Monday, October 27, 2008

food court/new in town: DUN HUA ESLITE FOOD COURT

No. 245, Dun Hua S Road, B2


hours: 11 AM - 10 PM (10:30PM on Fri and Sat)


Kid friendliness: crowded during peak hours, but some room for strollers

Visit reviewed: 10/11/2008

Whether you have jetlag in Taipei that has you up at 5am or you're a night owl who likes to stay up until 2am, you can wander over to the Eslite bookstore (Dun Hua flagship branch) that is open 24 hours a day. If you've never been, it's a super deluxe bookstore ala Barnes and Nobles, but like a mini-mall complete with clothing stores, Apple computers and accessories, and a food court. I went last weekend to check out the reopening after their revamp and had to squeeze in between the massive crowds of curious people wanting some free AC on a hot Sunday afternoon.

They opened up the area between the food court and kids floors (see first picture above) that does make the space more airy and perfect for people watching.

If you've been to the bookstore before, they didn't really do much to the bookstore area. I thought I might take a crack at looking for some books that were on my wishlist, and while the associate at the info desk was friendly (as well as spoke English), it took quite a while to find the area where novels/fiction in English were. And once I found it, though some sections were arranged alphabetically by author's last name, it seemed to be inconsistent and in sections-- meaning that one section would have it arranged alphabetically but 2 or 3 separate times which made it very hard to find what I was looking for. There's a reason that Amazon is so successful!

While I was browsing, I spotted this sign that made me laugh out loud.

1- that they would have a category for "chick lit" and group it with movies based on books
2- that it's "chic lit" rather than "chick lit"

But onto the "new and improved" food court...

Adjacent to the food court, there are some posh areas selling wine and teas..

The food court itself doesn't have as many options for "real food" as others in town. There's an omelette rice place, Penang South Asian restaurant, herbal soup place, Minder vegetarian serve yourself plates, a couple of sit down restaurant and then dessert/snack options like ice cream, shaved ice, bakery and almond tofu.

I wasn't hungry enough for a real meal, so I opted for a sampling of sweets. Plus with the grand re-opening, they were offering some good deals, like buy 1 scoop, get one free at the ice cream vendor.

Mmm.. green tea and mint chocolate chip cone (NT$80) make a surprisingly good combo.

The pre-packaged almond tofu (NT$40) came in original, milk, red bean and caramel flavors.. it was softer than the typical jello type that comes with fruit at dim sum restaurants- almost like flan. The red bean gave the silky almond tofu a good mix of textures.

Bonjour bakery was busy with customers. Their signs only had Chinese, but I eyeballed a crispy carmelized round puff pastry (NT$60) that looked like a cinnamon bun on the outside.

Can you spot the typo?

There's also an Awfully Chocolate, which sells fancy (expensive) chocolate cakes and ice cream. But the stores never display them. If you want to know what you are getting, you have to browse through their photos/catalog.

All in all, a place to grab something to nosh on while you take a break browsing the multi-level bookstore, complete with music/dvd, stationary and kids books sections. Sometimes they have some cool events or book signings. For lunch, I'd probably opt for the Xin Yi Eslite food court, but it just depends which area you are hanging out in.

Too bad the food court isn't 24 hours!

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Anonymous said...

It's supposed to be French instead of Freach, right? XD Wow. They don't display their chocolate? I almost always buy my chocolate based on sight.

Anonymous said...

Impressive write-up on the newly renovated Eslite! I was there last week, but didn't check out the food court - seems like I missed out. The bookstore never ceases to amaze me, not just for their wide selection but the sheer number of people there. Although I wonder how many books they actually sell considering (a) most people appear to browse without buying and (b) the prices are ridiculously high, even by American standards.

Anonymous said...

I think they did meant to write 'chic lit' where chic = fashionable, which is similar to movie-based novel, as they are popular.
I didn't think Eslite itself would have many Engrish.
I can't wait to check out the new store, I'm back in Nov/Dec, and it's one of my consistently fav place, super close to my grandparents' place.
I agree that most people there just appear to be reading the books for free...

joanh said...

anonymous: yup! French instead of Freach.. what does "XD" mean? i hear you about not displaying the chocolate cakes.. it's very strange..but i guess they like being mysterious

caffeinenicotine: thanks! i guess it's the same w/ a lot of the superbookstores anywhere- even in the states you see a ton of people just reading and not buying.

lillian: hmm, i think it's debatable.. bcuz i think i did see a lot of chick lit in that section! hahahah

Anonymous said...

I think it is chic, the chinese on top says ~'popular novel'. I suppose a lot of chick lit these days are quite popular and/or made into movies too.
So maybe they are being extra clever calling it chic lit instead of popular novel.
But I doubt that :P

I believe that XD is a smiley face with crossed eye and open mouth - It's like laughing really hard.

Anonymous said...

My aunt lives right around the corner from the Dunhua Eslite bookstore which I always visit when I'm in Taipei.  I did visit the food court two years ago with my grandma on the day I flew into Taipei.  It was the omuraisu (rice omelette) store since my grandma really likes omuraisu.  To me, it was so heavenly eating delicious Asian food even if it wasn't top quality.  The bookstore is pretty impressive although I agree people basically treat as a library with free AC.

Sera said...

i think i'm getting a grasp of your taste in mian bao.

simple but special and good quality. perhaps a bit on the layered/flaky side. am i right?

joanh said...

lillian: ohhh! i see it now. XD man, i'm old!

anonymous: i agree, most random food court food in Taipei is above average food anywhere in the states

sera: hehe.. yes, if it's layered and flaky and sweet, i'm in!