Monday, October 05, 2015

taiwanese/dessert: i strongly recommend SAN HE MIFUN TANG & TAI DA PANG NIU SHAVED ICE

No. 3, Lane 61, Linsen S. Rd, Zhongzheng District
(02) 2392-5489

Lane 18, XuZhou Rd

MRT: Shandao Temple or NTU Hospital

hours: closed Mondays 6:30AM - 3PM 

visit reviewed: 

If you want to eat like a local in Taipei, a bowl of mifun tang 米粉湯 (rice noodle soup) isn't a bad place to start.  A sign that a place serves mifun tang (besides the characters in Chinese) is the huge vat of boiling tofu and noodles at the front like the one at San He Mifun Tang. Pair it with a plate of mushrooms, tofu, pork belly, seaweed, offal and bamboo, you are good to go for less than NT$200. Even though I've lived here for so long, I usually don't go to local shops like this because I don't know what to order. Luckily, I tagged along with some friends on this day and they did all the ordering and it was one of the better bowls of rice noodle soups that I've had in awhile (better than the bowl at Keelung night market and just as good as the one at Tonghua Night market.) Because the broth is clear, it doesn't look as flavorful as the more well known beef noodle soup or the popular Ah Chung flour rice noodles in Ximending, but don't be deceived. A hot bowl of fat, slippery rice noodles has a broth that rivals any ramen broth you'd slurp in its umami for only NT$25.

A photo menu is always a helpful reference.

I shared a bowl with a friend, and the restaurant kindly gave us a bowl filled with extra broth rather than an empty bowl. Sometimes some places overcook their rice noodles, but I found the texture here just right. 

Mushrooms and "oil" tofu 油豆腐 (NT$20)

Pork belly (NT$40), chicken heart (NT$50) and seaweed. I liked all the side dishes we ordered and would order them all again. These three plates were shared between 6 people.

Fresh Bamboo (NT$30) is always a favorite side dish.

On our way back to my friend's hotel, we came across a corner shaved ice stand- Tai Da Pang Niu Shaved Ice. It looked too good to pass up on a hot day, so we decided to get a bowl. You can pick as many toppings as you'd like and I got it with condensed milk of course (NT$50)- tapioca, green mung beans, grass jelly, peanut...

Generous with the condensed milk and we polished off the shaved ice before it melted. If you're staying at/near the Sheraton Hotel or near NTU, you can come look for this corner at XuZhou Road. So good. Can't beat it. For this price, you could have two bowls.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

taiwanese/breakfast: i still recommend FUHANG DOU JIANG

at Huashan Market, 2F
No. 108, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Sec. 1
(02) 2392-2175

MRT: Shandao Temple station

hours: 5:30AM- 12:30PM; Closed Mondays


Kid friendliness: no high chairs spotted. room for strollers and family seating

Visit reviewed: 9/22/2015
Last visit reviewed: 9/2010

My favorite thing from FuHang Dou Jiang is the thick sesame flatbread hou bing 厚餅 (NT$38 with egg 厚餅夾蛋) and the only thing I'd wait in line here for. Waiting in line took about 25 minutes last week and the line was still around the block when I left with my to-go order at 10am weekday. 

Before this place was known to mostly (only) locals until #CNNfood asked me for some non-touristy places and I mentioned this to them. Little did I know CNN's list of 40 must eat foods in #Taiwan they compiled would be passed and copied around the world. So now there's a line everyday and filled with mostly tourists, many clutching Japanese guidebooks. The good thing is that Fuhang is efficient, spacious and clean and provides service in multiple languages. The bad- it became a tourist destination rather than a local's secret and us locals gotta wait longer now. #mybad 

The first time I took a friend there after the list had been published a few years ago, I was shocked that the line went down the stairs and down the street on a weekday morning. Now those lines are a regular sight so I don't go to Fuhang very often since there are other great neighborhood Taiwanese breakfast places to grab and go. 

But when I had some stuff to do in that neighborhood recently, I decided I wanted to get some breakfast to go. When I got there on a Tuesday morning, the line of people patiently waiting was already around the block. 

So I started waiting at 9:37AM hoping the line would move quickly, since I had to be somewhere nearby at 10AM. 

Finally saw the entrance at 9:48AM. 

Still have to wait in line going up the stairs. 

Once you get up to the second floor and can see the food court, then the wait isn't too long. If you are planning on eating there, then I would have someone scope out an area to sit while the other person waits in line to order. 

You can see the busy kitchen working nonstop to make sure there's enough shao bings and you tiaos to go around. 

Got to the front at 10:02AM, so about a 25 minute wait that day. 

Once I got to the ordering counter, the first lady asked me "what do you want to order?" in Chinese. Lots of people are taking pictures, so it's her job to move us and the line along. When the people in front and behind me didn't respond, she quickly launched into the question in Japanese to which the people responded. You give your drink order first, then your food order to the next person, then pay the third lady before you carry your order away. It's fairly quick so it's best if you know what you want ahead of time, so the line keeps moving. If you can't read the Chinese characters, they do have an English printed menu to look at upon request. 

The only thing I would wait in this line for is the hou shao bing since its the only place I've found it. I added an egg that day so it was NT$38. There are other places where I prefer the salty soy milk and you tiao and more in my neighborhood. 

"I love the thick sesame flat bread at Fu Hang because it has a slight sweetness, a thin crispy layer and soft center from coming straight out of the hot metal barrel," quoting myself from Lol.


SO have you waited in line for Fuhang Dou Jiang? Was it worth the wait? 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

cajun/seafood: i recommend BROOKHURST SEAFOOD BAR

No. 43, Lane 308, Guangfu S. Road,
(02) 2741-4857

MRT: SYS Memorial Hall

website: Brookhurst Seafood Bar's FB page

Hours: 5:30PM - 12AM (last order 11PM) Closed Mondays

Kid friendliness: for seafood loving kids, you can order non spicy versions or fried appetizers available.

Visit reviewed: 9/12/2015

Anyone who's eaten at Boiling Crab has likely joined the cult of digging into bags of cajun spiced boiled seafood, getting your hands dirty and leaving the carcasses of shrimps, clams and crabs all over the table. While I was a little late to the game, my cravings for the Whole Shebang buttery seafood has led to me to look for Boiling Crab inspired restaurants knockoffs  in Taipei. Currently in Taipei, there are three that I know of Brookhurst Seafood Bar (the newest and only open at night), Shrimp Daddy (they have Taco Thursdays) and Chili Crab (the one on Minsheng E. Road.) RIP those who were too early to bring Cajun seafood boil to Taipei-  Firebite, Spicy Alley and the Boiling Seafood.

The menu has a few appetizers like onion rings, cajun fries, baby calamari, chicken wings and honey mustard fish and chips, but the focus is on the seafood. You can choose from clams, mussels, white shrimp, hokkaido scallops, grass shrimp, lobster or king crab legs to boil in one of three sauces- Lemon Zing, Cajun Steeeez or Brookhurst Bang. There are four levels of spiciness to choose from- non spicy to the hottest level "I Dare You." Add ons include potatoes, corn, broccoli, okra, oyster mushrooms, sausages, baby corn, or sides of rice, baguette or noodles as your starches. There is also Boston Lobster, Dungeness Crab or Hokkaido Hairy Crab available, but only if you order it in advance. Since most of the items are by weight, then shrimp is the best deal since its shells are comparable lighter than crab or lobster.

If you want to get a combination of seafood, then you can do a BS Combo as our waiter suggested as well, which is a mix and match ranging from NT$999-NT$5990.

Bibs available for everyone to freely get messy.

Excuse the blurry photos- I think I was too hungry to focus and anyone who's ever eaten seafood knows how messy it gets, so after a few obligatory photos, I dug in and my hands were too buttery to take more pics. #grubandchug The seafood was fresh, flavors were there and though I was missing the fresh limes and salt and pepper that I'd grown to love at Boiling Crab, I would go back to Brookhurst Seafood Bar again.  I might even have to order a dungeness crab in advance.

I couldn't tell the difference between the two sauces at first, but once we hit the bottom of the bag, one sauce was spicier than the other. We would have also ordered some raw oysters, but our waiter told us they were also cooked in the bag. Doh. Their instagram and Facebook seems to disagree.

Some of you might wonder if it's related to Brookhurst Pho, and it's actually in the same spot. It started taking over Brookhurst Pho at night in March and it was so successful, I guess they took over the whole space as you can see from the signage change, so RIP Brookhurst CaliPHOnia. Brookhurst Seafood Bar is currently only open at night and advance reservations strongly recommended.

Friday, September 25, 2015

american/market: i strongly recommend WELLMAN'S MARKET

No. 472 Zhongshan N. Road,  Sec. 6, Tianmu
(02) 2871-4454

MRT: Shipai


Visit reviewed: 9/24/2015

Have you ever looked for Pop Tarts, Rice Krispies cereal, hot dog buns, Spam, enchilada sauce, food coloring or corn meal in Taipei? I know you have since I've gotten your emails over the years about "where to find..." and I've been looking too. 

Now you'll have at least one place in Tianmu to go to- Wellman's Market. I'd heard of it for years, but never made the trek out to investigate, but I'm telling you if you're a long time resident of Asia and willing to pay a little extra instead of loading your luggage with groceries from the states, then it's worth the trip. Instead of doing a scavengers hunt around Jason's/City Super, Carrefour, Wellcome and your local market's "import aisles", the entirety of Wellman's will look familiar to those of us from the states. It's probably how our parents felt discovering the local Ranch 99/Nijiya/Korean market rather than shopping the sad instant noodle aisle at Ralphs. Lol! There is even a  small selection of personal care goods like Irish Spring soap and various shampoos and deodorants.

Let's just walk through the aisles- there's only three since the market isn't huge, but it's packed from top to bottom.

Duncan Hines cake mixes- chocolate Devil's food, fudge marble and Betty Crocker fudge brownies sit in rows below Old El Paso, Snyders and sour cream, garlic dips.

Lots of salsas, nacho cheese, canned beans, taco shells and sauces for Mexican food DIY. Even corn meal to make your own tortillas! It's actually really hard to find corn meal in Taipei.

Tomato pasta sauces and jams and jellies like apricot, green fig, lemon curd and raspberry. I also spotted cherry, blueberry and apple pie canned fillings- I remember my mom used to use the cherry filling to top homemade mini cheesecakes.

The cereals! Rice Krispies, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Honey Smacks, Frosted Flakes and more. Note a box of Rice Krispies is almost NT$300 so you will have to really love it to buy it. Imagine the rice krispy treats you can make!!!

Small packs of hotdog and hamburger buns so you don't have to buy the megabucks from Costco.

Candies like twizzlers and Oreo Hersheys.

Poptarts and lots of them. I remember going through a pop tart phase in college but haven't really touched them in the past 10 years. Who's been looking for pop tarts in Taipei? There's also spice mixes and seasonings, and funnily enough, brown paper lunch bags and Reynold's aluminum foil, supplies we take for granted in the states.

Here we have the dressings, mayonnaise, mustard, honey, Hershey's chocolate syrup. Sriracha.

Spam and turkey spam to make your spam musubis.

Baking supplies like food coloring, active yeast, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla extract, strawberry extract. I know you can find these things here at the DIY shops too, but some of the comfort is being able to recognize brands you like and read the English instructions that aren't covered up in a Taiwanese sticker for translation.

Different types of Swiss Miss hot chocolates, even with mini marshmallows since that's the best part of hot chocolate right?

Wellman's has a small refrigerated goods section, with small tubs of sour cream, heavy cream, whip cream, and some deli cheeses, chorizo, salami. The chorizo iberico is actually quite addicting.  Next to the front are also some root beer and other beverages.

So good luck finding what you've been looking for at Wellman's. Doesn't hurt to ask them if you don't see what you are looking for. I asked them about Jello, but they said that Taiwan doesn't import Jello anymore. For those of us who've been living in Taiwan a long time, you might find yourself oohing and aahing at something you forgot that you wanted/needed on the aisles at Wellman's. 

What have you been looking for in Taiwan/Asia that you couldn't find? Comment below and maybe we'll find it!


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