Wednesday, May 30, 2007

CLOSED/dessert: i recommend GINJER CAKES AND MORE

20, Lane 233, Tun Hwa S. Rd, Sec 1
(right around the corner from Eslite Bookstore on Tun Hwa S Road)
(02) 8773-3061
(CLOSED, not sure if they still offer catering. updating in 2019. notice the pinyin changes!)

website: English and Chinese

hours: 12 PM - 8 PM


Visit reviewed: 5/11/2007

The first time I passed by Sprinkles in Beverly Hills, I saw a line out of the door and people leaving with brown boxes and brown cupcake stickers. Out of curiosity, I had to get in line. I had to see what the big deal was for myself. Even the guy in front of me volunteered how much the line was worth it and he was getting a box of cupcakes for his boss as a birthday gift. The cupcakes were huge and beautifully decorated with frosting perfectly spread and colorful button like candy wafers stuck in the middle of each one. But personally, I didn't like the taste in comparison to my cupcake favorite Auntie Em's in Eagle Rock. Whoever made your personal favorite- cupcakes were a childhood flashback food trend taking over the city. But outside LA and NY, not so much it seems.

You would think that a city like Taipei full of sweet tooths and most often willing to wait in long lines- for shaved ice, for red bean filled pastries and rice balls, for cream puffs, for ice cream covered waffles, for chewy rings of donuts, for slices of cheesecake and any other cake imaginable, that there would be cupcakes all over town- but cupcakes are not easy to find. Maybe it's too American of a tradition. Maybe the Taiwan palate is used to the less sweet frosting and cakes of the Japanese style cakes. Either way, if you're looking for cupcakes in Taipei, Ginjer is your one stop shop for now.

You can buy cupcakes individually from the counter or order them in bulk for a special event. They also have regular cakes, with a homestyle feeling of decoration. I've had mixed experiences with their cakes- the first time I had it, I thought the decoration was more appropriate for a child's party than adult's and the chocolate cake was dense without being moist enough and the frosting was not lick your fingers clean worthy. The second time I heard about their cake, I heard many people complain it was too salty- though I wasn't there to try it- perhaps there was a mix up in the kitchen that day? I've also heard good things from others about it- that it was just the way they liked their cakes and hard to find elsewhere in Taipei.

So I'd recommend that you try it out for yourself if you are tired of the lighter fare of cakes in Taipei and aren't up for baking something at home yourself. Hidden a lane away from Eslite on Dun Hua South Road, it's not hard to find once you are in that area. Once you are in the store, they will usually offer a few samples of their more popular or new flavors. Look for the hanging Ginjer sign and past the outdoor patio that is great for their afternoon tea time (one free drink w/ purchase of a cupcake from 12pm - 2 pm). They also offer cupcake decorating for kids everyday at 4 pm.

They have numerous flavors offered on their website, from chocolate, lemon, banana, taro, orange, pumpkin, cream cheese, coconut, and their original Cloud Nine and Ginjer special. They also offer red velvet seasonally and more unusual fare like Waldorf Salad and Apple Pie- though not every single one is offered everyday (but more than I thought in person- probably about 10 flavors). You can browse their decorations in their gallery which are cute and more home-grown than professional(NT$60-150 each for special orders). I tried the carrot cake cupcake (NT$50) on this day which I quite enjoyed- it was average sized (same as if you baked it in muffin tins yourself ) but also dense, fluffy, sweet with tiny slivers of carrots and a sprinkle of nuts (and no raisins thankfully which some carrot cakes do have) and topped with cream cheese frosting, which I love, and a cute little frosting carrot. It could have used a little bit more frosting if you ask me, but I am used to the piles of frosting that come with the big enough to share cupcakes in LA. You might have heard about it several times before from other people like I have, it's worth a try- you might surprise your sweet tooth.


Anonymous said...

Tee hee. I was just there myself. I found Ginjer's carrot (cup)cake rather underwhelming but I like the Waldorf and the classic Ginjer special with buttercream frosting quite nice. Oh, I remember the coconut one to be really moist.

I am eyeing the carrot cake at the Diner. I've been disappoint with carrot cake options around town and have to bake my own. (I like my carrot cake to have a long list of ingredients and most of the carrot cakes here just seem quite basic and not as moist as I'd like it.) Any place you'd recommend?

joanh said...

mei: hmm.. i will have to try the other ones! and Ginjer's was the first place i've had carrot cake in Taipei... I didn't know the Diner had carrot cake.. that sounds very tempting!

yes, it's often faster to try and bake or cook what you want to eat than try and find it in taipei the way you like it. you'll have to let me know how the carrot cake at the diner is if you try it!!

Chubbypanda said...

I'm not surprised that some people thought the cupcakes were too salty. The Taiwanese palate tends to favor bland and mild flavors.

Anonymous said...

we tried Ginjer today here in our office and ordered 6 different flavors: carrot, pumkpin, lemon, orange, chocolate and banana.
i must say ALL of the cakes were actually very good, they were soft, not too moisty, not to dry, great taste.
the only thing that left me a bit unhappy way the - in my opinion - too salty frosting. it seems they used salty butter to makes the frostings. while on the carrot cake it wasnt such a biggie, but on the sweeter cakes it wa quite a contrast. not sure if they do this on purpose or not though.
but i will defintely try them again next week.

joanh said...

chubbypanda: really? even though some of the cakes here are sweeter, I would never think that things would taste salty in comparison!

pat: i guess we have our answer! thanks for commenting by the way! would you tell ginjer about the salty frosting? let us know if they respond!

mei: i got the carrot cake!! it was good, but the frosting was a bit disappointing in contrast- not cream cheese frosting and not sweet.

Anonymous said...

i planned on leaving a comment to them by my staff.
(i dont speak chinese ;-) )
i will order some more again this week, and let you know if they feedback on this.

Lisa Wang said...

i'm glad you liked ginjer! the woman who opened it is really really nice. I've been to sprinkles a couple of times here but i just don't think it's worth the line anymore.

Anonymous said...

regarding teh salty taste of teh frosting:
seems the local people have a different taste:
i aksed my colleagues here and they all thought the frostings were fine and when i asked if it was too salty or salty at all they just looked dazzled/surprised at me ;-))
still makes me wonder, since i hear the chinese business partners who visit us in germany always complaining about teh salty german food... o_O

Anonymous said...

ok. we asked them about the salty frosting.
they said they had some remarks, but they do it on selected cupcakes on purpose.
the carrot is one of them.
i had carrot, lemon and chocolate today and they were all tops!
very nice. carrot had the bit salty flavor, but the other 2 were sweet.

joanh said...

pat: thanks for all the updates! salty on purpose?? that's so weird, i've never heard that before. it's also funny your colleagues didn't notice anything

ffc: we'll have to try bluebird's bakery (culver city) and you HAVE TO try auntie em's!

Anonymous said...

Last month we ordered a chocolate 10" round cake for our son's birthday celebration at his school. We brought in a picture of a train for them to replicate with the frosting. They did a great job; I was impressed as I was expecting more of a freehand result, but they were true to the picture.

This is the 2nd time we ordered a chocolate cake from Ginjer, and it was just as good as last year's. This is a dense cake with an equally dense chocolate filling. Sweet, but not overly so.

Son's teacher commented to me how this was the first cake that all the children in the class ate. Other times, not all the children wanted to eat the cake that was served.

JNH said...

I went there on the 10/10 holiday with the kids.

The kids loved all the icing colors and flavors. We bought a six pack (buy 5, get 1 free). I had to try the carrot cupcake, based on the comments in this blog. I liked it, but wish the icing had more flavor (cream cheese?). It had an oily texture that was a little strange. Don't get me wrong, I ate it and had a smile on my face.

Overall, I would recommend. Couple of nitpicks for them to improve their business.

(1) The two ladies working there were "overwhelmed" after only a couple customers were in line. Suggestion, get a higher volume/easier coffee brewing method. One person was exclusively occupied making tea and coffee.
(2) They have a very nice patio, but an acute lack of seating. Wouldn't hurt the curb appeal to have lots of happy customers sipping tea and eating cakes outside.

Anonymous said...

I just read through all your comments. Yes, we do use salted butter because the taiwanese palate does not like the heavy confectioner's sugar. The basic butter cream that most of you have tried is a version of the french butter cream that where the sugar has been watered down with butter. With regard to the cream cheese, we use one to one ratio with the butter because the current cheese already overwhelms our local customers. Thank you for all your comments and we will work to serve you better.