Archive for the ‘Taipei’ Category

Quan 寬巷子 (Taiwan –Taipei)

One of the most memorable meals in Taiwan was when we went to try out this Steamboat/Hotpot restaurant near the Shilin MRT station. Seriously, I’m not really a big fan of steamboat. The steamboat restaurants I have tried in Singapore are all similar styled. You order slices of meat, you cook the meat in your chosen soup, you eat. Really, there’s nothing  differentiating the various steamboat/hot pot restaurants, except perhaps for the soups themselves, and even then, that’s just one aspect. If I had to choose a favourite in Singapore, it would have to be JPot, because at least some of their meats are marinated or prepared in a slightly more appetising way.

So, when the dishes started arriving at Quan, I was seriously completely bowled over. Really amazed at their creations. This is one blog review where the pictures will do more to describe the situation than what I could ever pen down in words.

Quan - Sichuan Style Spicy Soup and Tonkotsu Soup (3)

Sichuan Style Spicy Soup and Tonkotsu Soup

First up, the hotpot POT itself. A humongous metal tureen sized pot divided into 2 portions for the 2 soups, plus a middle portion to hold the chilli spices. The pot itself is specially designed such that you won’t burn yourself if you touch the sides. A live fire instead of a hot plate is used too. Sometimes slow is better than instant gratification.

We weren’t given a choice, but a word of warning for anyone who dares to take the Sichuan Style Spicy Soup. You might not be able to feel your tongue after eating that soup. Living in Singapore, it’s inevitable that you might encounter spicy food that is too spicy for you to tolerate. Your tongue burns for a while. The usual scenario.

A very interesting thing happened to me whenever I bit into any of the items fished from the Sichuan soup section. My tongue just started to buzz and tingle! I’ve never ever experienced such a thing before. It didn’t feel painful but it was really weird! In any case, authentic Ma La is not meant to be simply spicy. Pure spiciness is easy to achieve, just dump in a truckload of chillies! You will be able to detect nuances in the flavours in a good Ma La.

Quan - (18)

This appeared soon after our soup appeared.You wouldn’t be faulted for thinking that this is part of the restaurant’s flower decorations. How innovative is this? Vegetables dressed to look like a garden shop display.

Quan - Deep-Fried Minced Shrimp and Eggplant NT320 SGD$15 (3)

Deep-Fried Minced Shrimp and Eggplant NT320 SGD$15

This is actually seafood wrapped in eggplant for the bottom bit, and almond flakes for the “flower bit”. Simply exquisite and delicious.

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Agnès b Cafe (Taiwan –Taipei)

Agnes B Cafe

I had a bit of time to spare on the second day of our Whirlwind Taiwan Trip so when I chanced upon the agnès b cafe, I took the opportunity to have a cuppa there. This is directly outside the Zhong Shan MRT station so it won’t be missed. It was the most blustery yet, and I happened to just be wearing a short-sleeve Tshirt and a sweater because I wanted to be a hero. Still, despite that, I went ahead to have my cuppa at this al-fresco cafe. They have heaters, which you can’t see too clearly in the photo, but I had to have a table slightly away from the line of heat because the tables directly under the heaters were all occupied!

Agnes B Cafe (4)

Check out all the eye-watering cakes!

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雙人徐 Shuang Ren Hsu (Taiwan –Taipei)

On the 2nd day of our sponsored whirlwind trip to Taiwan, we were brought to a modern establishment that specialises in Zha Jiang Mian 炸醬麵 / 炸酱面. For some reason, I was expecting a sort of traditional noodle house as I was informed that Shuang Ren Hsu specialises in traditional tasting 炸酱面, Imagine my surprise when we stepped into a small restaurant that looked the exact opposite of traditional. It even had a huge wall mounted projector screen showing some video.

ShuangRenHsu - ZhaJiangMian

I think this photo above epitomises how avant-garde Shuang Ren Hsu is! Who would have thought of pairing 炸酱面 with red wine?? Why not? In fact, that is the question posed by the owner of Shuang Ren Hsu who joined us for lunch. This is definitely not your 15 minute 炸酱面 stall. The average customer spends more than an hour dining here, replicating the “French” dining experience by pairing the dishes with various wines, luxuriating over the meal as well as conversation. I love this wine pairing concept with Chinese food, and the idea of savouring the meal through several courses!

The average Chinese person eats faster, way faster than the average Westerner. This is partly due to the fact that you have to eat quickly in communal dining or you might just end up with the scraps. I’ve never really appreciated this and I like to buck the trend by taking my time to savour every morsel. I loath it when people tell me I eat slowly. If I’m in a good mood, I tell them that the French take 3 hours to ENJOY dinner. That instantly puts things in a different perspective doesn’t it? If I’m in a bad mood, I ask them why are we eating so fast like dogs?

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Amba Hotel (Taiwan –Taipei)

My first day in Taipei was a pretty gloomy one, not because the people were unfriendly, but because the sky was overcast. Thankfully, we got blessed with sunny skies and really good weather the next few days, as compared to the dreary rain we’d heard about the week before.

From Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport to my hotel in Ximending took just over an hour’s ride in a taxi. Amba Hotel is located right smack in the middle of Ximending, about a 5 minute brisk walk to the Ximen MRT Station. It was really good to have this hotel on our first night because you don’t have to fret over maps or farecards. You just pop downstairs and all the shops, eateries and food pushcarts of Ximending are at your service! Another good reason to choose a hotel in a bustling area is so that you can easily pop back to the hotel to offload your heavy loot before continuing with round 2, or 3 for that matter.

Amba Hotel Taipei Ximending (2)

This was the room that I got at Amba Hotel. Huge ass king size bed to roll around in!!

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天命庵 (Destiny) (Taiwan – Taipei)

Okay….for the 1st time ever, I shall be posting food reviews of restaurants that only have Chinese names! Google Translate has been my best friend this past 2 weeks. It translated 天命庵 into Destiny Um. Ummmm, I have no idea what Um is, so I have shortened it to Destiny. Not to worry, I have also translated the address into English so that you can still find Destiny!

The first thing that strikes you about 天命庵 is that it is a very tiny little place. You feel as if you’re entering a Japanese home, that just happened to have lots of tables and chairs. A well known architect Ye Yuqing was tasked to reproduce the Japanese elements of the place and it is deliberately small to keep the crowd numbers down.

Destiny Eatery (2)

For my 1st evening in Taipei, I was glad to be able to huddle up near to my two fellow diners and to get to know them better.

Destiny Eatery - (2)

These are the prices of the dishes on offer. If you want the skewered meats, they are mostly NT100, which is equivalent to about SGD$5. We stuck to mainly the skewered stuff even though there are rice or noodle sets as we wanted to try out all the different types of meats. If you’ve been to an Izakaya, you’ll know how it’s like.

Destiny Eatery - Skewered Meats (2)

The first of our skewered meats to arrive. If you ask me, 天命庵 is like Innards Palace! I have absolutely no problems eating any sort of innards and off parts, but really, the one that stumped us all was GUMS. Pig’s gums!! Like literally the gums that hold the teeth, or used to hold the pig’s teeth in this case. That’s the very elegant sounding 天梯, for when you need to order it in Chinese.

The gums are the two leftmost skewers. Actually, they didn’t have that much of a taste, but they had an extremely tough and rubbery texture. But I would definitely recommend anyone to try it just so that you can say you’ve eaten GUMS.

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