Monday, June 30, 2014

drinks/american: i recommend BEER & CHEESE SOCIAL HOUSE


No. 169, Jianguo S. Rd, Sec. 2
+886 916 549 373

MRT: DaAn Park Station or Technology Building Station

website: Beer and Cheese's FB

hours: 6PM - 1AM

$$-$$$ (about NT$500-700 per person)

Kid friendliness: it wouldn't surprise me as I've seen people with their kids at hotpot at midnight, but I'd say no kids at the bar please.

Visit reviewed: 4/9/2014

Does anyone else crave melty grilled cheese sandwiches late at night? Apparently it's not just me, as the genius founders of Beer and Cheese offer just that, along with a huge selection of craft beers from around the world. Just a few blocks away from the Taipei Main Library sits this small bar that's already become a buzzed about place to chill with friends, especially for those of us who don't "lounge bar" anymore.

Sitting inside Beer and Cheese, my friends from LA and I all agreed that we were transported away from Taipei to Silverlake (or fill in the blank of the hipster area in your city from the States). All the neighboring conversations were in English, the bartenders/servers spoke English and the decor was very cool. I was surprised to find it fairly crowded on a weeknight, but luckily there were a few open tables in the back to grab. I think there's a second floor as well, but it wasn't opened up that night. 

Inside, the menu is scribbled on black chalkboards along the walls and seats can be found along the bar or corner tables. Beer and Cheese sticks to its focus for munchies- a handful of grilled cheese sandwiches, nachos or I strongly recommend the spicy beer pretzel. 

And I'd heard of wine and cheese pairings but never before with beer. But it's worth a try, especially if you want to get a hand picked sampler with the Flight or the Mill St. Flight. I don't even really like beer and I enjoyed it. I went with a couple of guys and we all shared two flights and ended up ordering a third. I probably ate most of the cheese.

Mill St. Flight  (NT$390) had Lemon Tea Beer with pepper jack, Tankhouse Ale with Danish Blue and Coffee Porter with Gouda. All the beers had distinctive flavors and it was fun to take a sip and eat the cheese to see if the matches enhanced each others flavors.

Flight  (NT$290) had Estrella paired with pepper jack cheese, Red Point with english sharp and Asam Bock with Gouda.

I loved the spicy beer pretzel (NT$180). Thinking about this pretzel while I'm typing up this post at 1AM.  With a spicy jalapeño cheese dip, the beer pretzel was soft, hot and I could have eaten the whole thing by myself.

Skillet nachos (NT$220) were generous with lots of salsa and cheese. 

Running out of room for all our food and beer.

I liked the Dutch Blue grilled cheese (NT$270), but the blue cheese taste was very faint, if at all. The bread was a tad on the dry side for me especially on the surfaces, compared to buttery grilled cheese sandwiches I've had in the past. The sandwiches are definitely on the expensive side, ranging from NT$250-280, making Toasteria look like a deal, or for those of us who make grilled cheese at home. But they are big enough to share, and I could only eat half.

My friend's jalapeño grilled cheese (N$260)

So if you find yourself craving a hot pretzel and a cold beer at 11PM, now you know where to go. 

It's exciting to have new additions to the growing scene of gastropub/wine bars have opened in Taipei in the past few years, including Whinos, Diary, EIEIO, Lobster Bar. Write ups coming soon someday, I swear!

PS. Proof of the hipster vibe, the total and bill is tallied on the iPad. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

happy 9 years to hungryintaipei!

Sometimes I meet new people who reveal that they are fans of Hungry In Taipei after I say "well, I have a food blog..." when I'm taking pictures of our meal. And their excitement in meeting me and enthusiasm about the blog ("What?? Are you Hungry Girl?!") makes me excited again. It reminds me of why I started the blog, why I keep it going- not only as a journal for myself, but also for people who have a mutual love of good food and sharing a good find. It's always flattering to have your time and efforts be acknowledged and helps a lot since it can be hard to stay motivated to write posts with real information and translations when it's easier and faster to just post pics and hashtags when you have so many other things in real life to do and some people say mean things about you on the internets. THANK YOU to those of you who have been following my adventures for the past nine years.

These days, everyone is a food blogger, or at least takes pictures of their food like they are, since it's easier and faster to share with Instagram, Foursquare, FacebookTwitter, Chowhound, Yelp, What's App/WeChat/Line and actual blogs. It's hard to believe when I first started my little Taipei food blog nine years ago, there was none of that, and no iPhones or Google translate or google maps to help us out. So it's great to see a number of new Taipei food blogs in English and a million blogs in Chinese the past few years.

Since I don't get to update here as often as I like, for the newest eats, follow me on Instagram (@hungryintaipei)- I share (almost daily) real time sneak peeks at the latest sushi bars, lobster rolls, gastropubs, teppanyaki, desserts, night markets, french dips, cronuts, fusion and shaved ice in Taipei before I have time to write it up here (and go before the places get too crowded).

So HAPPY 9 years to Hungry In Taipei! N-I-N-E years and 700 posts and counting!! Never thought I would move back to Taipei and live here this long, but it's become my home. To many more years of deliciousness, to discovering new and old restaurants, and to memorable meals shared with those you love. Thanks so much for reading, following, sharing, commenting, appreciating what I do and being hungry with me in Taipei.

Monday, June 16, 2014

CLOSED! burgers/american: BLT BURGER

closed a/o spring 2015 

at Vieshow Cinemas
No. 18, Song Shou Rd.
(02) 8786-5668

MRT: Taipei City Hall or Taipei 101

Hours: 11 AM - 11:30PM

visit reviewed: 12/4/2013

BLT Burger has made its way to Taipei with a trendy outlet at Xinyi Vieshow Cinemas, right next to the also newly opened Krispy Kreme and Mazendo. BLT Burger is part of the BLT food empire, with branches in Hong Kong, New York, Las Vegas   I had a chance to check it out last November during its soft opening. 

The inside is spacious, perfect for group lunches or booths for couples, or a private room in the back for parties. While there are quite a few places nearby to grab a burger- the Diner, Gordon Biersch, Chili's- there hasn't been a dedicated burger spot in this area until now (unless you count Burger King or McDonalds. Lol). Does anyone else vaguely remember when there was another burger place in this same area back when it was Warner Village? Ruby Tuesdays? Haha, haven't thought about that place in ages, until this moment.

The menu features lots of different types of burgers, including Wagyu, Tex-Mex, Buffalo Chicken or even a Salmon burger. BLT Taipei's menu is missing a few things from what's offered at the Vegas branch (Lamb Tandoori, Wagyu truffle, Pimento cheese), instead it's more similar to the Hong Kong BLT. 

Sides include onion rings or fries (which were incredibly small portions the day we went) or starters include bbq nachos, wings, mozzarella sticks, chili bowl or savory waffle fries bites. I eyed the milkshakes, and there are also spiked milkshakes and cocktails/beer. I really wanted to try a milkshake, but I wasn't about to pay NT$238-300 (US$7-9) for one!

Burgers don't automatically come with fries, unless you order the lunch set. Everyone in our party missed the small type for the lunch set underneath the burgers except for one person who order the classic burger set (NT$398), so be sure to look for that and order it since the fries come on the plate and looked like more than what was given ala carte (and you can switch out the regular fries for waffle fries etc). So that being said the burgers are pretty expensive, paying about NT$400 for just a burger especially if you want to order one of the more creative ones.

My favorite burger, taste wise, was the signature BLT Burger (NT$368) though I wished the bacon was crispy and there was less sauce. It was kind of a mess to eat, but we cut it into fourths to share. Came with a tiny coleslaw that no one ate. 

My next favorite was the St. Agur Blue burger (NT$428) although the balsamic grilled onions dominated the flavor and the melted cheese did not taste like blue cheese at all. 

One friend was adventurous by trying the Shumai Burger (NT$388) which had ground shrimp and pork patty, but actually tasted Vietnamese (banh mi) -inspired with the finely julienned pickled carrots, radish, cilantro and cucumbers.

 I also wasn't crazy about the Pulled Pork (NT$368)- it was slightly greasy and the strips of pork were too long to eat in neat bites. It didn't taste like the usual bbq pulled pork- you could find better versions at Gordon Biersch, Burger and Co. or Ed's Diner. I regretted ordering this and was glad my friends shared their burgers with me.


Again, let me say how disappointing the size of the ala carte sides were- sweet potato fries (NT$90) and onion rings (NT$120).

Also probably wouldn't order the salad or nachos again. Wasn't enough cheese on the nachos (NT$268) and chips were surprisingly a bit stale. More cheese please!!

So while BLT Burger seemed so enticing when I first spied the menu, I haven't been back since my first visit as there are so many burger options in town that are just as good (if not better) for more affordable prices.

Monday, June 09, 2014

japanese/hotpot: i strongly recommend KANPAI KUROGEYA


at Shin Kong Mitsukoshi A4
No. 19 Song Gao Rd, 6F
台北市信義區松高路19號6F (新光三越A4)
(02) 2723-7722

MRT: Taipei City Hall


hours: 11:30AM - 2:30PM; 5PM - 12AM

$$$ (about NT$800-1000/person)

Kid friendliness: plenty of options for shabu loving kids; no high chairs spotted; table positions fixed so can't move tables together for larger groups (or odd numbered groups)

Visit reviewed: 4/30/2014, 4/4/2014 & 1/3/2014

Last fall, Xinyi Mitsukoshi's A4 revamped their sixth floor into a row of enticing restaurants- Sukhothai, Kanpai Kuroegeya, Hachi Bei and a teppanyaki restaurant. I had been hearing my friend raving about this place, calling it Black Haired Pig, for the longest time as she was in a shabu phase. But finally when I did the write up, I realized it's Black Hair House (Wu) not Pig (Zhu). Lol. 

Anyways, Kanpai Kurogeya (which is its official Japanese/English name) is an upscale, modern shabu shabu place offering unique options such as soymilk broth hotpot and adding touches like freshly grated radish, melted mozzarella cheese and at the end of the meal, an option of having parmesan cheese risotto. 

First time having hotpot with boiled cheese!

The first time I tried it, I thought it was good, but not particularly special. But after trying the soy milk broth hotpot, I'm a fan. Instead of using water, or in this case water with kombu kelp, you can opt to have a soy milk broth made from soy milk, dashi and white miso, which lends a richer flavor to everything you cook in it. I ended up even drinking a bit of the broth and not needing to dip much of my veggies or meat in soy sauce.

The menu is in Chinese only, but basically most of the choices are sets with the choice of meat (beef, pork) and hotpot broth, prices for sets run about NT$700 and up. Options for broth are either a clear kombu broth, a soy milk broth or a sukiyaki style hotpot.

Sets come with vegetables, assorted fishcake, and one plate of meat to cook in your hotpot as well as a choice of rice, noodles or xi fan which is made with the broth of your hotpot at the end of the meal. The servers does some of the cooking for you to start off the meal, but if you are impatient, you can start shabu-ing away.

Assorted mushrooms and fishcake - the first time I came, they set out a little glass timer and told us that when the timer was done, the fishcake would be ready. My server didn't give me a timer on my second visit, as well as forgot to give me freshly grated radish. Boo. So if you don't get it on your first visit, be sure to ask for it.

The soymilk broth looks like it will bubble over, but the server checks the temperature and lets us know when it's ready.

It's ready! 

This is a yuzu pepper condiment I've seen seeing all over town. It's very potent so use sparingly.

One of the first things the server will cook and plate up for you is the tofu

Two styles of pork come with the soy milk broth hotpot and pork is the only option. If you want beef, then opt for the kombu broth or the sukiyaki. Each person gets their own pot and own plate of meat, which is pretty satisfying and filling.

Extra plates can be ordered ala carte. 

The servers will start off some of the cooking for you and depending on how many other people they have, you can toss the rest of the stuff in there at your own pace. 

Just start throwing everything in there to cook...

Before and after of the fatty pork belly slices...

After you are done eating your meat and veggies, the servers will come and give you your starch- for kombu you can opt for a bowl of rice or noodles, for the sukiyaki they cook udon in the soy sauce and for the soy milk broth, they make a cheese risotto, which I loved. The empty out the pot by spooning the broth into another container then putting back a little broth for the rice to soak up. The cheese risotto only comes with the soy milk hotpot- the other hotpots come with regular porridge or noodles. 

And the dessert is quite yummy too- a few bites of brown sugar mochi, fresh fruit and a scoop of sesame ice cream.

A nicer option for hotpot in town, suitable for date night or even dining alone with the individual hotspots and counter seating. 


No. 165, Dunhua S. Rd, Sec. 1, 2F