Monday, March 30, 2015

not taipei/rome: I strongly recommend BONCI PIZZARIUM

Via della Meloria 43
Rome, Italy 00136
+39 06 3974 5416


Missing the great pizza and food I had in Italy! Just got back from a wonderful 10 day trip to Italy- my very first time so I devoured the eye opening sights and the drool worthy food.  I hope to share some of my favorite eats for future trips over the next few weeks, from Rome to Florence to Tuscany to Venice. 

I definitely recommend anyone visiting Rome to check out Bonci Pizzarium (near the Vatican). Choose your slice(s), pay by weight and they will cut and reheat the pizza in the oven. So many different kinds of super supreme toppings including romanesco (this year's kale?), arugula + cheese + sundried tomato, prosciutto and tricolored cabbages. Even tried the suppli, which was a bite size, deep fried nugget of spaghetti. 

Be sure to grab a ticket with a number by the door- they will call and serve numbers in order.

Ahhh! So hard to choose! Luckily we had four people to share, so we could try both veggie and carnivore delights. Love the creativity and variety of the toppings which was much more than cheese and pepperoni, but not as manufactured as bbq chicken or takoyaki pizzas.

Once I figured out they cut quite large slices, I would ask for smaller slices so I could try more "flavors." It ended up being about €4 a slice, and about €20 for a table full of slices for four people. They would also cut each slice into smaller strips upon request after heating it, then it was served on a wooden board you could hold if you didn't manage to grab a table or a bench.

Suppli con spaghetti 2.50. They also had suppli for lasagne and risotto! 

New pizzas are constantly being baked and brought out-- I spotted completely different types of cured meats and veggie toppings including potato, broccoli, spinach when I left from when I first came.

The crusts were thick, but airy and crunchy. I even bought a couple slices and sandwiched together to eat on the plane for dinner! Very happy I managed to find it after a morning tour of the Vatican and it was one of my favorite meals of my trip to Italy!! 

Craving pizza by the slice in Taipei? You can try Piazza, Pizza Denise or Square Pizza al Taglio... which one is your favorite?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

not taipei/singapore: 8 PLACES TO EAT/VISIT IN SINGAPORE

I've been to Singapore a couple times before, but never had that much time to explore. Thanks to all of your great recommendations, I had a chance to explore some new Singapore must eats! There's nothing like going to a new place to get overwhelmed by all the information out there. You want to maximize your time in the short amount of time that you are there, but sometimes you don't even know what areas to go to, much less what restaurants. So here is a shortlist of the places I visited and would return to again - it's more of a four day itinerary of where I ate and went. Hope I get to return to Singapore again soon!


Sure, it's going to be a bit overpriced and a bit touristy, but if you want a lot of photo ops, then you can't beat the view of the Marina Bay Sands from across the river. If you walk along the pier, you can also get a picture with the iconic Merlion or the One Fullerton Road sign. If you don't have time or budget for a full meal, you could grab a coffee at Starbucks or dessert, or go for a stroll. Be sure to go around 9 or 11PM to catch the laser show that happens nightly from the Marina Bay Sands. I had chili crab at Jing the first night there, but thought the crab was slightly overcooked and tough to shell, so would opt for crab elsewhere, especially since you are paying for the view to eat there.


Opened four years ago in 2010, the Marina Bay Sands is an impressive hotel/casino/shopping center destination. I didn't get a chance to try the full buffet on the 1st floor, instead my family opted to eat at the smaller buffet area housed at Sky on 57. There's the typical array of hot western and Asian hot foods, continental breakfast items, porridge and sides and fruit and juices. You also got a choice of ordering two made to order items per guest- I loved the slow cooked farm eggs and enjoyed the spicy laksa (yup for breakfast!). My dad liked the ramen and the french toast was also really tasty. Didn't really get much of a view where we were sitting, but since we were hotel guests, we got to enjoy the infinity pool which is pretty amazing (and freaky for those of you with fear of heights) that feels like the water is spilling over into nothingness with a panoramic view of Singapore.

I had mixed feelings when our hosts chose Chatterbox as our place for Hainan Chicken Rice. It's listed online as one of, if not the most expensive places for Hainan Chicken Rice at S$27. The environment is upscale in the Mandarin Hotel, and there's lots of other things to eat like lobster laksa, but Chatterbox definitely has a smooth running operation. You can also shop or walk around Orchard Road afterwards.

This was a fun drink- Lychee juice with shaved ice with lots of lychees inside- but it was super sweet almost like drinking a version of canned lychees and the juice inside.

Hainan chicken rice (S$27)


I LOVED the white pepper crab that we had at Seafood Republic, a restaurant at the Resorts World Waterfront in Sentosa, which is Singapore's version of Universal Citywalk with a shopping/entertainment/retail area in front of Universal Studios. The white pepper crab was 10x better than the chilli crab we had the first night at Jing at Fullerton Road, and was worth getting your hands dirty for. The meat was sweet and the sauce had a lot of garlicky, peppery flavor, but wasn't prohibitively spicy. Also good to order were the cereal prawns, wasabi prawns, fried mantou, mee goreng.

Fried mantous to eat or dip in the sauce


Sure you could eat Mozza in LA, but for those whose circles revolve around the east side of the Pacific Ocean, it was a great option to be able to have burrata and fresh pasta at Mario Batali's Mozza at the Marina Bay Sands Mall. Must orders are the burrata and the steak- so good! I felt the scallops were a tad on the salty side, but the servers were very knowledgeable and great at answering all the questions I had about the dishes when I was ordering, and good service makes up for a lot. Osteria Mozza was just included on the 50 best restaurants in Asia list, so they must be doing something right.


Thanks to you guys, I was given a heads up on these two food court areas. If you want to eat where the locals eat, then you can consider these. Lau Pa Sat is like an outdoor food court market with more international choices, while Old Airport Road felt more like Shilin night market with different hawkers and more local foods. Even though a lot of stalls were closed since it was the tail end of Chinese New Year's, it was possibly less crowded for the same reason, so easier to find seats and tables. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of Indian choices, and there were of course a ton of local options including hainan chicken rice, black and white carrot cake, hokkien mee, char kway teow and ice kachang.

"Black" stir fried carrot cake

Ice Kacang

Loved this- there's a huge pile of biryani rice underneath the naan, as well as some

Hokkien Mee

Outdoor hawker food court, reminded me a little of Shilin Night Market in Taipei, though I have to say Taipei seems to have faster turnaround for the food than Singapore.

Wanton mee

Satay- I think we waited over an hour for these.

HK Crispy Seafood noodles 

One of my favorite meals of the trip, I would strongly recommend that you give the chicken rice at Boon Tong Kee a try. I got it to go (twice!) and while it was better the first time than the second, it was SO good. Boneless chicken with savory rice cooked in chicken oil and the sauces totally make it. I also loved the sauces so much that I brought back the extra packets that I had- the thick, sticky soysauce was the perfect balance of sweet and savory, almost like a reduced balsamic vinegar, the garlic and chili are essential complements to chicken rice.

Some great reads bookmarked for my next visit to Singapore!

30 Famous Local Foods to Eat in Singapore  - great descriptions about the dishes and lists a few places for each dish 

10 Singapore eats from Lady Ironchef


1 Fullerton Sq Singapore 049178 Bayfront, Raffles Place

10 Bayfront Avenue, Level 57, Sands Skypark, Tower1
Singapore 018956
+65 6688-8868

333 Orchard Road, Singapore 238867

Resorts World Waterfront
26 Sentosa Gateway 01-292 Singapore 098138

2 Bayfront Ave #B1-42/46, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands 
Singapore 018972 
+65-6688 8522

18 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048582

Block 51, Old Airport Rd, Geylang, Singapore

425 River Valley Rd Singapore 248324

Monday, March 09, 2015

hotpot: i recommend NIPPORI SHABU SHABU 日暮里涮涮鍋

No. 3, Lane 220, DaAn Rd, Sec. 1
(02) 2704-7376


hours: 11:30AM -3:30PM; 5:30PM- 10PM

$$ (about NT$380/person)

Kid friendliness: high chairs available and good seating for large groups. Older kids might enjoy cooking their own food. Small playground across the alley from restaurant.

Visit reviewed: 2/14/2015

Neighborhood hotpot place, reasonable prices, good sized portions. Family friendly seating, clean tables and environment, individual pots.  Can get busy, but luckily wasn't too crowded for a last minute lunch when we went with 10 people.

The Chinese name for the restaurant is 日暮里 which is pronounced Ri Mu Li in Mandarin, but translates in English to Nippori, which is an neighborhood/subway stop in Tokyo, Japan. So since I couldn't find an English name for the restaurant, I'll just call it as Nippori Shabu Shabu for my own reference (and those of you who can read Chinese can just refer to that!)

Chinese only menu- options start from NT$350 for kobe pork and sirloin beef options up to NT$800 for short ribs or NT$1000 for premium USDA beef. There's also fish and seafood sets. You can also order veggies and meats and whatever your favorite shabu add- in is ala carte.

With each set, you get a big bowl of veggies, a plate of thin sliced meat, and choice of rice, noodles or vermicelli rice noodles. The veggie plate includes cabbage, taro, straw mushrooms, tofu, shiitake mushroom, fishcake, fishball, tomato, all the usual suspects. What's good is everything is fresh and room temperature ready for cooking- I've been to some hotpot places where it seemed like that fish balls were still defrosting or just taken out of the freezer.

Pretty satisfied with the sirloin beef (NT$350) set. Some places cheap out with meat on their the inexpensive sets, but it tasted as good as some more expensive shabu places- the meat wasn't too tough or too fatty.


What's great about individual pots is that you can cook it however you like and perfect if there's a vegetarian in your group. But the table is also close enough that you can cook for others if there are kids or lazy people in your group.

I realized I was too busy eating and cooking to take a pic of all the veggies inside the pot- but you guys are seasoned eaters, you know how it works!

Complimentary red bean soup for dessert. Yum! Great way to end the meal.