Friday, February 29, 2008
149 Dunhua S Rd, Sec 1
Hours: 1F & 2F 10 am-12:30 am;
Rooftop bar/lounge bar 5F & 6F 8 pm-3 am
kid friendly: high chair available.
Visit reviewed: 4/24/2007 and 8/2007
I have a lot of half written posts/reviews in "saved drafts" folder at blogspot- sometimes because I'm missing the business card/addresses or prices of the food, sometimes because I've started writing it and visited the place again and my experience was different, sometimes because it's been so long since I've eaten the food that I've forgotten the details, sometimes because I'm working on the blog from one place and the pictures are in another place, or maybe I'm just wondering if the place has changed since I've been there and if it's a fair review from the initial visit that I made. What's the point in posting pictures if you don't know where to go or how it tasted?
I eat at new places every week, take the snapshots, scribble some brief notes and when I have time upload the pics, translate the Chinese to English and type type type- and then the old ones get pushed further and further back. It frustrates me to no end, but apart from having a solitary confinement week-long catch up marathon, it's a deadly cycle.
Belle Fusion is one of those reviews... I saw it recently and thought, "Oh yeah, never got around to finishing it. Sigh." I actually went there shortly after Belle Fusion opened almost a year ago and wrote something up, but then changed again when I ate there a few months later. Honestly, I don't know if my reviews are what the menu and food is like now since it's been a good six months since I've been, but here is a snapshot of what my experience was then:
Unique decor, outdoor patio and eclectic menu of cross-fusion offerings should provide a place for repeat visits either for their set lunch, afternoon tea or lazy weekend brunches. For hot summer days, there is an airconditioned pink and green themed room on the second floor, seemingly filled with ladies that lunch.
A few months ago, I was quite excited to try out Belle Fusion after hearing about it- a new place to offer Western style breakfasts/brunches and seeing its large patio next to the bright white stand alone building with a cool rooftop with cathedral architecture. The menu offers a wide array of choices though it has changed since I've been back.
Originally, it had sandwiches ranging from pork katsu to steak to roasted vegetables and other region's cuisines such as Indian curry chicken and foie gras risotto which definitely represented an offering of a wide array of cuisines. But having just visited Belle Fusion again, many things I spotted on the menu back in April were now replaced by other pastas, meats/seafood and lunch sets which were equally tasty but not extraordinary.
Lunch sets range from NT$300ish to NT$500ish, depending on what main dish you order and comes with the daily soup, salad, dessert and drink. The soups are generally better than the salads (made with lettuce and overly dressed) and the dessert changes often.
The indian chicken curry I ordered had the right spices and portion, but pairing it white jasmine rice seemed kind of an incomplete experience. I was eyeing the risotto that someone else had ordered (but not an offering on the lunch set menu) but by August of 2007, neither of those things were available on their revamped menu.
Now, your drink is a coffee or tea, but back then, you could have your choice from the menu. I chose the refreshing sounding mint and lemon frappacino, but got an unbearably SOUR drink. After sending it back and requesting that they make it sweeter (and edible), it came back not much better.
Overall, it's not a bad price for what you get- though the drink I ordered was awful. I would have expected more from a cafe/bar, but maybe the bartender that is there doing the day hasn't learned all the drinks yet from the night bartender. I ordered a more unusual drink- mint and lemon- expecting some dreamy mojito-like drink, but non-alcoholic, but I got this lime green smoothie that was too sour to even taste. I guess they had blended the mint leaves and lemon together? Even after sending it back with the request of adding some sugar, it still came back like tasting like you were sucking a green lemon.
I've never been here for anything other than lunch, but after dark it turns into one of Taipei's many lounge spots. With each floor having a very stylized theme and decor and its unique rooftop to hang out and people watch on the busy street below, I'm sure it's worth a try if you are into the nightlife here. It's just down the street from Cosi o Cosi or Haagen Daaz, and you can't miss the bright white three story building with the outdoor patio.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
So my friends, where the heck can I get some Marie Callendar-esque lemon meringue pie? Fluffy white pillows uptop a sweet and sour lemon filling and graham crust.
You know who else has some amazing lemon meringue pie- Gulfstream in Los Angeles.
It's torture thinking about it actually. And I'm too lazy to make my own. So if anyone can point me in the right direction, I'd be so happy.
Friday, February 22, 2008
97, SongRen Rd, 1F
(across the street from Neo 19, near Brown Sugar)
Hours: Sun-Thu 11:30 am - 11 pm
Fri & Sat 11:30-12 am（last order 11 pm)
Kid friendliness: Kids menu available with chicken fingers, cheeseburger, jr ribs and the like w/soda for under NT$200. high chairs available and coloring paper/crayons
Visit reviewed: 2/21/2008
What to say.. Outback is the latest Western chain restaurant to open in the Xinyi area. While they have had a restaurant location in Holiday Inn for quite a few years, their new digs which opened last December across the nearby Macaroni Grill and Chili's will be sure to draw some new customers.
The decor, menu and food is much the same as the Australian grill restaurant in the US, with a Chinese and English menu with pictures- red meat offerings like sirloin, rib eye, prime rib, NY Steak, lamb, baby back ribs, along with pasta, seafood, salads, appetizers and desserts.
We had to try the signature appetizer- Bloomin' Onion (NT$280)- although it is wayyy to big for only two people to share.. more like 5 plus. It was deep fried, crunchy and addictive, and sort of a mystery how they make an onion unfold into such a cohesive unity of onion pieces. They have other things like fried 'shrooms, Kookaburra (chicken wings), aussie cheese fries (boy was I tempted by this), and a combo plate.
We also ordered the sirloin against the server's recommendation of getting the more expensive filet which is more tender. The sirloin (NT$480) was pretty tough and chewy... Not the best steak I've had, but it was the cheapest one on the menu. I really enjoyed the baked sweet potato though! It had a bit of butter and cinnamon as well to bring out the natural sweetness. The steaks come with your choice of either a baked potato or sweet potato or two sides: aussie chips, fresh steamed vegetables, rice pilaf, or mashed potatoes. It kind of sucks that if you pick a baked sweet/potato that you don't get a 2nd side of veggies or something.
Lastly, the starter caesar (add NT$70) had a kick to it along with the pile of buttery croutons! It was either very peppery or had a bit of paprika or something in the dressing.
I wanted to show the difference in the pictures when you white balance in the camera-- the lighting in Outback is sort of pinkish-romantic (?) and after I white-balanced the food colors looked a lot more accurate. I don't have the time to photoshop my pics to crop, beautify or fix them, so I gotta get it when I get it in the camera.
I've had their dessert before (which is huge)- which I would still pick Chili's warm chocolate cake still, but want to try their prime rib. I've been to Outback once in the states, where I was not that super impressed to return, but I think I would give Outback in Taipei another try. It seems like it could be a fun group dinner place or setting for a romantic couple's dinner. They have an extensive drinks menu and bar, and aren't SUPER crowded yet like Chili's can get. The service is definitely eager to please, constantly refilling our drinks and answering questions, although I have to note that our server was a bit confused by some of my questions in English, but we worked it out.
at Holiday Inn Taipei
100 Tun Hwa North Road,2nd Fl.,
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
at Grand Hyatt Taipei
2 Sungshou RD, 1st FL
hours: 11:30am - 1:00am (Sun-Thu), 11:30am - 2:00am (Fri-Sat)
Salad Bar Lunch from 11:30am - 2:00pm,
A La Carte Menu from 11:30am – 9:30pm
Kid friendliness: much more kid friendly with revamped decor. Previously too smoky and more like a pub- now more like a lounge/cafe- though smoking is still allowed.
Visit reviewed: 11/11/2007
Old review: 7/14/2005
I'm sad to say that a lot of my favorites from Cheers from a few years ago (the steak sandwich with sundried tomatoes and taquitos) are now non-existent now that they have revamped everything (sometime in 2006) from their menu to the atmosphere to be "contemporary yet classic” and multicultural.
But the food is still fresh with a wide range of good eats that are above most Taipei hotel eateries. Menu is in English and Chinese and service is good.
The space feels a lot lighter, airy and less bar/lounge than before. Still great for business meetings, or a relaxed lunch.
They have a daily set lunch menu (around NT$500-600) that includes their salad bar, soup and dessert. Their salad bar is a small array of cold and hot appetizers and salad. Their daily soup (I think it was pumpkin) was okay.
I really enjoyed the tuna sandwich (though I'm not sure if it replaces their steak sandwich that I liked so much. They do still have a steak sandwich, but I haven't tried it yet. It is a variation of their old version.) I requested that they put it on another bread rather than rye, and I was happy with the result. It didn't have too much mayo and it was the right size with a side of steak fries. I think my friend got the burger with fried egg which he polished off.
I wanted to get the other dessert, but they had run out, so we got a pear tart instead. It looks better than it tasted, since I think I expected it to be a bit sweeter or more carmelized, and the crusty was more soggy than crispy/flaky. But it overall it was a decent meal. I'll have to try the other offerings some other time or look forward to hearing what other's experiences were like.
Friday, February 15, 2008
No.343, Zhong Hsiao E. Rd., Sec. 4,
hours: 11AM - 11PM (though buffet ends at 9:30PM)
$ ($274/person at lunch)
Kid friendliness: only 1 high chair and 1 booster for the whole restaurant? all you can eat pasta and pizza usually satisfies most kids, though there can be a wait during peak hours
Visit reviewed: 11/20/2007
OId review here (for delivery): 2/21/2006
Maybe it's the cold weather or the rain, but every time I've been passing by the Pizza Hut lately, it seems to be packed, with people waiting outside the door! The last time we sat down was last November, when it wasn't too hard to get a table for 6 at a weekday lunch. The last time I went a few weeks ago, it was a 20-30 minute wait and we ended up just getting some personal pan pizzas to go (for a 15 minute wait).
I think it's pretty comparable to Pizza Hut buffet in the states- all you can eat pizza and other stuff with an assortment of various flavors, salads, pastas, hot foods and drinks- for about NT$300 (I think NT$270 for lunch and NT$300 something for dinner) . One cool thing is that if they aren't serving the pizza that you like, you can request that they make a pizza for you that they will serve to your table (for no extra charge). My friend requested the Takoyaki pizza which I never had before- it had squid, mushrooms, and drizzles of some sweet sauce and mayo.
It was, uh, interesting.. but demonstrates the extent of the local variety of flavors that even an American chain will produce. Along with Japanese Takoyaki, some other unique flavors on the Taiwan Pizza Hut menu include: Lobster Abalone; Fruity Sausage Cheesy Bite PIzza (and no I'm not making this up! Look here ), Korean Kim Chi BBQ; and French Style Seafood.
The salad bar and soups are not that exciting and the penne pasta is sometimes mushy (since it's baked and is sitting there), but if you like Pizza Hut's pizza and can eat a lot of it, then it's a fast way to try different flavors of pizzas. Since the personal pan pizzas are so cheap here (usually under NT$100), you can get that if you don't want to wait for the buffet or can't eat that much.
Personally, I like Pizza Hut over Domino's and there's something about the crust that I like and I usually get it delivered, but if you want to hit up the buffet- I think it's only at this location. It always seems to be packed with family and friends, so it's something for people visiting looking for something familiar as well as locals who just want some hot cheesy pizza (with some takoyaki on top).
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Happy Valentine's day everyone!
I know that there is also a local "lovers day" in Taiwan, but Valentine's day made me think about where would one go for a romantic dinner in Taipei? I've added a "romantic" label to my posts for those places that I think could be considered so (and of course, the places are varying levels of romantic) and some places may be more setting the mood at dinner than during lunch, and I know there are probably a lot of other places that are romantic that I have yet to visit.
For me, I think the factors that make a restaurant romantic are a good dessert to share ( like the souffle at Joyce East) and an atmosphere to enjoy each other and the food (so no loud music, crowds or bright lighting) (like at Sumie at San Want Hotel or Forchetta) .
So... where you do guys take your dates/significant others/long time husbands or wives on a special occasion? Do you think it have to be an expensive place to be considered romantic?
Sunday, February 10, 2008
at Neo 19, 2nd FL
No. 22 Song Ren Road
website: humaxasia.com.tw/momo Chinese only
hours: 11:30 AM - 12midnight; weekends and holidays 11:30 AM - 1 AM
Kid friendliness: no high chairs or boosters- booth seating
Visit reviewed: 11/3/2007
A good option for affordable all you can eat shabu shabu or sukiyaki (depending on what you choose) in a modern, if not popular setting. You might have to wait during peak hours and weekends since people can take their time at an all you can eat place, though I think Momo Paradise sets a cap at 90 minutes. Shabu shabu is basically you cooking meats and vegetables in your own pot of boiling water.
Sukiyaki is more of a grill where you can cook the vegetables and meats in a sweet soy sauce. To complete the experience, Momo Paradise gives you a raw egg that you can beat and use to dip the cooked marinated meats which gives it a slippery coating that might make some queasy, but completes the sukiyaki flavor for others.
What I liked is the variety of options and that they bring everything to you. There is a vegetable cart that they will plate up for you, but you can also add a mushroom plate or other things such as tempura or bowls of rice for no additional charge.
You can also pick from beef or pork or seafood (though I liked the pork better than the beef on this occasion). Though their meat is sliced paper thin, it's quite filling if you get enough trays. Plus it cooks faster that way.
Their charges vary per person if you want one or two pots at your table (say if you guys want both shabu shabu and sukiyaki for a bigger party) or the third option of a miso soup hot pot. From NT$299 lunch to $399 dinner up to NT$499 if you want all three pots at dinner. They also have slightly discounted prices after 10pm at their Neo 19 and Chung Hsiao locations. US$12 for all you can eat shabu shabu for dinner sounds like a pretty good deal to me!
Also, as you can see from the 'after' picture, the soup is not really for drinking, since they start off with plain water and not a broth. The Chinese hot pot places that start with the broth (like Hundred Mushroom Garden) has soup that you DO want to drink.
For an extra charge of NT$130, you can add udon, drink and dessert to your meal, although you already get a complimentary coffee jelly dessert with the regular meal. There are also limited sides available. I liked the udon, though I wished there was a tad more and that it wasn't an extra charge for it- though I think there is vermicelli and regular noodles or rice offered with the regular price.
Everyone probably has their own favorite local shabu shabu or hot pot joint, but for a chain I feel like this is a good choice too for couples, families or even business lunches, or even as a way of introduction shabu shabu to newcomers. The only downside is that their menu is only in Chinese and Japanese, but since all the offerings are mostly available on sight, you can pick and choose. I actually first had MoMo Paradise in Japan a few years back and was so stuffed by the time we left, trying both the shabu shabu and sukiyaki pots. Having had great memories of that experience, I'd say that the service is a little different here (less cozy, more casual) at the Neo 19 location, but maybe the other locations are different.
Growing up Chinese American, I never really gave the concept of hot pot a second thought, but for those of you who watch SURVIVOR- the last season had them competing in China, where one of the rewards they had hot pot on the Great Wall. The three Americans were confused (and later complained) about what to do with the hot pot, plates of meats and vegetables that was on the table. It was actually pretty annoying how much they complained about it (if you're starving, then then hot pot is a pretty good reward and they had a LOT of stuff available!), but it definitely reminded me that not everyone knows about what it is or how it works (though hot water + raw meat = food).
2F, 293, ZhongXiao E. Rd., Sec. 4
Hours: 11:30 am-2 am (3-5pm closed)
Bistro 98, 5th FL
No. 9, Zhong Xiao East Road, Sec. 4
KMall, 5th FL
No. 50, Zhong Xiao West Road, Sec. 1
Zhong Zheng District
11:30AM - 11 PM
No. 6, NanJing East Road, 2FL (near Chung Shan MTR, exit 3)
hours: 11:30 AM -12 midnight
No. 29, Ching Chen Street
lunch 11:30~ 3PM; dinner 5PM - 11PM
No. 68, Roosevelt Road, Sec 4, 3FL
hours: 11：30 AM - 11 PM
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
No. 28, SongDe Rd, Taipei
and various locations listed below
Kid friendliness: sandwiches, chips and even cookies on the menu. don't recall seeing high chairs at locations.
Visit reviewed: 12/3/2007
Ahh.. good old Subway. It's quick. It's easy. It's familiar.
Sometimes you feel like a sandwich and a bag of chips, then you'd head here. Most sandwiches are the same as you'd find in the states, though I find that the Meatball sandwich's (NT$85/6 inch or NT$145/12 inch) meatballs here seem smaller and taste a bit more artificial or "meat-like" rather than ground beef than I'd prefer. So if I don't get the meatball, I usually get the Tuna.
If you've never eaten at a Subway, you basically choose the sandwich (various coldcuts to steak), the bread, the vegetable toppings (lettuce, tomato, olives, bell pepper, onions, jalepeno peppers, pickles, cucumbers), cheese and dressing (olive oil, vinegar, salt/pepper, mayo, mustard), and watch as they assemble your sandwich. In the states, I usually pick Quizno's over Subway for their hot sandwiches, but for American style cold cut or tuna sandwiches here in Taipei, you have Subway or Au Bon Pain to choose from.
I think some of the Subways deliver too. With menus in English and Chinese and lots of pictures, it's pretty easy to navigate.
漢口店 HanKou Branch
57, HanKou St. Sec 1, Taipei
新光三越 Shinkong Mitsukoshi Branch
12, SongGao Rd, Taipei (B2 Food Court)
光復店 GuangFu Branch
435, FuXing S Rd, Taipei
南京店 NanJing Branch
99, NanJing E Rd, Sec 4, Taipei
內湖大潤發店 NeiHu RT Mart Branch
188, JiuZhong Rd, Sec 1, Taipei
陽明山店 YangMingShan Branch
南京建國店 NanJing/JianGuo Branch
216, NanJing E Rd, Sec 2, Taipei
師大店 ShiDa Branch
230, JinShan Rd, Sec 2, Taipei
新生店 XinSheng Branch
106-1, XinSheng S Rd, Sec 1, Taipei
中和建一店 ZhongHe/JianYi Branch
168, JianYi Rd, Floor F, ZhongHe City
27, WanShou Rd, Taipei
45, ShiFu Rd, B1-10, Taipei
復興店 FuXing Branch
270, FuXing N Rd, Taipei
環亞店 Asia World Branch
337, NanJing E Rd, Sec 3, B2, Taipei
台大店 NTU Branch
85, Roosevelt Rd, Sec 4, Taipei
中山店 ZhongShan Branch
101, ZhongShan N Rd, Sec 2, Taipei
龍安店 LongAn Branch
8, XinSheng S Rd, Sec 3, Taipei
文大店 PCCU Branch
55, HuaGang Rd, Taipei
大直店 DaZhi Branch
61, DaZhi St, Taipei
京華城店 Living Mall Branch
138, BaDe Rd, Sec 4, B1, Taipei
世貿店 World Trade Center Branch
2, XinYi Rd, Sec 5, B1, Taipei
敦南店 DunHua South Branch
150, DunHua S Rd, Sec 2, Taipei
士林店 ShiLin Branch
120-2, ZhongZheng Rd, Taipei
台電店 Taipower Branch
241, Roosevelt Rd, Sec 3, Taipei
中崙大潤發店 Zhong Lun RT Mart
306, BaDe Rd, Sec 2, Taipei (B1 Food Court)
東門店 DongMen Branch
11, JinShan Rd, Sec 2, Taipei
瑞光店 RuiGuang Branch
227, RuiGuang Rd, NeiHu, Taipei
敦化市民店 DunHua/ShiMing Branch
63, DunHua S Rd, Sec 1, Taipei
三民店 SanMin Branch
152, SanMin Rd, Taipei
慶城店 QingCheng Branch
12, QingCheng St (Les Suites), Taipei
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
various locations citywide
website: 50lan.com.tw Chinese only
kid friendliness: kids will love slurping boba from the oversized colorful straws, but parents should decide if the sugar and tea is okay for their kids.
Visit reviewed: 12/8/2007
Boba Milk Tea was a crazy phenomenon in LA about five years ago, not too unlike the Pinkberry craze that is going on now. Different chains or mom and pop shops across the street from each other. Going to get a boba every other day. At least fruit topped fro yo is a lot better for your waistline than a cup of creamer or condensed milk with a splash of tea and half cup of starchy balls.
But it's totally died down in the states. And there's no way I could repeat drinking it every other day like when I had 5 (count them! but there are now only 2 standing) milk tea shops in a two block radius on Sawtelle to choose from.
Milk tea in Taipei is still alive and kicking. And a lot cheaper. At NT$30+ a cup, it's a lot more affordable than the US$2-3 prices- though you can still find those prices (supposedly for higher quality tea and boba) at places like the fancier Chun Tsui Tang (aka Spring Water House).
My favorite milk tea place of the moment is 50 Lan or 50嵐. It's a chain, so you can spot the bright yellow and blue signs on many busy streets.
Surprisingly, there is usually a line, maybe because each drink is made to order and sometimes people are ordering bagfulls for their office.
What I like is that you can adjust the temperature (hot or cold), sweetness (90 percent, 75 percent, 50 percent sugar), and even the amount of boba. I like that the bobas are slightly smaller and always the right chewiness. Personally, I like my milk tea cold and 75 percent sweet. Fifty percent tastes too watered down for me.
The cup is complete with a slogan that almost makes sense, especially if you've been living with Taiwan English long enough: "The Tea of Cool. Craving. Content."
Their extensive menu is completely in Chinese, so stick to "boba nai tsa" or boba milk tea, or point to something that looks good that someone before you has ordered. I have to work on figuring out their other drinks since I do like the passionfruit tea or lemon jelly variety too.
Monday, February 04, 2008
(this location is now closed and a Cafe India has opened in the same spot a/o 8/2012)
Miramar Mall, B1
22 Jing Ye 3rd Road
Taipei 101 Mall food court
MRT: Taipei City Hall
Kid friendliness: actually at Mitsukoshi they will deliver your food to your seat, rare for a food court eatery. Miramar has enclosed eating space.
Visit reviewed: 2/3/2008 and 12/7/2007
It's hard to find good Indian mall food in the states, let alone Taipei. For awhile, I was in love with this tiny corner of the old Century City Mall food court, near Ben and Jerry's and La Salsa that had combination plates for about $7 or so. Everything was just right and you could a meat and vegetable curry and naan. But one day I went to fulfill my craving and it was gone. I was pretty sad. But I guess it doesn't matter since that whole food court ended up getting torn up and there's a new fancy food court with Lawry's Carvery now. hahahah
Anyways- with Indian mall food in Taipei, I've had some terrible experiences at Curry and Tea House at 101 and some okay experiences at Tandoor at Far Eastern Mall AGES ago, but Indian Palace is the first time I've had a good experience where I would totally go back. It was actually recommended by a friend the first time and a relative the second time.
If the curry and naan are good then you can forgive everything else- the strange bland rice despite its cute heart shaped presentation, or the vague milky dessert and tea in the set menu.
I was reminded of how pleasant the whole experience was when my aunt asked me if I wanted to get some food to go from there from the Miramar Mall Food Court the other day.
Though they don't list it on their menu, they can make Chicken Tikka Masala for you. There might be other things as well if you ask. The server was as friendly at the Miramar location as they were at the Xin Yi Mitsukoshi location. The Miramar mall has their own private seating area as the host beckons the crowd to "try something different."
The glass window into the kitchen displays three Indian chefs, one of who is making naan to order in the hot tandoori oven. It's promising when you see Indian chefs right? Like when you see Mexican cooks at that hole in the wall taco place or the Chinese restaurant filled with Chinese people and the menu has Chinese and Chinese servers (nothing against ones that don't... but generally the food seems more authentic that way). At the Mitsukoshi location, you only see their picture on them menu since their kitchen is enclosed...
On both occassions, I tried to order samosas (NT$100 for 3) and they were "out." I wonder when they are offered as I went on different times of day, weekend and weekday at the different places. But no worries, their set menus (NT$180 - NT$250) with meat (Butter Chicken or and vegetarian options like Aloo Gohbi (potato and cauliflower) or lentils, include a small salad, soup and naan or rice. The size is pretty decent and probably about the size that the sit down restaurants offer for a higher price.
The curries seem quite similar to what you'd get, not too watery, not too thick. The aloo gohbi was interesting in that they cut the potatoes in slices instead of dices and there was a lot of curry rather than the drier variety I'm used to in the states. But tastewise it was fine.
My aunt also said that the tandoori chicken was too spicy the first time they ordered it, which I found strange, but not THAT strange after my visit to sit down Tandoor where EVERYTHING including the tandoori chicken was crazy spicy. So wander down to Indian Palace next time you feel like something other than Chinese mall food, be clear about how spicy you want stuff, feel free to ask if there is stuff off the menu, and let me know if you actually get some samosas!