Wednesday, January 11, 2017

CLOSED/RIP: VOODOO DOUGHNUTS


RIP Voodoo Doughnut Taiwan. I had heard it was closed for awhile, but there was no announcement on their social media and people were still posting donuts on Instagram that said 2017. So I had to see for myself and it is indeed closed, signage taken down. It's hard when there are so many dessert options in town, and people in Taiwan don't eat doughnuts for breakfast. 

Admittedly, I only went twice during the year and half it was open. The first time I was underwhelmed, the second time it was slightly better. Both times the shop was empty the whole time I was browsing. The main donut I'll miss is the maple bacon bar. Maybe someone else will bring those flavors to Taipei. 



Tuesday, January 10, 2017

instagram: WEEKLY FAVE 5 DISHES IN TAIPEI- jan 2017


EVERY YEAR, MY NEW YEARS' RESOLUTIONS are more or less the same: eat healthier, exercise more, sleep earlier, declutter and be more organized. Blog more regularly. Print out photos.  Not be late to everything. But then a year has swept by and it's time to look at the progress I've made. I had chips and chocolates this morning while watching the Golden Globes instead of working out, but hey, I did declutter my desk and now I'm typing out this post.

Last year, I had a lot of "firsts"... my first time to Osaka, my first time to Paris, my first time to Guangzhou and I traveled more than I had in awhile. I also went to Tainan for the first time while working with the Culinary Institute of America's team on their series World of Flavors, who put together some amazing footage and coverage in Taipei, Tainan and Kaohsiung. I also worked with Bizarre Foods for the second time behind the scenes, this time with for Delicious Destinations.

Every year I think to myself, how cool would it be to have a 10 Best Dishes of the Year list, but I always find it so hard to narrow it down. I always have a lot of ideas and I want this year to be a year of more action, less words. I want to post things sooner than later, which I'm sure you want too. I want to worry less about what other people think and just go back to this blog being for me, and for when I want to point my friends in the right direction for food so I don't have to scroll through the 30,000+ photos on my phone. Not to worry about what is the most instagrammable or is going to get the most likes, but to talk about places and food that gets ME excited. Because I know that's what you will want to try too.

Places change. People change. Times change. But we keep moving forward and life is short. I'm still learning, trying new things, opportunities that scare me. I'm still discovering new restaurants in Taipei ALL THE TIME. It never ends! But that is a good thing... just need to put it all here (and hope whole paragraphs don't get plagiarized and reformatted as their own content by other travel apps or bloggers) (Yes, it happens and I have proof).

SO.. to kick off this January-first post of 2017, these are five of my favorite dishes from last week that you can try this week! Let's see if I can keep this up on a weekly basis, like a radio song countdown! Until I can throw up full reviews, this will give a sneak peek.


HUNGRYINTAIPEI'S WEEKLY FAVE 5 IN TAIPEI

1. SUGAR PEA's BANANA PANCAKES

Though I was one of the first to post Sugar Pea's banana pancakes, I know I'm not alone in my addiction to them, seeing the flurry of posts in the month afterwards of the food and sunroom selfies. With peanut butter honey sauce to drown the short stack of pancakes and bruleed bananas, I have to resist making this a weekly habit. Everything I've tried here is delicious and I usually find myself also ordering the chipotle chicken bowl, the pancake sliders, the steak salad and sometimes a slice of cake. Get the red velvet if they have it. Currently still in soft opening. SUGAR PEA, No. 16, Alley 20, Lane 300, RenAi Road, Sec. 4, 仁愛路四段300巷20弄16號 (02) 2325-6188


2. NKU's FRIED PORK SKIN
A few summers ago I got a small paper bag of the bbq pork rinds from Ink Sack in LA. It was one of the best things I had ever put in my mouth. Best because it was crunchy, airy, salty and like eating pork skin cheetos but better. Then this summer, I got a bag from Ink Sack at LAX at the airport and it was one of the worst things I had ever put in my mouth. It was stale, greasy and I had to through the rest of the bag away. So to my surprise, this dish at NKU recaptured that deliciousness, even though they coat it with a white chocolate sauce (can't taste it) and spice powder, so that you will find yourself going back for more even though your new year's resolution was to eat more healthy. The lunch sets here are a great deal for NT$390, but I recommend still ordering some of their dishes to share if you come with a group of people. From what I tried, my other favorites included the bamboo, beef tongue, and duck breast. Snow ball liquid nitro'd coconut dessert fun too. Skip the fried oxtail balls and pork pie. NKU has been opened for about six months or so, with very instagrammable decor, semi open kitchen, but neighbors have hung a sign over their entrance, protesting their wood fire ovens and cooking. NKU, No. 13, Alley 26, Lane 300, RenAi Rd, Sec. 4, (02) 2701-8025, Closed Tuesdays


3. LA MESA's SHAVED TO ORDER IBERICO HAM


Surprised to have not heard about La Mesa Taipei before, it's a Spanish restaurant open for about four years in Daan district (in the narrow alleys behind Ice Monster). Delicious tapas, paella, full wine list and cozy atmosphere. The iberico ham is paper thin and I savored each bite. La Mesa's must order dishes include the iberico ham, jamon croquettes, pan fried calamari, paella and chorizo in cider and garlic. Prices are also very reasonable and service friendly. Only open for dinner, and open until 2am on weekends. LA MESA TAIPEI 西班牙風味小酒館, No. 33, Lane 137, Yanji St, Da’an District, (02) 2778-7676

4. WOOLLOOMOOLOO's CHIA PUDDING



It's been awhile since I've been to Woolloomooloo, but they've revved up their breakfast/brunch menu and added over a dozen new things including waffles w ice cream (!) and this chia seed pudding. Might not be as sexy as an Acai bowl, but I enjoyed the coconut flavor along with the crunchy granola and fruit. (NT$280) WXY is one of the rare spots open early (and that has a flat white) and a cafe I used to go to every week until more places opened around town. Also love their meat pie, avocado toast with poached eggs and dessert array. Order the carrot cake if you see it, or the nut tart. WOOLLOOMOOLOO, No. 379, Section 4, Xinyi Rd, Xinyi District, (02) 8789-0128


5. HANYEOGIYO's COLD NOODLES

Hanyeoyigo (韓老二韓國烤肉) is a newish KBBQ place at Neo 19 and Daan District that boasts a pretty full menu including one of my favorites- soupy cold noodles. The server cut it up for us and also gave us a big bottle of vinegar and mustard to customize it. The noodles were chewy and not too soft, and they didn't skimp on the stuff inside, including korean pear, radish, cucumbers, beef and egg. The KBBQ here is mostly pork and beef and the BBQ grill includes steamed egg on the rims that cooks as the server grills your meat. Lettuces and sauces included, but not that much choice in banchan. This spot is only open at night but takes reservations. HANYEOYIGO (韓老二韓國烤肉),No. 32, Lane 107, Section 1, FuXing S. Rd, Da’an District, (02) 2771-6474

Monday, December 05, 2016

chinese/dim sum: i strongly recommend TIM HO WAN



TIM HO WAN 添好運
at HOYII
No. 36, ZhongXiao W Rd, Sec. 1
台北市忠孝西路一段36號1樓
(02) 2370-7078

MRT: Taipei Main Station

website: Tim Ho Wan Taiwan's FB page

hours: 10AM - 10PM

$-$$

Kid friendliness: high chairs available and lots to choose from for dim sum loving kids

Visit reviewed: 11/10/2014 & 1/30/2015 & 6/29/2015 & 12/4/2016



WILL PEOPLE LINE UP FOR YOUR RESTAURANT? That seems to be the gauge for new places opening up in Taipei. People infamously lined up for hours for Mister Donut, Krispy Kreme, Honey Pig, Honey Creme, Hai Di Lao, Taipei In and Out pop up, and a few years ago, it was Tim Ho Wan. I just revisited Tim Ho Wan today and realized that I had this blog draft sitting in my folder for the past few years! So here it finally is...



Tim Ho Wan is famous for being one of the cheapest Michelin starred restaurants you can dine at with dishes averaging about NT$100+ for its dim sum. I've never been to the original location in Hong Kong, but luckily I was with a group of friends who knew how to order-- everything on the menu! To my surprise, everything lived up to its reputation and was delicious-- my favorite was the baked bun with bbq pork which had an thin, sweet crust instead of the bready white bun we have grown up with. 

I would stick to the dim sum over the rice bowls or congee that they have, which I think are better at places like Lao Yo Ji. Also note there isn't much for strict vegetarians here, most of their dishes that might seem to be vegetarian might have pork fat or oil in it, so there's only one or two things that you'd be able to try here if you are vegetarian. For an entire array of vegetarian dim sum, you can head over to Yang Shin


If you only have a group of two or four people, then the MUST ORDERS at Tim Ho Wan are the baked bbq bun, the shrimp or pork liver chang fun, the pork dumpling with shrimp (aka siu mai) and one of the more unique fried items like the spring roll with egg white, and save room for the mango pomelo sago and steamed egg cake. Those were my favorites. 

Baked bun with bbq pork (NT$118 for 3) The first time I had this, I loved it. But on my most recent visit, I noticed that it can be a little overly sweet since the filling is sweet and the bun itself is sweet. But inside the bun is mostly air and so it's easy to finish one. But I don't think I could eat more than one in one sitting. 





The chang fun here is dubbed the vermicelli roll, and comes with shrimp, bbq pork, beef, plain or pork liver. 

Vermicelli Roll with Pork Liver (NT$128) 




Steamed Pork Dumpling with Shrimp (NT$128)




Spring Roll with Egg White (NT$98) 




 Vermicelli Roll with Sweet and Sesame Sauce (NT$108) vegetarian


Steamed Prawn Dumpling (NT$138)


Pan fried carrot cake (NT$98 for 3) aka Radish cake is soft and not that crispy, but it's good and you can taste the chunks of radish inside. 


Steamed Pork Rib with Black Bean Sauce (NT$108) 


Steamed Beef Ball with Beancurd Skin (NT$98)


Beancurd Skin Roll with Pork and Shrimp (NT$98) 



Braised Chicken Feet with Abalone Sauce (Not for me, but so you can see the portion and size and how it was more saucy on one visit than the other :) 



Spinach dumpling with shrimp - one of the few with veggies in it. 




Deep Fried Beancurd Skin Roll with Shrimp



Wasabi Salted Prawn Dumpling (NT$128)




Congee with Lean Pork, Century Egg and Salted Egg (NT$108) I still like the the congee at Lao Yo Ji the best. 


Seasonal Veggies



Rice with Beef and Fried Egg (NT$138)




Chicken, sausage and mushroom rice (NT$138) 


Glutinous rice with lotus leaf (NT$128) I would get this over the rice bowls- it's massive enough to share and the glistening sticky rice is stuffed with meat, mushrooms and surprises.




Mango Pomelo Sago (NT$118) Yum! I'll always remember the first time I had this kind of dessert in Hong Kong, and this dessert soup is refreshing at the end of the meal.



Steamed Egg Cake (NT$98) To my surprise, I liked this a lot! Fluffy and spongy, this was like a moist brown sugar cake.


Now that there are several locations and take out counters, the lines aren't as insane on a daily basis, but on weekends make a reservation in advance to avoid the wait. Also good news is that they haven't raised their prices yet since opening. 



OTHER LOCATIONS

Xinyi Mitsukoshi A8, B2
No. 12, SongGao Rd, Xinyi District
(02) 2722-9358
11AM- 9:30PM; until 10PM on friday and weekends

Hankyu Mall Food Court
No 8, ZhongXiao E. Road, Sec. 5, B2
(02) 2729-3378
7:30AM-9:30PM; until 10PM on friday and weekends (wow! 730AM!)

MegaCity
No. 28 XinDian Road, B1
新北市板橋區新站路28號B1
(02) 2955-7978
11AM- 10PM

Taichung
No. 251, Taiwan DaDao Sec. 3
台中市西屯區臺灣大道三段251號B2 
(04) 2258-6778

Kaohsiung
No.777, Bo'ai 2nd Road, Zuoying Dist | B1F, Hanshin Arena Shopping Plaza, Kaohsiung 813
高雄市左營區博愛二路路777號(漢神巨蛋B1美食廣場)


Friday, December 02, 2016

pop up/asia best 50: MINISTRY OF CRAB POP UP AT REGENT TAIPEI 12/1-12/4



SRI LANKA IS EIGHT HOURS AWAY FROM TAIPEI, BY PLANE. It's a small island on the south side of India, which I didn't know until I looked it up yesterday. Thank goodness for Google. 

Why was I looking up Sri Lanka? Because I was charmed by the enthusiasm, backstory and food of half Japanese, half Sri Lankan chef Dharshan Munidasa, who has two restaurants ranked on Asia's Best 50. He cooked up a storm while a student at John Hopkins, with skills learned from his Japanese mom, and returned to Sri Lanka when his father passed away before graduating from college. Chef Munidasa brought his spices, woks, team and huge crabs from Sri Lanka to Taipei, to do a four day pop up at Regent Taipei from 12/1-12/4.  


From the moment I sat down and saw a bib with a motto to live by "Keep Calm and Crab On," I knew we were going to have a good meal and get our hands dirty. 


The set menu for two is NT$4800 or you could get 1-1.5 kg (2-3.5 pounds) crabs a la carte for NT$2580 or NT$4280, depending on weight. 
 

The tasting started off with a glass of Small Island Ice Tea, inspired by Long Island Ice Tea, with Sri Lankan tea and arrack, which is a coconut flower liquor. It's sweet accompaniment to the stronger flavors on the plate. 


Chili crab and pepper crabs might have been popularized by Singapore using exported Sri Lankan crabs, but Ministry of Crab is the first Sri Lankan restraurant "dedicated to serving the best crabs in their country." They are a "no freeze" restaurant so their seafood isn't frozen, and the crabs at the pop up are also live (up untl they are cooked.) Ofher dishes include OMG prawns and #crabzilla which are crabs over 2kg. Diners can opt for pepper crab (made with crushed Sri Lankan peppers), curry, garlic or garlic chili crab.


The OMG prawns were also delicious and slightly less work to eat. The head was the size of a lobster, which seemed oversized to the shrimpy body.


Jockeying for a shot among all the Taiwan news cameras and reporters. 😁😁 





Luckily several crabs came to the table, so it wasn't too awkward to duke it out for crab. The claws were almost as big as my fist and definitely more satisfying (for meat) than hairy crab, which is tiny in comparison. The black pepper crab wasn't overwhelming and a lot of the sauce came off when you take off the shell. The meat was sweet and I liked both the pepper and garlic flavors I tried. If you don't get the set, I would recommend the OMG prawn over the Curry Tiger Prawns which were slightly over cooked and a tad dried out. Otherwise just get a bunch of crab loving friends and share different flavors of crab. Thanks Regent Taipei for the invitation to the media event and lunch! 



Ministry of Crab's pop up is from 12/1-12/4 at Silk Place, on the 3rd floor in the Regent Taipei Hotel. Reservations recommended (02) 2521-5000

https://m.facebook.com/MINISTRYOFCRAB/photos/a.284603361627863.72624.192288300859370/1026794397408752/?type=3&source=44



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