Monday, December 01, 2014

new in town/mall food: i recommend BREEZE SONG GAO



BREEZE SONG GAO
No. 16, Song-Gao Rd., XinYi District
台北市信義區松高路16號

MRT: Taipei City Hall

website: Breeze Song Gao FB page

hours: 11AM - 9:30PM

$-$$

Kid friendliness: lots to eat and check out, including Dairy Queen and new Ice Monster!

Visit reviewed: 11/23/2014

 

When the construction started popping up in the already crowded Xinyi area for new shopping centers, I thought, "Seriously? Do we need more malls when there's already Taipei 101, ATT4Fun, Vieshow, four Shin Kong Mitsukoshis, Bellavita, Eslite and Hankyu all in a few blocks of each other?" But once Breeze Song Gao opened with its huge hot pink sign and a new Ice Monster, I gave in to curiosity and had to check it out.

Breeze Song Gao sits next to the new-ish boutique hotel, Humble House, across from Bellavita and next to Xinyi Mituskoshi A8. You can spot the recently opened TEXAS ROADHOUSE from the front as well.


Breeze Song Gao did a good job bringing some new things to their mall that you can't find in the nearby malls or Xinyi area- the number one thing being ICE MONSTER. With a prime window spot on the first floor, it's hard to miss, and with the shortage of great shaved ice in this Xinyi area in general, I can definitely see them drawing crowds to their mall. Mango shaved ice lovers get ready to line up next summer!



AGNES B. CAFE sits in the front of the first floor for sandwiches and coffee. Their expansion has been pretty impressive- almost like a Taiwanese Starbucks, in that there's one on each corner and they always seem to be filled with customers. On the way to the MRT, you can hit two more Agnes B Cafe's at Xinyi Eslite and Hankyu.


Breeze Song Gao doesn't have a food court, but rather a floor of restaurants with each place having its own seating area. On the day that I went, the Japanese restaurants seemed the most popular, while TJB Pho, Pepper Steak, Kiwi Cafe and Liz Gastronomie offer some variety. 

Here's a quick first look at the restaurants on B2 floor. Leave a comment below if you've tried any and what you think!

OOTOYA KITCHEN/ 大戶屋- Japanese katsu, udon, katsu don, soba dishes


TIEN HSIANG LO- Hangzhou cuisine, fast casual style



OBON DE GOHAN/ 御盤 de 食堂 - Japanese set meals and desserts in cute cafe setting. Original outlets in Japan and Narita airport.





FUJI TEPPANYAKI/ 富士鐵板燒


INAKA UDON/ 稻禾烏龍麵- freshly made udon bowls with tempura options, served cafeteria style. Also near Xinyi Eslite and inside SongYan Eslite




Kiwi Cafe/ KIWI日味義麵  Japanese Italian pasta in valentine red and pink chaired cafe



SHENG SHI TONKATSU/ 勝勢豬排- this is definitely the next place I want to try. I spotted their black tonkatsu on instagram and they had one of the longest lines to get in.




TJB PHO - have yet to try any of the TJB Cafes or TJB dim sum so it's interesting to see that they've expanded to pho! Kind of how Dazzling expanded to Thai....


OLYMPIA/ 世運食品


LADERACH - Laderach's chocolate bark are SO good and I occasionally get them as gifts or gift to myself. My favorite is their raspberry blackberry chocolate and recently discovered their chocolate covered orange peels. It's a bit pricey, but it's made in Switzerland and imported from there. Ask for samples if you ever pass by. They also have a store in Taipei 101.




TRINE AND ZEN- at Breeze Fuxing, Trine and Zen took over the ex-Dean and Deluca space so it's a deli/cafe. Didn't get a chance to see if it's also a deli here, or just a cafe.



Wine guy

SHUI JIAN BAO - good for a snack on the go


PEPPER LUNCH/ 軒記台灣肉乾王 - sizzling steak on the iron plate, with various toppings.



MENYA MUSASHI RAMEN/ 麵屋武藏- I ended up here for lunch after making a circle around B2. Menya Musashi is a popular ramen shop from Japan, and also has locations in Hong Kong and Singapore. They have tonkotsu, ship and miso ramens as well as tsukemen dipping ramen. I'll post more pictures and details in a separate review.



LIZ GASTRONOMIE- bakery and desserts. Didn't spot this place behind the escalators until I went to the bathroom. Haha! It's a bit hidden, but I guess you'll pass by it if you are looking for the restroom. 




With new malls come new food courts and restaurants to explore, making the competition for everyone's dining dollars fiercer than ever. It's really insane the density of food available now in just the shopping areas alone, I think it hurts some of the nearby restaurants since it's easier to meet at a mall and walk around to find a place that can seat you when you're with a bunch of friends, than to walk across the street to the shops behind Zhongxiao. While it is convenient to be able to have so much available in the area, the downside is that it's sure to increase the traffic which was already so horrific in this area during rush hours.

I'm excited to check out the rest of Breeze Song Gao later, since there's another floor of eats on B1, including Dairy Queen, Beard Papa Cream Puffs and Favvi Cafe. I'm also curious to see what the bigger Breeze Xinyi will have when they open.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

where can you find... thanksgiving turkey in Taipei 2014?

photo by Pig and Pepper

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Even though no one gets the day/weekend off in Taipei for Thanksgiving, my stomach still starts to crave a little turkey with candied yams this time of year. There's nothing like a plate of a pile of homemade sides with juicy turkey, but the next best thing is a hot plate with no need to clean up in the kitchen.

This year I made salted caramel apple pie pops for the first time! It wasn't as difficult or as time consuming as I thought it would be, of course since I used some short cuts like boxed pie crust and a pink pie pop machine I picked up last summer back in LA when it was on sale. Warming myself up to making a whole apple pie.


Here's a few places to call up if you decide you want to have some turkey today in Taipei. If you have a restaurant or know of one that's also doing Thanksgiving, please include it below and I'll include it on my next list!

PIG AND PEPPER (02) 2708-7899
https://www.facebook.com/pigandpeppertaipei

WHALENS (02) 2739-3037
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Whalens-味鄰/320813964677441

SHAFFER's KITCHEN (02) 8789-4088
https://www.facebook.com/ShaffersKitchen

BABA KEVIN's BBQ 0800-887-427
https://www.facebook.com/88kbbq

DAN RYAN's (02) 8780-9393
https://www.facebook.com/danryans.taipei

CARNEGIE's (02) 2325-4433
https://www.facebook.com/carnegiestaipei?rf=114277051920753

ON TAP (02) 2741-5365
http://www.ontaptaipei.com

ED's DINER (02) 8502-6969
https://www.facebook.com/EdsDinerTaipei

GRANDMA NITTI's KITCHEN (02) 2369-9751
https://www.facebook.com/grandmanittiskitchen

GRAND HYATT HOTEL BUFFET (02) 2720 1234
https://www.facebook.com/GrandHyattTaipei

AMERICAN CLUB
https://www.americanclub.org.tw/news/

The last few years I've been ordering whole turkey to carve at home and make my favorite sides like candied yams and cornbread. If you want to order a cooked whole turkey or ham for Christmas, please check out my round up from a few years ago.

And even if you don't have turkey this year, take a moment in our crazy lives to think about who and what we are grateful for and share a meal with your loved ones.

Monday, November 24, 2014

korean: TOFU VILLAGE



TOFU VILLAGE 豆腐村
at In Base
No. 68 XinHu 2nd Road, Neihu
台北市新湖二路68號
(02) 2792-4989

MRT: no MRT in walking distance to this location in Neihu

website: Tofu Village FB page

hours: 11AM - 9:30PM

$$

Kid friendliness: non spicy tofus available, many meats and appetizers and tofu ice cream at end

Visit reviewed: 9/8/2014


Tofu Village holds the prize for being the first (and only) restaurant that I've seen in Taipei that has galbi jjim on the menu. For those of you who have never had galbi jjim, it's a delicious beef short rib dish that is steamed or braised in a sweet soy sauce until it is fall off the bone tender. The pureed Korean pear, onions and kiwi in the recipe tenderizes the meat as well as adds layers of sweetness, so the sometimes tough short rib becomes melt in your mouth goodness. My standard for galbi jjim is from a little restaurant in Koreatown LA called Seong Buk Dong, which charges a small ransom for the homemade dish, but I still pay it because it's that good. I even begged a friend for crib notes of their family's recipe and made it with a thinner cut short rib that was pretty amazing.

So back to Tofu Village- was their galbi jjim worth ordering?



Korean soondubu tofu stews have become quite popular in the last few years in Taipei, so we've seen the opening of a lot of sit down restaurants, whereas before I could only find it in the mall food courts or localized Korean spots. (That's actually one reason I was surprised to see that Ari Tofu House had closed down).

The menu at Tofu Village has a couple pages of appetizers- Korean pancake, pork fried kimchi, spicy Korean rice cake (tteokbokki) which they call rice pasta, and japchae - as well as meat dishes- spicy chicken,  spicy pan fried pork and vegetables, bulgogi, and galbi jjim. There's about 13 tofu stews on the menu, including vegetarian, kimchi, clam, mushroom, seafood and ham & cheese.



Panchan that day included potato salad, kimchi, seaweed, dragon beard veggies and spicy fish cake.



I ordered the Seafood Beef combo tofu stew (NT$279) which came with shrimp, clams, oyster and beef, in a mild spiciness as well as a bowl of purple rice. Good amount of tofu, soup and stuff inside- I finished it.



The galbi jjim (NT$480) looked promising when it arrived at the table, but the meat was so tough, it was impossible to take bites of the beef. Either they didn't marinate it with the right tenderizing recipe or they didn't cook it long enough? After we showed the server, they offered to replace it and whisked it away. But the replacement dish was even worse than the first time, with a sauce and meat being too salty to eat and the meat was still rubbery. So unfortunately, I'm going to have just make it at home until I find another place that makes it. Thanks A for the recipe tips!!





And at the end of the meal, you can opt to get some ice cream made from tofu. I thought it had a weird flavor, but it's complimentary so you can give it a try. Tofu Village is decent enough that I'd come back for the tofu stews and try a few other of their dishes, but I wouldn't go out of my way eat here unless I was nearby. This particular location is in the middle of a ton of shopping centers- there's Carrefour (Taipei's Kmart), RT Mart (which has a Nike outlet), HOLA (Taipei's Bed Bath and Beyond), B&Q (hardware store, reminded me of Home Depot), and last but not least, Costco, all in walking distance from each other.  


OTHER LOCATIONS

Bellavita
No. 28 Song Ren Rd. B2, Xinyi District
台北市信義區松仁路28號B2
(02) 8729-2733

No. 50 ZhongXiao W. Rd, Sec. 1, 3F
台北市中正區忠孝西路一段50號3樓 
(02) 2371-4989

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