Friday, May 16, 2008

japanese: FURUKAWA



FURUKAWA
No. 1, Lane 132, Zhongsan N Road, Sec 2
(02) 2562-1115

website: furukawa.com.tw

hours: Lunch: 11:30 AM - 2:30 PM ; Dinner 5:30PM - 10PM

$$

Kid friendliness: high chairs available. friendly service.

Visit reviewed: 2/23/2008



The best thing about this dinner were the fried oysters or kaki fry. They were hot, crispy, juicy inside and what I expected. Everything else, was to be honest, sort of a let down.

I had mentioned to my friends that I was craving a good bowl of udon with tempura, but this was before we discovered Tenpura Sanuki Udon. So he did some research on blogs written in Chinese and said that he had found a restaurant that had been recommended.

The restaurant was pretty full with families and groups, with a cool modern-ish atmosphere.



The menu doesn't have any English, but is full of pictures. There is a wide variety of combos to choose from (around NT$300), as well as appetizers, sushi and sashimi.



The udon tempura sushi set was calling my name. But when I got it, the udon was soggier than I would have liked and there were only 2 pieces of tempura to eat. I was used to the fried shrimp hanging out on a mountain of fried vegetables, but this was more like 1 lonely shrimp on top of an anthill.



My friends who had gotten the cold soba set with sashimi were better off. The soba was chewy and you can't go wrong with the dipping sauce. They liked it so much (and since I ended up eating some of their soba instead of my udon), they ordered another plate of soba, though we agreed the second round was not as good as the first.




We also had a weird experience with the sha-ba or the fish chin/jaw. The first time, it was a huge piece, but wayyy too salty. Inedibly salty. When we complained to the waitress, they took it away and replaced it with no problem. But the second piece was soo bland. The chef just couldn't find the middle ground for us that night, so we just let it go.



While the service was quite friendly, the food that we had ordered didn't give us a reason to return, especially since it's farther away from my part of town. But it's too bad since everyone else seemed to be enjoying their food so maybe there are other things on the menu more worth trying out.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

CLOSED! italian/fusion: CANOVIANO



CLOSED! a/o 2013

CANOVIANO
No. 9-2, Jianguo N. Road, Sec 2
(02) 2515-5855


website: http://www.canoviano.com.tw/ Chinese only

hours: lunch: 12-3 pm
dinner: 6-10 pm
closed the last Sunday of every month

$$-$$$

Kid friendliness: business/romantic ambience not suited for loud toddlers/kids unless you book private room upstairs or have very well behaved kid. no high chairs. only set menu

Visit reviewed: 3/27/2008

My friend called it Italian Japanese fusion and after a little bit of googling, it turns out it was opened by a Japanese chef who didn't want to use "butter, garlic or cream," traditionally found in Italian cooking, but instead bring out the natural flavors of the meat and vegetables and has already opened Canoviano with a loyal following in Tokyo and Kyoto.

If you want to try out Canoviano, be prepared to get the set menu as they only offer a set menu (in Chinese) with choice of main dish. However, the portions are on the small side, so my girlfriends said their husbands left not completely full after their previous dinner experience.




Everything is beautifully prepared and presented, with light, natural flavors. The atmosphere is a white linen, high ceilings setting perfect for ladies that lunch, business meeting you need to impress or even a romantic dinner, especially with prices like NT$1380 for six course lunch.

Before our food came, they served bread rolls to each person, but not on bread plates. They said it was on purpose that they wanted the crumbs to be on the table (more rustic?), but it just felt kind of messy and out of sync with the rest of the experience.

The meal started with an angel hair with sweet shrimp and roe that left you wanting a bit more. The pumpkin soup was a pond for the grilled fish that laid upon it.




The handmade pasta definitely tasted like fusion with the vegetables it was combined with. The duck breast I ordered again was perfectly flavored, but portion wise, left you wanting more.




They served different desserts to our large party, without asking what we wanted, so we oohed and aahed as each elegant plate came out and passed each around to taste. Surprisingly, they did a good job choosing the right dessert for each person. I liked my caramel ice cream, atop chocolate mousse and sliced bananas the best, as they also gave it a slight caramelization creme-brulee style.




The other desserts had other unusual flavors of ice cream (green tea, rose) and looked too sculpture-like to eat.





The menu changes daily as the chef uses what's seasonal, (with some chef's signature dishes constant), so I think I'd try it again if I wanted to splurge (or someone wanted to splurge on me!) Dinner sets run from NT$1880 to Chef's special NT$2880. If you don't want to splurge as much, but want a similar experience, you could try out the business lunch or set dinner at Joyce or Joyce East which runs around NT$1000.



Monday, May 12, 2008

afternoon tea/western: ROSE HOUSE



ROSE HOUSE
No. 15, Lane 233, Dun Hua S. Rd, Sec 1
(02) 8773-2519

website: rosehouse.com Chinese only

hours: Weekdays 11 AM - 10 PM ; Fri-Sat 11AM- 12AM

kid friendliness: Not recommended. Quiet, delicate atmosphere and friend with nursing baby was asked by servers to take baby outside if he started to cry. Have heard that others were refused entry when with babies at other locations.

$$

Visit reviewed: 5/15/2007



If you're looking for a quiet place for a cup of tea with your friends or business associate or your significant other, then Rose House is a pretty good choice. If you are looking for a place to have lunch with your friends and their babies/kids or have boisterous conversation, then you should probably go somewhere else.

Rose House is a chain tea shop/cafe that you might have spotted around town. With its frilly logo on the sign to its equally frilly interior with bone china in cabinets and along the walls- it's a ultimate setting for afternoon tea, English style in Taipei.



With a wide offering of teas, coffees and drinks, Rose House's signature rose tea and fruit teas are a refreshing and tasty accompaniment to conversation at the table. However, they want to maintain that atmosphere for all their guests, so it's not the most kid friendly place.



While having lunch with a friend with a relatively new baby, the server actually asked my friend to take her baby outside if he started crying when he started quietly fussing at the end of our meal. We were quite surprised because the baby had not made any noises past our table and also a squirmy toddler at our table that we thought that they would have complained about first. I think if the baby actually did start to cry, my friend would have automatically walked him around outside, but to have the server approach us first was definitely a surprise, especially when there only a few scattered guests inside. I guess I could understand that they would want maintain their quieter setting for those who came to sip their teas in silence, but it was still the first time it's ever happened to me at any restaurant around the world.

While you should go to Rose House for their teas, they also offer various sandwiches, meat dishes and curries for lunch which seem more Taiwanese than English. But then again, I've never been to England.



My friend said his pig knuckle dish was just okay, as was my steak. My other friend's baked risotto was made with white Jasmine rice rather than Arborio, but she said the cheese and sauce made it tasty enough.





There are quite a few locations and I tried to find an English source for the addresses, but you will have to check the website.




OTHER LOCATIONS (thanks to Google Translator and some elbow grease!)

No. 95, Nanjing East Road, Sec 2
TEL: (02) 25603112
Sunday - Thursday Hours: 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Friday - Saturday Hours: 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM

No. 5, Nanjing West Road
TEL: (02) 25235170
Hours: 11 :00 AM - 11: 00 PM

No. 3, Zhengzhou Road (at Chengde Lu Avenue intersection)
TEL: (02) 25585399
Hours: 11 :00 AM - 11: 00 PM

Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Mall (Xin Yi), B2
No. 12, Songgao Road
TEL: (02) 87809932
Hours: 11 :00 AM - 9: 30 PM (weekdays)
11 :00 AM- 10: 00 PM (Friday and Saturday holidays)

No. 9, Lane 450, Xinyi Road
TEL: (02) 87896606
Hours: 11 :00 AM - 10: 00 PM

No. 11, Chongqing South Road, Sec 1
TEL: (02) 23121282
Hours: 11 :00 AM -11: 00 PM

Shihlin shop
No. 604, Zhongshan North Road, Sec 5
TEL: (02) 28338464
Sunday - Thursday Hours: 11:00AM to 10:00 PM
Friday - Saturday Hours: 11:00AM to 11:00 PM

Yongkang shop
No. 3-1, Lishui Street
TEL: (02) 23948202
Sunday - Thursday Hours: 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Friday - Saturday Hours: 11:00AM to 11 PM

NTU/Shida shop
No. 1, Lane 86, Shida Road
TEL: (02) 33651977
Hours: 11 :00AM-11: 00PM

Tienmu shop
Dayeh Takeshimaya Mall
No. 55, Zhongcheng Road, Sec 2, 4th Floor
TEL: (02) 28345848
Hours: 11: 00AM - 9: 30PM (Mon-Thur, Sun); 11: 00AM- 10: 00 PM (Fri, Sat)

No. 218, Ruiguang Road
TEL: (02) 77202070
Hours: 11 AM - 10PM

No. 19, Jinhu Road
TEL: (02) 27927205
Hours: 11 :00AM -11: 00PM

Taipei Tienmu shop
No. 15, Lane 14, Chungshan North Road, Sec 7
TEL: (02) 2872-3630
Hours: 8 :30 AM - 10: 00 PM

TEAROOM
at Miramar Mall
No. 20, Jingye 3rd Road, B1F
TEL: (02) 2175-3023
Hours: 11: 00 AM - 10: 00 PM

TEAPUB
at Miramar Mall
No. 20, Jingye 3rd Road, 1F
TEL : (02) 8501-1360
Hours: 11: 00 AM - 12: 00AM (M-Th, Sat); 11: 00AM -1: 00AM (Fri, Sat)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

chinese: i strongly recommend CELESTIAL RESTAURANT



CELESTIAL RESTAURANT
(or TIEN CHU)
1 NanJing West Rd., 3F

(02)2563-2380

hours: Lunch 11:30 AM -2 PM
Dinner 5 PM - 9 PM

$$

Kid friendliness: high chairs available.

Visit reviewed: 11/23/2007 and 2/24/2008



Overall, Celestial Restaurant has a very family friendly, impress your guests menu with lots of Chinese favorites such as xiao long bao and a variety of stir fried dishes , but everyone in the packed restaurant is probably there for the Peking Duck.

YUM- I can't say how much I love Peking duck. If you have been looking for Peking duck in Taipei (or anywhere), this is where to find it.

The carved slices of crispy skin and duck meat bundled inside the warm flat pancake, with a do-it-yourself layer of hoisin sauce and optional sliver of green onion- together has got to be one of the world's perfect finger foods.



Kind of like a mini Chinese burrito without the rice and beans.

I try not to think about how fattening each bite is while I chew on each heavenly crispy morsel. I also try to not look like I'm waiting for the lazy susan to wander back my way, and politely let each relative at the table have their turn when I just want to stockpile a whole plateful for myself. The skin should be crispy and the pancake is slightly doughy, so the textures mesh together so it's not too greasy. Plus the skin shouldn't have too much fat on it, otherwise, they didn't do good job carving it (as I've had at other restaurants).



The nicely presented plate of duck meat comes out after the initial plate of crispy roasted skin... you can also have them cook the remainder of the duck (meat and bones) into a soup with rice noodles and vegetables that is also very tasty (and filling) that comes at the end of the meal (around NT$1100 for whole duck + soup).



To be honest, I can't remember much about the rest of the food on the table because I was so focused on the duck, but it was good. Plus when you eat with relatives, you don't really get to look at the menu- they order all the good stuff. There was this interesting appetizer dish- celery with a mustardy, wasabi-ish sauce that was addicting- that I'd try again.







The second time we went, they had private rooms on the 3rd Floor. Look for the entrance below or the Royal Inn Taipei. The atmosphere is busy with lots of large tables- it's sort of a middle ground ambience- not a hole in the wall, but not as a fancy as a hotel restaurant, and so the prices are somewhere in the middle too. The menu is in English and Chinese and Japanese, and I've heard popular with tourists and locals alike, so it's best to call ahead for a reservation for dinner and weekends.



While they don't carve the duck in front of you like other restaurants that might be a bit more showy, what matters is how the food tastes, right?

The first time, I had some almond tofu to finish the meal.



The second time, there were these hot fried tang yuan that were so good. If you've never had it, you should definitely give these babies a try.





Just forget about counting the calories for one night.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

korean: KOREA RESTAURANT



KOREA RESTAURANT
No. 6, Lane 380, Keelung Road, Sec 1
(02) 2723-3302

$$

Kid friendliness: high chairs available

Visit reviewed: 4/2/2008



First let me say, I'm writing this review after finding another Korean restaurant elsewhere in Taipei that is MUCH better, so I can't help but to compare the two in my mind, which makes the food here LESS tasty in comparison than if maybe I didn't have an alternative to go to. Make sense?

Anyways, I spotted this place when I went to the Vietnamese Restaurant across the street, er, lane and knew I had to wander inside to see if they had the cold noodles. It was a great sign that they were packed during lunch and that it was full of tables of people speaking in Korean. I think to myself, jackpot authenticity!

But I didn't order what seemed to be the popular order of the Korean spicy hot pot and bbq beef at the other tables- it was too much food for one person. Instead, I opted for trying the seafood pancake and (Yay) the cold naengmyun noodles.

It cracks me up to realize that when you say "naengmyun" in Korean it sounds sort of like "liang mien" in Chinese, which both mean "cold noodles."

Their menu was in Chinese on the table, but when I asked if they had an English menu, they did have a menu with pictures.



The seafood pancake was just okay and didn't seem to have any recognizable seafood chunks in it. You know sometimes you can see the shrimp or crab or squid, but I didn't really spot any.



The noodles were also just okay. They were chewy and soupy, but not slightly sweet or super cold at all. I think it was also missing a piece of meat that was in the picture in the menu. I got an additional squeeze bottle for vinegar, but it became more of a chore than pleasure to try and finish as much as I could.



After paying my bill, I asked how long they had been around and I think she said for over 10 years. I asked for a business card and she gave me a lighter that had the info on it (that I subsequently can't find, so sorry for no phone number yet) (found it!). If there are any readers who have found this little place, I'd love to hear what is good here, since they obviously have done well enough to maintain a Korean customer base.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

chinese: DA AN RD/ XIN YI RD STREET VENDORS




DA AN ROAD & XIN YI ROAD STREET VENDORS

Jimmy Ice Tea
(02) 2754-5192

Lao Zhou Dao Xiao Mien
Jien Bao (dumplings)

at intersection of Da An Road and Xin Yi Road

11:30 AM - 11:30 PM
$

Visit reviewed: 4/7/2008

At one corner of the bustling intersection of Da An Road and Xin Yi Road, there is a busy alley of street vendors of knife cut noodles (or dao xiao mien), dumplings, beef noodle soup, boba milk tea and lots of other small eats.



Spotting a small cart on the main corner, my friend tells me about how "yo ming" or famous Jimmy is. There are few people waiting before us and only two workers who put together the tea and place it on the metal shaking machines. You can also adjust the level of sweetness and ice. The boba or tapioca pearls are fat and the tea is sweet, but overall, I still prefer the QQ mini boba and taste of boba milk tea (NT$35) of 50 Lan.



They have lots of other options on their to-go menu in Chinese and apparently they deliver with a certain minimum order.



There are people sitting at tables along the sidewalk, slurping their bowls of noodles and soup, while the vendors are busy making their food.



Spotting a man making fresh noodles, I decide to try the dao xiao mien- opting for the ja jiang mien (or shredded pork noodles) (NT$75 for small bowl) to go.



When I get home, the cucumber has become a bit soggy while the noodles have retained their chewiness. However, the sauce of the ja jien noodles is a bit bland and doesn't have enough thickness and saltiness to go with the density and volume of the noodles. I wonder if the beef noodle soup would have been better.



A few weeks later, while driving by the intersection, I see a long line of men at another dao xiao mien vendor a few doors down (past Lao Zhou) and make a mental note to try that place the next time instead. Or go back to the Shan Xi Dao Xiao Mien with the really great broth and noodles.

Walking back towards the corner, I spot freshly made dumplings and get 5 jien bao for NT$7 each of the meat and vegetable ones, pan fried though they also have steamed. These taste better than the noodles, though they are not as crispy at the bottom as I would have liked.





Overall, a neat street corner to explore though, but I didn't taste anything memorable that I'd crave on another day.

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