Archive for February, 2013

Bulau Bulau Aboriginal Village (Taiwan-Yilan)

On our 4th day of our Blogger Sponsored Trip to Taiwan, we spent the bulk of our day at the Bulau Bulau Aboriginal Village in Yilan County. Yilan is about 1.5 hrs drive from Taipei and I heard it is a very pretty place, especially since it is near the coast.

The journey would have taken quite a number of hours prior to 2006, but ever since the Hsuehshan Tunnel 雪山隧道 or Snow Mountain tunnel was built, the journey has been shaved. The Hsuehshan Tunnel is the longest tunnel in Taiwan and is located on the Taipei-Yilan Freeway (Taiwan National Highway No. 5). There is a strict speed limit in the tunnel, and we were told that if you break the speed limit, your car licence plate number will be blasted from the loudspeakers. We were hoping to hear something, but alas, perhaps it’s just a rumour, or maybe everyone observed the speed limit?

Bulau Bulau is a really interesting place to visit. It was totally different from what I had been expecting. I was expecting something very traditional, very tribal and perhaps also very dirty. It couldn’t be further from the truth. What can I say, this is probably one of the most modernised aboriginal village I have ever seen! You need to scroll down to see the pictures to understand.

Bulau Bulau Aboriginal Village (65)

The reason why the village looks so new, is because it IS new. Decades ago, the aborigines were forced to leave the mountains and to assimilate with the Han Chinese. In recent years, as with Australia and New Zealand, the Taiwanese government has tried to ameliorate its wrongdoings by returning some land to the aborigines. The Bulau Bulau Aboriginal Village is owned and operated by the Atayal tribe people, which is the 2nd largest tribal group. Even Jolin Tsai and Vivien Hsu have Atayal blood in them.

Bulau Bulau Aboriginal Village (61)

You get to choose whether to take the suspension bridge or to be driven across the dry river bed. The suspension bridge really shakes!!

After the 1.5 hour journey from Taipei, we still had to transfer to a rickety 4 wheel drive to traverse up the mountain. Luckily this portion was pretty short and not too terrible. I hate having to travel along mountain roads with sheer drops down the side. I think I’ve had my fair share of such experiences, not forgetting the treacherous incident in New Zealand South Island. We were driving on the highway high above the Clyde River when our windscreen decided to fog up. How fun is that?

Bulau Bulau Aboriginal Village (64)

When we got to the top, we had to shout “LOKASO!”, which is something like Hello in the Atayal language.

Bulau Bulau Aboriginal Village (43)

Communal barbequeing of salty pork to kick start a wonderful day on the mountains. For the record it was so hot despite it being winter, I only wore 2 tshirts! It is usually colder on the mountains, guess we were supremely lucky!

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Chun Shui Tang Tea House 春水堂 (Taiwan – Taipei)

After our coffee roasting workshop at Coffee Area in the morning, and a lovely lunch at the Carton King Creativity Park, as part of our 5D4N Whirlwind Sponsored trip to Taiwan, it was time to move on to our 2nd hands on event at Chun Shui Tang. Many of us are familiar with GongCha, Koi and ShareTea as bubble tea shops hailing from good old Taiwan. However, I don’t think many of us will have heard about Chun Shui Tang. They are also a Pearl Tea shop, with 30 years of history.

Chun Shui Tang claims to have been the first to invent the Taiwanese Pearl Milk Tea. I’m not so sure if this is true, because one taxi driver we met told us that this is a drink with decades of history. The story has it that because the villagers were poor, they used to add tapioca balls to baby’s milk to help fill up the babies. One day, there was a bit of left over tapioca balls so it was put inside some milk tea which happened to be around. No prizes for guessing what happened next.

Whatever be the truth, it doesn’t detract from the fact that Chun Shui Tang has THE BEST TAIWANESE BUBBLE TEA I have ever had to date! I haven’t tried all that many bubble teas, but compared to Koi and GongCha in Singapore, it’s just WAY BETTER! SERIOUS! I tried both the red bubble tea without milk and the milk bubble tea. Both were fantastic! The tea taste really comes through, especially for the without milk version. For the milk bubble tea, the milk has a lightness to it and the tea taste is also strong. I don’t feel like I’m chugging down a milk drink flavoured with tea. I feel like I am really having tea, with milk!

What’s even more amazing is that I assembled the 2 drinks myself. Considering the fact that I could have put in a little too much of tea, or too much of milk powder, it just goes to show how good the base ingredients were. At least that seems to be the case.

Chun Shui Tang (33)

Before I jump into the pictures of the bubble tea making process, let me first showcase a few photos of Chun Shui Tang teahouse. Love the place to bits! The Taichung people believe that a great day is a day spent having afternoon tea. Nothing epitomises that philosophy better than a pretty and inviting tea house, housed in the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. The national museum is located in Taichung, and not Taipei, presumably because the Taichung people are more attuned to the arts?

Chun Shui Tang (26)

Chun Shui Tang (21)

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Quayside Isle Sentosa Cove

After my birthday lunch today at Il Lido Sentosa Golf Club, we decided to swing by the latest enclave in town, or should I say out of town, the Quayside Isle at Sentosa Cove. It’s definitely worth a visit because the place really is very picturesque and idyllic. There are many yachts parked at the marina, and there are 2 rows of restaurants flanking the waters.

City Developments Limited, the property developer of Quayside Isle, describes the place the place as the Capri of Southeast Asia. I don’t know if it can ever be compared to the real Capri, nonetheless, Quayside Isle is a must visit destination when you are in Sentosa. I like it so much I’m going to make a reservation at one of the restaurants next week!

A list of what to do at Quayside Isle is available at the bottom of this post.

Photos of Quayside Isle and a list of all the restaurants at Quayside Isle

Quayside Isle Sentosa Cove (21)

This is one arm of Quayside Isle, with tenants such as Kith cafe, Note di Sicilia, Ezoca Japanese Restaurant etc

Quayside Isle Sentosa Cove (2)

The view you can enjoy as you sip your beer by the waters.

Quayside Isle Sentosa Cove (13)

Scroll down for the list of restaurants and shops at Quayside Isle

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STREET 50 Restaurant & Bar

STREET 50 - Crabmeat Istimewa (Stir-fried sambal rice with crabmeat, onion and green peas accompanied by satay, chicken wings, achar, prawn crackers and fried egg) $16

If you’re ever lost for what to eat when you’re at VivoCity or HarbourFront, you may just want to consider hopping across the road to the 1 year old Bay Hotel. STREET 50 Restaurant & Bar just opened last month, taking over the premises of the former Indonesian restaurant Rumah Rasa. STREET 50 offers diverse flavours ranging from Italian, French and American to Vietnamese, Indonesian and Singaporean with interesting twists.

Now every restaurant likes to say that they’ve added an interesting twist or a something special to their dish, but a lot of the times, the tastes are still pretty predictable. At STREET 50, I’m quite sure you will be in for a surprise when it comes to some of their signature dishes.

STREET 50 - Caprese (Selection of interspersed vineyard tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella with aged balsamico and fried basil) $12

Caprese (Selection of interspersed vineyard tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella wrapped in parma ham with aged balsamico and fried basil) $12

We started off the meal with a delightful Caprese. I love Caprese and I always want to order it when I’m at an Italian restaurant. However, as you can see it is quite substantial for a starter so I end up always having to give it a miss. It was great to be able to indulge in a bit of Caprese at this tasting. Love the sweet tomatoes wrapped in the salty Parma ham! The buffalo mozzarella was a little tough though.

STREET 50 - Hazelnut Escargot (Slow-baked Burgundy snails stuffed with hazelnut butter and flambed with brandy) $14 (3)

Hazelnut Escargot (Slow-baked Burgundy snails stuffed with hazelnut butter and flambed with brandy) $14

Escargots! Another one of my favourite foods! We were in for a special treat because these Escargots were also flambéed in Brandy. I’ve seen flambé of numerous steaks, and even a flambé Pencai, but never before, flambéed Escargots!

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The Orange Thimble

The Orange Thimble - (22)

Over the Chinese New Year period, my parents, the Partner and I decided to stop off at a cafe to have a cuppa. We aren’t coffee addicts, but somehow, the idea of having a cuppa just puts a smile on our faces. The only thing is, where on earth to find a cafe that’s open during Chinese New Year? I was stubbornly hopeful and drove past the Everton and Tanjong Pagar/Bukit Pasoh area hoping to spy some welcoming light from the otherwise darkened shophouses. No such luck.

Of course I wasn’t so stupid as to drive around aimlessly, because I already knew that The Orange Thimble in Tiong Bahru was open on the 2nd day of Chinese New Year. It’s just that I couldn’t believe that The Orange Thimble would be the ONLY 3rd Wave cafe that would prove to be open on the 2nd day of Chinese New Year. After also scouring Tiong Bahru, we finally settled for The Orange Thimble. Don’t get me wrong though, the only reason why I didn’t head straight for it is because I’ve already tried The Orange Thimble once, on the 3rd day of Chinese New Year 2012 in fact! Now I’m beginning to wonder if Orange has anything to do with it…

The Orange Thimble - Hot Chocolate

Although I always set off thinking that I will have a coffee, very often, I suddenly switch to hot chocolate instead. I’m not a coffee addict, but I AM a hot chocolate/ice chocolate addict. It’s what I really want to drink, even if I think a hot chocolate is easily replicatable at home. Complicating huh.

The hot chocolate from The Orange Thimble is FANTASTIC! It’s one of the best hot chocolates I’ve had in a very long time! The hot chocolate is extremely rich, thick and yet not overly sweet. There a bit of a fluffy texture, like little chocolate clouds floating in the drink. I really love this hot chocolate. If anything, it’s a bit on the pricey side at $7.

The Orange Thimble - Chocolate Dacquoise (4)

I don’t think I’ve ever had a chocolate dacquoise before. It looks like a huge wad of chocolate sandwiched between two thin slices of biscuit. A dacquoise is traditionally a cake with layers of almond and hazelnut meringue but in this case, the dacquoise refers to the baked crispy nut meringue that now looks like a biscuit.

Obviously, the chocolate just drew me to this cake. But I was a little disappointed that it didn’t taste as nice as I expected. I suppose I was expecting a sort of Nutella flavour, but it wasn’t Nutella-like at all. And it isn’t as chocolately as it looks either, although it is rather chocolatey. I mean it’s definitely not like eating chocolate out of a jar. Interestingly, my mother liked it very much. As it was not so sweet, my mother enjoyed it a lot. I do wonder if a more bready or cakey base and top would have been a better match. There was just too little biscuit to go with the huge amount of chocolate.

The Orange Thimble - Kaya Butter Toast (3)

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