Category Archives: Taipei

Taiwan: Taipei: Dandy Hotel

7VF3RR1388504082Dandy Hotel
No. 70, Tiānjīn St, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10441
Phone:+886 2 2541 5788
http://www.dandyhotel.com.tw/en/dandyt/index.aspx?lan=en-US

I have nothing but good things to say about this hotel and would completely recommend it to anyone.

93RgGb1388504270The staff are friendly and helpful. Some of whom, I am sure must live on the 6th floor of the hotel, because they never seem to go home, morning, noon or night!

Check-in is at 3pm. So if you come earlier, they of course have the option for you to leave your luggage with them until 3pm.

Once we got to our room, it was lovely, extremely clean and great decor. The decor of the whole hotel is asian-cute, with many little ‘pretty’ modern, light, not to cluttered, touches everywhere.

The bathroom had a shower and bath, the hot water was very good, and the shower head is their ‘rainforest shower head’ really nice!

The daily breakfast was also very impressive for such a little establishment. There was fruit, bread, rice porridge, soup, hot asian and western food options, salads, coffee, tea and juices.

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Foyer pictures:

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Front desk and breakfast/dining area:

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Buffet breakfast spread:

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Food: 7.5/10
Service: 8.5/10
Ambience: 8.5/10
Cleanliness: 9.5/10
Locality: 9.5/10
Total: 43.5/50

Taiwan: Taipei: International Airport

KiGbQ41388090717Taipei International Airport
Arrivals and Departures

Arrivals:

By the time we landed and went through immigration and the baggage claim carousel it was around 1pm, so we decided it was a good idea to eat before hopping on a bus which we thought took approximately 1hr to the city. Ikari Coffee is a chain which is also found all throughout Taipei. Surprisingly, they do not charge more at the airport than their regular stores in the city. I notice this frequently happens in other countries.

R7X5VF1388090481The Lasagna Sicilian Style (198 NTD, approximately $7.6 AUD) and Pasta Creamy Bacon (128 NTD approximately $4.9 AUD ) was very reasonably priced. Admittedly not the best food in the world, but by all accounts (price factor included) a very good deal for a hungry traveller.

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Food: 6.5/10
Value for money: 7.5/10
Ambience: 6.5/10
Service: 6.5/10
Overall Score: 27/40
$

Filtered hot, warm and cold water was just around the corner, so a tip is always to have a water bottle with you, even if you have to empty it out when you board an international flight, it is always a good idea to keep the empty plastic bottle with you.

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Departures:

Departures funnily has quite a different feel to arrivals. It seems like they spent n8p4A11388796619more money making it look and feel very modern.

We were there at approximately 6pm, and allowed at least an hour to get there via car. There were still long queues at check-in and immigration, so to save your hairline and chest palpitations I would suggest arriving with plenty of time to spare.

Now on to the dining! After pabSYVLy1388796736ssing through immigration, there are two eating places. One sells Asian food (various rice, rice porridge and noodle dishes), the other sold a more Western fare of sandwiches, pasta, sweets and coffee.

We chose the Western option. We ordered three different sets of seafood risotto, beef meatball spaghetti and pork spaghetti bolognese. zRA3cK1388796649All were priced the same at $160NTD, approximately $6.10AUD.

Although it looked like microwaved pre-packaged food, it was surprisingly decent, especially the seafood risotto (which I though was the most risky to order, and the one that could be stuffed up the most). It tasted like tomato, cheesy baked rice, and the seafood was still fresh and moist. Both spaghetti were also fairly competent. So for the price point and limited airport options, it was not bad at all.

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Food: 7/10
Value for money: 7.5/10
Ambience: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Overall Score: 28.5/40
$

Taiwan: Taipei: Kao Chi

YU81Xq1388506704Kao Chi
No.1 Yongkang Street
Taipei, Taiwan
(near Dongmen MRT Station)

Apparently Kao Chi is suppose to be Din Tai Fung’s number one rival, so I felt the need to experience what this rivalry was all about!

As we entered, we took a number and waited downstairs. To be honest, it wasn’t that long a waiting time. Probably shorter than Din Tai Fung. I really like places where you can see the chefs making the dumplings in front of you. Just like Din Tai Fung, Chef’s Gallery do as well.

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After viewing the chefs through the window, this was making me excited to try the food.

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At Din Tai Fung I quite like how you can order 5 pieces instead of the full 10 pieces of the dumpling dishes. At Din Tai Fung you write 0.5 on your order-card.

This meant that at Kao Chi, we couldn’t try as many dishes. So we ordered:

  • steamed pork buns
  • crab xiao long bao
  • deep-fried prawn and pork in beancurd skin
  • golden sands bao (egg yolk and cream sweet dessert bao)

I’d have to say I did like the steamed pork buns. Reminded me of New Shanghai in Ashfield, Sydney. This dish was competently done. Came to the table piping hot, and the soup flowed out, which is what you want to see! It goes really well with the finely chopped fresh ginger and vinegar. Yum!

Next for the xiao long bao. This was quite good too, good crab meat and crab flavour coming through. Though the xiao long bao skin is thicker than Din Tai Fung and for some reason the rest of the dishes came to the table warm, but not piping hot, which I think is how they serve it to patrons, so they don’t burn their tongues with the hot soup in the dumplings? That was my only guess?

TXHFXp1388656519 XhiPq81388656394WDZA7n1388656425The deep-fried pork and prawn in beancurd skin was again very competently done. The golden sands bao was also … o.k. but I think lacked a little more sweetness from the custard portion of the filling, and saltiness from the salted yolk proportion of the filling. Definitely lacked punch to it.

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All in all though a very pleasant eating experience, but Din Tai Fung is the clear winner in this fight, no competition as far as I was concerned.

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Food: 7.5/10
Value for money: 7.5/10
Ambience: 7.5/10
Service: 7.5/10
Overall Score: 30/40
$$

Taiwan: Taipei: Smith & Hsu

Smith & Hsu
110, Taiwan
cnj7cT1388482776Taipei City, Xinyi District
http://www.smithandhsu.com/
(near Taipei City Hall MRT Station)

To be honest, after reading reviews and seeing some photos, I was very excited to experience Smith and Hsu. However, after my interactions with the establishment, I am left a little mixed as to my review of it.

We visited a day ahead to book for the following day. We booked in for 3pm, and the waiter let us know that they will hold the table until 3:10pm. (I looked at the booking sheet, and they did have a few bookings already, but the time we booked was relatively blank). We arrived at 2:55pm, and were told that they thought our booking was for 3:30pm, so we had to wait.

They have limited seating, perhaps all in all about eight tables, and mix-ups do happen and this is fine, but I had the sneaking suspicion that they just tried to cram another set of diners in, and push our booking half an hour, which was not on. The waitress just came across as a little stressed that she had over-booked and a little insincere.

dR5jDg1388482842We then ordered three sets, two scone sets (each with two scones and tea) at $295 NTD and one cake set (one piece of cake and tea) at $265 NTD. So when the bill came to $1020 NTD at the end, I just asked if I could take a look at the receipt (mainly just to see the percentage of service charges they had slapped on, which I thought, oh well that’s just something you deal with coming to a nice place I guess). But then the lady wouldn’t show me the receipt. She said they don’t give receipts. Ridiculous much?

Then I just asked, do they have service charge. The lady said ‘no, there is no Nd9MSP1388482804service charge’. So then I was a bit perplexed as to where the additional (1020-855= 165) 165 NTD came from? Then the lady said that I had up-sized and ordered extra large pots of tea, other than the normal tea provided in the set. (a) the waitress never asked if I wanted an upgrade, (b) you can tell when establishments are playing spot the tourist and acting a bit dodgy. This left me feeling less than impressed.

Anyway aside from the bad service… or5he41388482868I liked how you are able to smell the teas prior to choosing which blend you wish to drink. Really nice touch. HsHDYX1388482894

 

 

 

The scones were lovely, crispy on the outside and soft, moist and warm on the inside and great texture. We tried all the three scone flavours – Matcha, plain and sultana scones. Plain and sultana really lets the spreads shine through, matcha was interesting, but I’m not sure it went well with the spreads we chose. The spread accompaniments were very delicious – whipped double cream, lemon curd and strawberry jam.

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5ZNLyv1388483167The chocolate cake was also very well executed, it was the truffle ganache later on the top, which really made the cake stand out. The rest was light and sponge like. It was chocolatey without being too rich.yDqCwB1388483061

Food: 9/10
Value for money: 7/10
Ambience: 8/10
Service: 5/10
Overall Score: 29/40
$$

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Taipei: Taiwan: Hot Pot (near Tong Hua night market)

Dq2t2t1388482288Hot Pot Restaurant
(near Tong Hua night market)

To be honest, I couldn’t tell you the name of the place, as it was only in Chinese!

But none-the-less, I thought it deserved a post of its own because it was such a good fIpw0YM1388478809ind, in the hope that if you happen to be in the area and stumble across this, you can give it a go as well.

So we ordered the ‘Hong Kong beef short rib’ hot pot which came with noodles/rice, plus:

  • Combo B ‘with pork’ (which came with 2 prawns, pork, seafood stick, mushrooms, bok choy, cabbage and either a packet of instant noodles/bowl of rice/mung been noodles; and
  • ‘fatty beef’.

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The broth was very tasty, and didn’t appear to have any msg (which I think is quite important). The ingredients were very fresh and of good quality. The staff were lovely and topped up the soup as it was getting low. And most of all for the price $418 NTD (approximately $16AUD for all these dishes) it was amazing value!! The food was definitely enough to feed two hungry people. Which would make me patron it again and again if I lived in Taipei.

Food: 7.5/10
Value for money: 9/10
Ambience: 7/10
Service: 7.5/10
Overall Score: 31/40
$
Highly recommended!

Taiwan: Taipei: Keelung night market

iC8Nz31388483338Keelung night market
Rénsān Rd, Renai District
(near Keelung Train Station)

The first thing any tourist spots as they exit the station, walk through the overhead staircase, then toward the harbour, is the massive 25m×18m×18m yellow rubber duck. This was created Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, with the aim of ‘spreading joy around the world’, since 2007. (wiki page). We ended up view it just days before it met its unfortunate end, as a deflated yellow puddle… I was a little sad we missed such an exciting pre-2014 explosion!

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/art-and-design/giant-rubber-duck-explodes-in-taiwan-20140101-305dx.html

WqGXeA1388484593As we were walking to Keelung night markets, we first came across another block of little night market stalls. Which had some decent offerings.

Dumplings at 60NTD were o.k. nothing to write home about, but decent. 6/10.

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Then we thought we were buying sweet potato fries…. but to my distant realised I had just bitten into STINKY TOFU! Something, even as a food blogger, that I was intending not to eat. It was o.k and palatable. That’s what you get for forgetting a large chunk of your mandarin language skills. It didn’t look the like the regular stinky tofu on a stick. This had been crumbed and deep-fried, and then doused in hot sauce. The consistency of the stinky tofu was rather like eating into a dish sponge… 3/10.

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Okay now on to real sweet potato fries… this was a good cleanser to get rid of the stinky tofu after-taste. I like how these stalls re-deep-fry their fries, so that they are piping hot when you bite into them. Mmmm. 7/10.

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Next was the lightly battered deep-fried squid. This was the nicest thing we ate at these markets. A massive fresh uncooked squid is lightly battered and deep-fried behind the stall fresh to order. It is then drained for a couple of mins, then cut up into little pieces, and as it’s cut, you can see how tender and succulent the squid is as the juices just ooze out. It is much like a squid version of the Hot Star large fried chicken! … Yum, I give it 8.5/10

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We then walked away from the small night markets, and through a shed with an inordinate and perhaps slightly disturbing amount of Keelung yellow rubber duck merchandise. The city and I’m sure Mr Florentijn Hofman are counting the dollar bills as we speak. From arcade games to toys, clothes, balloons, these little yellow rubber duck ‘bunny-rabbit-multipliers’ are everywhere.

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We then finally reached the night markets, which are a few minutes walk from the station. I would say it’s worth going to. It’s fairly large with lots of food mainly.

rCZmJi1388499514I kind of liked how there were obviously fixed stalls, with signboards in English labeling what each one sold. I guess it does come across as slightly more touristy though.

Next and last food adventure at Keelung was my first taste of Taiwanese shaved ice desserts at Ice-Galaxy.

We ordered mango ice with fresh strawberries, and then just plain strawberry ice.  vMUbNM1388493622Really enjoyed this experience. The ice is so soft and pillowy. I liken it to how shaved chocolate curls are made, it has that same consistency, but with ice. A bit like snow, if you push the spoon down, it would compact together, and then once it hits your tongue it starts to melt with the fruity flavours. The mango ice was better than the strawberry ice. I was surprised at how the strawberry ice was slightly creamy in texture. 180 NTD, I would eat it again, particularly the mango ice in a heart-beat. (Be careful though, paw-paw and mango look surprising the same on the menu, so be sure to specify (and often the stall holders can make out the names in english for you) so you don’t receive a wrong fruit choice. qI4fC31388486579teU3g91388486554

Some final pics of the market…

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Taiwan: Taipei: Yong Kang (Beef noodle soup)

8SAjCR1388318590Yong Kang (Beef noodle soup)
No. 17號, Lane 31, Section 2
Jīnshān South Rd, Daan District
Taipei City, 106 ‎ 02 2351 1051

Yong Kang beef noodle soup is the top listing on google when “beef noodle soup taipei” is placed in the search engine, so in the name of food blogging I felt compelled to check it out.

Number 4 exit from Dong Men station is the closest to  Yong Kang, then it’s just a few minutes walk. Be warned, we arrived at approximately 12:35pm and there was a queue. THCVjHN1388338051hough don’t be too fased it does move pretty quickly. People eat, and then leave.

The menu is on the wall as you enter, but they also have table menus inside. We all had the beef noodle soup. The beef tendon was all sold out.

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There is free tea and you can buy additional sides, but we just went straight for the prized noodles. Tip – it sayXd0D1x1388339324s beef noodle chilli soup, you can ask them to make it ‘less hot’ ‘xiao la’, but they said it would still be a bit hot. But went we got it, the difference between the ‘xiao la’ and regular hot ‘zhong la’ is minimal. Their regular/normal hot, is not hot by the way!

Down to the noodles! (180 NTD a bowl) The broth is a beef & soyabean based stock. It is very tasty indeed. In contrast to Tao Yuan Street beef noodle soup, I actually prefer Tao Yan.phF5WL1388339382 The soup may be slightly tastier at Yong Kang, but the noodles at Tao Yuan have more bite to them. These are lovely still and handmade, but taste slightly more machine processed. The beef has some cartilage still attached, which is a nice touch, but the salty melt in your mouth beef from Tao Yan still does it for me more!

This place is a very close second, and it still satisfying and yummy. Would recommend this place if you are in the area!

y6bpvA1388339519Food: 8.5/10
Value for money: 9/10
Ambience: 6/10
Service: 7/10
Overall Score: 30.5/40
$

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