GINJER CAKES AND MORE
20, Lane 233, Tun Hwa S. Rd, Sec 1
(right around the corner from Eslite Bookstore on Tun Hwa S Road)
website: ginjer.com English and Chinese
hours: 12 PM - 8 PM
Visit reviewed: 5/11/2007
The first time I passed by Sprinkles in Beverly Hills, I saw a line out of the door and people leaving with brown boxes and brown cupcake stickers. Out of curiosity, I had to get in line. I had to see what the big deal was for myself. Even the guy in front of me volunteered how much the line was worth it and he was getting a box of cupcakes for his boss as a birthday gift. The cupcakes were huge and beautifully decorated with frosting perfectly spread and colorful button like candy wafers stuck in the middle of each one. But personally, I didn't like the taste in comparison to my cupcake favorite Auntie Em's in Eagle Rock. Whoever made your personal favorite- cupcakes were a childhood flashback food trend taking over the city. But outside LA and NY, not so much it seems.
You would think that a city like Taipei full of sweet tooths and most often willing to wait in long lines- for shaved ice, for red bean filled pastries and rice balls, for cream puffs, for ice cream covered waffles, for chewy rings of donuts, for slices of cheesecake and any other cake imaginable, that there would be cupcakes all over town- but cupcakes are not easy to find. Maybe it's too American of a tradition. Maybe the Taiwan palate is used to the less sweet frosting and cakes of the Japanese style cakes. Either way, if you're looking for cupcakes in Taipei, Ginjer is your one stop shop for now.
You can buy cupcakes individually from the counter or order them in bulk for a special event. They also have regular cakes, with a homestyle feeling of decoration. I've had mixed experiences with their cakes- the first time I had it, I thought the decoration was more appropriate for a child's party than adult's and the chocolate cake was dense without being moist enough and the frosting was not lick your fingers clean worthy. The second time I heard about their cake, I heard many people complain it was too salty- though I wasn't there to try it- perhaps there was a mix up in the kitchen that day? I've also heard good things from others about it- that it was just the way they liked their cakes and hard to find elsewhere in Taipei.
So I'd recommend that you try it out for yourself if you are tired of the lighter fare of cakes in Taipei and aren't up for baking something at home yourself. Hidden a lane away from Eslite on Dun Hua South Road, it's not hard to find once you are in that area. Once you are in the store, they will usually offer a few samples of their more popular or new flavors. Look for the hanging Ginjer sign and past the outdoor patio that is great for their afternoon tea time (one free drink w/ purchase of a cupcake from 12pm - 2 pm). They also offer cupcake decorating for kids everyday at 4 pm.
They have numerous flavors offered on their website, from chocolate, lemon, banana, taro, orange, pumpkin, cream cheese, coconut, and their original Cloud Nine and Ginjer special. They also offer red velvet seasonally and more unusual fare like Waldorf Salad and Apple Pie- though not every single one is offered everyday (but more than I thought in person- probably about 10 flavors). You can browse their decorations in their gallery which are cute and more home-grown than professional(NT$60-150 each for special orders). I tried the carrot cake cupcake (NT$50) on this day which I quite enjoyed- it was average sized (same as if you baked it in muffin tins yourself ) but also dense, fluffy, sweet with tiny slivers of carrots and a sprinkle of nuts (and no raisins thankfully which some carrot cakes do have) and topped with cream cheese frosting, which I love, and a cute little frosting carrot. It could have used a