Wednesday, March 22, 2017

burgers/smoothies: I recommend MEAT UP


MEAT UP 
No. 124-4, Section 2, Wuchang St
西門町武昌街二段124號
(02) 2331-4200

MRT: Ximen

website: Meat Up's Facebook page

Hours: 11:30AM–9PM; Weekends until 10PM; Closed Mondays

Kid friendliness: no high chairs spotted, room for strollers. Kids probably will enjoy burger fries and smoothies

Visit reviewed: 12/12/2017

My must orders: burger with mushrooms and feta, dragonfruit with kiwi and yogurt smoothie, onion rings


[TAIPEI] AWAY FROM THE CENTER OF XIMENDING, there's a bright cafe called Meat Up across from Vieshow Cinemas where I met up with a friend. Meat Up is seemingly designed for the Instagram crowd, with colorful smoothies and overflowing milkshakes and eye catching storefront murals. Burger was tasty with a lot of add on options, but I was addicted to the onion rings and truffle mayo. Dragonfruit yogurt smoothie also refreshing with right amount of sweetness. 



So many cute hand painted murals to admire, or take photos with. Pick a wall and strike a pose, or bring out your smoothie to get the natural light.




The menu includes burgers and fries, customizable with over a dozen toppings,  fried shrimp burger, chicken Caesar or feta salad and sides like buffalo wings, mushroom fries or onion rings. 


The juices and smoothies have names like volcano, summer, autumn, exaggeration or Anna Sui, and have fruits like kiwis, guava, dragonfruit, orange, strawberry, mango and passionfruit. For a sweeter shake, there's chocolate or Oreo banana. 


We didn't know what to get, so we asked the server to pick two for us. I really enjoyed the Dragon fruit and Kiwi Smoothie with Yogurt (NT$150), carefully layered with sliced kiwi peeking out from the mason jar. I would happily order this refreshing drink again.



The Banana and Oreo milkshake is over the top, but either we took too long taking photos or it would have been better with some Oreos or chocolate inside the shake, but I didn't enjoy it as much as the fruit smoothie. I didn't taste much chocolate, maybe it was just a banana milkshake, but tasted a bit watered down. (NT$195)


Burger with truffle mayo, mushrooms and feta cheese and French fries (NT$280); onion rings (we ate some before this photo) (NT$120) I was pretty full from half a burger, onion rings and the drinks. We also got the truffle mayo on the side, and it was delicious as a dipping sauce. Burger had nice fat layer of grilled mushrooms as well as fresh tomatoes, onions and lettuce.



Bring at least one friend so you can try more things. When we got there, we saw two other girls taking photos and a million selfies, but barely talking to eat other. Thanks to my friend D for letting me take a million photos and trying a new place with me, but hopefully we spent more time talking than on our phones. Thanks Meat Up for the invitation and lunch!! (Disclosure- I received this meal for free from Meat Up, but the opinions expressed are my own. No compensation was received.)



Friday, March 17, 2017

american/bakery: i strongly recommend HERITAGE BAKERY AND CAFE


HERITAGE BAKERY AND CAFE
台北市中正區漢口街一段73號之2
(02) 2311-1079

MRT: Taipei Main Station (about 10 minute walk) or Ximen Station (about 8 minute walk) or NTU Hospital (about 10 minute walk)

website: Heritage Bakery's Facebook page

hours: 11AM - 7PM (closed Mondays)

$$ 

Kid friendliness: seating on second floor, elevator available. kids will love the cinnamon buns and desserts

Visit reviewed: 3/16/2017

Must orders: cinnamon roll, salted caramel cheesecake, carrot cake


[TAIPEI]  Anyone who has been craving warm, sticky cinnamon buns in Taipei must get themselves to Heritage Bakery now. Opened in September 2016, Heritage Bakery is the result of owner Sally Song transforming an old family building into a gorgeous bakery/cafe serving a counter full of American style cakes and desserts, including a plate of cinnamon buns beckoning at the entrance's window. The cafe's classic and clean decor, peppered with refurbished vintage fans and speakers as decoration, and bookended by the original building's brick and concrete walls, looks like it could be out of the pages of Pottery Barn or Williams Sonoma catalog, both companies that Song previously worked for.  










There's currently only one savory item on the menu, a bacon mushroom potato tart, creamy and crisp, topped with a thin layer of cheese with a subtle layer of local pepper (NT$180). I wished there were more mushrooms and less potatoes since it's quite filling, but I polished off the entire thing anyways anyways.




But we are here for the desserts and there's so many to choose from! I settled on trying the most popular items- the cinnamon roll and the salted caramel cheesecake. Song said that there was definitely a learning curve in working with her pastry chef, who is Taiwanese and has never traveled to the US, to create authentic flavors and textures with rounds of recipe testing without having tasted the real thing. Considering the differences the palate between Asian desserts and American desserts, the results are pretty amazing, as all the desserts I tried were on point. 



Cutting open the salted caramel cheesecake, I could already tell I would like it. Not as dense and firm as NY cheesecake (and less cakey than the Japanese style cheesecake that is popular in Taipei), Heritage Bakery's cheesecake is more melt-in-your-mouth creamy and smooth, as a result of being made from cream cheese, marscapone and sour cream. Perfection with the sweet caramel swirls and touch of salt to balance the sweetness. 


And the cinnamon bun tasted as good as it looks. My fork easily cut apart each layer, which was moist, fluffy and pleasurable with a sticky finish from the caramelized sugars and cinnamon coating. I've tried my share of cinnamon rolls in Taipei (Fly's Kitchen, Mia Cucina, IKEA, Original Bakery, Bonjour Bakery, La Petite Pearl to name a few) and this one is the closest I've had yet to my Cinnabon cravings.  My only regret is that I didn't pick up a few extra to share and eat in the morning for breakfast. Don't make my same mistake.



Balsamic strawberry chocolate tart 


Guava Delight (NT$150)


Passionfruit meringue (NT$180)


Good Ol' Carrot Cake (NT$150)


Even though Heritage has been open for only a few months, Song has ideas about the bakery's space for the future- hoping to bring other bakeries or chefs for pop-ups in Taipei, since the bakery is only open during the day time and she has a full kitchen on the third floor. Until then, I will be happy to come back to try out the other delicious desserts one by one, or maybe one of their beer and dessert pairings. Heritage Bakery is worth the trek to Hankou Street, near Taipei Main Station and Ximen areas.



Wednesday, March 15, 2017

mexican: JUANITA BURRITOS AND BAR



JUANITA BURRITOS AND BAR
No. 307 XinYi Road, Sec. 4
信義路四段307號
(02) 2703-5775

MRT: XinYi/AnHe


hours: 11:30AM - 6PM

$$ cash only

kid friendliness: leather seats and barstools in a bar, don't know there are rules against kids being in bars in Taipei?

visit reviewed: 2/23/2017
previous review: 9/2012


[TAIPEI] So quite a few of you were very excited when I posted on Instagram about Juanita's being "back," when I first spotted it on Ubereats a few months ago. It IS back, but as a pop-up of sorts, taking over the menu and space at Digout Bar on Xinyi Road only during the daytime hours. The strategy to save costs on both businesses bringing an unexpected ambiance to your tacos and burritos. So when you are walking around looking for Juanita, you actually need to look for these Digout signs instead (a couple doors down from Tai Ho Dien). Be sure to go before 6PM, since it turns into a pumpkin, I mean back into a bar then. I wonder if they still offer nachos or finger foods at night. 


The door is here- you have to slide it open. At first, I wasn't sure, so I thought I would point that out. 



Juanita first opened in 2012 and was closely modeled after Chipotle which made a lot of people happy until they closed in 2015. The sign from their original store made it to the new location, explaining the basics to the Taiwanese would-be customers who don't know a burrito from a taco. Haha!




The menu offers up burritos, burrito bowl, tacos, chili cheese fries, quesadillas or nachos, as well as sangria and cocktails, since it is in a bar. Vegetarian options are available as well. I was a bit disappointed to see that there was no barbacoa option since that was my favorite thing from Juanita and something that would be more difficult to make at home.





We ended up getting a burrito bowl, chicken quesadilla and a couple tacos. 


The chicken quesadilla (NT$230) was good, plenty of cheese and side of guac. But something one could easily do at home or find at other restaurants. 




My friend was happy with her steak burrito bowl (NT$190)


Note that the rice is "cilantro lime" rice instead of Mexican rice, same as their old location, but looks kind of like white rice to me. Now that the chicken chipotle bowl from Sugar Pea is available in Taipei, this can't compare.


And the tacos (NT$70-75). The tacos are probably the only thing I wouldn't order again. They weren't very hot and the flour tortillas were a bit thick and the toppings skimpy and bland. In retrospect, maybe I should have tried the burrito instead of the tacos, but when I asked the server if the taco tortillas were corn, she said yes. I think she misunderstood me and thought I was asking for corn salsa in the tacos? In the end, I would have rather spent my money and calories on fish tacos from Macho Tacos instead or stuck to making my own.


So those of you who were fans of Juanita while it was around can give it a try. But those looking for LA style dollar tacos will still have to keep looking. If you find it, please let me know!

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