Thursday, May 31, 2012

CLOSED! chinese: i strongly recommend HAPPY HONG KONG

at Neo 19, No.22, Song Shou Rd, 3FL 松壽路22號3樓
(02) 2720-0222

CLOSED! a/o 2013

MRT: Taipei City Hall

website: and FB page

hours: 11:30AM - 10PM


Kid friendliness: very kid friendly. high chairs and kids dinnerware available.

Visit reviewed: 3/25/2012 & 4/1/2012

When you end up at a place two weeks in a row, then you know that it's a crowd pleaser. Happy Hong Kong is a bustling diner with an extensive, surprising fusion menu. There's no shortage of Cantonese restaurants in Taipei, but with Happy Hong Kong's bright, roomy space and affordable prices, makes it very family friendly for repeat visits. If it wasn't for my friend's suggestion, I might not have ever made it to the third floor of Neo 19, since I usually end up at Momo Paradise or Chili's there.

The first time I went to Happy Hong Kong, I was overwhelmed by the almost 60 page menu- not only was there Chinese food, there was Italian pastas, Vietnamese pho, caesar salad, chargrilled steaks, beef curry, Singaporean vermicelli, risottos, honey toast, baked alaska, as well as fusion dishes like wontons in lobster bisque or chilled kale on ice with wasabi soy dip. Sometimes a restaurant with both Chinese and Western things on the menu is a bad sign that it won't do either well since it's trying to please everyone, but thankfully Happy Hong Kong passed the test.

Some of the menu items made me think WTF, but it's not a bad thing to be adventurous and try it out, especially if you have a large group. But if you want to stick to the classics, that's where the most successful dishes were. The must order dishes that ended up being the tables' favorites (and dishes we ordered everytime on following visits) were the Pineapple bun with honeyed bbq pork filling, which are baked to order and come warm with pocket of sweet char siu in the center. It's not bursting with bbq pork like the photo in the menu, but it will do.

and the Roasted crackling marbled pork (NT$240) with crispy skin

Cantonese seafood fried noodle (NT$320) with the crunchy noodles and gloopy sauce that I loved from my days at Berkeley and Sun Hong Kong. The meat and seafood tastes fresh and the sauce isn't too thick or salty, like at some restaurants I've tried where the toppings are cheap to keep the cost down.

Other good bets are the Hong Kong style wonton noodle in soup (NT$200)

chargrilled pork neck with lime and marmalade dip (NT$220)

Pineapple bun with butter (NT$60)

Since my first visit, I've been about 3 or 4 times and each time with a fairly large group of 10 or more people. What amazes me each time is speed of the kitchen and the competency of the waitstaff- there are enough waiters on their toes to service the extra large space and usually efficient and friendly, which is a plus. Also a plus, the first time I went, I asked for several things in English, like "napkins" and instead of getting a clueless look, the waiter understood and quickly brought some over. 

Lemonade with barley (NT$120)

On repeat visits, I had to try some of things that caught my eye, but while they were interesting, they weren't things I'd order again, like the Wontons in lobster bisque (NT$250) which was more like a creamy sauce rather than a bisque, and the flavors didn't play well together as I had imagined.

The Baked chinese cabbage with cheese sauce (NT$240) is alright.

If you can't decide what to get, you can combine and make a plate- we got the barbeque 3 items (NT$350) with honeyed bbq pork, roasted duckling and roast pork. But on repeat visits, we liked the roast pork the best and stuck to that- the bbq pork was a bit tough- it's better at Lao Yo Ji. Different sauces also come with each meat, we had to ask the server to figure out which was which since they didn't explain.

My friend's chose the Signature fried rice (NT$290) out of four different fried rices to choose from, but I like Happy Hong Kong's noodles better.

Pan fried turnip cake with XO sauce (NT$180) is a bit pricey for the portion, but tasty.

If you have relatives or friends who aren't feeling like Chinese food, they can order pasta like the Linguine with creamy mushroom and herbs (NT$ 260). It's big enough to share and not a bad plate of pasta.

Pan fried taro cake with preserved meats (NT$180) was a tad overfried.

We decided we wanted to try the Honey toast block with ice cream (NT$260). It comes to the table as a big block and the server cuts down one side to reveal the blocks inside. I was happy the toast had plenty of honey swirled through and carmelized up top. I thought this was moister and fluffier than Dazzling, but here there's only one variety.

or Hong Kong style custard tart (NT$60) were tasty. The crust wasn't flaky like at Parents, but the center was soft and custardy and served warm.

So the next time you can't decide if you want pasta, pho or pineapple buns, then head over to Happy Hong Kong where you can order all three in one place! Business lunch sets are also available.

Monday, May 28, 2012

thai: i recommend THAI MADE

THAI MADE 泰美泰國原始料理
(02) 2784-0303

MRT: Zhongxiao/Fuxing or DaAn

website: Thai Made FB page

hours: 11AM-2:30PM; 5:30PM-10PM


Kid friendliness: no high chairs spotted, but many non spicy items on the menu

Visit reviewed: 3/11/2012

Joined late to a dinner with my friends at the fairly new Thai Made on Dong Feng Street. It's a cute little space, on a lane with restaurants that have cute little spaces including the Citizen Cane turned Cubano turned Fourplay bar down the street. Good for date night or family dinners.

There's about twelve or so tables with an open kitchen along the side and a semi private room in the back. Fresh green coconuts and vegetables line the counter, and the aroma of stir fried chilis and spices sometimes permeate the air.

The menu is quite varied and expansive in English, Thai and Chinese, with curries, salads, soups, rice, noodles, stir-fries, vegetables, grilled meats and seafood.

One of Thai Made's signature dishes is a seafood red curry in whole coconut (NT$400). My friends had already almost finished it when I got there - it was sweet with a lot of bits of crab and chunky curry.

Thai hot and sour prawn soup (NT$350) 

Northern style grilled pork on skewers with peanut sauce

Northern style grilled aromatic beef (NT$280)

Everything tasted fresh and the right amounts of sour, spicy, sweet. I'd definitely go back to explore more of the menu, though I haven't had a chance to yet. I'd recommend going with a group of people so you could order more and share family style.