Friday, 25 July 2014

Taipei Food Edtion: What's brewing in Dongmen Station/ Yongkang Street

Friday, 25 July 2014
Ask about Taiwan and you will hear all about the wonderful, delicious food that will immediately get you salivating. Being the foodie I am, I went on a hunt for good food here in Taipei. Unfortunately (or fortunately), Taipei itself is hugeeeee and there are tons of cafes every few steps that its hard and almost impossible to try out every single one of them within a short spam of time.
Hence, I have classified my food posts into districts/stations so that it will be easier for you to know where are the local specialities in that area. Enjoy!

1) Ding Tai Feng 鼎泰豐
This is the famous Yongkang Street Dingtaifeng, simply because this is apparently the very FIRST that was opened in Taiwan. You probably heard of it already if you did your research on Taiwan, Taipei cause this is the "MUST GO" for all who chance upon this city (or so they say).
Hence, in the span of 10 weeks in Taipei, I visited this very branch 6 times. Yes, SIX times omg HAHA because each group of friends all requested to have lunch/dinner here. I'm not complaining (I love chinese food actually) I'm just saying its a crazy number of times HAHAHAHA.
So anyway, below are the few items you should order:
i) Drunked Chicken 280NT (Probably the most expensive dish you will order there HAHA)
I really love the Drunked Chicken Dingtaifeng Taipei serves. Not sure how many of you tried the one they serve in Singapore but it is often blend and tasteless, like eating cold chicken, not drunked chicken HAHA. But here they serve really flavourful ones and you can really taste the wine yumz
ii) Xiaolongbao 小笼包 (200NT for 10, 100NT for 5)
This probably needs no further introduction. Difference bettwen the ones served here and in Singapore: The skin doesn't tear (hence the soup won't flow out) before you put them into your mouth unlike some I tasted where my (lack of chopstick skills) resulted in a dry hollow xiaolongbao by the time it reaches my mouth HAHA.
This is the only two dishes that I'll really recommend as there's nothing else that is really particularly special. So if you really must go, don't have too high hopes about getting EXTREMELY good chinese food. Its good no doubt, but not really "to-die-for" like how some have describe it to be.
Oh, have I mentioned that you will have to wait around 60 mins?
How to go:

Address: 台北市信義路二段194號 (Start of Yongkang Street)
MRT: Dongmen Station, exit 5. Once you come out, walk approximately 20 steps straight and you'll see tons of people queueing

2) Kao Chi 高記

Credits to:
This place has often been overshadowed by their competitor DTF (who's at the start of the street). Like I mentioned earlier, it takes you 60 mins to get into the Ding Tai Feng on Yongkang Street. If you're sick and tired of waiting in the hot sun during summer, in the rain during typhoon season, or in the cold during winter, you should really try out Kao Chi. I've seen the menu and they serve not only food similar to DTF, they even have dimsum for those who are fans of it!
Kao Chi is really popular amongst locals and if you were to let a local choose between the two, most will tell you Kao Chi. Unfortunately, I hadn't had the chance to dine here as all my friends always choose DTF over this and I can't possibly come here alone (I'll get sick eating 10 xiaolongbaos on my own HAHA) Will update once I tried it though. Hehehehe. Let me know if its really better then DTF for those who went too^^

How to go:
Address: 台北市永康街5號 (5 Yongkang St, Taipei City)
MRT: Dongmen Station, exit 5 (On the left when you walked into Yongkang Street)

3) Smoothie House
If you're in Taiwan during summer, you'll understand what I mean when I say its HOT.
In situations like this, you'll appreciate a nice big bowl of shaved ice.
This is their Mango shaved ice with Panna Cotta and it is amazinggggg. I do admit it is pretty overrated with the long queues and exhorbitant prices HAHA. This cost around ~190NT (SGD $8), almost twice the price of what you will pay for somewhere else (and of course, less famous).
They have two shops almost side by side in Yongkang street (永康街) and it is less then 5 mins walk from Ding Tai Feng and even nearer to Kao Chi. This will be a good place to have a "appetizer" while waiting for your queue number to be called in Ding Tai Feng.

How to go:
Address 1: 台北市大安區永康街15號 (No.15 Yongkang St., Da-an District, Taipei City 106)
Address 2: 台北市大安區永康街9號 No.9 (No. 9 Yongkang St., Da-an District, Taipei City 106)
MRT: Dongmen Station, exit 5

4) Yong Kang Beef Noodles 永康牛肉麵
When I arrived in Taiwan 10 weeks ago, I knew the first thing I had to do was to try a bowl of beef noodles (along with a lot of other food HAHA pig) but soon I realized its not that easy. Especially when you see everywhere selling beef noodles and you'll be thinking "oh man, so where is nice omg?!?!?" HAHAHA okay maybe not that dramatic but having only 5-7 days in Taipei, I'm sure you will wanna go a guaranteed nice one right!
Beef Noodles 紅燒牛肉麵

Introducing Yongkang beef noodles, where crazy people queued up for it even on a Typhoon Day (I witnessed it for myself LOL). The meat is really tender unlike others where it is so tough you feel that your mouth ache after chewing.
You can order the full meat ones, or the half tendon half meat and choose between having the clear soup or the famous 紅燒牛肉麵. The queue typically takes about 15 mins before you get a seat.
As the place is rather popular, it takes some time for them to prepare your bowl of noodles. Hence I suggest ordering some appetizers first! Their steamed pork ribs and large intestines are rather popular. I wanted to get the large intestines but they were sold out! :O It comes in a cute bamboo bowl and they steam it with rice. A pretty unique taste.
How to go:
Address: 台北市金山南路2段31巷17號 (No. 17, Lane 31, Jinshan S. Rd., Sec.2)
MRT: Dongmen Station, exit 4 (Come out from exit 5 as exit 4 is a flight of stairs. Walk towards exit 4 which is just a few steps away. Right next to exit 4 is an alley, walk into it and on your right you should see Yongkang Beef Noodles)
Hope you find this useful!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Up in Maokong (猫空); Cable Car up to the Tea Plantations for a lazy day

Sunday, 20 July 2014
WARNING: This post is dedicated to the last of my red hair and hence there'll be lots of photos of me HAHA. I'll let the pictures do the talking

In anycase if you've decided to continue reading, I will be blogging about Maokong (猫空) today! I visited Maokong approximately 2 weeks ago and I am so happy that I went!
If you have no idea where Maokong is, looking at the Taipei Metro map, its at the Taipei Zoo station! The very end of the Brown (Wenhu) line^^

The Maokong Gondola is a cable car and not a boat (Cos initially I associated Gondola=rowing boat HAHA).

If you're thinking right now "Singapore also got cable car, dont need waste time go there la!"
HAHA thats true I guess BUT
#1: The Maokong Gondola cost 50NT (SGD$2), definitely a more affordable alternative for those who have not sat the one in Singapore.
#2: You can opt for the Crystal Car where the platform is transparent! Definitely a different experience altogether
Thats me sitting down on the floor so that I could take a "tourisy" picture LOL. Don't the tree heads look like broccolis? ^^

OH AND!!! Do you know I love Hello Kitty?!? That was an added incentive for me to visit Maokong despite the heat in Taipei now HAHA (It was up to 38degrees here yesterday :O)!!
HelloKitty merchandises!
My amazing friends + a large HelloKitty backdrop!!! :')
Not forgetting Pandas in Taiwan (HAHA I know I cover half of his face oops)
Remember to take the cable car all the way to the very last top!! There's nothing much in between the stops and its better to walk down then to walk up!

I actually took literally hundreds of photos inside the cable car only to realize my face looks the same in almost every picture LOL. So you see, even the inside of the cable car there's like Kitty decals!!
One without Kitty so you can see the outside!! Which is all trees and more trees...
After nearly 15 mins, I'm finally all the way up at Maokong!
TADA, more HelloKitty boards LOL. Guys, dont worry! This is the very last of Kitty. From this point onwards, you wont have to help your girl friends take pictures with Hello Kitty anymore HAHA
Of course, Maokong Gondola is not just for kitty fans. There is actually quite a number of people here every weekend due to the vast number of 茶坊 (Tea Houses). You'll see some families hiking as well! IT IS, a mountain after all HAHA.
And, being Taiwan, you don't have to worry about starving cos food is E V E R Y W H E R E. I had my lunch here that day!

I heard that the "carrot soup" was amazing *quote my dad* who went to Maokong during their trip here a few days ago haha!
Hiking paths! No matter which direction you take, you'll prolly reach a tea house which you can sit inside and enjoy the scenery.
I'll be showing you what you'll see if you follow the path I took! From the "food court" you continue walking along the path where there are rows of food stalls and up!
There are a number of alfresco dining areas and they all serve a variety of drinks (not just tea LOL) However if you're there in summer like me, you can consider finding indoor cafes around the area cos it is REALLY VERY HOT.

You see behind me? There's a row of white looking houses! That place is a really good rest point for those tired already HAHA. If you follow the path I walk, that is the only AIRCONDITIONED place. You can't miss it! Look out for a big plastic "ice cream cone" outside!
I dont know why one ice cream I can take so many pictures also buttttt oh wells #selfietime HAHA.
Do try their ice creams though! They have two different tea flavours: Tie-guan-yin and bo-long! For those that are familar with chinese tea will probably know what they taste like but for those that are afraid of strong tea, get the bo-long flavour! Its similar to green tea^^ I like something stronger so I got the other which I thought taste really good! (80NT=SGD$3.20).
There's a minimum spending of 120NT per person but you can combine meaning if you have 3 people, the total amount spent for the table must be 360NT as a whole and not individually.
Btw, I felt so cheated when I realized my ice cream is hollow :( HAHA

In any case, Maokong is a great place for families (young and old), those that love to get some fresh air and hiking. The crystal cable car makes it a perfect excuse to camwhore too (Below are more pictures of me annoying my friends out with my asian selfie stick HAHA)
Have fun! For those going, I hope you will enjoy yourself as much as me^^

Thoughts; I have always been a city kid having lived my whole life in Singapore. I go cafe hopping every other day, (My friends back in Singapore should know HAHA) shopping, watch movies then eat again then shop again and the cycle repeats. Counting the days I've been in Taiwan, it's been 2-3 months and this marks the last week of my Internship too!
If you would to ask me what I will miss most about Taiwan, it will be traveling 2-3 hours by train/bus alone so that I can explore mountains, rivers, beaches. These are the things I will never be able to find in Singapore. Of course Singapore has its own beauty and I'm a proud lover of my country (Not even kidding, but I am really patriotic HAHA), but I will miss this inner little adventurous me :') & for those going overseas, unleash that little adventurous spirit of yours! Find out what is there different from where you come from and go have fun! *sqeeals in excitment* hehehehehe


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Drinks in Taipei; Beer and Cheese Social House

Tuesday, 8 July 2014
I've been blogging about the amazing scenic places you can visit while here in Taipei and have then been receiving questions from people asking "WA shiok leh, you everyday also traveling ah!!"
To answer that: *pops the bubble* Of course not. HAHA siao ah, how I travel everyday?!?! Any sponsors though?
So anyway, I decided that perhaps its time to blog about some lifestyle/nightlife in Taiwan before more people think I'm traveling everyday LOL. "Nightlife" meaning, life after work (e.g. dinners, drinks) and not partying okay. Don't get me wrong HAHAHAHA.

So if you enjoy having a chillax night out after dinner, why not try this place? Last week I visited the "Beer and Cheese Social House", a new addition to the Taipei beer scene. I went with a French friend of mine who was naturally very excited when the word "Cheese" appeared (it's a french thing HAHA) together with beer. It's a rather small, cozy bar with the second floor being just a big rectangular table with chairs for those who prefer a quieter surrounding.

We went on a Tuesday night as we heard it was the "Big Drinker" day. That means every Tuesday, for a price of 300NT (SGD$12), you get 1 LITRE of beer. I did a little Google search and found out that 1L=2.11pints. So basically, its $6 for a pint which meant sending a signal to my inner Singaporean mentality which screamed  "WA SO WORTH LEH, BUY!" HAHA, just kidding. I wasn't up for the stronger alcohol content beer that night as I hadn't had dinner so I ordered this!
TADA!! Lemon Tea Beer. Lololol don't laugh okay. I can't appreciate strong beer (Yes shame on me oh wells) so you will realize that I will often order Ales or something lighter. I initially wanted something sweet but from what I heard from the friendly staff there was that sweeter beer often meant higher alcohol content! Never knew that :O
And of course, bars/pubs are everywhere in Taipei and you can probably google your district and at least 10 will pop up within your vicinity but that also means I wouldn't blog about this. HAHA. As the name suggests, this place offers a selection of Cheese you can order to go with your beer! I personally found this pretty interesting as you will normally think of wine and cheese which sounds very atas. But beer and cheese? I thought it was worth a shot.
They had a pretty small cheese selection (about 7-8 of them) which came across as disappointing for my French friend but AMAZING for me. I was really excited to try out some of the cheese they had and we ordered 3 different kinds. The price ranges from 30NT to 80NT (SGD$1.20-3.20) which I thought was quite affordable! We ordered the 30NT and 50NT cheese and no, more expensive doesn't mean taste nicer. HAHA if you're there, you can choose the 30NT and 50NT ones as the smell isn't as strong (which is good for me).
Lololol! Me and my lemon tea beer HAHA
Besides the cheese, this place offers a wide selection of beer. For those who are adventurous or wanna try something new, they offer beer with coffee flavour, orange flavour, chocolate flavour etc. Just ask the staff the kind of beer you like and they will reccomend you! The beer prices ranges from around 200NT to 400NT (SGD$8-16) if my memory doesn't fail me. They serve pretty good bar food too if you're looking for snacks beside cheese.
Well, the board says it all.
P.S. They do serve non-alcoholic drinks too so don't worry if you have non drinkers amongst you^^

To get here:
The nearest MRT station: Daan Park (Red Line), walk about 10 mins to reach.
Address: 台北市大安區建國南路2段169/ No. 169, Section 2, Jiànguó South Rd, Daan District Taipei City 
Opening hours: Tue - Thu: 18:00 - 01:00
Fri - Sat: 18:00 - 03:00
Sun: 18:00 - 23:00

Monday, 7 July 2014

Angels in my life, thank you

Monday, 7 July 2014
Hi friends!
It's been an amazing journey for me in Taiwan thus far and I'm loving it! Many friends have been asking me to check their itineraries for them to see if they've missed out anything, or if any other places are worth going! Keep them coming! I love knowing that people are here to visit this amazing country :')
Today, I chanced upon the song "Angel in Disguise" by Corinne May (One of my favourite YouTube singers!) after hearing it a long long time ago.
& I was blessed.
Blessed by the beautiful lyrics so perfectly written :')

I've been in Taiwan for almost 2 months alone now and everyday God just sends an angel to watch over me. From the very day that I was in Taiwan, I met good colleagues, good seniors and helpful strangers. I often get lost, and more often then not, easily distracted that I sometimes walk into a shop wanting to buy something and the next minute I'll be on my phone, walked out of the shop with nothing on my hand, and only realising it when I'm home *sigh* But life never gets too hard on me because I always meet wonderful people everyday. I would name all of them, but only afraid that I would be too shy to see them the next time *blush* (just in case they chance upon my blog teehee)

& this. This song reminds me of how blessed I am to have not one, not two but many many angels in disguise :') So many times I'm met with problems, but somehow someone will be there to guide me and help the (not so able) me.

Below is the song that greatly touched my heart and I want to share it with you.
Hope you'll be blessed by it too^^

I woke up this morning feeling kind of blue
and I stumbled out of bed and
dragged my feet across the room
Right outside my front door was a rose
and a note that said 'Somebody Loves You'

Oh~ But out on the street it starts to pour
and before I get soaking wet,
A total stranger runs to give me
the jacket off his back
I turn around to thank him
But he waves me with a smile
And I can hardly believe my eyes
He puts on a halo and starts to fly

Take a look at the ordinary
Don't need to look for Paradise
You could be next to
an angel in disguise

I met a good friend for lunch
and we had a delicious meal
But I forgot to bring my wallet
I felt like an imbecile
But she was sweet, she gave me a treat and
Bought me a chicken sandwich
To take home for tea

Oh~ But out on the street with nothing to eat
A man and his shopping cart go
Travelling to places
Collecting social graces
I give him my sandwich
and we chatter for a while
I see a rainbow wash over his eyes
He gives me his halo and
I start to fly

Take a look at the ordinary
Don't need to look for Paradise
You could be next to
an angel in disguise

Don't try to hide away from me
I know you're by my side


Take a look at the ordinary
Don't need to look for Paradise
You could be next to
an angel in disguise
Everyday can be legendary
Every minute, an endless surprise
You could be the next angel in disguise

I woke up this morning
Feeling kind of new


Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Taipei Fish Market (Japanese Seafood Haven);Addiction Aquatic Development (上引水產)

Wednesday, 2 July 2014
It's been more than a week since I last updated my blog with my Taiwan travels and oh boy, it has been an amazing week for me! I had 4 groups of friends that came over to Taipei last week and I managed to meet up with them!!! It's great seeing familiar faces in a foreign land once in a while and I've been so blessed to have all these people accompanying me while I'm here alone :')
AND!!! I am so SO excited to share with you guys all the wonderful things I've done last week as well as the amazing places I've discovered! Will blog about it in come to come^^
Thanks to a group of friends who led me to this gem, I had the opportunity to visit the Taipei Fish Market (臺北鱼市)- Addiction Aquatic Development (上引水產). I'm really excited to blog about this one cos I. REALLY. LOVE. JAPANESE. FOOD. YAY!
It's not the wet market that we wake up really early to get fresh fish and meat but a legit Japanese Market which sells fresh sashimi and all things Japanese (including Japan Imported vegetables HAHA)
TADA! Look out for this sign when you're here. Cos you're about to enter the food haven *eyes widened*

There is only one entrance and they'll sanitize your hands before going in! This place works like a supermarket where you will grab boxes of sushi, sashimi etc before proceeding to the cashier.
The interior looks pretty impressive right hehehe. I was damn excited the moment I entered!!
Yes, it is very chaotic. HAHA but I was there on a Sunday afternoon during lunch time. If you're there for a holiday you might try a weekday instead? It might be less crowded which means less people snatching your box of sashimi away :'(

Of course, if you prefer to have a less chaotic experience, they have Japanese restaurants inside selling sashimi and sushi as well and you'll get to sit down. Its prolly more expensive and you'll have to queue to get into the restaurant anyway.
Each box of salmon sashimi ranges from 180NT to 290NT (~SGD$7.50-12) I think thats a rather decent price for 20 slices of fresh sashimi. Amazingly fresh!
Look at those empty spots. People keep snatching the boxes I had to quickly snap a pic and leave HAHA. Look at those yummy smoked duck on the top right yumz*

In case you dont eat raw food, dont worry! They sell lots of other Japanese food too. They have a row of cooked meat (Grilled Charsiew, sliced beef etc) and a number of steamed flavoured rice with scallops or unagi omg :O Absolute love. The price ranges from 80NT to 300NT (~SGD$3.50-12) WHERE TO FIND?
This is our loot for 6 people. We spent a total of 2060NT (SGD$82.50) which means we paid around $14 per person for ALL OF THIS (including the drinks).
Closer look at our loot heehee :3 I absolutely love the huge raw scallops and prawns. Those are my favourite!!!

I didn't see octopus when I was there but if you're a fan of it, you might want to ask the staff over there to see if they sell it.

How to get there:
Name: Addiction Aquatic Development (上引水產)
Address: No. 18, Alley 2, Lane 410, Minzu East Road, Taipei City (台北市民族東路410巷2弄18號)
Telephone: (02) 2508-1268
Open: 11am to 9pm
Budget for Sashimi meal: NT$800 – $2000 (Based on sharing portions)