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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Taiwan March 2015: Desserts!

This is going to be my favorite post for Taiwan. We had some awesome food, but the desserts in Taiwan are insane! One is more epic than the other.. haha.

Ice Monster

This was highly highly recommended by a friend. And we just happen to walk by one day! We had to go in. The specialize in snow ice, which is this super fine shaved ice, in different flavors with different toppings. I believe the original snow ice place was in the Shilin nightmarket. But Ice Monster took it to another level. The snow ice was even more fluffy and delicate than I remembered. We went there twice during our 2 week trip.
Pearl Milk Tea Snow Ice NT$180~ 
Freaking humongous. And freaking amazing. It's like a deconstructed pearl milk tea. The ice was the tea, the white pudding looking thing was the milk, and pearls came on the side in a bowl of syrup. Eat everything together and it tastes like a frozen pearl milk tea. The ice is so ridiculously fluffy. We had this both times we went. Definitely a winner.

Strawberry Snow Ice NT$280~ 
2nd time we went, we also got the strawberry one. Strawberry overload!! Strawberry ice, sorbet, diced strawberries, and milk pudding on the side. It was good, but easily trumped by the Pearl Milk Tea ice.

Jamling Cafe
My parents had discovered this place and wanted to take us there. My mom says their pancakes are so airy and light. For someone who doesn't eat dessert/sweets, that was a big deal coming from her. So we decided to take them there to celebrate their wedding anniversary. The specialize in pancakes, but in Mandarin, it translates to "waffle". I thought that was a little weird. It's a small place, super cute decor. 

We decided to try a variety of things. They had sweet and savory pancakes. The savory ones sound interesting.. I didn't know what to expect with those.

Chocolate Strawberries (chocolate cream, strawberry sauce, vanilla ice cream, fresh strawberries) NT$260~ This was a featured special. 2 fluffy pancakes loaded with chocolate cream and strawberries, topped with ice cream. Pretty epic eh? The chocolate was awesome, semi-sweet so it wasn't overwhelming.

Jamling (crunchy honey butter) NT$180~ This is the "original" and probably the best sweet one because it was the most fluffy of all and not excessive. The other sweet ones were much denser because it was loaded with a bunch of stuff. It was almost like a souffle pancake. My fiance didn't like it as much though because he thought it tasted more egg-y. I'd agree, but I love eggs in any way so it make me like it even more!
Apple Cinnamon (apple, cinnamon, vanilla ice cream, slicedalmonds) NT$220~ My fiance's favorite. Also very good. 
Okonomiyaki (bacon, cabbage, egg, bonito flakes) NT$240~ I was hesitant on the savory ones but this one turned out to be my favorite. The flavors and textures with the pancake worked beautifully. And they had a nice thick slice of bacon on there. Makes everything better!

We also got some drinks. Can't be afternoon tea without some tea! (and coffee.) hehe. Plus if you get a drink and pancake, it becomes a set and you get a discount for the combo.
Cafe Americano (hot) NT$110~
Japanese Green Tea Latte (hot) NT$150~
Earl Grey Tea (hot) NT$120~

18 Cafe. This was another recommendation from a friend. She said their cakes were so light. Afternoon tea set: 1 cake plus a drink for NT$250~
I got the Hazelnut Chiffon Cake
With the Taiwanese Green Tea.This is the one my friend recommended. Initially I didn't see it in the display so I almost missed it! It was awesome. Super light and so fragrant. 

He got the Black Tea Cheesecake
With the Taiwanese Black Tea. The black tea cheesecake couldn't compete with the hazelnut chiffon, but it was still good. You can actually taste the black tea flavor which made it interesting.

Now for the grand finale!
This was one of the highlights of the trip. I took my fiance to the Dazzling Cafe. I had gone 2 years ago and it was epic!! So we skipped dinner to go here. I thought we were going to order one dessert and share but he wanted 2! Ambitious! And we flew all this way to Taipei... why not!

Caramel Honey Toast (topped with whipped cream, ice cream, white chocolate, peanut brittle, caramel sauce, and honey to drizzle on top) NT$240~ 
Just look at it!! Did your jaw drop?? haha. It's basically half a loaf of bread. :P The presentation is amazing here. And the waitress comes to your table and carves this for you. (I will post the video on my CHOMP! facebook page if you want to watch some food porn. hehe) So she carves the sides and rearranges everything. And it's not a simple block of bread, every piece inside is individually toasted squares. Wow. Quite labor intensive it seems. We got additional honey to drizzle on it. So good!

Hazelnut Chocolate Honey Toast (with hazelnut spread, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, fresh strawberries) NT$290~ 
I've had this before and it's awesome. Not only are the pieces individually toasted, they also inject chocolate sauce into it. This one isn't carved tableside though since it comes in stacked slices. My fiance loved it. And we made it through 1 and a half, which I thought was very impressive! :P

I got a pot of Darjeeling Tea NT$160~
My fiance got the White Chocolate Matcha Latte NT$150~ We were surprised when we tasted coffee, since most matcha lattes are just matcha and milk. But this was so good. I don't even drink coffee and I loved it!
I love this place, I will go back in the future cuz I saw some waffle dish that also looked really good! ha!


Taiwan March 2015: Dinners

Dinners in Taipei were a bit all over the place since we had several appointments for our engagement photo shoot, and also meeting up with friends. We also skipped some dinners to get dessert. :P hehe. Stayed tuned for that post, it's gonna be awesome!

Barista Coffee
I always try to meet up with a friend of mine in Taipei so I see him about every other year. We met at a coffee shop but decided to get some dinner there as well. The coffee shops in Taipei have full on meals, not just pastries and desserts.
Vegetable Curry (with salad and rice)

Green Tea Latte (cold)
Some sort of rice with meat or smoked salmon and cheese baked on top. Looked really yummy.

During our engagement shoot consultation, we stayed way longer than we expected, so the studio ordered some dinner for us. Taiwanese Pork Chop Rice - To go box. Soooo delicious! One of my favorite meals of all time! A well fried piece of pork chop, rice, and veggies. It's the best. :)

After our all day photo shoot, we wanted to get something lighter for dinner. We hit up this place that my family frequents. Congee and dishes shared family style. Unlimited refills of the congee (with yams), and you pick the dishes you want to pair with it. Fast and delicious!

One night we set aside to hit up the food courts at a mall. We were wandering around the food courts of Sogo (the newer one) and we noticed they had a Santouka!! My favorite ramen place in the whole wide world. And there's not line yet! We were able to get a table immediately. The menu is different than the one from Cali so we tried new things. He got the Shoyu dipping ramen (reg) NT$280~
I got the cold ramen (pork, seaweed, cucumbers, salmon sashimi, woodear mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, egg and peanut sauce). 
There was a bit too much sauce but everything else was amazing. They really know how to cook their noodles to the perfect texture! And we can't eat at Santouka and not get the special pork!! So we got a side of that. Still buttery goodness... melts in your mouth.

Our last night in Taiwan, we met up with my aunt and uncle in Danshui. They took us to a really fresh seafood place right next to the ocean. Literally translated.. the name is "Big Fat - Live Seafood" hahaha. They had multiple tanks with live stuff in front of the restaurant. You pick, they grab and cook. Awesome! This wasn't as cheap as Kenting though. But we ate soooo much.


Fried Rice... probably one of the best I've ever had. Not sure how they made it but it was like crack. 
Sea Snails. You have to pick them out with a toothpick. My fiance loooooved them. :D

Fish Soup
Steamed Fish
Squid (gigantic!)


Friday, April 24, 2015

Taiwan March 2015: Lunches

First lunch there, we met up with my cousin and his new wife. They had just gotten married a few days ago and we missed it... :( We went to Hot 7 Teppanyaki. They offer a 6 Courses + Beverage for NT$290~ = US$9.67. Really great deal and good food.
Drinks: either a Plum Slush or hot Barley Tea

Soups: Beef Tendon, Taro & Mushroom, or Ginseng Chicken

Main Protein: Pork, Chicken, Beef, Duck, Fish, or Steak. We got the duck and steak.

Sauteed Vegetables
Eel on Rice and Pickled Veggies
Dessert: Pancake with Taro Cream, or Plain drizzled with Jasmine Honey

We went back to Hot 7 again to have lunch with some relatives. So here are more pictures!!

Teishoku. My parents found this place. It. Is. Awesome. Every set is NT$180~ Comes with main dish, edamame, steamed egg, miso soup, and dessert. Whatttt? That's like US$6!!! And everything is delicious.
You go to the vending machine to make your order. Just like in Japan!
Japanese Fried Chicken and Udon
Teriyaki Chicken Leg

Salt-Grilled Mackerel

Deluxe Seafood Donburi. So freaking fresh and packed with fish. Where can you get anything like this in the states for less than $15??

I wanted to take my fiance to Diamond Tony's - 85th floor of Taipei 101. You get a view of the city and enjoy some lunch. However, this was the most expensive and least tasty meal of our entire trip. haha. I think in the future I will skip it. XP
Bread with Creamy Crab Dip
 Soup: Truffle & Wild Mushroom Cream Soup
Appetizer: Tender Calamari grilled in Lemon Sauce
Pan-Roasted Seasonal Fish with Couscous (cod)
Entree: Grilled Beef Strip (with vegetables, in cacciatore sauce) NT$800~
"Punte D'ago Pasta" (with meatball and poached egg in Bolognese Sauce) NT$800~ I just realized I never got an egg in mine... :(
Black Tea & Green Tea

My parents took us to this place that was famous for their pig's blood soup
Normally I have pig's blood cakes which are mixed with rice and is denser and sticky. But actual pig's blood is super tender, just like duck blood. 
The soup was pretty freaking good. I also got rice with minced pork on top, one of my fav's. Some side dishes of veggies, eggs, seaweed. And stirfry noodles. Thumbs up!

At my sister's request, we went to Yong Kang Beef Noodle Soup. It's pretty famous and has one of the best beef noodle soups around. You gotta wait in line though. So we purposely went later in the afternoon and got lucky! We were the last group of people in before their lunch service ended so we barely waited at all. By the time we left, the line was down the block and they had to wait for another hour or two before their dinner service begins! Eeeeks.
Steamed Pig Intestines (left)
Steamed Pork Spare Ribs (right)
(Bamboo in the background as a cold dish)

Spicy Beef Noodle Soup (we all got half beef, half tendon) It's not really that spicy. They have chili oil at the table for you to use. Be careful of that! It's SUPER spicy!

Noodles with Pork and Bean Sauce

My parents told us about this Japanese food court that's behind Eslite (101 area), it's so awesome. We waited in line for a ramen place, Mita-Seimen. We both got the Tsukemen (dipping ramen). I got spicy NT$220~ and he got regular NT$210~. 
Both smalls since we didn't want to overeat. I love the noodles in dipping ramen. The are thicker and chewier. The broth is more like a sauce, very thick, not meant for drinking. We've had better in Japan, but this is pretty good too.
Oh. And a salad for some extra veggies.