Wednesday, April 30, 2014

snapshot/japanese: i still recommend COLD UDON at FU YU WU

富玉屋 讚歧烏龍麵 
No. 14, Lane 83, DaAn Rd, Sec. 1 

MRT: ZhongXiao/DunHua

$$ Cash only  (about NT$300+ per person)

Snapshot review: 4/3/2014
Previous review: 10/2012

After my first few visits to Fu Wu Yu Sanuki Udon, I ended up falling in love with a cold tomato udon that was their specialty there. It was a unique and refreshing bowl. Unfortunately it's gone missing from their menu for the past year or so, on my past few visits (maybe the original chef is gone, or maybe it's only available during the summer?).

So instead I've ended up getting another cold udon on their menu, the Tempura cold udon (NT$340) which comes with julienned cucumber, seaweed, bonito flakes, a soft boiled egg, crunchy tempura bits, dashi broth and two tempura fried shrimp and fishcake. The hot shrimps and fishcake make it more filling than the usual salad cold noodles, 

And though this is no longer part of a set (no appetizer, no dessert), you can add refills of the QQ udon noodles for free! 

Monday, April 28, 2014

japanese/sashimi: SUNFLOWER KAISEKI (SHAN HUA)

No.9-2, Jianguo N. Rd., Sec. 2, 
(02) 8978-5000

MRT: Nanjing East Road

website: Shan Hua's FB page

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

kid friendliness:

The moment you step into Sunflower Kaiseki, there is a warm, golden glow. in the large dining space which uses mostly natural wood and golden accents in its interior. The restaurant used to be home to the shuttered Canoviano and has impressively high ceilings in the main dining area and open kitchen, with some private rooms on the second floor. Don't confuse this Shan Hua (opened in fall of 2013) with another Shan Hua Japanese restaurant in town, the other a sushi bar. 

Diners can sit at the sushi bar to observe the action or sit in one of the partitioned sections. 

Kaiseki style dining is almost like a ritual- with elaborate multi course meal that traditionally includes components of appetizer, sashimi, a simmered dish, a grilled dish and a steamed dish. It's a popular style of dining in Taipei as customers feel getting the "set course" is the best value. Sunflower Kaiseki is definitely on the pricier side- sets start from NT$1200 and go up to NT$3500- and portions are on the refined side. Unfortunately the menu was only in Chinese, so my hosts did the ordering, but the seven course menu changes seasonally to use the freshest ingredients.

Complimentary pickled cucumbers and radish

The first course was like a garden of delicate amuse bouches, almost too pretty to eat. 

Loved the sweet fresh crab meat with jellyfish underneath

This was sea cucumber, which I was reluctant to try since I don't usually like the soft jelly-like texture, but these surprised me with a crunchy snap that I enjoyed.

Sashimi course

Fried burdock gobo root chips

Fish bone crackers- I actually ate quite a few of these hone senbei waiting for our next course. Supposedly very good for you as they are high in calcium, and very crunchy and salty and addictive.

Tableside shabu shabu 

You know me, I wanted more than a few slices! But the slices I got were ultra tender, served a bit pink in the middle.

Sesame ice cream so nutty it almost tasted like peanut butter. Yum.

This kind of restaurant is great for people who are not creatures of habit. The menu and courses are varied and changing- even when you look at the various Chinese food blogs that have posted about Sunflower Kaiseki already, no two meals look exactly the same. You could experience and taste something new each visit. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

bakery/french: i recommend LALOS BAKERY

No. 91 AnHe Road, Sec. 1
(02) 2755-5968

MRT: ZhongXiao/DunHua or XinYi/AnHe

Hours: 11AM -7PM


Kid friendliness: lots of breads and sweets. small seating area

Visit reviewed: 1/2014 & 3/5/2014

What sets apart Lalos Bakery from all the corner shop bakeries you spot in Taipei? Award winning baker Frederic Lalos-  the youngest chef to have won the “Meilleur Ouvrier de France or M.O.F.” (Best French Baker) in 1997 and Baker of the Year in 2010. He's opened a number of bakeries in France, which supplies top restaurants in Paris, and now has two shops in Taipei.

If you try one bread from Lalos Bakery, get the honey lemon bread (NT$85) or the Miel Citron Confit. I fell in love with it at STAY and again when I picked it up from the new branch shop on Anhe Road. You don't even need jam with the pops of lemon peel flavor in the chewy honeyed bread. I love tearing apart and gnawing on the crust, which is crispy but not too hard.

There's a lot of tempting selection in the store, but after trying different types of breads, the honey lemon bread remains my favorite, while others weren't as memorable. 

The flaky and yummy Pain au Chocolat (NT$60) is another thing I would pick up again.

I wanted to love the caramel almond brioche rolls, but they were not sweet enough for my American tastebuds. Same with their baked apple tart that usually sits near the cash register. 

Always want to try some of their desserts, but always end up resisting. Anyone have a favorite they can recommend? 


Taipei 101 No. 45 ShiFu Rd, B1
(02) 8101-8355

Monday, April 14, 2014

CLOSED/dessert/french: i strongly recommend LADUREE

LADUREE 法國百年馬卡龍
Xinyi Mitsukoshi A9
新光三越 信義A9
No. 9 Song Shou Road
(02) 2722-8918

we will have to go to paris for laduree now. the lines were crazy at first and then after they died down, we couldn't keep laduree for long.

MRT: ZhongXiao/FuXing


hours: 11AM- 9:30PM

$$$ (NT$98 for one small macaron)

Kid friendliness: kids might want a colorful confection too, but will eat it quicker than you can say NT$100

Visit reviewed: 10/21/2013 &11/13/2013

Two words- Salted caramel. If you were to get just one macaron from one of the two Laduree shops now in Taipei, go for the salted caramel. Of course, it's not as colorful as strawberry, pistachio, rose or lemon, but it's always my favorite. 

When Laduree first opened up shop in Taipei at Breeze Center, my friend messaged me while waiting in a 2 hour line asking if I wanted a box. Everyone wanted a little piece of the famous French macaron, especially to gifts. "YES! Get me salted caramel!" I messaged back. And when he messaged me again that the person in front of him had just taken the last few, I was disappointed, until he wrote back a minute later that they had located a new batch in the back and so I'd have some by the end of the day.

But nowadays, you can walk up to the shop without a wait. This is a peek at the first floor shop at Xinyi Mitsukoshi. It's kind of weird because it's located where the makeup counters usually are, but is a good spot for luring customers who shop (or Instagram) in the high end mall. Squint your eyes at the mint green counter display with macaron trees and rows of macarons to pretend that you are buying them in Paris instead of Taipei (or wander upstairs to Paul for some napoleons and crepes. Haha!)

For first time Laduree macaron buyers, when you are at the counter, you should take a look at the color coded macaron chart as well as the boxes pricing list. Macarons are NT$98 per piece, but the price goes slightly up if you choose a gift box. It's definitely not cheap for such tiny pieces of sugar, but they are air shipped all the way from France. You could get a box of 12 Krispy Kremes for the prices of 3 macarons, but it depends on what your cravings are. 

There's the typical flavors like chocolate, coffee, lemon, vanilla, pistachio, raspberry, rose, and more unusual flavors like gingerbread, marshmallow strawberry candy, orange blossom, blackcurrant violet or pink pepper. 

The most expensive box is listed at NT$6860 for a 70 piece box (around US$230)! Crazy.

When buying the macarons, they'll usually ask if you are giving it as a gift or not. If you say yes, they'll encourage you get get a gift box which can extra, depending on which box you select. You can also get the free box (especially if it's for yourself), but you need to get a box of 8 (NT$784). The complimentary green box is more thin and flimsy than the gift boxes but works perfectly fine to carry them home. It's about the same cost as the box of six in the fancy box,  but you only get six macarons instead of eight. (And pay NT$130 per macarons instead of NT$98. That's the Asian frugal part of me calculating). I've had friends who didn't know so they thought they had to get the fancy box so their macarons wouldn't get smashed on the way home, and got shorted a couple of bites.

If you're giving it as a gift, then there are lots of different beautiful boxes to choose from, and the cost will go up a bit and they charge different prices for different boxes. If you are just getting one or two to taste, then they will put it in a paper bag, so it's best to eat it right away. If you don't eat your macarons within a few days, you can put it in the fridge, or even better in the freezer to put them in "hibernation" until you are ready to eat them.

Previously, my first and only time tasting Laduree macarons was when I received them as a gift from a friend that visited Paris- in a Hello Kitty box no less! In the US, the only shops are in New York, and in Asia, there are shops in Tokyo, Nagoya, Hong Kong, Seoul, Bangkok, Singapore, and now Taipei and Taichung. So those of you visiting from LA might even find yourself taking some home instead of pineapple cakes.

My other favorite place in Taipei to get macarons for their flavors and adorable packaging is Patisserie La Douceur, but they stopped making a lot of my favorite flavors like wasabi and balsamic vinegar. Maybe one day I'll have a salted caramel macaron taste test from all the shops around Taipei. Haha!

Even Laduree jams, chocolates and souvenirs are available. 

These pink and silver boxes of six were gifts to me. Actually for awhile, I was getting macarons from a number of friends! Thanks to my dear friends J & C, G and Vs for the sweets. It's a splurge for the treat, but costs about the same as the other macarons in town, so it's a fair price to pay for one of the best macarons in Taipei, if not the world.  


at Breeze Center 微風廣場
No. 39 FuXing S. Road, Sec. 1
(02) 8772-4409