Friday, December 30, 2011

National Palace Museum, Taipei

National Place Museum in Taipei is famous for its large collection of Chinese artifacts and paintings. It's a must-visit destination when you are in Taipei.

However though, when we arrived, there were literally thousands of tourists waiting to enter the museum or milling about. It was sheer pandemonium! You can't tell from the pictures because they were all inside.

We decided to just take a few pictures outside and leave. The architecture though was really something, very grand and very quintessential Chinese.

Modern Toilet Restaurant

Ok, this Modern Toilet Restaurant is getting some buzz due to it's "uniqueness" and "gross factor". We went to the one in Ximending. Ximen station Exit 6. From there, I can't remember how we went to restaurant, what I remember though is that it's just a short walk from the MRT station.

The restaurant interior is all about the toilet and its accessories. Toilet seats for seat, glass tops cover tubs and bathrooms sinks and serve as tables. Showers hang on walls and serve as decorations or art.

Your food orders are placed in uhhhmm, body discharge receptacles and the like.

Orders are placed in the cashier. This lady here tried to explain to me how to order, but she hardly speaks english and I don't speak Mandarin. Again, lost in translation. But by sign language and a lot of pointing, I managed to order some food.

We ordered some pica-pica of French Fries, Mozzarella Sticks and a chocolate ice cream for Hubby. Our orders were placed in miniature squat toilets.

I ordered some tea as well, served in a miniature water closet.

Now, the food at Modern toilet is not that exceptional. Although I've read some good reviews on the Beef Rice Bowl, we didn't try it because were still quite full when we arrived at the restaurant. My stomach isn't as accommodating as it was in my teens, he he he.

My experience in modern toilet restaurant is ok, a nice novelty experience but I won't be coming back again. Unless, I'm trying to gross out other friends.

Modern Toilet Restaurant's real bathroom facilities are anything but modern, or clean. Ugh, just thinking about it makes me wanna hurl my breakfast.

I don't usually get grossed out but, but moist, dirty and smelly squat toilets are nasty. Ugh.

SOGO Food Court

Back to blogging about Taipei. For our second day, Hubby and I decided to sleep in, because the weather was so cold outside and the shops tend to open late, around 11 am.

We had brunch at the SOGO food court, near our hotel. The food court is typical to most Asian mall food courts, plenty of choices, mostly Asian dishes. We opted to order some soup since it was cold and we needed something to warm us up a bit.

We got some noodles from this store, freshly prepared and piping hot!

I ordered some Shrimp Noodle Soup.

Hubby had some Beef Noodle Soup with vegetable siding.

I wasn't too happy with my noodles (hey, after eating at Din Tai Fung, my expectations were way up high). I looked for some steamed dumplings in the food court. Lo and behold, there were none from the stalls. Maybe because there's a Din Tai Fung Restaurant on the same floor! I  settled for fried dumplings with some pickled cucumbers. I love the pickled cucmbers, sweet, tangy, a bit spicy and so refreshing.

Christmas Grub

Hi everyone. I've been enjoying my staycation so much. You know, staying at home for vacation. A very cheap way to enjoy our week off. Spending quality and quiet time with Hubby on our week off is so relaxing.

I'm going to continue blogging about our recent Taipei trip. In the meantime though, I'd like to share with you a picture of our buffet table last Christmas day.

We had steamed crabs, chili prawns (which I cooked), pork roast (which my mom made), grilled prawns, lechon (of course!), rellenong bangus, pancit mabon. I baked some blueberry cheesecake and made fruit salad as well.

Burp! :-)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone. May your Christmas be filled with much love and endless laughter.

Leica and Hubby

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Shilin Night Market

I remember being lacking sleep from our red eye flight and so exhausted from our first day's adventures in Taipei. It was still early, we decided to stop by at the hotel and rest for a while before venturing out.

A little bit rested, and despite being still full from our Din Tai Fung meal and desserts from Hello Kitty Sweets, Hubby and I made our way to Shilin Night Market to try out some traditional Taipei street food. None was healthy, I guarantee you.

While browsing through some blogs about Taipei and the Shilin Night market, stall number 200 came highly recommended for their oyster cake/omelette. As we were going through the market, we noticed that locals also eat at stall 200. I think that's a good sign, right?

We ordered one oyster cake, which always come with Thick Squid Soup.

I liked the Oyster Cake which comes with brown sauce. Hubby didn't like it too much because it was too oily.

Hubby also ordered some Stinky Tofu (which was very stinky, I tell you). Hubby loves the Stinky Tofu. He ordered two! I personally don't prefer it. But it probably grows on you, like a fungus or something, he he he.

To wash it all down, we ordered some fresh watermelon shake from another stall. I ordered the mango pineapple. Both were quite refreshing after an oily meal.

Fresh fruit juices abound all over Taipei. The Taiwanese love them fresh fruits. I noticed too that sodas are not very common in food stalls and food courts and very few people drink them. There was a point that we thought that it may be illegal to drink sodas, ha ha ha!

After our meal and meandering through the food stalls, Hubby wanted to try some bubble tea. He liked it but, wanted it to be more sweet.

What a great first day in Taipei!

I didn't realize that I would love Taipei this much, but I do! :-) I can't wait to go back.

Hello Kitty Sweets

After our Taipei 101 adventures, Hubby and I decided to go back to the hotel. As we were weaving our way back, we decided to look for Hello Kitty Sweets, which is located close to our hotel anyway, per our research. I had a map on my phone, which I photographed from a print out. Very few people speak English so it's very hard to ask for directions.

After a few minutes walking and making wrong turns. Hubby was getting very cranky. I had to bite my tongue and contain myself from screaming my irritation. You can see from this photo, how excited Hubby is to be surrounded by pink.

Hello Kitty sweets, I've been told, used to have a branch in Megamall, years ago. But it didn't fly. I wasn't able to go then because I didn't know it existed.

Hello Kitty sweets in Taipei is a novelty. It's not going to win any culinary awards, but, the sheer cuteness of the place and the abundance of pink just calls for your inner teen inside. Come in, sit down and get comforted in this pink fluffy cloud, the place seems to say.

Hello Kitty everywhere, even in the bathroom. Love it! Pink is my favorite color and it's such a treat to be surrounded by it once in a while.

The menu in Hello Kitty sweets is written in Mandarin, no English translation and the people working there cannot speak English. That's what's so frustrating with our Taipei trip, everything gets lost in translation!

Hubby pointed to a tiramisu-like cake, which turned out ok.

The best part though is the strawberry flavored white chocolate hello kitty head. That's very yummy. It tastes like strawberry ice cream. The presentation of the dessert is just awesome.

I ordered the strawberry mousse, which was surprisingly good, light and fluffy. Again, the Hello Kitty strawberry flavored white chocolate was really nice.

We got two free flavored sodas with our order and a complimentary Hello Kitty gelatin. The sodas were too sweet, the gelatin was just average.

Overall, Hello Kitty sweets is a nice place to visit, just to experience the cuteness of the place. The cakes are more expensive if you dine in. Take out is half the price :-)

To get there, take the MTR to Nangang (Blue Line), get off at Zhongxiao Fuxing station, exit 3. Exit 5 is farther and is a bit of a walk (and you might get confused, like we did), better exit at 3, it's closer and less confusing. Hello Kitty Sweets is just along Da'an Road. You can't miss it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Taipei 101

It's the quintessential Taipei experience. Going up the 89th viewing deck of the tallest man-made structure in the whole of Taiwan. The Taipei 101.

It was rainy and foggy during our entire stay in Taipei, but, it did not detract us from appreciating the view from the 89th floor. It was too cloudy for pictures but the sights were amazing nonetheless.

Taipei 101 has the fastest elevator in the world. It took only 40 seconds to reach the top. whew, my ears!

Taipei 101 also, has the only damper available for public viewing. My nerdy Hubby couldn't help himself, he explained to me how it works. Gist of which is that the huge golden ball (known as the damper), balances the building when the earth is moving. It prevents the building from toppling over. Lasers around the damper provide exact measurements of its movements so that scientists and building administrators can study the damper's movements and the earth's behavior. Taipei 101 sits in an earthquake zone, it's pretty brave to build a building in such conditions. Hence, the damper.

Taipei 101 has a Mascot called Baby Damper. So cute.

 To get to Taipei 101: take the Nangang Line (Blue Line) to Taipei City Hall, exit 2. There are free shuttle buses every few minutes.

Din Tai Fung, Taipe 101

From Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, Hubby and I walked to Taipei 101. It was cold, it was raining and we got soaked. But I was eager to see Taipei 101 for one main reason, Din Tai Fung.

Din Tai Fung. Oh-em-gee!

Din Tai Fung is the only Asian restaurant to be awarded a Michelin 1 rating. It is rated as one of the world's best ten restaurants. That rating is so well deserved. I would go back to Taipei just for Din Tai Fung. That's how great the food was. So worth the plane ride and the cold rainy weather.

Din Tai Fung is ALWAYS full. You have to patiently wait for your number to be called. As you wait, you are requested to fill in an order form and choose from their wide array of dishes. The order form is in Mandarin, but there are numbers corresponding to a dish, which they have included in their English menu, so it's not too complicated.

Hubby and I ordered Shrimp Shaomai (siomai in Tagalog). This is very good. Worth ordering again. The wrapper is handmade fresh daily.

I ordered Noodles with Pork and Vegetable Dumpling. This is quite light and healthy. The soup is mild and not too over powering in taste.

Hubby ordered the Beef Noodle, Taiwan's specialty. It was really really good. The beef was to tender and the soup was excellent, bit spicy, but just right. This is the gold standard for beef noodle soup.

Din Tai Fung's specialty is the Xiao Long Bao. Xiao Long Bao are handmade dumplings with savory filling.

The way to eat a Xiao Long Bao is this:

1. Make the sauce. In a small dish with finely julienned ginger, add one part soy sauce and three parts black vinegar.

2. Dip the delicious Xiao Long Bao in the sauce. Place the dumpling in a Chinese spoon. (I like to add more sauce at this point)

3. Puncture the dumpling to release the steam and some of the juices into the spoon and devour.

OMG, the flavor just explodes in your mouth. It's so good. I get hungry just thinking about it.

We tried the Truffle Xiao Long Bao and the Original Pork Xiao Long Bao. Both were excellent but, liked the Truffle better.

For the truffle Xiao Long Bao, you don't need to dip it in the sauce, but both ways are good.

Hands down, Din Tai Fung is one of my favorite restaurants. I would go back to Taipei, just for this.

Yes, dammit. I will fly to Taipei just to eat Xiao Long Bao :-)

Din Tai Fung has branches in Hong Kong, Singapore, Seoul, Japan, Indonesia, China, US and Australia.

I have no idea why I only ate at Din Tai Fung now, but, I am so glad I did!

I hope they open a branch in Manila soon!