Tuesday, September 29, 2015

CLOSED/cajun/seafood: i recommend BROOKHURST SEAFOOD BAR

No. 43, Lane 308, Guangfu S. Road,
(02) 2741-4857

(update in 2019. became a restaurant called Nomad Bistro which I think didn't make it even 6 months. )

MRT: SYS Memorial Hall

website: Brookhurst Seafood Bar's FB page

Hours: 5:30PM - 12AM (last order 11PM) Closed Mondays

Kid friendliness: for seafood loving kids, you can order non spicy versions or fried appetizers available.

Visit reviewed: 9/12/2015

Anyone who's eaten at Boiling Crab has likely joined the cult of digging into bags of cajun spiced boiled seafood, getting your hands dirty and leaving the carcasses of shrimps, clams and crabs all over the table. While I was a little late to the game, my cravings for the Whole Shebang buttery seafood has led to me to look for Boiling Crab inspired restaurants knockoffs  in Taipei. Currently in Taipei, there are three that I know of Brookhurst Seafood Bar (the newest and only open at night), Shrimp Daddy (they have Taco Thursdays) and Chili Crab (the one on Minsheng E. Road.) RIP those who were too early to bring Cajun seafood boil to Taipei-  Firebite, Spicy Alley and the Boiling Seafood.

The menu has a few appetizers like onion rings, cajun fries, baby calamari, chicken wings and honey mustard fish and chips, but the focus is on the seafood. You can choose from clams, mussels, white shrimp, hokkaido scallops, grass shrimp, lobster or king crab legs to boil in one of three sauces- Lemon Zing, Cajun Steeeez or Brookhurst Bang. There are four levels of spiciness to choose from- non spicy to the hottest level "I Dare You." Add ons include potatoes, corn, broccoli, okra, oyster mushrooms, sausages, baby corn, or sides of rice, baguette or noodles as your starches. There is also Boston Lobster, Dungeness Crab or Hokkaido Hairy Crab available, but only if you order it in advance. Since most of the items are by weight, then shrimp is the best deal since its shells are comparable lighter than crab or lobster.

If you want to get a combination of seafood, then you can do a BS Combo as our waiter suggested as well, which is a mix and match ranging from NT$999-NT$5990.

Bibs available for everyone to freely get messy.

Excuse the blurry photos- I think I was too hungry to focus and anyone who's ever eaten seafood knows how messy it gets, so after a few obligatory photos, I dug in and my hands were too buttery to take more pics. #grubandchug The seafood was fresh, flavors were there and though I was missing the fresh limes and salt and pepper that I'd grown to love at Boiling Crab, I would go back to Brookhurst Seafood Bar again.  I might even have to order a dungeness crab in advance.

I couldn't tell the difference between the two sauces at first, but once we hit the bottom of the bag, one sauce was spicier than the other. We would have also ordered some raw oysters, but our waiter told us they were also cooked in the bag. Doh. Their instagram and Facebook seems to disagree.

Some of you might wonder if it's related to Brookhurst Pho, and it's actually in the same spot. It started taking over Brookhurst Pho at night in March and it was so successful, I guess they took over the whole space as you can see from the signage change, so RIP Brookhurst CaliPHOnia. Brookhurst Seafood Bar is currently only open at night and advance reservations strongly recommended.

Friday, September 25, 2015

american/market: i strongly recommend WELLMAN'S MARKET

No. 472 Zhongshan N. Road,  Sec. 6, Tianmu
(02) 2871-4454
Sadly, Wellman's closed in 2019

MRT: Shipai


Visit reviewed: 9/24/2015

Have you ever looked for Pop Tarts, Rice Krispies cereal, hot dog buns, Spam, enchilada sauce, food coloring or corn meal in Taipei? I know you have since I've gotten your emails over the years about "where to find..." and I've been looking too. 

Now you'll have at least one place in Tianmu to go to- Wellman's Market. I'd heard of it for years, but never made the trek out to investigate, but I'm telling you if you're a long time resident of Asia and willing to pay a little extra instead of loading your luggage with groceries from the states, then it's worth the trip. Instead of doing a scavengers hunt around Jason's/City Super, Carrefour, Wellcome and your local market's "import aisles", the entirety of Wellman's will look familiar to those of us from the states. It's probably how our parents felt discovering the local Ranch 99/Nijiya/Korean market rather than shopping the sad instant noodle aisle at Ralphs. Lol! There is even a  small selection of personal care goods like Irish Spring soap and various shampoos and deodorants.

Let's just walk through the aisles- there's only three since the market isn't huge, but it's packed from top to bottom.

Duncan Hines cake mixes- chocolate Devil's food, fudge marble and Betty Crocker fudge brownies sit in rows below Old El Paso, Snyders and sour cream, garlic dips.

Lots of salsas, nacho cheese, canned beans, taco shells and sauces for Mexican food DIY. Even corn meal to make your own tortillas! It's actually really hard to find corn meal in Taipei.

Tomato pasta sauces and jams and jellies like apricot, green fig, lemon curd and raspberry. I also spotted cherry, blueberry and apple pie canned fillings- I remember my mom used to use the cherry filling to top homemade mini cheesecakes.

The cereals! Rice Krispies, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Honey Smacks, Frosted Flakes and more. Note a box of Rice Krispies is almost NT$300 so you will have to really love it to buy it. Imagine the rice krispy treats you can make!!!

Small packs of hotdog and hamburger buns so you don't have to buy the megabucks from Costco.

Candies like twizzlers and Oreo Hersheys.

Poptarts and lots of them. I remember going through a pop tart phase in college but haven't really touched them in the past 10 years. Who's been looking for pop tarts in Taipei? There's also spice mixes and seasonings, and funnily enough, brown paper lunch bags and Reynold's aluminum foil, supplies we take for granted in the states.

Here we have the dressings, mayonnaise, mustard, honey, Hershey's chocolate syrup. Sriracha.

Spam and turkey spam to make your spam musubis.

Baking supplies like food coloring, active yeast, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla extract, strawberry extract. I know you can find these things here at the DIY shops too, but some of the comfort is being able to recognize brands you like and read the English instructions that aren't covered up in a Taiwanese sticker for translation.

Different types of Swiss Miss hot chocolates, even with mini marshmallows since that's the best part of hot chocolate right?

Wellman's has a small refrigerated goods section, with small tubs of sour cream, heavy cream, whip cream, and some deli cheeses, chorizo, salami. The chorizo iberico is actually quite addicting.  Next to the front are also some root beer and other beverages.

So good luck finding what you've been looking for at Wellman's. Doesn't hurt to ask them if you don't see what you are looking for. I asked them about Jello, but they said that Taiwan doesn't import Jello anymore. For those of us who've been living in Taiwan a long time, you might find yourself oohing and aahing at something you forgot that you wanted/needed on the aisles at Wellman's. 

What have you been looking for in Taiwan/Asia that you couldn't find? Comment below and maybe we'll find it!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Snapshot: HELLO KITTY x MCD's fried pineapple pie

If you're a fan of McD's fried apple pie, like I am, then you might find yourself trying the fried PINEapple pie in Taiwan. When I ordered it, I didn't even realize it was going to come in Hello Kitty-fied cuteness. Then I realized that I missed the whole Hello Kitty x McDonalds Taiwan menu (basically sticking HK's face on the packaging) they were doing the past month and the launch of the Hello Kitty toys. 

As for the taste? The crust is essentially the same crispy flaky goodness as the fried apple pie. The inside is a thick pineapple gel filling that is overly sweet and sugary, similar to the filling of those old Hostess pies. The pie is served hot, so be careful when digging in. Let's be honest- most of you will try this just because of the hello kitty cuteness, not the taste. 

Cuteeeeeee Hello Kitty x McDonalds toys- hello kitty ladybug, pineapple, strawberry and watermelon !! 

They should just stick Hello Kitty on everything for a few months and see what happens! Haha. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

korean: AJEOSSI

No. 23-1, Minquan E Rd, Sec. 6, Neihu District
(02) 2796-3616

MRT: Huzhou (Brown Line)

hours: 11:30AM - 9PM, Closed Mondays

website: Ajeossi Cafe's FB page

kid friendliness: no high chairs spotted, but room for strollers. non spicy dishes available 

visit reviewed:  9/10/2015

Ajeossi is a casual homestyle Korean cafe in Neihu, opened by Koreans owners in February 2015. Next door there was a ramen shop that had a line of 20 or so people waiting. At first, we thought the line was for Ajeossi, but alas it was not. Can different kinds of Korean food work in Taipei (besides the popular soondubu, kbbq and spicy rice cake hotpot)?

The atmosphere is like a coffee shop with warm wood walls and tables, with a projection screen playing Korean soaps over the bar/counter. A huge teddy bear keeps watch from the corner and two clocks hang on the wall, one with Taipei time and the other for Korea. 

Hello, Cheon Song Yi!

The menu has only ten or so dishes, with the focus being on drinks- O'Sulloc Korean tea, milk teas, coffee, tea, vinegar soda and a few cocktails. They also had desserts on their menu, but 2 out of 3 were crossed out. I could make out most of the dishes in Chinese, but luckily my friends read Korean, so they picked what to order. The first few are mostly rice and pork dishes (Soy sauce rice,  kimchi pork belly or spicy pork belly or kimchi fried rice with optional cheese),  the next three are Korean rice cake and the last is the cold noodles.   

We decided to get the Korean style soy sauce rice (NT$200),  kimchi pork belly with white rice (NT$200), cold ramen noodles with chogochujang (NT$180), and Korean rice cakes dubokki w spicy zhajiang sauce (NT$240). There's no English on the menus, so these are my translations! You can see the banchan is very simple- kimchi, seaweed and some pickles/cucumbers.

The first dish is something you could make at home, and something owners said that it's the kind of dish they make when there's nothing to eat at home. The Korean style soy sauce rice (NT$200) is rice mixed with soy sauce, fried egg and bacon and a pile of seaweed strips atop. There's no bimbimbap here, at least not the kind with all the julienned veggies that need a lot of prepping. I liked this, but if I made it myself I wouldn't mix soy sauce into the rice. 

The cold noodles (NT$180) was probably my favorite dish, though it wasn't the usual soupy naengmyeon. After quizzing my friend, she guessed that they used cho-gojuchang for the noodles. I knew about gochujang, Korean red pepper chili paste aka Korean sriracha, but I hadn't heard of chogojuchang which was more vinegary and spicy. Will have to find some #chogochujang sauce so I can try making this at home and experiment with both!! 

Again this is something you could probably make at home with the right condiment, since the cucumber, tomato and half boiled egg were more homestyle than precise. 

Korean rice cakes dubokki w spicy zhajiang sauce (NT$240) Korean zhajiang sauce is thicker and sweeter than Chinese zhajiang mian sauce and this dish also had a spicy kick. I liked this and it's very different than what you'd usually find around town. If we didn't get this, then I would have tried the ramen cheese spicy rice cake.

Kimchi pork belly with mini lettuce and white rice (NT$300)- Pork was a tad dry, but I still thought it was decent. It was better than a lot of the dishes that I've tried around town (I had some of the worst stringy bulgogi at usually good Dubu House last year)

Ajeossi's random location makes it so that you really have to seek it out if you didn't live in the neighborhood. It seems like a mostly residential neighborhood, so not an area I'd normally pass by. But I'm glad I got to try it and that it's offering a different type of Korean fare in Taipei. At the very least, if you're having Korean soap withdrawals, you know now where to go.

Monday, September 14, 2015

snapshot/taiwanese: OREO MILK TEA at PRINCE DRINKS

No. 2, Lane 8, ChiFeng St.
(02) 2550-0376

MRT: Zhongshan

hours: 11:30AM- 7:30PM

website: Prince Drinks' FB page

$ (cash only. I think they deliver if you order over 6 cups)

Kid friendliness: you can probably ask for a version with just fresh milk and oreos, but why not just make it yourself at home

Visit reviewed: 9/4/2015

After devouring award winning pizza next door (review coming!),  a picture of milk tea topped with crumbled Oreos caught my eye. I usually don't succumb to such temptations easily, but it has been HOT lately and I hadn't had a milk tea in so long, so I gave in. Let's say for "research purposes" for the blog.

I forked over NT$65 for an Oreo milk tea and answered the usual "how sweet, how icy?" questions. I made it half sweet (since there was going to be sugar from the Oreos) and less icy, but they suggested that we have it with no ice. The cup was huge, similar to a Large or Extra large at most boba shops and it was mostly tea with one third fresh milk. It was interesting drinking the crushed Oreos as they were absorbing the liquid and becoming mushy- as all kids know, similar to eating dunked Oreos, but this way it was much faster. I didn't finish the drink and I still prefer an Oreo shake, but I'm sure we'll keep an eye out now for Oreo milk tea drinks wherever we go now.