Thursday, September 18, 2014

news: restaurant round up summer 2013 - 2014

Yup! There are cronuts in Taipei!
Eeek! I haven't done a restaurant round up in TWO years! I found one from earlier this year and one from last year sitting in my drafts folder. Oops! So I've combined the two lists and added some more to just mark it down while it's fresh in my memory. It's always hard to get e-v-e-r-y single restaurant, as the Taipei restaurant scene changes constantly, but here's just a few places that are new-ish and notable and some that have closed. This list is just from the top of my head, so please add in the comment section below if something opened or closed near you!


NEW and NOTABLE (that I haven't tried yet)
  • Coco and Bencotto at Mandarin Oriental
  • L'Air
  • Angelo's
  • Very Thai Noodles
  • Dairy Queen
  • King Burrito in Shilin
  • Lucky Ribs
  • Tribeca
  • Cyclo at Dunhua 
  • Whalen's
  • Chicken in Bok and Beer
  • Pico Pico
  • Bite2Eat at Zhongxiao
  • Biteology
  • L'Idiot (reopening)
  • Yiamas Greek Taverna
  • VVG Action and Cafe Showroom and lots of eats at Eslite Spectrum Songyan
  • Leo's Tuck Shop
  • Shrimp Daddy
  • MVSA
  • Perfume Dance at ATT4Fun
  • Schaffer's Kitchen
  • Campus Cafe
  • Queen's Cuisine
  • Homie Cafe
  • Black as Chocolate World
  • Leo's Tuck Shop
  • Quiznos
  • Fiesta Cafeteria
  • Kinfolk Cheese and Coffee

NEW REVIEWS TO COME (otherwise known as my to do list) (what do you want to read about first?)

CLOSED (Darn it, some closed before I could write about them!!) (Sadface)

Monday, September 15, 2014

sushi/japanese: i recommend YUN SUSHI 允壽司



YUN SUSHI 允壽司
No. 9, Lane 160, Yanji St
台北市延吉街160巷9號
(02)2751-9828

MRT: SYS Memorial Hall

website:Yun Sushi's FB page

hours: Mon-Sat Lunch: 12PM- 2:30PM; Dinner 6PM- 10PM. Closed Sundays

$$$-$$$$

Kid friendliness: sushi bar seats only

Visit reviewed: 6/19/2014


Just opened a few months ago, Yun Sushi feels like one of those secret sushi spots that have been proliferating around Taipei. Hiding in plain sight in a busy alley in Dong Qu, with a steel door and understated sign with no windows to spy inside, Yun Sushi sits about 10 to 12 people at its sushi bar.


Set menus for lunch and dinner run NT$1380, NT$1800 and NT$2500, while dinner sets start at NT$2500, NT$3000, and NT$3500, so it's definitely a splurge. It's expensive for Taipei, where you can get great sushi omakase or chirashi for under NT$500 (a few of my favorite secret places), but comparable to prices in the US.  Yun Sushi could easily join the list of a handful of names that get mentioned on the English blogosphere for favorite sushi bar in Taipei- Sasa, Kitcho, Niu, Addiction Aquatic Development, Yuzu, Sumie, Mitsui (I have my own ranking for these spots, but I'll save that for another post). There's so many great sushi spots in Taipei, many I've yet to try, that the adventure of trying them all could be its own blog.

Yun Sushi's sets include both sushi, sashimi and cooked dishes like grilled fish or waygu beef, but friends who I told about Yun Sushi and visited later asked for less cooked items and more sushi, so depending on what you like you can request it, or you could leave it up to the chef. I did leave Yun Sushi with a strong impression of a lot of unique flavors and technique in preparation in the meal, like the bite of foie gras marinated in sake and sawara smoked with cherry blossom wood.  

I'd definitely go back to try out the omakase with just sushi. And of course uni! Haha. Thanks S for the special treat. 

loved the vinegar seaweed with ikura

clam

hirame, salmon (the chef said that this particular salmon "doesn't know the time" so swims upstream at the wrong season, and maguro tuna

hotaru ika (soy marinated baby squid)

organic tomato broth

chilled foie gras marinated with sake. luscious, fatty and creamy

crab, figs and tofu with sesame sauce

botan ebi (prawn)- so good!

sawara (spanish mackerel)- smoked with cherry blossom wood 

saba with a thin slice of glossy cucumber- still not a fan of the fishier saba

waygu beef two ways- the one with puffed rice with delicious and perfect with garlic chips. precious small bites so you wish there were more and have to chew slowly!


end of the meal- miso soup

mini chirashi with uni and otoro and ika

delicious white sesame ice cream

Monday, September 08, 2014

japanese: INAKA UDON at SONGYAN ESLITE SPECTRUM



INAKA UDON
稻禾烏龍麵
at SONGYAN ESLITE SPECTRUM
No. 88 YangChang Rd.
信義區菸廠路88號
(02) 6636-5559

MRT: SYS Memorial Hall

website: Inaka Udon's FB page

hours: 11AM - 10PM

$-$$ Cash only

Kid friendliness: seating is first come, first serve.

Visit reviewed: 3/8/2014


Ever since people lined up for Marukame Udon at Mitsukoshi's food court, I've been seeing the self serve tempura cafeteria style udon outlets pop up everywhere. Inaka Udon at the newly opened Eslite Spectrum Songyan is very similar with its menu of assembly line hot and cold udons, tempura by piece offerings and popularity.

When the line is long, you can be entertained by watching the noodle maker pull and cut the udon at the front window.


So for first timers, you basically get in line, grab a tray and then grab whatever looks good while shuffling forward along the line. First are the drinks and cold appetizers. Skip the kimchi which on that day was a little sticky and off tasting. The seaweed salad was good though.



Then grab a plate or two and start getting your fried stuffs. I didn't realize until it was too late that they were out of tempura shrimp and I should have asked/waited for some, but I ended up grabbing some fried chicken skewers instead. 



At this point, you have to glance up at the menu and decipher the photos to see what you want to order before the people behind you get antsy. No English here, but hot udon soup choices range from tonkotsu pork broth, to curry, to the popular garlic beef (NT$100-160) or a cold udon with a dipping sauce (NT$90). I considered getting the mentaiko udon but the raw egg freaked me out a little. So I ended up with the curry udon (NT$130).



After you order, a flurry of scooping, pouring and condiments go together to make and hand you your bowl. You pay at the end and then find a seat in the food court area unless you already designated someone else in your group to lock down some seats first. 


Garlic beef udon (NT$160) has a nice flavor in the soup enhanced by the garlic, while the beef is mostly fat.


Cold udon (NT$90) is good for when the weather is hot and you just want to dip and slurp. I love the chewiness of cold udon, but this is a super bare bones version. For a more souped up version, you could consider the cold udon at Fu Yu Wu, or making your own like it by adding in tempura shrimp and soft boiled egg.


When I have time, I definitely want to do a little write up about Songyan Eslite's food court and the whole mall in general. If you get a chance, I'd recommend visiting it as well as the neighboring Songshan Cultural Park and the nearby alleys which have new cafes and shops popping up. This whole area is going to be insane when the new stadium is also open. 


OTHER LOCATIONS
No. 21, Lane 16, Zhongshan N. Rd Sec 2
台北市中山北路二段16巷21號
(02) 2536-2828

at Xinyi Eslite 誠品信義店
No. 11, Song Gao Rd, B2
台北市松高路11號B2捷運大街 
(02)2723-5252

Banqiao Eslite 誠品生活板橋店
No. 46, ZhongShan Rd, Sec. 1, B1
新北市板橋區中山路一段46號B1
(02)8953-5298

Tainan Shin Kong Mitsukoshi 新光三越台南小西門店
台南市西門路一段658-1號B2 

(06)213-6989

勤美誠品綠園道店
台中市公益路68號1F 

(04)2326-2186




Monday, September 01, 2014

taiwanese/beef noodle soup: i recommend PIN CHUAN LAN

 

PIN CHUAN LAN 品川蘭
No. 10, Alley 11, Lane 216, ZhongXiao E. Rd, Sec. 2,
台北市大安區忠孝東路四段216巷11弄10號
(02) 2721-7397

MRT: SYS Memorial Hall

website: Pin Chuan Lan's FB page

hours: 11AM - 9:30PM

$-$$

Kid friendliness:

Visit reviewed: 8/12/2014



When I'm in the states, I devour all the things I can't find here in Taipei. And when I return to Taipei, I return to all my Taiwanese favorites- shaved ice, dumplings, soy milk and shao bing you tiao, or anything that can be found at the night market.

So when I was invited to try out Pin Chuan Lan, the newest beef noodle soup shop to open up in Dong Qu, I couldn't resist.


In a prime location right across from the ZhongXiao Din Tai Fung, Pin Chuan Lan has a new, modern  feel to its decor, its menu and its presentation (almost similar to the red, black and wooden look of Japanese ramen spot Ippudo). 






The heart of the menu are the beef noodle soups, which can be ordered as spicy braised version, or the lighter clear broth. Diners can opt for beef shank, rib fingers, tendon, tripe or even rib eye steak. There's also pork chop noodle soup or chicken noodle soup for non-beef eaters, as well as spicy chili noodles, beef pancake rolls and a variety of side dishes such as spicy shredded pig ear or eggplants stuffed with ground pork. The stylish menu has some photos and both English and Chinese, as well as identifies where its beef is from with little flag symbols (US or Australian).



Lunch sets are available (it's the only part of the menu not in English).


Plum juiced tomatoes, spicy shredded pig ear and sweet taro (NT$60)- small appetizer dishes to start off the meal.



Eggplant stuffed with ground pork (NT$90) 


Chili pepper stuffed with ground pork (NT$90) 


Beef noodle soup with heel muscle (NT$210) - the beef heel shank is cut in wide, thick pieces with swirls of muscle that make the beef still chewy, even if the meat is tender. There's a good amount of beef for each bowl, though I'm in like, not love with this particular cut of beef for beef noodle soup.





Beef noodle soup with tendon, tripe and beef heel muscle (NT$260) if you want a little more depth and bite to your bowl. Everyone will look for different things for their ideal bowl of beef noodle soup. I enjoyed the tendon and the beef, while I prefer my noodles on the chubbier and springier side. 



A side by side look at the braised vs clear broth beef noodle soups...


The chili noodles definitely have a kick to them, and was a favorite at the table. 


I'd definitely order this again- I loved the flaky, chewy freshly made Chinese pancakes paired with shredded pork that were used to make your own wrap (NT$120/portion). I guess the process reminds me of when I was kid eating moo shu pork in the states.






Otherwise you could order the Chinese pancake with beef shank roll (NT$140) where the wrapping is already done for you- with layers of beef and chinese pancake rolled together with scallions for a perfect bite. Crunchy, chewy, savory and a bit sweet from the bean paste sauce.


Even though it's only been open for a few months, the dining room was almost full of diners slurping up bowls of noodle soup. Not everyone is willing to go to the old school spots for beef noodle, so this place is ideal for people looking for a newer version.

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