Monday, March 26, 2012

thai: i recommend RAMA THAI

at ATT4Fun
No. 12, Song Shou Rd., 10 FL 台北市信義區松壽路12號10樓
(02) 7737-9998

MRT: Taipei City Hall

website: Rama Thai's FB page

hours: 10AM- 1 AM

$$ - $$$ (about NT$640/person)

Kid friendliness: high chairs available, spacious with private rooms

Visit reviewed: 1/13/2012

Been trying a lot of new Thai places lately, not sure why... maybe because it's good for larger groups and with the colder weather, we feel like something spicy to feel the heat. The more Thai restaurants and dishes I try, the more I find that Thai cuisine is actually quite varied, but I also appreciate the places that do the classics well.

Rama Thai is a new-ish luxe Thai restaurant on the top floor of ATT4Fun, with a wall of window and balcony seating with a panoramic view of 101.  There is also an outdoor patio bar that opens up during the summer and swimming pool at the entrance. Opened by the owners of Brown Sugar and Dozo, they bring the same cool vibe and modern design to Rama Thai.


Rama's decor is quite striking with the wood detail in the ceiling and walls- I felt like I was some Southeast Asian luxury resort the first time I stepped inside. I also like how you can see the whole room with open space that doesn't feel too crowded, and it's nice that their private rooms also don't feel too claustrophobic, with some that open up to a private balcony.

The balcony seating wasn't opened up during the rainy winter season, but I can imagine it being a fun place to hang out when the sun comes back around to Taipei.

When I went in January 2012, the menu was only in Chinese with no photos, but I was told an English version was coming soon. So my friend who chose Rama Thai as our lunch spot ordered for us. We settled on some pad thai, a yellow chicken curry, satay and spicy beef dish. My friend mentioned she had tried and surprised herself by liking the frog leg curry, but I wasn't going to be that adventurous.

pad thai
I thought all the food was very good (except the curry which I didn't like), just slightly pricey for the portions for certain dishes, like the satay (NT$380). Many of the things they've imported from Thailand, so some might be able to taste the difference. For four dishes for three people, we ended up paying about NT$640 a person. 

chicken and beef satay

stir fried spicy beef

The stir fried spicy beef (NT$380) was our favorite, with us even waving down the waiter to get some Thai rice to go with it. He brought over a huge basket to our table and ladled a bowl sized scoop of rice onto our plate. You can also put the beef in the lettuce to make a wrap, but there weren't enough lettuce leafs to finish off the beef.

The chicken yellow curry was too creamy, if that's possible, making it quite heavy. I'd try a different curry in the future to see if it would have a better result.

yellow curry with chicken
Rama Thai also has an extensive drink menu and bar, and is open quite late until 3AM on certain days. However, the chef isn't there during after dinner hours, so only drinks are available- there wasn't even a snack menu available when I went once around 11 PM. After some cajoling with the waiter, he busted out some non-complimentary shrimp chips.

I'm curious to see what else is available on their menu, so I can try some of the other dishes- hopefully the English version gets printed up soon!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

snapshot: pon de lion donuts at MISTER DONUT

New cuteness at Mister Donut! Pretty brilliant taking the already popular pon de ring donut, the pon de lion mascot that has the same donut as its mane and bringing it to life, making it into dollar signs   tasty goodness. It's even cuter than the bear donuts last year.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

hotpot/chinese: i strongly recommend WEI LU

WEI LU 圍爐酸菜白肉火鍋
No. 35, Alley 4, Lane 345, Ren Ai Road
(02) 2752-9439

MRT: ZhongXiao/DunHua

hours: 11:30 AM - 2 PM; 5:30 PM - 9:30 PM

$$ (around NT$400-500/person)

Kid friendliness: family style hotpot

Visit reviewed: 1/16/2012

Hotpot seems like such an easy thing to make at home, why eat it at a restaurant? When the hotpot base is a lot more than plain water, like at Wei Lu where it's full of sour, shredded cabbage (or hsuan tsai) and pork even before you order, and there are special side dishes like sweet red bean pancake dessert and flaky sesame bun sandwiches.

Wei Lu's decor and food is more old school Chinese than the zen Japanese shabu shabu places that have been popping up. 

Order extra meat to swish around the hotpot.

The distinctive pot with a tall chimney in the center works like an upside down funnel for the smoke. There are different size pots and pricing for different size parties. For a 2-3 person hotpot NT$580, 4-6 people $980 and 7 or more people $1400- essentially paying for the pork and cabbage soup base and free refills.

Be sure to browse the sauces and condiments, which include chopped green onions, minced garlic, cilantro, chili sauce, vinegar, peanut sauce and even sugar. I always am unsure of what to do especially when things are not labeled, so I just followed what my friends did (or ask the waitstaff).

If you order their lunch set (which we did), it also comes with a sesame bun hand stuffed with a moo shu type pork and cabbage, which is like an oversized sao bing sandwich.

Wei Lu's hotpot is quite hearty and the sour cabbage has a distinctive flavor for anyone that likes vegetable stew.

The dessert set also comes with red bean sesame pancake and mochi.

Yum, save room for dessert.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

event: BRAHMS and CO. at W TAIPEI

10 ZhongXiao E. Rd, Sec. 5, 31 FL
Reservation line (02) 7708-8887

MRT: Taipei City Hall

$$$ (NT$2000/person)

If you've ever wanted to hear sweet nothings mummured in French with some live trumpeting and DJ'ing, then check out Brahms and Co at the W Taipei, with special set fusion menus offered at Yen. I got the chance to check it out and enjoyed the tasting, ambiance and the company. Dress up, put on the sparkly heels and feel like a part of the cool kids. 

The last night of the limited event is tonight March 17th at 8PM.

Yen appetizer combo- boxer chicken, crispy soft shell crab and otah scallop

baked snowfish, leatherwood honey soy dressing
I enjoyed the egg white "rice" which I thought was polenta or couscous, but it was a pool of tiny pebbles of creamy egg white which left me wondering, how did they make this. The fish was tender and sweet from the honey soy dressing.

I really dug the presentation of the grilled Kurobata pork  and the sweet and spicy mix of the Thai chili sauce. I wanted to sneak the sauce and the adorable mini ceramic crock pot home. I was surprised that this type of food was coming out of Yen, and I was told that the chef was originally from Singapore and I could definitely taste the subtle expertise.

grilled kurobata pork, jaew dipping sauce and glutinous rice

The slight awkwardness of the plating of the dessert made me giggle, with the non edible chocolate clef pushing all the mousses to the side, but I got over it once I tasted the bite sized Guanaja chocolate and passionfruit, white chocolate and raspberry desserts. I'm usually not a fan of mousses, but these had the firmer texture like flavored cheesecakes.

With the swanky lounge bar atmosphere and flowing bubbly, it felt a little bit like New Year's Eve instead of an ordinary weeknight in Taipei.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

revisited/thai: i strongly recommend VERY THAI

No. 319 Fuxing N. Rd 台北市復興北路319號
(02) 2546-6745

MRT: ZhongShan Jr. High School


hours: 11:30AM - 3PM; 5:30PM - 1:30AM


Kid friendliness: high chairs and kids dinnerware available

Visit reviewed: 3/9/2012
Past review: 11/5/2010 at Neo 19 branch

moon shrimp pancake

Last Friday, after watching the film A SIMPLE LIFE (which totally deserved the awards for best director, best actor (my mom's favorite, Andy Lau) and best actress. Go see it, it has subtitles!), a group of the 20 of us were trying to figure out where to go for a post movie dinner where we could all sit together. Late night and large group- where to go? After vetoing the mall restaurants at QSquare and brainstorming, someone reserved two tables for us at Very Thai and off we went.

The Fuxing location as modern and sleek as its Neo 19 location that I visited two years ago, and is open until 1:30AM for the late night diners. Quite a few of my friends ordered drinks and I heard their mojitos are also quite good. The appetizer menu has a lot of options for late night munchies, and when you order, be sure to let them know what your spiciness tolerance is or look for the chili peppers on the menu if they don't ask.

fried kon ching tsai greens with shrimp paste
Maybe it's dining with lots of friends and being able to taste a little bit of everything or maybe my friends knew what to order... but my experience this time was much more satisfying and I could see why voters chose it as their favorite Thai restaurant in this year's Readers' Choice Awards.

grilled pork with thai dipping sauce
The appetizers are great for sharing with good portions, and the slightly sweet grilled pork with Thai dipping sauce was one of my favorites. Tender slices of pork, enhanced by the dual sauces.

The Thai style sausage was also popular at the table, but not my thing. I prefer the sweeter Taiwanese sausage. It's funny how they give you plastic gloves to assemble the lettuce around the sausage. Be sure to take off the chili pepper if you don't want the extra kick.

Thai style sausage

make someone at the table put it all together
The squid fried rice also disappeared quickly. Maybe we were all starving. It was a good pairing with the spicy stir fried beef and the green curry and chicken curry. If some of the things on the menu taste familiar, it's because Very Thai and Thai Town have the same owners.

spicy fried rice with squid NT$250
spicy beef stir fry
The deep fried oysters  were served on the half shell and on the lettuce. I rarely see the larger oysters being served in Taipei, so I gobbled it up while it was hot.

deep fried oysters with thai spicy sauce
Very Thai's coconut ice cream was milky and rich and I enjoyed every bite. I didn't like coconut when I was a kid though my mom loved coconut ice cream and I remember when she'd get coconut pineapple ice cream from Thrifty's, which I refused to try until I was in my 20s. This version was more creamy (and probably fattening) and flavor reminded me of those milk candies I had as a kid, and I'd definitely get it again.

coconut ice cream
Otherwise you could opt for the more traditional momo chacha, which is chewy, crunchy, icy and sweet.

mo mo cha cha
Usually I don't go back to a place if I don't love it, or if I do give it another chance, it's more of the same, but I'm glad that I got a chance to revisit Very Thai and try more of their house specialties and have some great food with great friends.

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at Neo 19, No. 22 SongRen Rd, 2F,
(02) 8789-6200

at Tianmu Sogo, No. 77, ZhongShan N Rd, Sec 6, 8F,
(02) 2831-0188

at Megacity, No. 28, XinZhan Rd, 9F, Banqiao
(02) 6637-0038;