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Thursday, January 06, 2022

american/chinese: i recommend FORKS AND CHOPSTICKS

[TAIPEI]
Orange chicken in Taipei. 

When I first started the blog, the question I would get once in awhile was "where can I find Americanized Chinese food in Taipei?" And I had no idea, I mean it just was not a thing here. Plus you've got dumplings, noodle soups and veggies galore. 

But then after a few years I would really get nostalgic for that styrofoam box of orange chicken, chow mein and a fried egg roll. I know I wasn't alone because I even followed the news of an American Chinese diner opening in China (and closing a few years later) and orange chicken getting so popular you could buy it at Trader Joes. Panda Express even started trying to started making burritos with orange chicken and had Innovation Kitchens. 

And now, Taipei finally has its own spot to order a few of your takeout faves. The founders of FORKS AND CHOPSTICKS 筷叉小館  were feeling the same cravings and tackled this problem with a cloud kitchen solution. 



The menu at Forks and Chopsticks isn't long, but it's got the classics you might spy at the mall food court - broccoli beef, orange chicken, chicken zucchini, eggplant and tofu, chicken and string beans, fried rice, and chow mein..and yes, there's fortune cookies, takeout boxes and that familiar looking styrofoam shaped box (minus the styrofoam cuz it's Taiwan 2022). 




And the taste comes pretty close, at least for me who hasn't been to the states in 2 years and hasn't had orange chicken in more than that. I must admit Panda Express' orange chicken was such the guilty pleasure in college. So while the flavor is close, I do wish it was a bit more crispier and stickier (though I guess I get Korean fried chicken for those cravings these days). Paired with a chewy chow mien, it scratches an itch. The familiar fried rice, the lucky numbers with your fortune.


You can order by the dish or get a combo 1, 2 or 3 dishes with rice or noodles (or upon special request half and half). Currently you can find @ForksxChopsticks on ubereats or pick up,  but there's no dine in yet. They are also testing egg rolls (another fave that I haven't had in years) and crab rangoon. 



There _are_ fortune cookies, but they are an extra charge unfortunately, the same way chips and salsa are not free in Mexican restaurants here. lol. 



So anyone been missing their takeout menu from back home? What else are you missing? Maybe honey walnut shrimp or (it's been so long I had to google) sweet and sour shrimp or Kung Pao chicken. 


FORKS AND CHOPSTICKS 
(pick up and delivery only)
No. 67號, Guangfu S Rd, Songshan District, Taipei
(02) 2748-4205

Monday, January 03, 2022

my kitchen: EASY MOCHI WAFFLES


I love waffles, but I had never made mochi waffles before. New year, new you, right? 

I had some sweet rice flour in the pantry from a visit last year to Siang Khau Lu, so I decided to give this recipe a try (it had the most reviews on google with 442). The result was a chewy, soft waffle that was like some of the round mochi breads or cheese breads I'd pick up at local bakeries. I wished it was slightly crispier on the edges, like this mochi waffle street vendor that I found in Taipei years ago before it was a thing. I should mention I didn't have any white sugar on hand, so I used brown sugar instead of white sugar, which did give it a caramel color and flavor, but did not make it crispy. I'll keep tinkering with this recipe and see if I can adjust it to be crispier. 

EASY MOCHI WAFFLES

Ingredients (makes 4 Belgian waffles) 

  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1 1/4 cup mochiko flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat waffle iron.

2. In a medium mixing bowl add 3/4 cup milk, 1 egg, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Whisk until well combined.

3. Add 1 1/4 cup sweet glutinous rice flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk until just combined.

4. Add 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of the batter to the waffle iron. This will puff up a lot, so I recommend filling it half full to prevent overflow. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

western/mediterranean: i strongly recommend TOASTERIA CAFE (YONG KANG)



TOASTERIA CAFE YONG KANG 吐司利亞 永康店

No 200 Xinyi Road, Section 2, Da'an District, Taipei
(02) 2321-0073 

MRT: Dongmen

hours: 9AM- 12AM

$$

Kid friendliness: baby chairs and stairs, but there is first floor seating 

Visit reviewed: 10/2021


[TAIPEI] 

Toasteria has come a long way since its tiny sidewalk cafe selling grilled cheese sandwiches. Now it's a busy 3 story restaurant next to the original Yong Kang Street DTF, with a full menu of mediterranean specialties that are hard to find in Taipei, brunch, pasta and salad options. I've only been a handful of times the past few years, but every time I go it's busy with large groups of all ages. 

I had a lunch date with a friend who asked me where she could find hummus and I suggested Toasteria. Flipping through the menu it seemed even more extensive than my last visit a few years ago with not just one hummus, but 5 different versions. She ended up picking the Hummus Moroccan Lamb which was delicious. The pita bread was presented so nicely with a few pickled olives and there was plenty to go around- it’s such a bummer when you order a dip/spread and there’s not enough pita or bread to go around.  

And even though there’s a handful of places to get hummus these days (which is happily so many more than even 5 years ago), I would come back for that and  the eggplant carpaccio (I wish I had a picture of it, I think we were so hungry we just dug in.)

Just had to post about it because so many people asked me about it or told me they went to Toasteria after seeing my post, because they had also been looking for hummus in Taipei. 











Wednesday, November 24, 2021

chinese/dim sum: i recommend YA GE at MO TAIPEI


YA GE 
at MANDARIN ORIENTAL TAIPEI 
No. 158, DunHua N Rd, Songshan District, Taipei
(02) 2715 6788

hours: 12PM- 2:30PM; 6:30PM - 10PM

$$$

Kid friendliness: environment on quieter side; no high chairs or children spotted

Visit reviewed: 11/2021




[TAIPEI] 🥟Michelin starred dim sum at @mo_tpe . Faves include the honey bbq pork, crispy taro puffs with foie gras, and rice roll with crispy shrimp. I’ve missed eating with a table full of dim sum and Cantonese food. 


Ya Ge is now headed by chef Tommy Cheung Kwok Pong who was previously at Peninsula Hotel in HK for over 10 years with signatures such as birds nest dumpling,  garoupa with chicken and duck au jus, pork ribs with aged vinegar and pear and wok fried rice noodles with crab. 


Thank you Mandarin Oriental for the lovely lunch and hospitality. 


















Friday, November 19, 2021

donuts/dessert: i strongly recommend CRISPY FRESH MILK DONUTS


CRISPY FRESH MILK DONUTS 

脆皮鮮奶甜甜圈 (台北店)

No. 183, Huayin St, Datong District, Taipei
(02) 2550-9914


MRT: Taipei Main Station 

$ (NT$25/donut)

Kid friendliness: takeaway only but kids are likely to want their own donut

Visit reviewed: 11/2021


[TAIPEI]

You would think after a big lunch you would have no room to eat anything else, but when these donuts are in walking distance, your stomach finds room for it! I had these donuts once, maybe 10 years ago, and I had still thought about them over the years. So I was SO happy to have the chance to get some again (and that they were still open after all this time). There was a short line but we decided to wait and soon we were at the front of the line. 

One person is frying the donuts (NT$25) and then another is taking them and swiping them through the sugary milk powder, coating both sides before putting them into individual plastic bags. Sometimes they have other flavors, but that day they only had the signature milk donuts, which taste a bit milky, a bit vanilla, a bit powdered sugar. The best part is the crispy parts on the outside and soft inside. If churros are Mexican donuts, then this donut is its Taiwanese donut cousin. 

Even though you think you are only going to take one bite, you know the donut tastes best right now, hot and crispy and won't be the same after it cools down, so you finish it before you know it. Even though there are a bunch of donut shops, good donuts are hard to find Taipei. Even Krispy Kreme Taipei no longer serves hot donuts anymore, and there's nothing like a freshly fried one so when you see a line, you know you'll be getting one that's just made. 






Thursday, November 04, 2021

Singaporean: I strongly recommend REGENT CHILI CRAB


[TAIPEI]🌶🦀 Chili crab > hairy crab  especially with mini fried mantous to dip in the sauce.


More sweet than spicy, it was SO good and satisfying to eat. I know it’s hairy crab season, but this has more meat and is easier and faster with less work especially with the claw shells cracked already. 


Would totally eat this again and recommend trying especially at the current takeaway price NT$1980. Thank you @regenttaipei for the treat.


The only other place I’ve had chili crab in Taipei was at Jumbo a few years ago when they first opened and the service was so awkward and lackluster I never went back, especially at the premium prices they were charging. This way you can get messy and gluttonous in the privacy of your own home (I devoured both claws and half the crab in no time) and use the leftover sauce to stir fry noodles or something (my sauce is in the fridge waiting for inspo). 








Wednesday, November 03, 2021

vietnamese: I strongly recommend VIETNAMESE BISTRO

VIETNAMESE BISTRO

No. 7-1號, No. 103, Lane 46, Chongqing N Rd, Section 2, Datong District
(02) 2556-1155  

MRT: Zhongshan or Beimen

hours: 10:30AM - 2:30PM ; 4PM - 9PM; Closed Wednesdays

$

Visit reviewed: 9/28/2021 (I was invited, but all opinions are my own)



Oh man. While writing this post, I took a look at the last time I posted about Vietnamese restaurants in Taipei and it's been years (blame insta!) and quite a few of them have closed since I posted about them. So this is the perfect time to post about this new Vietnamese restaurant I can't stop thinking about. 


Opened over a month ago by two cousins from Hanoi, Vietnamese Bistro came from when Anya and Ryan couldn’t find any authentic Northern style Vietnamese food while studying here in Taipei.  They reached out to me to give it a try and I went looking for it in the alleys not far from Taipei Main Station. 


With a table full of delicious noodle soups, spring rolls and salads, we’ve barely even scratched the surface of their extensive menu which includes pho ga, classic salt and pepper chicken and sliced goose marinated with lemongrass and ginger. The rice noodles in their pho and French rolls for their banh mi is all made in house, by Ryan, the cousin who was a chef back in Vietnam. 


My favorites I kept going back to were 


the Bun tron (dry rice noodles) with pork (NT$120), 


(I've always been partial to noodle salads which are the best of both worlds with slippery chewy noodles and crispy lettuce, carrots and veggies all in one bite. Light for a summer day or when you're not feeling like something soupy.)



the chicken papaya salad (must order) (NT$70)


(Crunchy, sweet and refreshing)




fried spring rolls (NT$80/120) nem rang 


(Cut into bite sized pieces, these were so crispy and addictive with plenty of flavor)



and washing it down with sweet Tamarind juice (NT$50)



The  bun ca (rice noodle fish soup) (NT$120) and pate banh mi (NT$80) are among their specialties to try if you have room, as well as their version of Northern traditional beef pho (NT$130). When we tried both at the same time, as the tangy and spicy broth of the bun ca was overpowered tasting the flavor in the lighter broth of the pho. Vietnamese Bistro’s pho comes from simmered beef bones and star anise, and their rice noodles are wider and soft. Because they make their pho rice noodles from scratch, they’ve broken into shorter strands to spoon up rather than do noodle lifting. The broth of the bun ca had a sweetness from the tomato and large pieces of fried fish were filling. If I had to pick one of the two, I would try the bun ca just because it’s so different. 




The pate banh mi comes as a whole sandwich, but they kindly cut it into quarters after we asked them to. I am almost too full after all the food to take a bite, but I couldn’t resist. The French bread is made in house too, with a smear of pate, crunchy fresh veggies. Next time I would probably try the pork banh mi. 





The restaurant is small but clean, with charming murals hand painted on the walls by Anya, one wall has their most popular dishes making it easy to order. The pricing is student friendly, or as they say CP is high, so it’s definitely worth a try the next time you’re craving Vietnamese food. 





:)