Monday, January 30, 2012

Potato Balls

They're round, they're fried and they're crispy. They're potato balls! Sold freshly made at the Ximending area by ladies pushing a cart.

The potatoes are mashed, and then extruded through a machine, cut into small pieces and carefully fried until they get golden and puffy.

The lady offered a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar. I prefer it without. This is so delicious, I bought two small bags and ate them.

Funny thing about the street vendors in Ximending, most of them are on wheels. You know when you watch Taiwanese telenovelas and movies? Where the vendors run for the hills when they hear a cop siren? We witnessed it firsthand in Ximending. It was chaotic and very nerve wracking because the pots are filled with very hot oil and they start splashing around as the vendors run! Quite an adventure.

Fortunately, no one usually gets hurt. Part of the fun, I guess.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Corn Dog in Taipei

I'm not sure why Hubby was compelled to buy a corn dog in Taipei since there were so many much more "Chinese" street food on offer.

He seemed to like it though.

Reading through my blog, can you imagine how much food we've ingested in just a single afternoon? Ha ha ha.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sweet Grilled Tikoy?

Sweet grilled tikoy? 

Seemes like it when we passed this store in Ximending. I'm not really sure what it was made up of, but it looked like tikoy to us. We cant read Mandarin so we cant really tell what is is. Anybody out there who can help? :-) We were intrigued about this dessert. People were lining up to get one.

It seemed that the tikoy, after being sliced in rectangles, are placed on sticks and  grilled until they puff up and turn a bit golden. I noticed that the server puts a bit of pressure to the tikoy as they grill, probably to help get that golden brown color and to help puff it up a little bit.

Several sauces are available for you to choose from. There is peanut sauce, cheese sauce, green tea, chocolate and a few others that I did not catch very well. Language barrier.

I was the first one to try, I got peanut and cheese sauce. I know it sounds funky together but the flavors really compliment each other, sweet, salty and sticky :-) I love it.

Hubby on the other hand, took a bite from what I ordered, loved it too and bought one for himself. He got the one drenched in chocolate. He loved it so much, he ordered another one. I think he would probably order another one if I didn't remind him that there were more treats to be discovered.

I love discovering places like these. We would definitely go back to that stall upon our return to Ximending, Taipei.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bitter Melon Shake

We've seen so many bitter melon juice stores all over Taipei. You can tell by the white bitter melons that are displayed in the storefronts. Hubby doesn't eat bitter melon and absolutely loathes the stuff and was physically cringing at the idea of drinking bitter melon (amplaya). Yes, in front of the store, he was cringing.

I, on the other hand is braver than my knight in shining armour. The bitter melon in Taipei is white, as opposed to a vivid green here in Manila. That alone got me curious enough to try a cup.

When the lady handed me the drink, and as I brace myself for the onslaught of extreme bitterness, I was surprised to taste just a tini tiny bit of bitterness and a whole lot of sweetness.

It turns out that they add a jigger of honey to sweeten the concoction. I suspect also that the Taiwan bitter melon is much milder than ours. Hence, the white color.

After my urging and my assurance that it's not as bitter as he thought, Hubby took one sip and declared it unpalatable.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sophisca Goodies Store

While browsing through the streets of Ximending, we chanced upon Sophisca. I was drawn to the colorful stockings, Christmas baskets and other cutesy Christmas goodies that were on display. I literally felt like a kid in a candy store.

Candies everywhere! I couldn't decide which ones to buy. I wanted to buy all of them and give them away for gifts. Too cute.

I settled for just buying three Christmas stockings. One for each of the punks. Pink for Jessica, red for Ashley and a blue one for Jayjay.

I wanted to buy one of each and maybe try to duplicate them for Christmas giveaways for next Christmas.  Oh wait, I can't sew. Ha ha ha.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bubble Tea at Ximending

After a shared bowl of miswa noodles, Hubby and I were craving for something sweet and cold to wash down the salt of the noodles. You guessed it, we made a beeline for the bubble tea!

We found this stall just beside the noodle shop. They sell a variety of bubble tea, coffee and fruit smoothies.

My order somehow got lost in translation and I was given a cup of very hot bubble tea instead.  I've never had hot bubble tea before nor I did ever used a huge straw to drink something hot until that moment. Wow, a lot of firsts in one store!

The hot bubble tea was surprisingly good and with the rainy weather, my bubble tea got really cold, really fast.

I guess even the point-what-you-want-to-order system doesn't always work ;-) Actually though, I'm glad she gave me the wrong order. I liked it and I'm kinda craving for one now.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Food Tripping at Ximending - Miswa Noodles

Let me warn you, my Ximending posts will have at least ten parts. Hubby and I spent our last day in Taipei, feasting on street food in Ximending.

Although Ximeding is known as Taipei's (street) fashion district, the amount of food that's available for consumption is simply astounding. I exaggerate not, but, I will go to Taipei again for two reasons one is Din Tai Fung and the next one is Ximending.

So, let me start the first part of my many posts about Ximending. We found this stall that sell Miswa Noodles or birthday noodles. Wow, the stall is almost as old as me, ha ha ha.

This Miswa is quite different from what we are used to here in Manila. Taipei's version has pork innards in them instead of meatballs. Yup, innards. Yum, so healthy. Ha ha ha.

I love that they added cilantro on top, for a refreshing twist. The miswa was very good, perfect during a cold rainy afternoon. Hubby and I shared this one bowl, which was more than enough for us.

 There are no tables anywhere, only stools, some people eat while standing up. That's part of the fun!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mos Burger, Taipei 101

I really wanted to eat at Mos Burger.  Mos Burger, I think, based on some blogs that I read prior to our trip, is like the direct equivalent of Jollibee here in Manila. Although when we arrived, I've only seen a handful of stores. I guess the burger craze hasn't fully take over yet, thank goodness.

Anyway, Hubby and I tried Mos Burger in Taipei 101, since that's the most convenient branch for us. I saw one in the suburbs but we might get lost trying to find it again.

Mos Burgers are nothing really spectacular as far burgers go, but, the burgers were quite surprisngly delicious, onions and all. Even Hubby ate them, even though it's loaded with onions.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kao Chi Restaurant, Zhongxiao Fuxing, Taipei

Kao Chi  is restaurant established in 1950 that serves traditional Chinese cuisine. It says so in their signage, he he he. The restaurant is conveniently located just a few steps from our hotel. We were intrigued by the braised pork photo in their menu, which was posted outside the restaurant.

Before we get to the Braised Pork, Hubby and I tried the Siomai. Now, as I mentioned in my previous posts, Din Tai Fung is the gold standard in terms of food. The siomai is no exception. However though, Kao Chi tastes pretty decent . The wrapper is a bit thick though.

Aside from the siomai, Hubby and I ordered some Tofu with vegetables. Sorry, forgot what it was called. It wasn't very good, that much I remember. Will not be ordering that again.

We also ordered some fried rice, which was delicious and the flavors from the shrimps and vegetables were spot on.

And the star of the night, the Braised Pork. The Braised Pork is like pork asado raised to the tenth level. The pork was so tender, the sauce was sweet and just a tad salty, the cilantro and the shredded leeks balance it off beautifully. The Braised Pork is served in Mantau bread (like siopao bread). 

 So good. Can you tell which ones I'm ordering again next time? :-)

Lover's Bridge and Fisherman's Wharf, Tamsui

One thing with traveling with Hubby, he hates taking long walks, he refuse to be hurried and he hates having a very packed itinerary. He likes to travel at a leisurely pace. I do too, as long as we have the luxury of extra days. When I planned our Taipei itinerary, I jam packed our days, to maximize our short stay in Taipei. Hubby of course had other ideas :-) I wanted to stay for over a week, but our schedules did not permit it. In fairness though, we managed to get through most of the items in my itinerary.

Anyway, I wanted to go to Fisherman's Wharf, to catch the sunset and explore the Tamsui (also called Dansui) old town and maybe get a few bites to eat.

Due to our "leisurely" pace, and Tamsui being on hour away from Taipei main station by MRT, we arrived at Tamsui station just a few minutes before sunset. We were fast losing light and was unable to catch the charm of the place with our photographs.

The Lover's Bridge or Valentine Bridge got it's name because it broke ground on Valentines day. It's a short bridge that connects one end of the cove to the other. It was so nice to cross it, with the cold sea air whipping at our faces, and lovely sea and mountain views in the background. 

We would definitely explore Tamsui more when we go back to Taipei. There were other interesting sights to see and so many food places to eat in the old town.

I would also like to take some pictures of the wharf at sunset because it's so pretty.

Tamsui, we shall be back!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, Taipei

Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall is one of the  quintessential Taipei tourist destination. Almost all first time travelers to Taipei visit the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall. The architecture is quite lovely and will produce really nice pictures on a clear summer day. It was a rainy winter afternoon when we arrived, but we had so much fun taking pictures anyway :-)

I love chasing the pigeons there, they don't fly!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Exploring Streetfood at Zhongxiao Fuxing, Taipei

Deja Vu Hotel, where we stayed in Taipei has a really nice location. The hotel is within walking distance to two SOGO malls, near an MRT station and most of all, near restaurants and stalls that sell street food.

One night, Hubby and I explored the nearby streets, what else for, but to hunt for street food! Taipei is so famous for it's food, it's only natural to explore what the street vendors are offering, right? I took a photo of the street sign, just in case we may want to come back. Sorry for the blurry photo, it was mighty cold and my hands were shaking!

We came upon this stall, located in a street that abound with all kinds of food. Since we can't speak nor read Mandarin, we christened it Mang Johnny's. Hubby said it looked like a Mang Johnny's place. So Mang Johnny's it is. They serve a variety of soups and other goodies. In a street teeming with small stalls selling a huge variety of street food, Mang Johnny had the most people.

Hubby tried the Beef Noodle Soup. It was good and the meat was so tender. The soup of course cannot be matched with Din Tai Fung's, but Mang Johnny's can hold its own. No one speaks English and there is no English menu anywhere so, it's a point-with-your-finger-and- hand-signal type of ordering system.

I ordered the tofu and century egg with a sweet brown sauce. This is also a very nice combination. At first it looked like it's not going to be good, but combining the tofu with the egg and with the sweet salty sauce, they just work well together.

We noticed also that none of the stalls sell sodas. NONE. At that point, we thought that it might be illegal to consume soda in a public place, ha ha ha. I guess the people from Taipei really prefer tea over sodas or water.

For dessert, we had Green Tea Bubble Tea from Share Tea. I've tasted Share Tea before in Hong Kong and I liked it very much. Hubby, upon trying it, also loved it. It's his favorite bubble tea place in Taipei.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Din Tai Fung - Part Deux

Aaargh! I reviewed our Taipei trip pictures, so many more things to blog! I made an initial outline of the things and wonderful places that I want to share with you guys. Looking at the list is somewhat daunting but I want to write about them because we had such a wonderful trip in Taipei and we can't wait to go back.

I like to look back on the things that I blogged and reminisce. I also don't trust my memory to remember details about the food that I ate or some of the recipes that I concocted. One of my college professors once said "Never trust your memory, write everything down". So right.

Anyway, let me start my first catch-up blog about or Taipei trip. Din Tai Fung. I mentioned before that I absolutely love Din Tai Fung restaurant and if I could, I would eat there everyday during our stay in Taipei. Hey, that rhymes!

Hubby and I was waiting for the SOGO mall to open so that we can have brunch at Din Tai Fung and my gosh, the people immediately made a beeline to Din Tai Fung to get a table! I didn't realize that we had to race to get first in line! We had to wait almost an hour to be seated. Crazy!

I watched the kitchen staff make the Xiao Long Bao while waiting. Wow, they work so efficiently.

But I tell you, the food is really worth it. I love the pickled cucumber in Din Tai Fung. So crunchy, a little tangy and very refreshing. Definitely worth ordering again.

We tried almost all of the Xiao Long Bao (except the chicken one). For this trip, we ordered the Truffle Xiao Long Bao again, our favorite, yummy, yummy, yummy!

We also tried the Shrimp with Angled Loofah Xiao Long Bao, also very delicious. The angled loofah is quite refreshing and added texture to the Xiao Long Bao.

We also ordered Crab Roe Xia Long Bao, heavenly. I opened one packet so that you can see. Oh that glorious broth inside. So good.

Aside from the Xioa Long Bao, we also ordered some Shrimp and Pork Dumplings which were so good as well. I'm getting hungry just writing about it. Oh, I can't wait to go baaaack!

The Beef Spicy Noodle was superb as well. We ordered it without the beef, just the noodles and the really really good broth. The broth from Din Tai Fung is the best that we've had in Taipei.

All the food you see above? Yes, only for Hubby and moi. No left overs. Ha ha ha.

Salivating now.

Din Tai Fung, open a branch in Manila already!