PEr FYI

November 27, 2016

Smoothie House, Taipei…it tastes like eating clouds

CNN named it one of the top 10 desserts in the world. Taiwanese snow shaved ice (or snow cream) has definitely made a mark on the dessert scene.

Snow ice is made by freezing a block of flavored, sweet milk (as opposed to just a block of ice) and shaving it down into flaky ribbons of layered snow. The ice is fine and fluffy as rabbit down —neither too crunchy, nor too dense and wet—and blend seamlessly into the toppings. Think of it as an ice sundae.

If you go for the trinity of mango, strawberry and kiwi, you’re in for an intensely fresh treat. And the all-mango one = greatness.

This is not food for wimps. Bring a friend or three to share. You’ll thank me. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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November 5, 2016

Lai Lai Dow Jang, Taipei…Small eats, and a lot of them, are the big thing here

Venture into Lai Lai Dow Jang and first-timers like me will undoubtedly be intimidated. Here you will find a huge variety of street foods, snacks that are both sweet and savory. Expect to stare at foods you’ve NEVER seen before and be prepared to be pleasantly surprised.

I played it safe and opted for freshly made hot soymilk, you tiao along with an egg pancake.Those with no language skills like me, simply stand in front of the stall, point to what you want and use your digits to say how many.

Here you can overcome your fear and try as many new Taiwanese foods as possible. I’m not saying you will like every dish. But I can guarantee that you will have some surprises and you might crave for some snacks when you’re back home. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 20, 2016

Panorama at 85F, Taipei…Beautiful views but meh food

Food sometimes isn’t enough. The best meals are about more than the ingredients on a plate. That said, Panorama is a Taipei restaurant with the best views, but not necessarily Taipei’s best restaurant with a view.

With terrific view, there’s often a terrifying price tag. Although it is a reminder of how fabulous Taipei can really be, Panorama doesn’t offer tremendous value for money.

I started with the wonderful truffle and wild mushroom cream soup. I almost feel guilty about eating such beautiful sounding food! But it was all downhill after that. The carpaccio of scallop in pomelo dressing didn’t taste as good as it sounds and the pork belly slowly braised with aged port wine and mashed potato was disapppinting and not cooked correctly. Anyone who knows me knows my love of the belly. You see, this badly cooked piece of pork belly is very similar to eating Phua Chu Kang boots, or so I can imagine… I haven’t actually eaten a boot before though.

Beautiful views but meh food, as if the chefs are convinced that with the eyes distracted, the mouth won’t notice. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 2, 2016

Shanghai Express, Taipei…Nothing fancy. Don’t go out of your way

Inexpensive meals “inspired” by  Shanghainese cuisine that aren’t really Shanghainese at all. It goes without saying that we’re not actually eating anything that most people in Shanghai eat.

The menu is like an encyclopedia with an extensive selection, but master of none. There’s this vast culinary edible food-like substances. The set lunch menu served up sauteed amaranth with preserved eggs, fried sichuan-style string beans with minced pork, jellyfish with shredded radish, fried cucumber with chili oil, steamed fresh fish in scallion oil, stewed meatballs in brown sauce, General Tso’s chicken, sauteed shrimps with greens

It Was Good, Nothing Terrible, Nothing Special. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 4, 2016

Shilin Market, Taipei…bring an appetite

Taiwanese night markets are a not-to-be-missed experience. Flying the flag for night markets is Shilin – perhaps the most famous and biggest Taiwanese night market.

Crowded and squeezy, the maze of alleyways is filled with clusters of hundreds of small stalls and street vendors selling a variety of local delicacies. Try everything  from skewered cuttlefish to fresh fruit to Taiwanese sausages to two of the market’s most iconic dishes: pan-fried buns and slabs of fried chicken cutlets. To decide what to eat, wander around and let your eyes and nose make the selection for you. This vibrant and colourful market blends street food with local souvenirs, designers, textiles, homeware and jewellery for a well-rounded market experience.

If you’re food-obsessed but don’t have the disposable income for Taipei’s best restaurants, Shilin is your saviour. Entry is free. The food, of course, is not. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 27, 2016

Jiu Fen Old Street, Taipei…winning combination of crazy good food vendors and a bustling stretch of shopping

Jiufen is a great mini-trip out of Taipei, less than an hour away. With gorgeous views of the ocean, quaint streets and beautiful tea houses, Jiufen thrives as a trousit spot for a taste of Taiwan culture and history. When it first formed, there were only nine families, so the city would always request “nine portions” when shipments came in, hence the name.

Jiu Fen Old Street is series of narrow alleys which feature stand after stand of local snacks and handmade souvenirs. Be prepared to shove past throngs of tourists crammed into the narrow alleys. The offer samples of ginger tea which brings with it a host of powerful health benefits. Another popular food item is the mochi – glutinous rice balls which are as soft as marshmallows.

Don’t worry, there alleys are all covered by awning should the heavens open. It’s worth planning an adventure to Jiufen as well as an obligatory stroll down Old Street. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 13, 2016

Addiction Aquatic Development, Taipei…not pilgrimage-worthy

Is the experience is actually worth the money? It’s questionable. If you are looking for fresh and good quality rather than value for money, go for it.

The restaurant makes it a point to emphasize the freshness of the seafood. That’s the good news.

The bad news is I had a less-than-stellar experience at the bizzarely-named Addiciton Aquatic Development. Despite its very passionate reviews, the seafood tends to fall somewhere between bland and unremarkable.  None of this freshness matters much. The final bill was hefty and I was still hungry and highly disappointed. Frankly, I have trouble understanding what the fuss is all about.

Sometimes, the chorus of public opinion isn’t a good thing. I was unimpressed. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 15, 2013

Eslite, Taipei…I get an intoxicating buzz just being in this 8-floors, 24-hour mega bookstore

Filed under: Books, China, Shopping, Taiwan, Travel — Tags: , , , , , , — PEr @ 7:21 pm

Wow, this is a book lover’s paradise. An overwhelming, stress-inducing, orgasm inspiring, drool producing, book paradise. If you are in Taipei for a weekend or have lived there for 10 years or more you will always find something that you may have been looking for or not looking for at this place. It has pretty much everything from imported magazines, locally published books, and numerous Japanese books translated into Chinese for the Taiwan market. I get an intoxicating buzz just being in this 8-floor, 24-hour store, surrounded by so many thoughtfully curated books and people who truly appreciate their value.

The idea behind Eslite is that it really isn’t just a bookstore. Don’t miss the cool CD and DVD store downstairs. Easily the most reliable DVD store in the city, this store has plenty of oldies as well as the usual “just released in cinemas” Hollywood blockbusters. The basement snack and drink and food court is no slouch either

A must visit if you have never been. Books can be sexy. I promise. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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July 6, 2013

Chia Te Bakery Co., Taipei…..the pineapple cake that all others answer to

Although they have several pastries and an assortment of delectable delights, do yourself a favour and try the pineapple cake. SO GOOD. The outside is like a buttery shortbread crust – crumbly and crispy, more like an egg roll and the inside is filled with fresh, mouth-watering, juicy pineapple jam-type filling- with the right amount of sweetness and soft (but not mushy) texture.  This adds up to a simple, flakey, and perfectly sweet (not too sweet) cake. The cakes are individually wrapped but take it from me…one piece is just too much of a tease.

These Taiwanese bakers are putting some tasty crack in their buns. The items are not inexpensive, but totally worth it for the quality and taste. They sell a great variety of cakes (cranberry pineapple cake, sun cake, wife cake, mung bean cake, sesame egg yolk cake, milk cake, germ walnut pineapple tart) , egg tarts, so go on over and splurge!

The one and only store in Taipei is located in bustling Nanjing East Road in Taipei. It is not quite accessible from any mrt station, so it’s either a bus or a taxi to get you there. Bummer!

If you’ve never had this pineapple cake from Chia Te Bakery before then hedonism is not your thing. It’s pure indulgence. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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May 12, 2013

Din Tai Fung, Taipei…service was very Disney-good and the xiaolongbao was like a party in my mouth.

This is one of the most well-known exports of Taiwan… the famous dumpling empire which serves delicious steamed dumplings aka xiaolongbao (literally translated to “little dragon buns”). During the past 20 years the restaurant has become so famous and they have a lot of branches in many countries such as China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Japan, USA and Australia. The one I went to in Taipei was the Taipei 101 store where I got to rub shoulders with dumpling pilgrims from at least 10 countries. What’s not to like?

Despite the immense number of customers, Din Tai Fung’s service is fast and very Disney-good, and its food lives up to its fame. The xiaolongbao was special in that it tasted hot and aromatically fresh with the `juices’ inside flowing out to the tongue as we took a bite. It’s best to gently pick up so the very delicate skin of the dumpling is not broken causing  the `juices’ to drain out. The taste? It’s like a party in my mouth. It’s unbelievable!

Queues are sometimes part and parcel of a good dining experience. Here, they tell you roughly how long the wait is. Clearly the patient crowd doesn’t begrudge the wait. Not enough to walk away, anyway. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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