Wednesday, November 30, 2011

CLOSED! japanese/sushi: NAKAYOSHI SUSHI BAR at A8 MITSUKOSHI


CLOSED! a/o summer 2012. It's now a Hi Sushi

NAKAYOSHI SUSHI BAR at
A8 XINYI MITSUKOSHI, B2
No.12, Song Gao Rd.
(02)2720-5123

MRT: Taipei City Hall

hours: 11AM - 9:30PM

$-$$

kid friendliness: only bar seating, mostly raw items

visit reviewed: 11/7/2011 (all photos with iphone 4G)


I'd been wanting to check out conveyor belt sushi in Taipei for awhile and while grabbing a quick lunch with a friend before shopping, we settled on this sushi bar in Mitsukoshi food court for lunch. Slightly disappointed to see that there wasn't much sushi circling around, since that's the fun of eating at a place like this, but the chef quickly told us we could order off the menu.


The menu is helpful with pictures and names in English, Chinese and Japanese. I've been slowly learning the names of sashimi that I like, and it's handy to have a reference when the chefs usually use the Chinese names here. 

We started out with the bi mu yu or aburi engawa, which is a thin muscle in the dorsal fin of a flounder. They ask if we want it torched and we say yes, since that's how I've usually eaten it at other places and it's quite fatty and slightly chewy, so it tastes better torched. 


My friend and I end up deciding to share a large sushi platter (NT$420) which the chef puts together.  It's a good assortment of things, with salmon, tuna, amberjack, scallop, cobia, anago, engawa, crab, ikura and uni. The sashimi slices were a decent size and while not the best I've had, not the worst. One thing that definitely separates the great sushi places from the mediocre is the rice. And the rice here is too soft. And the fish was soft, unlike the firmer fresher sashimi in my favorite sushi bars, and the uni was not as sweet.


At first I didn't know what this small black spout was at the counter of each seat, but my friend explained it was a personal hot water spout for hot water or tea, if you grabbed one of the tea bags that were set out. You just push your cup against the button and steaming hot water comes out. No need to flag down a busy waitress. 


We tried some of the rose rock salt from the conveyor belt. There's also wasabi and ginger circulating.


One of our favorite things was this creation we spotted off the menu, ikura and uni wrapped with ika or squid. Salty with the ikura roe popping as I chewed.


Disappointed with this special on the menu- Mentaiko with cobia sounded promising, though watching the chef make it, the mentaiko was more of a mayo paste tubed on top and then he used some butter when he torched it. So the butter flavor totally overwhelmed the natural flavors of the fish and roe. First time I'd ever tasted sushi with butter and I really disliked it.


The system for determining the bill at kaiten sushi is pretty genius- calculate the cost by the color and number of empty plates you've stacked up and do the math, or let the waitress do the math. With only two pieces of sushi on each plate, it can stack up pretty high if you're hungry.


Our bill for all this ended up being NT$980 for 2 people, or about US$15 a person.


Where is your favorite kaiten sushi conveyor belt place in town? I know a lot of people like Sushi Express since it's what you've been voting for (!), but I'm curious to know if there's other places I must try!

Monday, November 28, 2011

hungryintaipei October/November restaurant round up



-California Pizza Kitchen finally opened up in Taipei! At Vieshow Xinyi foodcourt area. Soft opening in November through their official opening mid-December. Curious to see how much of the menu they'll bring over.
-Sadly, Burger Stop closed last week after one and half years of great burgers and shakes.
-Macho Tacos opened a second, roomier location in Shida
-Raw Sushi, near Marquee, closed and being replaced by Uptown Kitchen and Bar which looked like it was opening late November
-French bakery Lalos opened in the 101 Food Court and Michelin starred chef STAY on the 4th floor of 101
-Many restaurants opened up at ATT4Fun including the Diner, Coffee Alley, Whiple House, Ramadan Thai, Bangkok Jam, as well as other Chines, Japanese and Korean restaurants
-Looking for something more unusual? Opened in the last few months- Bollywood Pizza, featuring Indian sauces on pizza, or Tajin Moroccan near Tonghua night market
-Happy 1st anniversary to Wendel's DaAn Branch and DN Innovacion, both celebrating their one year anniversary
-Found out that Lugar Home Bread Bar still has one location open
-Spotted closed Burgerhood and closed Mary's Hamburger, DaAn branch
-Small cooking studio opened a few months ago in Bellavita food court. Classes available only in Chinese but varied cuisines
-Dean and Deluca at Breeze Center closed a few months ago, in its place, Trine and Zen, kept the deli counter and coffee shop space with local goods taking up more space.
-And weirdly also at Breeze, the Romankan Yokohama tonkatsu sandwich place also morphed into a different tonkatsu sandwich name. Same stuff, same location, different signage and name.

Any other restaurant info? Share and post it in the comments below!

Friday, November 25, 2011

my kitchen: hello kitty cornbread



When I was growing up, my mom and dad somehow did a good job instilling the holiday spirit in us, so much so that I have to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas even though sometimes it seems non-existent in Taipei. One thing I'll always remember is that they would put their own little Chinese touches, like stuffing the turkey with sticky rice instead of making stuffing, and it made the holiday that much more memorable.

So even though this year I had my turkey and fixings at a restaurant with friends, if I were making turkey and sides at home, I'd make it a little more fun by making these Hello Kitty cornbreads that I made earlier this year.

I bring my cornbread mix from LA (by the boxful) and picked up this Hello Kitty silicone mold earlier this year when I went on a mini spree at my local Sanrio. Best purchase ever!


Grease the mold beforehand with butter or oil, then fill the mold about half way full. After getting them gently out of the mold, you can brown them face up in the oven a little longer to get the contrast for the faces.


I've also tried biscuits and cake mix in this mold, but cornbread seems to have the best texture and firmness for seeing the Hello Kitty face. You could also use a larger Hello Kitty Cake Pan if you didn't want to keep making little cornbread cakes or can't find this silicone mold.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

american/revisited: i still strongly recommend LAWRYS




LAWRY's
No. 105 Song Ren Rd, B1
(02)2729-8555

MRT: Taipei City Hall

website: lawrys.com.tw

hours: Lunch M-F 11:30 AM -2:30 PM / Sat, Sun and Holidays 11 AM -3PM
Dinner Sun-Thurs 5:30 PM - 10 PM / Fri, Sat, and Holiday eve 5:30-11PM

$$$

Kid friendliness: high chairs and kids sets available

visit reviewed: 11/13/2011 (all photos from iphone 4g)
previous visit reviewed: 11/2007


Last year, Lawry's moved from its location at the cavernous Living Core Mall (the one that looks like a giant ball) to the basement of a office building across from Neo 19. I was excited to see it move to a location closer to me because I love prime rib and I wouldn't have to navigate the confusing elevators and stairs to its previous location.


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The current location's entrance is through the back of the odd looking office building, down the stairs. 


Everything is the same, from the spinning salad with buttery croutons and tiny slivers of beet, served with cold forks to the tableside carving of your prime rib. This year will be Lawry's ninth year in Taipei.



In Taiwan, when they ask how well done you want your meat, it's on a scale of 1-10, with 5 being medium and 10 being well done. My prime rib was a 3, or medium rare.


This was a Lawry's cut, (NT$1750) but they said it was a little bigger since there was a fatty tendon in the middle. Or maybe it was because the chef could tell I was very hungry. The next time I would ask for less au jus, or for it on the side, because it was kind of salty. And I love Lawry's creamed corn, (NT$360) even though I know it's just sugar and heavy cream and overpriced. Have to order it here.


On the most recent visit, they also served warm french bread rolls which were much tastier than the slices of room temperature bread they used to serve. I was tempted to ask for another basket and smuggle it home.


I always find it amusing that every other person is celebrating their birthday or anniversary at Lawry's. I think it's because they ask you when you make the reservation, "are you celebrating a birthday or annivesary?" and you probably get a free dessert. So you hear happy birthday being sung every ten minutes during your dinner to the tables where heart shaped balloons are floating. Or maybe I'm cynical and it really is those people's birthdays and they love Lawry's prime rib too. 

For lunch, they also offer a Taipei cut, which is smaller and cheaper than the California cut, which amuses me for some reason, as well as prime rib sandwich and hamburger. They also offer a to-go basket for Thanksgiving which I tried last year and had some good turkey.

Can't believe Thanksgiving is TOMORROW already!!! Where is everyone doing Thanksgiving this year in Taipei?

Monday, November 21, 2011

breakfast/brunch: i strongly recommend WENDEL'S GERMAN BISTRO



WENDEL's GERMAN BISTRO
No. 28, Lane 260, GuangFu S. Rd.
(02) 2711-8919

MRT: SYS Memorial Hall

website: wendels-bakery.com English, Chinese and German

hours: 9AM - 10PM

$-$$

Visit reviewed: 10/3/2011 and 10/7/2011
previous visits reviewed: 12/7/2010 and 5/5/2011




Wendel's is a German bistro/bakery that has been in Tianmu for over 10 years and opened up a branch in East District last year. It was last year at TAS' food fair last year (or was it the year before that) that I got a taste of the sauteed mushrooms and was convinced I had to try more. Besides having a wide array of breads and cakes for in house or take away, there's also a breakfast and lunch menu to dine from, including pizzas, salads, bratwurst, pork knuckle (which I heard is very good) and goulash.



Their breakfast sets include various options such as the Heidi Klum (NT$260) which includes an egg white scramble, or a gourmet brunch for 4 people that has the works plus champagne.



Each breakfast set also comes with a basket of their breads, in miniature sizes, as well as orange juice and coffee or tea.


I also like their bretzels and if you're super hungry, you can order one to eat there and they will warm it up for you.



My friend got the 1932 Wendel's (NT$290) which looked pretty impressive as it arrived to our table, with cold cuts and cheese, baked tomato, scrambled egg, sausage, petit bread basket and fresh fruits.

I really wanted the mushrooms and since they were only available on the vegetarian choice set (NT$260), (and ala carte during other times) that's what I ordered. But something got lost in translation when I asked for no watercress and bean sprouts with my eggs and no eggs came with my set.


But after letting my server know, they were quick to talk to the kitchen and a turkey ham and tomato egg scramble was served to me.


Everything tasted so good, the eggs were creamy and not overcooked and the mushrooms were hearty and juicy as I remembered. The little touches separately Wendel's from many of the brunch places in town like the cushiony petit breads in very MoMA-ish bread baskets and the tilted cup of ice tea that had a slightly dizzying affect on us.


And the tasty housemade jam that complimented the chewy breads perfectly. Larger versions of the semmel, walnut rye roll, sesame twist and malt roll can be picked up to take home at the counter.


Even though the sets seem on the pricier side, it's tastier than the typical scramble eggs with bacon and hash browns plate around town. Also, when it's not busy, Wendel's is a nice place to chat and brunch with friends.

Wendel's Da An branch is having its one year anniversary soon on November 22, and doing special promotions that day with their baked goodies. Perfect day to pop in and try it out.



OTHER LOCATIONS:

No.5, Dexing West Rd.
Tienmu, Taipei
(02) 2831-4592 - deli
(02) 2831-4415 - bistro
MRT: Zhishan

Takashimaya branch, B1
No. 55, Sec. 2, Zhong Cheng Rd.,
Shilin
(02) 2834-5447

Lolli Gelato Q-square branch, B3
No. 1, Sec. 1, Cheng de Rd.,

Friday, November 18, 2011

not Taipei: NEW YORK- CLINTON ST BAKERY, BIG GAY ICE CREAM, PAESANO's, LUKE's LOBSTER and SHAKE SHACK

`

Need to do NYC in a hurry? This is one afternoon of eats that my sister and I accomplished only because my dad drove us around in a Budget rental and parked on the side streets, waiting us to eat and go. Thanks Dad!



Originally I was supposed to have 10 days in NY this past September, with plenty of time to be touristy around our cousin's NJ wedding, but thanks to Hurricane Irene and the laborious flight rebooking process, our trip was cut in half and I didn't have much time in the city. Bummers. Didn't even get to see my friends that I had promised to visit when I "ever made it to NYC."

-CLINTON ST. BAKING COMPANY





A cozy cafe that offers up all day brunch worth waiting half an hour for (and paying US$13 for!), the thing to order are the blueberry pancakes. Fluffy yet with crispy edges, the pancakes are served with a decadent warm maple butter that you'll be trying to emulate at home. How do they do it? It was so good, almost every other table was wielding a camera taking shots. The chunky corn and potato chowder ($7) was a nice way to warm up.

-LUKE's LOBSTER



One of the things that was recommended to me that I really wanted to try was Luke's Lobster's lobster rolls. And if I hadn't had Lobstatruck's roll in LA first, then I probably would have been in love. Instead I preferred Lobstatruck's warm toasted bun (opposed to Luke's cold bun), but the sweet fresh lobster in both were to be savored.

-BIG GAY ICE CREAM SHOP





And talk about multitasking- I ran down the street from Luke's Lobster to the newly opened Big Gay Ice Cream to pick up a Salty Pimp ($5)` and a Mermaid, which was soft serve vanilla ice cream with key lime curd, crushed graham crackers and whipped cream. The combination of the dulce de leche and chocolate and sea salt on the Salty Pimp made it a grown up version of the Dairy Queen chocolate dipped cone. The owner cracked us up with his flair and we were lucky to get some without a wait. 

 -SHAKE SHACK





My friend Cynthia told me that I HAD TO visit Shake Shack as it was her favorite burger in the world and that she drove through a snowstorm to eat there. While I enjoyed the burger and the $5 shake even more, I wasn't impressed with the school cafeteria-like crinkle cut fries, nor the steep NY prices. Sorry, Cynthia and East Coast readers, I'm still an In-N-Out fan at heart!

-PAESANO's 



On the way to the airport, my dad wanted to get some coffee from Dunkin Donuts and that's how we ended up on Staten Island. But thankfully I decided to grab some pizza by the slice and tasted the creamy, amazing wonder that is vodka pasta pizza. Sadly, we were in a rush and I only bought one slice of each (even the marinara cheese was delicious with its zigzags of cheese) that they warmed up in the oven and am daydreaming about when I can go back to NY to eat some more, or at least experiment with making my own vodka pasta pizza in the meanwhile.

CLINTON ST. BAKING COMPANY
4 Clinton Street
Lower East Side, NYC
(646) 602-6263

BIG GAY ICE CREAM
125 E 7th ST
East Village, NYC
@biggayicecream

LUKE's LOBSTER
93 East 7th Street
East Village, NYC
(212) 387-8487
@lukeslobster

SHAKE SHACK
691 8th Street, (at 44th St)
Theater District, NYC
(646) 435-0135
@shakeshackfans

PAESANO's PIZZERIA
12 Bradley Avenue
Staten Island, NY
(718) 761-2070

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