Thursday, June 28, 2012

revisited/hotpot: SHABURI at ATT4FUN


SHABURI 紗舞縭極品集
No. 12, Song Shou Rd. 台北市信義區松壽路12號1
(02) 2723-7350


MRT: Taipei City Hall



Website: http://www.shaburi.com.tw" target="blank">www.shaburi.com.tw mostly in Chinese, menu has English

Hours:  11AM- 10:30PM, Friday/Sat until 12AM


kid friendliness: high chairs available


visit reviewed: 4/29/2012
last visited at different location: 6/2007


Decent choice for hotpot in the Xinyi area, but the service can be a little weird, as it can be at some Taipei restaurants. I called to find out if I could reserve a table for a group of 14 on a Sunday night and they insisted that they did not take reservations, but I had to come in person (typical Taiwanese response). When I asked if I came right away if there would be able to seat us right away or if I had to wait, the vague response on the phone was that, they couldn't say, it just depended on customers flow. When we decided to give it a try, it turned out the place was nearly empty for an early dinner at 6PM (and stayed that way even after we were done with dinner), and we could easily grab a few tables. I was slightly annoyed that the response wasn't more encouraging- did they not want the business? They had made it sound like they were full on the phone, and we had almost not given it a try. Throughout the dinner, service was still questionable, with us having to debate with them about how we wanted to sit and constantly waving them down for things like extra bowls and napkins.

Shaburi's menu has various types of pork, lamb and beef cuts for shabu shabu (NT$450-1200), as well as some seafood (NT$590-2400) and higher end options and sets. There's also sushi and sashimi (rolls range from NT$300-500, donburi from NT$600-800) and cooked items available like Tempura udon.

I got the Taiwan Pork Belly set (NT$450) which included a choice of salad, hotpot with vegetables, starch and dessert. The pork belly was reasonably tender, swirled with fat. I wanted to order some rolls, but found them expensive and stuck to the shabu shabu.


We ordered a skewer of fishcake and squid balls comes with the vegetables and added egg dumplings (NT$60) stuff to throw into the pot and hand shredded the cabbage once the water was boiling. Ponzu and sesame peanut sauces are used to dip the meats and vegetables for extra sweetness and saltiness.


Dessert was a mini soft serve ice cream (vanilla or sesame) and no freebies were granted to people or kids who didn't order a set.


Shaburi's entrance is on the outside of ATT4Fun, near the Diner, but has an entrance into the mall for those needing to find the restroom. It's not as crowded as the popular Momo Paradise and there's seafood options and non shabu shabu options. There are some high end items on the menu that can get pricey (like NT$2000/person), but maybe the service is better at other locations to match the price you'd be spending on the meal.

OTHER LOCATIONS 
No. 21, Lane 270, Dunhua South Rd, Sec. 1
台北市敦化南路一段270巷21號
(02) 8771-5548

No. 81 DaAn Rd, Sec. 1
台北市大安路一段81號
(02) 2773-1386

Monday, June 25, 2012

moved/taiwanese/desserts: i strongly recommend ICE MONSTER (ZHONGXIAO) & HAPPY 7th BLOGIVERSARY TO ME



ICE MONSTER 冰館
No. 297, ZhongXiao E. Road, Sec. 4 台北市忠孝東路四段297號
(02) 8771-3263

MRT: SYS Memorial Hall

website: icemonster.com.tw

hours: 11AM-10:30PM

$$ cash only

visit reviewed:  6/21/2012
previous visits reviewed: 12/2009 and 6/2009


Hello hello!! HungryinTaipei is now 7 years old!

There's been over 1 million hits since I started this blog 7 years ago. Wow! Thanks so much for reading, commenting, facebookingtwittering, instagramming and being hungry along with me. I even have an app now for quicker searching and creating your own Taipei rolodex on the iphone/ipad and started adding Chinese to the blog this year for the first time for the app.

So where was the very first place I posted about seven years ago? 

Ice Monster. I remember when I first came back to visit Taipei in the late 1990s and I had no idea where to go, and my aunt said, just get in the taxi and tell them the "shaved ice place on Yong Kang Jie." It was a must try destination as a tourist and though less so when I moved here, I'd still take friends who visited me. Now it's closed its Yong Kang Street location for good after a brief stint as Yong Kang 15 (which I never made it to), which I found out a few weeks ago when I tried to take some friends from Manila and discovered it was boarded up. (Did you know it had closed?! Or that it had reopened?)

Thanks to my friends on twitter, I found out it had moved to bigger, shinier 東區 digs on Zhongxiao East Road. No more huddling in the shack like shop, waiting for a table. Now there's air conditioning, plenty of seating and even restrooms!


I passed by it with some friends last week and we had to give it a try on a rainy afternoon after spotting it didn't have much of a wait outside. A rainbow of mini popsicles and canele shaped konyaku tempt you from the front cooler counter.




You order from the menu from the front counter- the old school shaved ices topped with ice cream and fruit are aptly called Avalanches, the creamy snowflake ices are Sensations, or you can drink up a Mocktail or Freeze. The names of the desserts are in English, but the descriptions are in Chinese.




Ice Monster for the new age- bright yellow monster napkin holders on each table for posing in photos, even the napkins and restroom signs have the distinct drawings. Maybe it hasn't reached the rest of the world yet, but in Taipei, everyone seems to be taking photos of their food, or with their food, or eating their food, armed with everything from an iphone to a heavy duty DSLR.




While we wait for our number to be called to pick up our shaved ices, a bowls of samples get dropped off at our table to try new flavors. So don't order too much, you might get a new flavor or two to try. I know the table next to us was also surprised to get one.


Finally our Mango Avalanche (NT$180) comes and it really is an avalanche of cubed mangos, pudding, condensed milk, syrup, topped with a snowball of mango sorbet. It seems to come in a smaller bowl with less shaved ice than I remember, but luckily they don't skimp on the mango so there's still plenty to share for 2-4 people. Drool.


But of course, my friends and I didn't share just one ice. We were greedy.


The Fantastic Mix Avalanche (NT$180) also looks familiar, with the combo mango, kiwi and strawberry fruit cascading down a hill of shaved ice and topped with mango sorbet. The fruit doesn't need so much condensed milk, but it is still blanketed in a layer of it.


The Bubble Milk Tea Sensation (NT$160) is a bowl of thick, creamy ribbons of sweet shaved milk tea flavored snow with a side of sweet tapioca balls. Like a frozen boba milk tea deconstructed and frozen for the Taipei heat.


There's also more traditional shaved ice options (mung bean, grass jelly, red bean, taro) as well as summer options like the Lemon Jasmine Tea Sensation which comes with a touch of passion fruit.


With the opening of Ice Monster at the new location, hopefully not too many tourists will taxi this summer to Yong Kang Street to find their hopes to fill their mango ice cravings dashed. Though we didn't have to wait when we arrived, when we left there was a short line of 7 or 8 people. Ice Monster's prices are definitely slightly higher to pay the Dong Qu 東區 rent, and while there's quite a few other comparable mango ice places in town now, I'll hold a special place in my heart for Ice Monster for being my first after seven years and counting!!




Monday, June 18, 2012

CLOSED! dessert/crepes: CREPERIE LA BRETAGNE



CREPERIE LA BRETAGNE 法蕾薄餅屋
No. 13, Chifeng Road 台北市赤峰街13號1樓
(02) 2559-7476

MRT: Zhongshan

website: creperielabretagne.com

hours: 11:30AM - 9PM

$$ (Cash only) (about NT$300/person)

Kid friendliness: no high chairs, lots of dessert crepes

Visit reviewed: 3/25/2012
Previous visit at Tienmu location: 10/22/2009


I was so excited to spot the familiar looking Creperie La Bretagne in the backalleys of Nanjing East Rd on the way to dinner that I vowed to try it out another day. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to my past experience in the Tienmu shop or expectations.



The space is cute, like dining in someone's home and a tad more spacious than the Tienmu location, with an open kitchen that you can watch them from your seat or the front of the restaurant. I had made reservations, but was quite late, but luckily there was still a table left for us to snatch up. After browsing the menu, I realized everyone else was already waiting for their food, as there was only 2 people to serve and cook for about 30 people. I understand if you are understaffed for an unexpected crowd on a weekday, but this is Sunday brunchtime! Seriously?



Creperie La Bretagne's menu has Chinese and English, scattered with a few pictures of galettes (savory crepes made with buckwheat flour) and crepes (sweet dessert crepes made with wheat flour), and various sets.


My friend ordered one of the crepe and galette sets (NT$500) that included a soup and drink, but I'd say it's not necessary- the soup was a mystery cream soup. It was peppery, but had no salt so was still flavorless and was barely lukewarm. Was it pumpkin? Mushroom? Carrot? It really was hard to tell.


After half an hour of staring down the poor people in charge (who alternated being in the kitchen and serving all the tables that had gotten there before us)(and two other servers eventually stroll in and get to work), one galette arrives at our table of five. This is the French country style ham and egg galette my friend ordered.


I'm sure this happens to you too and maybe it's my fault for not being able to read the Chinese, but I wish that menus that have English would be complete in their descriptions. A dish like this ideally would say "ham and egg galette with salad and yogurt dressing" so that I would know to ask for the salad or the dressing on the side. Which I then ask the server if the other galettes have salads to please put the dressing on the side, especially since it's a sweet yogurty, mayo-like dressing that I dislike.


The vegetarian Mushroom with traditional french sauce galette (NT$220) is the best of the savory bunch, although it's all shiitake and oyster mushrooms rather than white mushrooms.


Guess what this galette I ordered was called?


It probably would have been better off named a veggie and bacon galette... but this was my "mushroom and bacon" galette (NT$250).


Totally not what I envisioned while waiting almost an hour for my food and not worth the price. Anyone who has eaten crepes outside of Taipei should know what I'm talking about. Unfortunately, I was pretty unhappy with all the galettes that day- although they were a good size, the pancake was slightly dry and the cheese tasted like the Taiwanese sliced white cheese that comes in a plastic wrap. Sad face.

I'm not a huge fan of snap peas and the flavors of all the galettes tasted similarly dry, so I didn't really finish this one. It just seems so much more Taiwanese than Bretagne.


Dessert crepes run from NT$60-200 and include flavors like banana nutella, black cherry & condensed milk, or cinnamon sugar.


Luckily the dessert crepes saved the meal. After waiting another 10 minutes or so, our desserts came out. The crepes were smaller than I'd hoped, but I was ready to finish up and pay the bill. Luckily I had enough cash on me as they don't take credit cards.


The cinnamon apple crepe with ice cream (NT$160) was slightly carmelized inside and out and my favorite dessert crepe.



I changed the strawberry and condensed milk crepe to strawberry and caramel (NT$130).  I was surprised to see the strawberries unadorned sitting on top, but the design was cute.


I'd say this is an option for afternoon tea if you were in the area, but definitely stick to the sweets, unless you don't mind a Taiwanese galette. And avoid the weekends unless you want to wait a looong time for your food.

Tastewise, I thought Creperie Bretagne's dessert crepes were better than Butter and Joy's Creperie, but not as satisfying as crepes I've had in the US. Still looking for a crepe place in Taipei that matches the hearty fillings and flavors I had in Toronto and Berkeley and San Francisco and LA. 

OTHER LOCATION

No. 7, Lane 38, Zhong Shan N. Road, Sec 7
Shihlin District
(02) 2874-9922

Thursday, June 14, 2012

revisited/desserts: i recommend VVG BON BON



VVG BON BON 好樣棒棒
台北市敦化南路一段161巷13號 
(02)2711-4505

MRT: Zhongxiao/Dunhua

website: vvgvvgblogspot.com Chinese only

hours: 12PM - 9PM; weekends 11AM - 9PM

$$ (about NT$630/person)

Kid friendliness: no high chairs, lots to see.

Visit reviewed: 4/9/2012
Previous visit reviewed: 7/27/2008




Figuring out a place to throw a baby shower for my friend led us to back to VVG Bon Bon, which I hadn't been for years...


Lots had stayed the same- the princess pink decor, the jars and jars of candy and sweets, rows of cupcakes, and whimsical touches...







But more loungy couch seating areas had been added in the front, like having tea in a hipster friend's living room.




And cupcakes looked fluffier, fancier, slightly bigger. There were also some other desserts, including bread puddings and the divine fudge chocolate marshmallow cake that I loved from the original VVG. 



Turned out to be the perfect place for a baby shower- there was even an adorable baby carriage near our seats that our friends asked us if we brought in. Haha!


The menu had also changed- though there was still four set menus to choose from- this season's sets featured lasagna, Indian styled beef curry pot and rice or burger, and an a la carte menu of pastas and salads.



When we started ordering, the waitress told us that they only certain numbers of certain sets available. I thought it was sort of strange, especially since we were the first customers at lunch and we had made reservations in advance, so they knew we had a large group coming. We worked it out, but I don't know if I'd be annoyed if a set I wanted was sold out.


Each set comes with a soup, salad, drink and cupcake and is served in VVG's signature bento style tray, which I've also seen at VVG Table's brunch. I ordered the Beef curry pot with Indian aromatic rice (NT$580) which had a nice sweet and spiciness and it was nice to have actual basmati rice to go with it, which quite a few Indian restaurants in Taipei skimp out on (and serve white rice instead).

 

Pumpkin soup, fresh greens...


And then the cupcake. I wasn't impressed with my cupcakes at my last visit years ago, but good for VVG Bon Bon, they improved them since then. I felt the syringe of sugar water was kind of strange as I didn't want artificial sugar added into my cupcake, but the chocolate cake and frosting was decent without it. The other cupcakes around the table were also very fanciful. We didn't get to choose our own cupcakes, but I suppose you could request your flavor in advance.


The seating in the back had been changed into a mini shop of sorts- an eclectic collection of candies, ceramics, stationary goods, bags, pillows and stuff. The candy land room was cluttered with salt water taffies, rainbow lollipops, cat shaped pillows, cupcake notecards, animal topped pens, and all sorts of cuteness.




The prices were too high for me to make an impulse purchase, but it could be a place to browse for gift giving.




One could have an Instragram/Facebook/Twitter/Weibo/Fill-in-your-social-media of-choice frenzy in here.




With all the new cute cafes and coffeeshops flooding Taipei's alleys, it was nice to come back to one of the first and see that VVG Bon Bon was worth revisiting.

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