Wednesday, March 31, 2010

brunch/western: i recommend THE DOOR

No. 26, Lane 57, Dazhi St.
Dazhi District
(02) 8509-8786

hours: Sun-Thurs 10AM- 9PM; Fri/Sat 10AM-10PM


Kid friendliness: no high chairs but a few strollers spotted

Visit reviewed: 2/28/2010

If you live in Taipei long enough, one of things you start craving (besides Mexican food) is a hearty American breakfast. After awhile, even the thought of IHOP or Denny's sounds good, where you can get breakfast for dinner, lunch or breakfast. So where to look if you're too lazy to make your own pancakes, french toast or eggs?

You can try hitting up the various hotels in Taipei, like I did once with my cousin on the prowl for a good waffle in Taipei, but that can be pricey and their window for breakfast stop once the clock hits a certain time.

Those that have shared that craving with me have probably heard of the Diner- one of the most popular breakfast places in town to get your omelettes, pancakes and American style breakfast everyday, all day. Or there are a number of other players in town including Posh, NY Bagel, Hsiang Brunch, Good Day, Swensens.

So it was only a matter of time that the Diner concept would spread to other parts of the city and when I heard about the Door, I had to give it a try. A cozy, cafe-like, all day breakfast spot tucked in the alleys in Dazhi, the Door is too similar to the Diner to be a coincidence. While researching both for the blog, I realized even their Chinese names are similiar! The Diner's Chinese name is Le Zi (or Fun) and the Door's Chinese name is Le Duo (or Fun More or More Fun)

The biggest piece of evidence is the menu and the execution of the dishes- one glance at the menu and Diner fans will probably be feeling dejavu- items are pretty much in the same order and style as the Diner, with pancakes, french toast, breakfast burritos, eggs benedict, omelettes, hamburgers and menu items like meatloaf, country fried steak, pasta and lasagna.

But perhaps the fact that the Door is just like the Diner is good thing for the residents in Dazhi- they'll have a breakfast place to patron without having to leave the neighborhood.

The Asparagus and Chicken omelette was fluffy and stuffed with diced chicken, asparagus and melted cheese, but the potatoes o'brien were a bit soggy.

I'd also recommend the plain pancakes plate over the blueberry pancakes as there were so many blueberries in the pancakes, it was a bit overkill. They were also canned blueberries, so it wasn't as fresh tasting as it could have been.

But the regular pancakes were perfectly fluffy and soft, best eaten hot.

I actually wanted to try the burger and so I got a Swiss and Mushroom hamburger which I did enjoy. It had a thick patty and plenty of cheese and sliced mushrooms. The meat to bun proportion was good and the bun tasted like an American bun should, not sweet like some Taiwanese buns.

The Door doesn't take reservations, but we were able to snag a table for 6 without a wait before noon on a Saturday, but I can't promise you won't have a wait! It might be a bit tricky to find or park, so take a look at a map before you head over.

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Taida Campus
No. 188, Guo Ji 3rd St Da Xue Rd

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Monday, March 29, 2010

snack/snapshot: i strongly recommend 7-11

Anyone who has wandered into a 7-11 in Taipei was probably immediately dazzled by the array of drinks, snacks, bentos, tea eggs and buns.

Not to mention the coffee and Icee machines.

Milk, juices, teas, jelly drinks, coffees, yogurt drinks. This doesn't even include the sodas and waters...

7-11 should just be called snack heaven.

Strawberry flavored items collected for your perusal....

Crispy, salty, crunchy Asian snacks...

Or Western chips like Lays or Doritos with Asian flavors like bbq seafood or seaweed....

I have yet to try their thousand year old egg with congee or braised pork bentos, but their rice triangles are pretty decent in a pinch. The way they wrap it separates the seaweed from the rice and keeps it crispy until you wrap it yourself.

Instant noodles that come in their own styrofoam bowls- a starving student's dream selection.

Sometimes they have sticker promotions where you get a sticker for spending a certain amount (usually around NT$70) by a certain time and then if you collect enough stickers you can get a prize or coupon for free Coldstones or something like that.

If I ever run out of restaurants to eat at, I'll start a 7-11 Taipei Snack Heaven blog and feature an item a day. That would be hilarious.

Friday, March 26, 2010

2nd Annual 2009 Best of Taipei Readers' Choice Poll Winners

Hi everyone! After many a sleepless nights of tabulating, writing, bleary eyed researching and fact checking and google translating, I finally have the results!

Another year of eating, another year for the's Readers' Choice poll! Thanks to everyone that took the time to collect their thoughts and write down/vote what their favorite restaurants are. To see how people voted, you can see the comments at this Best of Taipei categories post. Some categories were unable to get votes or a consensus so I haven't named any winners- such as for Favorite Late Night Bites and Favorite Delivery.

I look forward to trying out and revisiting the favorites that I haven't blogged about- like Abu, Sushi Express and Kiki's- and if you don't see your favorite, be sure to vote next year! If you find a new favorite from this poll, don't forget to to mention that you found out about it here! And as usual- please double check any information first if you are going to a new restaurant for the first time- locations change, restaurants close down, and bloggers do their best in translating and typing! :)


Favorite Restaurant in Taipei, Favorite Special Occasion Restaurant, Favorite Unexpected Find in Taipei, Favorite Romantic- FLAVORS
Swedish food in Taipei? Flavors is the winner for the 2nd year in a row for Favorite Unexpected Find in Taipei, and after I visited it last year I discovered why. An intimate setting, friendly owners and swedish meatballs and apple cake that will inspire hard core fans. Apparently, a few readers agree and voted it their favorite restaurant and special occasion restaurant too.
No.13 Alley 26 Lane 300 Ren Ai Rd. Sec.4, (02) 2709 6525,

Favorite New Restaurant in 2009- ABU AUTHENTIC CUISINE
I've been hearing a lot about Abu and can't wait to try it. Fans of the owner and head chef from Tutto Bello (last year's winner for Best Italian) have followed him here, and advance reservations are recommended.
No. 28 Siwei Rd, (02) 2707-0699

Favorite Cheap Eats- Night Markets
Taipei is famous for its night markets and for good reasons- the multitude of late night offerings for the price of the change in your pocket. Hot, icy, bite sized, giant and fried, stinky or on a stick - each night market has its own specialties as well as the usual suspects.

Favorite Restaurant in a Hotel, Favorite Japanese Restaurant- SUMIE NOUVELLE CUISINE at SAN WANT HOTEL
Winner for the second year in a row. I always get the multi-course set menu and my friends new to the restaurant always are dazzled by Sumie's plating and presentation of every dish. Don't let the upscale modern interior scare you away from some of the freshest sashimi and best lamb chops in Taipei.
No. 172, Zhongxiao E Rd Sec 4, 4 FL, (02) 2781 6909,

Favorite Western Breakfast/ Brunch- THE DINER
Winner for the second year in a row. The first time I ate at the Diner, I couldn't decide what to eat- but in a good way. Offering a wide selection of Western brunch/breakfast options all day, it's definitely the place to go if you're missing tasty pancakes, eggs benedicts, omelettes or even a breakfast burrito. Just be prepared to wait for a table and don't forget to try the dessert menu.
No. 145 Ruian St, Taipei, (02) 2700-1680;
No. 6, Ln 103, Dunhua S Rd Sec 2, (02) 2754-1680,

Favorite Chinese Breakfast- YONG HE DOU JIANG
Everyone in Taiwan should be familiar with the Chinese breakfast- a bowl or cup of soy milk with chinese pancake, fried cruller or sticky rice ball. The most famous is in Yong He, which inspired a myriad of shops with the name Yong He Dou Jiang. While they are not all the same, here are a few to start off with.
No. 1, Lane 240, Guang Fu S. Road, (02) 2772-0642;
No. 102 Fuxing S. Road, Sec. 2, (02)2703- 5051

Favorite Kid Friendly/Family Restaurant L'IDIOT
Last year's multiple winner L'Idiot swept the votes for best new restaurant in 2008, offering seasonal but simple Western fare as well as impressed voters with its desserts. The weekend brunch and open space that can seat large groups and offer space for kids to run around makes it a family favorite.
No. 156, Minsheng E Rd Sec 3, (02) 2545-6966,

Favorite Romantic Restaurant- (tie) VILLA 32 and FLAVORS
Complete your romantic evening with some hot springs or a couples massage, or just wine and dine your honey at ultra-luxe Villa 32's Euro restaurant, tucked in Beitou, about an hour outside of the city.
No 32, Zhongshan Rd, Beitou, Taipei, (02) 6611-8888,

Favorite Buffet/Favorite Afternoon Tea- CAFE at GRAND HYATT HOTEL
Winner for the second year in a row for favorite buffet, first time for favorite afternoon tea. Cafe offers both Western and Eastern cuisines in its huge buffet spread- you might even miss a part of it if you're not thorough. The make your own waffles are tucked in the corner away from the wall of food. Afternoon tea at Cafe will be more than tea and finger sandwiches- it's the Grand Hyatt's buffet, so you can get your fill of fruits, ice cream, desserts, dim sum and pastries. I've only been to Cafe for brunch, but I expect the variety and quality to be just as great any time of the day.
No.2, Sung Shou Road, (02) 2720-1234,

Favorite Night Market- SHIH LIN NIGHT MARKET
Winner for the second year in a row. Eat at the covered, indoor part of Shih Lin Night Market or follow the crowds to the street eats near the theater or tucked inside the alleyways. Offering all the classic night market foods from oyster omelette to stinky tofu to baos to shaved ice or random food on a stick, no visit to Taipei is complete without a visit to this night market.
Near Chien Tan MRT station

Favorite Restaurant to take Tourist Friends, Best Xiao Long Bao- DIN TAI FUNG
Winner for the second year in a row. There might be cheaper or fancier options, but world famous Din Tai Fung is inevitably where we'll take our friends to eat as voted best xiao long bao. I'm guilty of it, you're guilty of it- but only because it's worth the wait.
No. 218, Zhong Xiao East Rd., Sec 4,(02) 2721-7890;
No. 194, Xinyi Road, Sec.2 (entrance of Yong Kang Street) (02) 2321-8928
No.300, Zhong Xiao E. Rd., Sec. 3, (02) 8772-0528

Favorite Place to Meet for Drinks- A-PLUS SUSHI AND SAKE BAR
Choose from over 30 kinds of sake and relax on the lounge-like sofa seating at A-Plus Sushi and Sake. If you're hungry, you can also get some spicy tuna rolls or one their small plates while you enjoy your cocktail hour.
No. 33, AnHe Rd, Sec 1, (02) 2731-9266;

Favorite Food Court- 101 Mall
Winner for the second year in a row. Grab a quick lunch while sightseeing at 101 Mall or just go for the variety. Offering almost every type of cuisine as well as lots of familiar chains (McD's and Subway), you can also hit up JASON's Supermarket for some hard to find items before you head home.
45 Shifu Road, Xinyi District

Favorite Fast Food- MOS BURGER
Winner for the second year in a row, Mos Burger beat out Subway as your favorite stop for a quick bite. Hamburger or rice burger, Mos Burger offers up Asian flavors at a fast food setting. Don't be afraid to eat your rice burger to go, it comes in an indestructable styrofoam pouch to catch all the sauce.
over 100 stores across Taiwan,

Favorite Taiwanese Restaurant- SHIN YEH
Winner for the second year in a row. When even the locals line up for this Taiwanese restaurant, then you know that it's good. Shin Yeh offers Taiwanese classics like gua bao, run bing, sweet potato porridge, pan seared pork liver, or oyster omelette in an elegant, family friendly setting.
No. 112 Zhong Xiao E Road, Sec 4, 2FL, (02) 2752-9299
No. 34-1, ShuangCheng St, (02) 2596-3255
No. 12, NanJing West Road, 8F, (02) 2523-6757
Shinyeh 101 at No. 45, Shifu Road, 85 FL (02) 8101-0185

Favorite Chinese Restaurant- KIKI
WIth authentic Sichuan spiciness, Kiki wins with its bold flavors. It looks like they have added locations since I first went there over five years ago before I started the blog, so it looks like I'm due for another visit.
No. 47, Lane 280, GuangFu S. Road,1F, (02) 2781-4357 / 2781-4250;
No. 396, XinYi Road, Sec. 4, (02) 2700-2777;
No. 51, DongFeng St, (02) 2709-9078;
No. 28, FuXing S. Road, Sec. 1, (02) 2752-2781 / 2752-2791;

Best Sushi/Sashimi- SUSHI EXPRESS
Sushi Express adds a little fun to catching your 'fish'- customers choose from a parade of sushi plates whizzing by on a conveyor belt. I admit I was slightly surprised to see this as the winner, but with multiple locations and plates as low as NT$30, you can create your own omasake without the usual damage to the wallet. I've never been, so I'll have to try it out.
About 30 locations all over Taipei, addresses at

Best French- SAVEURS
I can't keep this place a secret anymore, since Saveurs is the winner of Best French Restaurant in Taipei. Saveurs offers a rustic French lunch set, which is a steal at NT$400, with a soup, salad, main dish and dessert, made by chef Patrick Cabirol. The lamb shank and warm chocolate moelleux will make you want to come back for more with friends.
No. 14, Lane 219, Fuxing S. Rd, Sec 1, (02) 2751-0185

Huge family style sized salads, pastas, pizzas and desserts are meant to be shared at Macaroni Grill, and though it's a little more than what we'd pay in the states, there's nowhere else in town you'd get table side opera with your bruschetta and eggplant parmesan.
at Neo 19, 30 Sung Shou Road, (02) 2722-4567;

Best Indian- SAFFRON
Once you try Saffron, you'll realize that not all Indian curries are made the same. Offering a a wide variety of Indian fare in an upscale setting, Saffron's fragrant dishes are rich without being greasy and you can watch the chef making the naan to order in the front window.
No. 38-6, TianMu E Rd, (02) 2871-4842

Best Mexican/Latin/Spanish-EDDY's CANTINA
Located all the way out in Danshui, Eddy's Cantina gives readers a reason to make the day trip- such as baked enchiladas topped with cheese and carnitas with freshly made tortillas. All the recipes used at Eddy's Cantina come from the owner's Mexican family to satisfy those craving "real Mexican food" in Taiwan, and frozen deliveries are available throughout Taiwan.
No. 151-1, Zhong Shan Road, Danshui, (02) 2628-2638

Favorite Thai Restaurant- THAI TOWN
Thai Town makes it easy to like them- lots of locations, offering upscale casual dining, good service, and consistently delicious Thai food. Choose your favorites from the menu (I love their chicken curry with Thai white rice) or get their pre-combined set menus of their most popular dishes.

No. 49 Ren Ai Road, Sec 2, (02) 2351-0960
No. 15 Nanjing W. Road, (02)2542-7277
No. 133 Anhe Road, Sec 2, (02) 2735-9638
No. 9 Song Shou Road, at Xin Yi Shin Kong Mitsukoshi, A9, 7th FL, (02) 2723-9987
No. 116 Tien Mu West Road, (02) 2826-4852
No. 68 Tien Mu East Road, at Tianmu Shin Kong Mitsukoshi, Building A, 7th FL, (02) 2873-6680
No. 22 Jingye 3rd Road, 2nd FL, at Miramar Mall, Dazhi, (02) 2175-3355
No. 128, Beishing Road, Sec 2, 2FL, XIndian, (02) 8913-5153
No. 65 Wen Hua Road, Sec 1, Banqiao, (02) 8965-1155
No. 659 Zhong Zheng Road, Yonghe, (02) 8231-1257
No. 122 Zhong Shan Road, Sec 1, Zhonghe, (02) 7731-7778
No. 95 Jengyi North Road, Sanchung, (02) 2989-8088

Favorite Vietnamese Restaurant- YUE YUAN PHO
If you've never had a Vietnamese sandwich, you need to run to Yue Yuan Pho, which created the perfect combination of toasted french baguette, grilled chicken, pickled carrots and radishes and special sauce. Waiters wearing bright purple shirts that state "Good Pho You" bring food to the table that lives up to their slogan.
No. 12, Lane 155, Dun Hua N. Road, (02)2718-0660;
No. 8, Ln 103, Dunhua S Rd, Sec 2,(02) 2701-2523;
Yue Yuan Pho's Facebook page

Favorite Korean Restaurant- HAPPY KOREAN
One of the only places in Taipei that I've found to have delicious cold noodles in soup just like I had in Korea, Happy Korean delivers very affordable and authentic Korean food. Lunch time specials offer discounts off of already low prices off of dishes like the bulgogi beef bowl, and there's even a small play area for kids.
No. 1, Lane 99, Xin Yi Road, Sec 3, (02) 2703-9237

Favorite American/Western- CHILI's and TGIF (tie)
Chili's and TGIF look, feel and taste just like they do in the US- big portions, a dizzying menu of food and cocktails to choose from, and a family friendly atmosphere that can seat all of your large group needs (ie all your relatives/co-workers/baby shower/birthday guests). Tied for winner of Favorite American/Western, Chili's and TGIF are often your best bet to find Tex-Mex, ribs, macaroni and cheese, or sweet-enough-desserts in Taipei.

CHILI's at Neo 19 Building- No. 22, Sung Shou Road, 2F, (02) 2345-8838;
Tianmu Mituskoshi- No. 200, ZhongZhen Rd., section 2, 2FL, (02) 2875-4838

No. 94 Chungching S Rd, Sec 1, (02) 2389-3579
No. 2, Lane 49, Zhong Xiao E Rd, Sec 4, (02) 2711-3579
XImen- No. 72, Wuchang St, 2FL (02) 2388-0679
No. 150, Dunhua N. Rd, (02) 2713-3579
Xinyi/World Trade Center- No. 7, Keelung Rd, Sec 2, (02) 2345-2789
Miramar Mall- No. 22, Jingye 3rd Road, 2FL,
No. 297, Zhong Xiao E. Road, Section 5, 2FL (02) 2528-3579
Global Mall- No. 122, Zhongshan Road, Zhonghe, 4FL (02) 2225-3578

Favorite Ramen-AKASAKA RAMEN
Sometimes a bowl of noodles is the best comfort food, and if ramen is your noodle of choice, then Akasaka Ramen offers over 15 different kinds to choose from, including swirls of char siu, braised pork, kimchi, corn or soft boiled eggs. Or see if their award-winning TV Champion ramen bowl lives up to its name.
No. 49 Hanzhong Street, 2nd Floor, 02-2381-0829
No. 140 Nanking East Road, Section 1, No. 2 F 02-2567-6373
No. 4 122-1 Chung Hsiao E. Road, Taipei, 2nd Floor 02-2752-0786
No. 147 Bade Road, Sec 02-2747-7737
No. 96 Chongqing South Road, Taipei, No. 2 F 02-2370-7396
No. 52 Xinglong Road 02-2932-3504

Favorite Beef Noodle Soup- YONG KANG NIU ROU MIAN
Voted the dish you miss most while you aren't in Taiwan, beef noodle soup is a must try for new and returning visitors alike. Everyone has their favorite beef noodle soup place, and voters chose Yong Kang Niu Rou Mian over last year's winner Lao Zhang. Whether you get the braised beef noodle soup or clear broth noodle soup, be sure to add some of the sweet, pickled vegetables and order the steamed pork and yams.
No. 17, Lane 31, Jinshan S. Rd., Sec.2, (02)2351-1051

Chao Ping Ji makes traditional dim sum fried and steamed to perfection, as well as offering a few unique spins on dim sum like the Sauteed Rice Roll with XO Chili Sauce and a full menu with Chao Chow specialties.
No. 172, ZhongXiao E Rd, Sec 4, 2F, (02) 2772-2687,

Order some siu mau, cha siu bao and har gow to your heart's delight as Brother Hotel has an array of carted dim sum favorites. Even with two floors of tables, prepare for a wait on the weekend without a reservation.
No. 255 Nanjing East Road, Sec. 3, 2F/3F, (02)2712-3456,

Favorite Hamburger- CALIFORNIA GRILL
Winner second year in a row. Since opening its second branch behind Dun Hua Sogo, California Grill has captured new customers and established itself as the best hamburger in Taipei among quite a lot of competitors. Offering a "So-cal" or Southern California spin on its burgers (beef, chicken, salmon or even tofu) and salads, once you try their lunch special you might be hooked.
53-1 Yong Kang St., (02) 2343 5111
No. 1, Lane 238, Dun Hua S Road, Sec. 1, (02) 8771-9423;

Winner second year in a row. If there was gourmet shabu shabu, Orange Shabu Shabu would be it. Offering luxe meats and seafood like prime rib beef or emperor crab for the customized copper hotpots, Orange also offers sashimi and cooked seafood dishes in a romantic ambiance.
No. 135, Da An Road, Sec 1, B1, (02) 2776-1658;
29, RenAi Rd, Sec 4, 2 FL, (02) 2771-0181;

Favorite Pizza- ALLEYCATS
For the second year in a row, locally founded Alleycats wins votes with its stone oven baked pizzas, thin crusts and fresh toppings. One of my favorites is the "Napoletana" with fresh tomatoes, goat cheese, anchovies, olives and spinach (and I switch out the anchovies for mushrooms).
No. 6, Li Shui Street, B1, (02) 2321-8948
No. 285, Song Ren Rd, (02) 8780-5421;
Da An- No. 2, Lane 248, Zhong Xiao E Road, Sec 4, (02) 2731-5225;
Tien Mu- No. 31, Lane 35, Zhongshan N. Rd Sec. 6 , (02) 2835-6491;
Nei Hu- No. 67-1 Cheng Gong Road, Section, 5, (02)2630-6278;
Xi Men- No. 49, Alley 10, Cheng Du, 2FL, (02) 2370-8858;

I've been hearing a lot about A-Cut for years when I asked about the best steak in Taipei, and it seems that the readers agree. Also chosen by Taipei Times as one of the staff's favorite restaurants of 2007.
at the Ambassador Taipei Hotel, No. 63, ZhongShan N Rd, Sec 2, B1 (02) 2571-0389;

Best Vegetarian- YU SHAN GE
If you think vegetarian, you might think salad bar or tofu burger, but Yu Shan Ge elevates the vegetarian dining experience to an entirely different level. The presentation of the set menus are delicate and stylized, and the meal is an adventure into new flavors and foods.
No. 14, BeiPing E. Road, (02) 2394-5155;

Best Desserts, Best Frozen Yogurt- YOFROYO
Taipei has finally caught up to the frozen yogurt craze, and Yofroyo leads the pack. A rainbow of flavors to choose from, with fresh fruit, mochi and sweet toppings served up in a satisfying size, all for under NT$60. Open late, so you can go for a late night snack and then browse the alleys of the Shida night market.
at Shida Night Market, No.9, Ln.59, Shida Rd., (02))2365-0188;

Best Ice Cream- MOVENPICK
Everyone has their favorite ice cream flavor and mine might be the mint chocolate chip from Movenpick. Drool!
No. 12-1, QingCheng St, (02) 2546-7126;
Breeze Center (02) 8772-5457;
DaZhi- Miramar Mall, 3rd FL at 22 Jing Ye 3rd Road, (02) 21753608;
Banqiao- Far Eastern Dept Store, 13 FL (02) 29568291;
Kung Kuan MRT Station, (02) 2362-0906 ;
Taipei 101 B1 (02) 8101-8525 and 89th FL (02) 8101-0156 ;
Xin Yi Shin Kong Mitsukoshi, A4, B2 (02) 2723-6030

Best Shaved Ice- ICE MONSTER
Sadly, repeat winner Ice Monster closed a few months ago after years of popularity on Yong Kang St. It'll be difficult to find an equal substitute for Ice Monster's monster mango ice- piles of mango topped with a snowball of mango sherbert sitting upon a mountain of shaved ice.
No. 15, Yong Kang Street, (02) 2394-8279;

Best Coffee/Tea Shop- STARBUCKS
With 95 locations across Taipei, it's no wonder Starbucks won "Best coffee/tea shop" with its familiar green signs and menu of lattes, frappucinos, and my favorite, their chocolate chip muffin. The sofas and stools to lounge on don't hurt either.
Find locations at though addresses are only in Chinese


There are so many good bakeries in town, it's hard to choose one, but this year Flavorfield got the most votes for its Japanese style European fresh breads, pastries and sandwiches.
at 101, No. 45, Shifu Road, B1; at Fuxing Sogo, No.300, Zhong Xiao E. Rd., Sec. 3

Food you guys miss most when you are not in Taipei- Beef Noodle Soup
Food that you want brought to Taipei- good Mexican food (me too!)
Favorite restaurant that needs to open a branch in Taipei- Cheesecake Factory and In and Out

Whew! That was a mouthful! We'll do this again at the end of 2010! If you like the list, hope you will leave a comment below!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

snapshot/bakery: i recommend IJY Sheng Bakery

53 Shida Road



Kid friendliness: just make sure they don't touch everything

Visit reviewed: 3/6/2010

After passing by this bakery so many times near the Shida night market (on the way to Yofroyo), I finally got a chance to try it.

Windows full of breads and cakes, my first pick was my favorite- a huge bun swirled with sticky brown sugar. Slightly crispy on the outside, tear apart soft on the inside, the swirled brown sugar is almost gummy, like thin mochi. You must eat the breads the same day, since they never seem as good the next morning. I also preferred the oversized bread to the brown sugar croissants, which didn't have the same gooey texture inside.

I didn't get a chance to try any of the cakes or desserts, but I'll be back!

Monday, March 22, 2010

breakfast/taiwanese: i strongly recommend YONG HE DOU JIANG DA WANG

102 Fuxing South Road, Sec. 2
(02) 2703-5051

hours: 24 hours/7 days a week

$ (Cash only)

Kid friendliness: no high chairs

Visit reviewed: 3/5/2010

If you're visiting Taipei, you must try the Chinese breakfast experience at least once, and I'd definitely recommend that you try it here. I've been slow to try out Yonghe Dou Jiang Da Wang, despite hearing raves about it for awhile, thinking all Yonghe Dou Jiangs would be about the same. But I was wrong. It is definitely the "King" like it's name.

And what makes it better than the rest?

Perfectly hot and crispy you tiou, soft on the inside. At some places, the you tiao feels a bit stale, but here, it tastes like it just came from a vat of bubbling oil. Even after it's cooled in the plastic bag when you get it to go, it's still retained a satisfying crunch.

You know that everything is fresh, as there is a mini-army of hands rolling out dough, cutting out strips to make new "sou bing" or the bowls of baby shrimp, scallions and pickled vegetables to be stirred into a bowl of salty soy milk.

And you seriously cannot beat the prices- you can feed 2 people for about NT$100, or gorge yourself for less than the price of a McBreakfast. You have the option to mix and match items to your stomach's desire. Put egg, pork floss or a sticky rice roll in the sou bing, or put you tiao, sticky rice roll or pork floss in a dan bing. You can even put fried turnip cake in an egg, or egg in a man tou.

Other items on the Chinese only menu include fat, handmade xiao long bao or steamed dumplings, or sticky rice roll (fan tuan).

On my first visit, I got a trio of items, a sou bing you tiao, which is like a carbilicious breakfast sandwich- an airy and flaky flatbread to envelope the crispy "fried chinese cruller" (NT$30), a dan bing (NT$20) which is an scrambled egg in a thin crepe like wrapper, and a warm soy milk (NT$20) or dou jiang.

On my second visit, I got just a you tiao(NT$15) and a salty soy milk (NT$25) which is more like a breakfast tofu stew with chunks of soft coagulated soy milk, with bits of dried baby shrimp, pickled vegetables and diced you tiao which give it a wonderful milky, salty flavor.

The portion was quite huge and I was too full to eat lunch after finishing this huge bowl, so I'm sure it's enough to share. The mini shrimp with miniature black eyes freaked me out a little bit, but I tried to enjoy it as it was meant to be. But if you're the type to avoid eyes in your breakfast, then I'm sure you can ask that they leave it out.

can you spot the eyes? and would that bother you?

Salty soy milk isn't for everyone- the appearance and texture can be unappetizing to the uninitiated- I only first tried it last year. Instead first timers should try the sweet cold soy milk. If you like it less sweet, you can get warm or hot soy milk.

I found that the you tiao seem more lithe than the ones from other places, but perhaps that's how they get it the right combination of crispy and soft.

I got my items to go, but if you eat it there, be sure to take advantage of the soy, vinegar, and chili sauces available, and enjoy the immediate satisfaction of eating theyou tiao hot. The space looks and feels like it's been there forever, but it's clean and a place to eat and go.

View Larger Map

Thursday, March 18, 2010

brunch/western: i recommend WeiB

No. 6, Lane 71, An Ho Road, Sec. 2

MRT: Daan

website: mostly Chinese (Menu has English)

hours: Lunch: 11:30 AM ~ 2:30 PM; Dinner: 6:00 PM ~ 10:00 PM
Afternoon tea available by advance reservation
Saturday & Sunday: Brunch: 11:00 AM ~ 4:00 PM; Dinner: 6:00 PM ~ 10:00 PM


Kid friendliness: high chairs available

Visit reviewed: 11/14/2009

With all the Western restaurants in town, it really is hard to figure out which ones are good and which ones aren't unless you actually sit down and have a meal there. Some are local restaurants masquerading as Western fare and some are Western chains that have menus identical to their counterparts on the other side of the world. But more and more, there are quite a few little spots that surprise me, that can deliver a table full of solidly good and interesting food.

My aunt picked WeiB for a Sunday brunch with my parents before my dad was headed back to LA. It was fairly empty when we got there, though it is quite spacious with different seating areas. The decor is clean, but elegant- the kind of place that is perfect for meeting your relatives for brunch. Their website notes that the name of the restaurant is ""WeiB" (pronounced weiss) is German for white, and an expression of a unique German restaurant and wine bar featuring German white wines. The owner fell in love with the richness of German white wines after visiting a winery there and wanted to bring them to Taiwan.

The brunch menu was more lunch than breakfast, ranging from NT$280 to NT$650 for the prime steak reuben sandwich. I ordered the lone breakfast item- the Smoked Pork Loin with Honey Clove and Eggs Benedict in Horseradish Sour Cream (NT$380).

I joined them a little late, so they had already ordered all their food. But it made it perfect for tasting before my food came. All the pasta was al dente and the meats were perfectly seasoned and grilled. WeiB specializes in gourmet Western and German food, so their brunch menu also included Crispy Pork Knuckle (NT$360) and Roasted USDA Prime Rib Eye (NT$600).

Crisp chicken leg with spaghetti in tomato sauce (NT$360)

Orecchiette with Fish and Pernod (NT$280)

My mom really liked her Focaccia Sandwich with Seasoned King Oyster Mushrooms, and she could only finish half the sandwich. Being vegetarian, she doesn't usually have a lot of options and has had her share of grilled portobello sandwiches, so this was a welcome variation for her. I think they were out of focaccia that day, as the sandwich came with rye bread instead.

The Pumpkin Risotto with Shrimp and Pistachio (NT$360) was creamy and rich, and I wanted to have more than my sample bite.

While I was waiting for my food, they brought over the brunch appetizers- a few veggie sticks and your choice of orange juice or milk.

Not too long afterwards, my plate came. I was a little disappointed to see only one egg when usually eggs benedict come in a pair, and underneath the egg benedict was a toast cut in a shape of a circle rather than an English muffin. But the crisp roasted potatoes and candied orange slice made up for it. Luckily, I had eaten a bit off everyone else's plates.

Their lunch and dinner menu includes a range of appetizers, salads, soups, grilled meats, seafood, pastas/rice and desserts in the NT$180-NT$900 range, with combo sets available from NT$1380 up. If I ate there again, I think I'd like to also try some of their house Rieslings, as it's a sweeter white wine.

There will be quite a few more brunch and breakfast places in my upcoming posts, both Western and Chinese, so be sure to let me know which ones are your favorites.

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