodles so that it doesn’t get soggy. I love that they put cilantro on top of the noodles as well and bean sprouts too. Very tasty.

wontons in red chili oil 50NT (紅油炒手).

I love wontons and I love wontons in red chili oil. They wontons here are really good. The meat is tender and flavorful and the outside skin is really delicate. Unlike other wontons in red chili oil these are a little spicier. There really isn’t much of a tangy taste to the sauce like a lot of wontons in red chili oil, which isn’t necessarily better or worse, just different, but still really good.

pork roll 60NT (雞捲).

Dan usually likes to get the tofu, but they had already sold out for the night, so instead we got the pork roll. I have no idea why the Chinese for this is chicken roll, but it’s pork. I liked this, although it was a little sweeter than I prefer. This one also had shrimp inside which was tasty. Overall this was good, not great, not sure if I’d get it again.

Other things I’ve had here are the rice noodles with wontons (餛飩細米粉) which was also very good.

Winter in Taipei can be cold, so for a good cheap hot meal, A-Mei’s is a good choice.

taiwanese: stinky tofu at shen keng old street (深坑老街)

date 12.05.2009

contact Shenkeng Old Street, Shenkeng Township, Taipei County/台北縣深坑鄉深坑老街

rating ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

If you love stinky tofu you have to make a trip to Shenkeng Old Street (深坑老街). I’ve heard a lot about Shenkeng’s famous tofu street so I had to go. From anywhere in Taipei, Shenkeng is easy to get to. Just take the MRT to the Taipei Zoo Station (台北動物園站) and then get on a bus to the 深坑 stop (we took the 237).

shenkeng old street (深坑老街)

From the bus stop just go follow where the people are coming from. Overall, Shenkeng is rather empty and there are no real signs pointing to the stinky tofu street. Shengkeng street is lined with stands and restaurants that not only sell stinky tofu, but regular tofu as well. We didn’t know which restaurants were famous for which ones were better than others, so we just chose at random.

steamed garlic stinky tofu (蒜泥臭豆腐)

Our first stop was 王水成臭豆腐店. There were a lot of people inside so we figured it was a safe bet. We ordered the steamed garlic stinky tofu, bamboo and fried tofu. We liked the garlic stinky tofu except it wasn’t stinky at all, which was disappointing. The flavor was nice though and the chunks of garlic good. You could also tell that the tofu was fresh because it was the right sponginess, just needed to be more stinky.

fried tofu (炸豆腐)

The fried tofu was good, but it was just fried tofu. Nothing that special.

lugui bamboo (魯桂竹筍)

The best thing at this place, that we had, was the bamboo. It was well seasoned, tender, and just plain good. I probably wouldn’t come back here for the tofu, but I’d definitely come back for the bamboo.

japanese style green tea tofu ice cream 30NT (日式抹茶豆腐冰淇淋)

We saw this and had to try it. Bad decision. It definitely took you back to the days where you were a kid and eating play-doh cause that’s what it tasted like. I could not taste green tea and it didn’t taste like tofu. The minute my friend said it tasted like play-doh it dawned on me, and yes, it tasted like play-doh.

fried stinky tofu 50NT (炸臭豆腐)

Our second stop was at 好鄰居 (Good Neighbor). They sat the four of us down at a huge table and we ordered our one tiny portion of the fried stinky tofu. It was pretty good. Nothing that spectacular, but good. The pickled cabbage (泡菜) was pretty good, and if you got a bite with the tofu, the sauce, the hot sauce, and the cabbage, it was even better.

fried stinky tofu 40NT (炸臭豆腐)

This place had my favorite stinky tofu. I have no idea what the name of this shop was, but it’s the first sit down shop on the left when you enter the street. The pickled cabbage was really good as was the sauce. The tofu as actually stinky too, which was nice. The rest of my group thought the sauce was too salty, but I loved it. Definitely my favorite.

bbq stinky tofu(串烤臭豆腐)

Since we had already gotten fried and steamed stinky tofu, all that was left was barbecued. We chose this stand at random because the stand we wanted to go to was already closed. The stinky tofu here was really good. The sauce on it had a peanut sesame taste that was unique and tasty. The stand guy sliced the tofu down the middle and put some cabbage in it as well which added the crunchiness it needed.

Overall, Shenkeng is a great place to just walk around and snack. If you like stinky tofu Shenkeng is a must.

taiwanese: seventy-two beef noodle (七十二牛肉麵)

date 12.02.2009

contact No. 188, Sec. 1, Jian-Guo South Road, Da-An District, Taipei/02.2752.5970/台北市大安區建國南路一段188號

hours Monday-Saturday 11am-2am, Sunday 11am-9pm

price 100-200NT

rating ♥♥♥ (3 out of 5 hearts)

My goal is to go to every 4 star rated beef noodle store in Taipei, according to the 2009 New Row Mian Festival Guide. Seventy-two Beef Noodle was first on that list of places to try. After seeing the picture of the white broth soup, a group of us decided we had to see what was so great about it.

 

spicy steamed stinky tofu (30NT)

First excuse the crappy photo. My camera died and my boyfriend’s camera does not like the indoors or things too close to its lens. While the boys went to find drinks, we spotted something that looked like stinky tofu and decided we had to order it. It ended up being spicy steamed stinky tofu (麻辣臭豆腐). For 30NT this was definitely worth it. The meat that is on top of is is pretty good and the sauce was tasty. It didn’t taste mala/spicy to me though, but still good.

clear broth beef noodle (130NT)

Honestly, I think we all had really high expectations of what this broth would taste like. At first sip the clear broth beef noodle (清燉牛肉麵) does not taste very rich. The cloudy color of the broth is from the ox bones they use to make it. According to their menu, they brew the broth for 72 hours with ox bones. The bone taste if very prevalent; you definitely know you’re drinking bone soup. While the soup is rich in the bone flavor, I felt like it lacked other  flavor. They have chili sauce on the table as well as rose salt (玫瑰鹽), which if you add a little of both, we thought enhanced the broth tremendously. I think the biggest problem was the noodles, which didn’t soak up any of the broth taste. As a result the noodles were bland, and since the broth was light, the noodles with the soup made everything taste bland. The beef, however, was good and very tender. One other thing the soup was lacking was a vegetable.

Honestly, I liked the broth, but I think when I go to eat beef noodles I expect rich flavor. This just wasn’t what I was expecting. While this bowl was different, it was still good, and definitely worth a try.

broth stewing at seventy-two beef noodle.