a journal of finding good food and restaurants i love to eat in Taipei when I'm not in Los Angeles. looking forward to hearing from other food lovers about where your favorite places to eat are, so i can try them next!
Monday, December 01, 2008
1st Annual 2008 Best of Taipei Readers' Choice Poll
So we all know that Taipei is filled with tons of good eats. Here's your turn to tell everyone else about your favorites!
It's long, but we're always eating! Please fill out as many as you feel like it and post in the comments section! It's probably easiest to copy and paste the area below and fill it out...
Mull it over.. I will run this until December 20th and then tabulate all the info. I will announce the winners by January 1st.
I will also randomly select 1 LUCKY Reader to give away a NT$1000 gift certificate to whichever restaurant wins Best of the Best. (If the restaurant that wins Best of the Best doesn't have or won't let me buy a gift certificate, then I'll make it something equally yummy or a Starbucks card!) Try to comment with your name or initials- so I'll be able to identify you when you email me if you win after I announce the winner! So I hope everyone will participate and campaign for their faves!
1st EVER HUNGRYINTAIPEI.com's BEST OF TAIPEI READERS' CHOICE RESTAURANT POLL
(categories inspired by San Francisco Magazine and other best of lists, as well as the historic elections this year!)
Best of the Best Restaurants
Best New Restaurant in 2008
Best Super Cheap Eats (Meal NT$100 or Under)
Best Splurge Restaurant
Best Breakfast/ Brunch
Best Late-Night Bites
Best Family Dining
Best Romantic Restaurant
Best Night Market
Best Restaurant to take Tourist Friends
Best Unexpected Find in Taipei
Best Bar Scene
Best Food Court
Best Fast Food
Best Uniquely Taiwanese Restaurant
Best Chinese Restaurant
Best Japanese Restaurant
Best Thai/Vietnamese/Southeast Asian
Best Xiao Long Bao
Best Dim Sum
Best Hot Pot
Best Afternoon Tea
Best Ice Cream
Best Shaved Ice
Best Coffee/Tea shop
Best Fill-in-the-Blank (Whatever I forgot. Let me know! Vote for it!)
Thanks to everyone who has ever stopped by or regularly read my blog... I have many more posts/new restaurants coming and walking around town, I'm always thinking, there are wayyy to many places to eat and blog about!
I am also thinking about doing something special for end of the year, like a Top 10 list or survey or something, but I would love to hear from you guys too about what your favorite restaurants/finds in Taipei are.. So once I gather my ideas together, I'll post up the categories. It could be a lot of fun, but I'll definitely need y'alls help!
In the meantime, I'd love to hear- what were you looking for when you first ended up at my blog and/or any recommendations from the blog that is now a part of restaurant crawl?
Sunday, November 30, 2008
costco/dessert: i strongly recommend JULIE's ORGANIC ICE CREAM SANDWICHES
No. 268 Jiu Zong, Sec 1
hours: 10:00 am - 9:30 pm
Kid friendliness: they're organic! but still taste the same
Visit reviewed: 10/24/2008
Sadly, I haven't seen apple pie or cake donuts at Costco in awhile, but if you're like me and you like to eat ice cream when it's cold out, you should definitely pick up a box of Julie's Organic Ice Cream sandwiches.
I had passed by them for many months, but after hearing from a friend that they were good, I decided to pick up a box. It works out so it's about US$1 a sandwich- a lot more than a box would cost in LA, but about the price you would pay for any ol' ice cream from 7-11. Plus with Haagen Daaz ice cream bars running around NT$100 these days, this was a bargain.
And I'm glad I did! It tasted just like the classic ice cream sandwich, with the melt in your mouth chocolate wafer.
I had tried a local brand of ice cream sandwich awhile back and it was not good- the wafer was dry and crumbly and the ice cream was too sweet. It was so bad I couldn't get past 2 bites, believe it or not.
Friday, November 28, 2008
CLOSED! american/new in town: i strongly recommend YUMA SOUTHWESTERN GRILL
CLOSED a/o 2/2011
YUMA SOUTHWESTERN GRILL
No. 21, Alley 11, Lane 216, ZhongXiao E. Rd, Sec. 4
hours: 12 PM - 11 PM (last orders at 10 PM)
Kid friendliness: high chairs available. lots of room for strollers
Visit reviewed: 11/14/2008
Yuma Southwestern Grill has arrived into town offering a huge menu of Southwestern style (think TexMex or Chili's) grilled ribs, chicken, shrimp, nachos and sides to be eaten family style.
Located in the alley parallel to Chung Hsiao East Road, you would have spotted its bright orange and blue storefront if you made it around the corner past the busy 248 lane filled with Alleycats, Toasteria, Chili House and Mary's Hamburgers.
I had been graciously invited to the Grand Opening by the owner (who previously founded the successful and delicious Alleycats), and the menu and concept definitely picqued my interest. I couldn't make it that night, but I wanted to try it out as soon as I could.
We made our reservations for the following week and were greeted by its friendly host/manager. Our waiter spoke fluent English and was helpful in helping suggest what to eat.
If you're not sure what to order, they make it easy by offering some sample menus for larger groups that will give you the right amount and mix of food. We decided to try the menu for 6 which included half order of ribs, half order of prawns, whole chicken, steak fajitas, calamari, chicken salad, and a side of rice. We also added the nachos.
Along with deciding if you want ribs, chicken or shrimp, each one has 3 different kinds of seasoning to choose from... if you like it spicy, then you could get the Peri Peri or Garlic and Chili Butter. We chose the cranberry and honey baby back ribs, dry rub chicken and rosemary and lime prawns. Yuma was inspired to make everything to be shared family style, but of course, you could order things individually as well.
Along with all the grilled meats, there's also an array of margaritas, wines, cocktails and beers and lots of sides to choose from- coleslaw, fries, corn, tortillas, rice.
How great would it be if they made sweet potato fries or cornbread (as asked recently by reader Christopher T.- where can you find cornbread in Taipei)? Mmmm. I'd be in trouble!
Everything arrived quickly to the table, maybe a little TOO quickly for family style eatings.. my mouth couldn't keep up with all the food on the table, and some of it was cold by the time I got to it. In the future, I would ask the servers to ask the kitchen to pace it a little more, or at least put some room between the appetizers/salads and the main meats.
The Arizona Chicken and Roasted Corn soup- hearty broth based chicken soup that you couldn't really find in Taipei before now, sweetened with the corn and fragrant with cilantro- a happy discovery since everywhere the soups served here always seems to be creamy and indistinguishable.
It's more than a week later and I'm still thinking about this soup. I could make a meal out of the soup and the nachos.
The Porky's Pulled Pork nachos (NT$240) were huge and piled with toppings, the way nachos should be! It was a good mix of toppings and melted cheese with the crispy chips, not served individually like some of the chain restaurants around town (and not Doritos with salsa like at some local eateries. Doritos with salsa is NOT nachos!)
The blue cheese in the Flame Grilled Lime and Rosemary Chicken Salad (NT$280) is not for everyone, but I liked its pungent taste mixed in with the salad and ranch dressing. Unfortunately the chicken in the salad that night was unbearably dry- I didn't eat it and instead saved room for the main courses.
I was not crazy about the Texas style calamari (NT$190) which was spiced batter then fried, but it seemed to do okay around the table.
The steak fajitas (NT$390) loses to Chili's on only one factor (no guacamole!)- with large slices of steak, warm tortillas, cheese, fresh corn salsa and pico de gallo, you have everything you need to make your own mini soft tacos, or pile in some rice and make a mini burrito. They also offer a trio shrimp/chicken/steak fajitas.
With so many things on the menu, I would say I wouldn't order the shrimp again. I was a bit surprised when our half order of butterflied prawns came and I saw six regular looking shrimp on 2 kabobs (NT$320/half dozen). That's like almost $5/US for each kabob!
I guess I expected them to bigger when I saw the word prawns.
Instead, put your money towards the ribs and get them with the sweet cranberry and honey glaze. We got the half rack, but should have gotten the whole. (NT$370 half/680 whole)
For dessert, you can choose between their crumb cheesecake or their Tijuana and Vanilla Lime flan. The group was split over which they liked best, but I didn't like the crumbly crust (which may have been its feature). Rather, I liked the sweet and tangy flan, which had a hint of lime and vanilla.
One waitress seemed confused when we asked for plates (to split the desserts around the table) and she said they didn't have any extra small plates. Oh well.
Yuma Southwestern Grill has the perfect location and bright colorful space to become a neighborhood hangout for great grilled fare that is competitive taste-wise and price-wise with not only its neighbors around the corner, but with the Western chains. Inside its brightly styled interior with large spacious tables and a table full of food, you might forget for a moment that you're in Taipei.
I will definitely have to come back for the lunch menu which offers a variety of wraps (NT$150-195) with a side of chips and additional soup for NT$30. It could be the perfect meal... with an order of nachos.
View Larger Map
Saturday, November 22, 2008
dessert/bakery: i strongly recommend BLACK AS CHOCOLATE
BLACK AS CHOCOLATE
No. 50, Fuxing S. Road, Sec 1
website: blackaschocolate.com English and Chinese options
hours: 11 AM - 10 PM, Fri/Sat 11 AM - 11 PM
Visit reviewed: 8/12/2008
ED NOTE 10/2010: After ordering and eating the original flavor cake multiple times this year, I've upgraded Black as Chocolate to a "Strongly Recommend" especially in comparison to trying Awfully Chocolate and other cakes in Taipei.
Chocolate cake in a beautiful package- it's an easy thing to give and an easy thing to receive.
But is it easy to buy? Black as Chocolate doesn't even display their cakes.
In fact, it's hard to tell what they are selling unless you know what they are selling. Their entire BaDe Road store of white walls and black writing is filled with a huge artwork and balloons on the ground, and a lone display of chocolate ice cream.
You have to flip through a book of pictures to decide which chocolate cake you want to buy, and some might be sold out for that day (like the chocolate cheese cake we wanted). I would have never even known about this store unless my friend told me and she said I had to try it. We decided we would be split the cost and split the guilt by getting a classic chocolate cake.
The packaging is definitely interesting- from the drawn instructions of how to unpack and present your cake to the packaging of the spoons and forks.
I guess it continues on the themes of black and white, good vs evil, sinful vs angelic... Though the white spoon looks adorned with angel wings, the tiny box states its real identity is "devil's fork." (while the devil's fork is black and looks like pitchfork) Does it make sense? Not really, but it depends on if you're a sucker for packaging, or you just want to eat cake!
The cake is equally a sight to see... We finally get to see it after unboxing it and not getting to see it in the store.
My friend said that the cake seemed to have gotten both smaller and more expensive (NT$750-980 for 6' inch), but so we made sure to take our time while devouring our slices.
It wasn't overpoweringly sweet, but will definitely hit any chocolate cravings. Black as Chocolate also has some more unusual flavors- such as Mango & Passion Fruit chocolate cake or Caramel Banana Chocolate Cake or Black Currant and Strawberry chocolate cake- with about 7 different cakes to choose from (there's lots of tantalizing pictures on their site). If you want a specific type of cake, call ahead and order it to make sure they hold it for the day you need it.
I think I might have to order the Chocolate Cheese Cake or Chocolate Raspberry Tart after looking at these pictures. Available online are also 3.5 inch mini cakes (NT$350) and chocolate dipped strawberries (NT$430 for 6).
Whether you choose the cake from Pozzo or here, splurge on your hungry girl with a sweet surprise since she probably can't bear to pay these prices for herself. Besides, after she oohs and aahs and unwraps it, you can eat some too!
No. 123, BaDe Road, Sec 4
No. 247, Lin Sheng N. Road
Eslite XinYi shop
No. 11, Song Gao Road, B2
No. 15, Lane 38, Tian Yu Street
No. 282 Rui Guang Road
new shop spotted at Vieshow Cinemas Foodcourt
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
where can i find: thanksgiving 2008 in taipei?
Thanksgiving is once again right around the corner, along with suddenly cold wintery weather and on and off again rainy grey Taipei days.
Here are some options for finding turkey to-go or a night out. This is all found online, so please call to verify for yourself if you are making plans.
Last year, I ended up trying the turkey at Robin's Teppanyaki at Grand Formosa Regent. It was pricey and gourmet- meaning good but small portions with salad and dessert bar. I'm leaning towards trying the traditional sounding fare at Shangri-la this year... plus it's a buffet, so I'll definitely leave full. They better have enough sweet potatoes!
What did you all do last year? Any recommendations for other hungry readers? Share, share!
SHERATON TAIPEI HOTEL
No.12, Zhongxiao East Rd. Sec.1
(02)2321-5858 ext. 8373
The Deli, 1st FL
"Californian roast turkey" basket for NT$3,500
"Virginia Ham" basket for NT$3,000
"roasted rib eye steak" basket for NT$3,800
Baskets also comes with Bourbon whisky sweet potato, Hawaii pineapple grape dressing, pickles, mustard, roasted assort vegetable, Californian spicy corn chips salsa, and sweet potato breed.
The purchase for takeout baskets is from November 1 to December 28. Period for pick-up is November 4 to December 31.
SHANGRI LA FAR EASTERN HOTEL
201 Tun Hwa South Road, Sec. 2, Taipei
Eat in on November 27
Cafe, 6 FL
Thanksgiving specialties will be available as part of the Cafe's buffet. Pumpkin Nut Bread, Cranberry Salad, Herb Rubbed Roasted Turkey, Traditional Stuffing with Corn and Thyme, Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows and more. Desserts such as Walnut Praline Pie and Pumpkin Pie. Lunch NT$750 and Dinner NT$890 per person.
Cake Shop, 1 FL
3 day advance notice needed, available for pick-up from November 23 to 27.
Herb Roasted Turkey with Sage Stuffing NT$3,500 (good for 5 to 6 people) also includes Giblet Gravy, Cranberry Dressing, Whipped Sweet Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts and Smoked Bacon
Also available are Honey Baked Ham, Mashed Potatoes with Butter, Pumpkin Pie and Maple Pecan Pie with prices starting at NT$150.
Core Living Mall, 12 FL
NO. 138 Pateh Road, Sec 4
Nov 27, 2008
Glass of Special Selected Red Wine
Lawry's Freshly Baked Home Made Bread
Pan Cake Roll with Prawn
Lawry's Original Spinning Bowl Salad
Choose One of the Following
Atlantic Lobster Tail and Turkey Combo
Prime Rib and Turkey Combo
Served with Turkey Stuffing and Cranberry Sauce
Mashed Potatoes with Gravy
Dessert & Beverage
Freshly Brewed Italian Coffee or Fine Hot Tea Selection
NT2,299+10% per person
GRAND FORMOSA REGENT
41 Chung Shan N. Road, Sec 2
02-2523-8000 ext. 3157
3 day advance notice
“Sumptuous Turkey Basket To Go” includes a Roast turkey, side of Mixed Mushrooms, Fresh Glazed Vegetables and Mashed Potatoes (NT$3,000). Also available is 6-inch French Pumpkin Pie NT$500.
MIRAMAR GARDEN TERRACE
83 Civic Blvd, Sec 3
7-course Thanksgiving Set Dinner Menu- NT$1,200 per person includes Cream of Pumpkin Soup with Poached Quail Egg, turkey slices with gravy, potato and cranberry sauce, and traditional Pecan pie.
(02) 8772-8800 extension 2311
November until 12/31/2008
3 day advance notice
Turkey Hamper Take Away NT$2,700 per set (good for 6 persons)
133 Nanking East Road, Section 3
The Whole Roasted Turkey (5 KG) with Cranberry delight includes a home-made sauce, roasted potato, creamed Brussels sprouts, butter cauliflower, chestnut stuffing, cranberry sauce, and red wine sauce.
The Virginia Honey Glazed Ham includes roasted potato, home-made muffin, cream Brussels sprouts, butter cauliflower, and pineapple red wine sauce.
CHECKER's at CAESAR PARK TAIPEI
across from Taipei Train Station on Chung Hsiao West Road
(02) 2311-5151, extension 2237 / 2238
from 11/15-12/31 (48 hours notice)
Whole Thanksgiving Turkey basket (5~7 kg) NT $3000 or
Whole Thanksgiving large Turkey basket(7~9 kg) NT$4000
Orders over NT$5000 include a free "bumpkin pie" (haha)
COSMOPOLITAN GRILL (thanks Raven!)
218 Changchun Road, Taipei
11/27 only, starts at 6:00PM
NT$790/person + 10% service
* Waldorf Salad
* Pumpkin Soup
* Roast Turkey with Mashed Potatoes Brown Gravy and Cranberry Sauce
* Homemade Pumpkin Pie
3 day advance notice. Limited availability
Whole Turkey (16 lbs) with Gravy NT$3000
Whole Turkey (16 lbs) with Stuffing & Gravy NT$3500
Whole Pumpkin Pie (9”) NT$650
In addition to turkey baskets, there's also roasted chicken, roasted ham, steamed mutton, Mongolian beef rib, Einsbein, and hand-made bumpkin pie (NT$480)
Check out additional information from last year's wrap up and the comments from readers who share information! I'm sure lots of places are the same more or less.. Here is the info from last year that I cut and paste from last year's wrap up.
azie at GRAND FORMOSA REGENT HOTEL (LAI LAI)
41 Chung Shan N. Road, Sec 2
(02)2523-8000 ext 3157
from 11/18 - 12/24 (at least 3 days notice)
Turkey Basket for Takeout (NT$2,750)
6kg turkey with stuffing, traditional cranberry sauce, turkey gravy, various steamed vegetables, mashed potato, and a special Turkey Leftover Cookbook for guests to transform leftovers.
7-inch Pumpkin Pie is also available for NT$500.
LANDIS TAIPEI HOTEL
41 Min Chuan East Road, Section 2
3 days notice
Roast cranberry turkey (6 to 6.5 kg) for six or eight persons. (NT$3,200)
with 6-inch pumpkin pie.
Core Living Mall, 12 FL
NO. 138 Pateh Road, Sec 4
thanksgiving day only
NT$2299 + 10%/per person
Roast Turkey or Prime Rib
Salad and bread
Asparagus with bacon
Glass of wine
8 Dun Hua North Road
Tel: (02) 2778-8800
thanksgiving day only $980/person
Seafood Pumpkin Soup
House Garden Salad
Roasted Turkey with mashed Potatoes (spuds !!!)
Turkey Stuffing & Homemade Gravy
Candied Yams, Green Beans, Cranberry Sauce
No. 312 Chung Hsiao E Road, Sec 4
thanksgiving day ONLY
Cranberry Salad With Gorgonzola , Chicken ,Walnuts
Pumpkin Cream Soup
Roast Turkey With Cranberry sauce ,Honey Ham ,Candied Yam and Corn
Pumpkin Pie with Ice Cream Covered and Cranberry Sauce
After calling, the information on the web seems to contradict what the hotel is saying. There is only Take out from Azie, no eat in. The dining in at Robin's DOES include turkey though the website says it does not.
Robin's Grill and Teppan at GRAND FORMOSA REGENT HOTEL (LAI LAI)
41 Chung Shan N. Road, Sec 2
(02)2523-8000 ext 3157
on thanksgiving day ONLY
NT$1,350 per person for Lunch and NT$1,550 per person for Dinner. 12pm - 2pm
6pm - 10pm
Choose soup: Butternut pumpkin soup with crab and lemongrass flavor or Chestnut cream soup with morel and black truffle
Appetizer and salad bar: Pumpkin lune with scallop and rosemary butter
Choose main course: Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey with giblet gravy and cranberry sauce, glazed sweet potato, brussel sprout with bacon and truffle mashed potato
Roasted US prime rib of beef with bordelaise sauce,
Surf n’ Turf with 3oz fillet stea, half rock lobster thermidor and grilled halibut
Choose dessert: Pumpkin and blueberry cheesecake or Pecan pie with pumpkin sorbet accompanied by Coffee or tea.
COSMOPOLITAN GRILL (thanks Raven!)
218 Changchun Road, Taipei
NT$800 + 10% for Person
Roast Turkey with Mashed Potatoes, Brown Gravy and Cranberry Sauce
Homemade Pumpkin Pie
RUMORED TO HAVE:
CAFE at GRAND HYATT TAIPEI
No.2, Sung Shou Road, 1FL
on thanksgiving only
Roasted turkey part of the regular buffet
8, Lane 93, Shi Da Road
Taipei 106 Taiwan
(02) 2369 9751
Eat in and take out
JAKE's COUNTRY CAFE
705 Zhongshan N Rd, Sec 6, Taipei
(02) 2871 5289
turkey for 6-8 people with stuffing and gravy NT$2300
Eat in and take out
JASON's SUPERMARKET at 101
5 days advance notice
Turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie and tea
frozen turkeys 6kg for NT$750-1000
DEAN AND DELUCA(at Breeze)
Breeze Center, B2F
N0.39, Fu-Hsin S Road. Sec 1
(02) 6600-8888 ext 7301
SHERATON TAIPEI HOTEL
12, Chung Hsiao E Road, Sec 1
Basket with turkey and trimmings -stuffing, 3 different sauces, veggies, etc.- for 3000. Order 3 days ahead at least.
AGORA GARDENS HOTEL
No. 68, Sung-Kao, Rd.
Package for 2500NT
Sunday, November 16, 2008
CLOSED/new in town/dessert: VVG BON BON
VVG BON BON
Sat/Sun:11AM - 11PM
Kid friendliness: no high chairs. displays of candy and sweets everywhere- be prepared to buy something for the kids unless they have no sweet tooth!
Visit reviewed: 7/27/2008
Dining in VVG Bon Bon is like dining in a girly candy store, with its pink walls, glass containers filled with various kinds of candy and rows of cupcakes and sweets to tempt you with. A fantasyland for the 10 year old girl in you or the place not to go when you have a dentist appointment the next day.
I went with three friends for a brunch meeting and it was pretty full at VVG Table- and the waiter suggested we check out their newly opened and nearby third venue- VVG Bon Bon. From the moment you see the entrance, with doors painted purple and white, it's like entering a wonderland far away from the busy streets of Taipei.
There's even a self-serve cotton candy machine and frosted sugar cookies on top of the counters. They should totally give out free cotton candy to people as they leave, as one waiter did for us at Simon in Las Vegas. The restaurant pays only for the sugar and gets the result of the giddy squeals of happiness of the customers who have totally reverted into their childhoods- and word of mouth.
For first impressions, VVG Bon Bon does a great job. Even their business card is eye-catching cuteness, with rows of cupcakes adorning the restaurant's name.
A perfect place to meet friends for afternoon tea or brunch, or maybe to host a baby shower or birthday. They have 4 set menus on their clear plastic menu, all including a cupcake and raspberry soda drink for NT$580. The menu combos looked promising, but ultimately were all much smaller in portions than I expected for the price.
We all ended up ordering different things so I got to eye (and taste) the different meals. The most filling is probably the Bon Bon Bon Bon with the red wine beef stew.
Second most filling is the Bon Bon set with the angel hair noodle soup and french toast. I thought the french toast would be the main feature of the set, but it's actually the noodle soup.
Well, proportion wise, the salad was the biggest and the french toast was the smallest. Plus the french toast had raisins in it (eww).
I chose the crepes (the Bon Bon Bon) since I thought that wouldn't be too heavy. It was TINY. I suppose you could still call it a crepe, but I guess I was envisioning Mamm Goz sized crepes.
After picking all the dill off of the crepe and eating it in two bites, I traded it with my friend for some of his angel hair soup. I hoped my own soup and salad would fill me up.
Unfortunately, it didn't.
The hungry look on my face was probably evident, since everyone offered some of their dish to me. When some guy friends mentioned to me that they liked VVG Bon Bon, I was surprised. I asked, Really? You were full from one set? and the response was, Are you ever full eating at VVG? And I guess it's true- VVG's standard presentation is always beautiful, delicate, but the food never makes you 100 percent full.
The same with their cupcakes. The waitress brought them over with the set and explained what they were in Chinese, so I didn't catch everything, but brought four different kinds for our four different sets. They were almost too cute to eat and at this visit, the exotic flavors like fig cupcake just left me wanting for something more traditional, like a cupcake from Ginjer. The thick frosting was more for show and not taste and the cupcake was dense - there should have been more fluffiness and air in both the frosting and cake.
It should be joyful to eat a cupcake, but in this case it was work. It makes me sad when I don't even want to finish the cupcake.
If I were to go again, maybe I would request to choose my own cupcake. That might make for more happy pairings with the cupcakes and the customers who are going to eat them.
I have been mulling over this review for a long time- for over four months- and VVG Bon Bon isn't so new anymore and I wonder if their menu has changed. The flavors could satisfy any gourmet, but the portions for the price you are paying is just a big factor in a city where you could order a table full of delicious things for the same amount of money which is almost US$18. For that price, I'd rather wander over to Nonzero which has definitely stepped up its game since I reviewed it last year, or L'Idiot which serves a pretty decent brunch and even better set lunch menu.
But in any case, I've never seen anyplace like VVG Bon Bon, and it's definitely something to see in person. The food should be better than the equally pink and girly Hello Kitty Sweets or a great place to browse if you are picking up favors for your latest party.
View Larger Map
news: TAIPEI BEEF NOODLE SOUP FESTIVAL
I miss it every year, but yesterday I passed by the 2008 Beef Noodle Soup festival in a taxi and didn't have time to stop! I'm going to try and go today, but it depends on if I can squeeze it in before some family commitments.
But if you are reading my blog today (Sunday, Nov 16th), be sure to wander over to the area in front of Taipei City Hall (at the end of Ren Ai Road, not too far from 101) for the last day of the festival and sample some of the competitors for Best Beef Noodle Soup in the city. Maybe your own personal favorite won't be on the list. But it's one stop shop to check out all the recent favorites.
I'm not sure how it works - so if anyone who has been before can share how it works- entry fee and free samples? Or buy by the bowl?
Both the Chinese and English versions of the busy website are a bit hard to navigate, but check them out for more info.
Here is a better article about beef noodle soups in Taipei.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
CLOSED! burgers/new in town: i strongly recommend CALIFORNIA GRILL at Dun Hua
CLOSED! (a/o july 2010)
website: californiagrill.blogspot.com hasn't been updated in over a year
hours: 11:30 AM - 10 PM
$-$$ Cash only
Kid friendliness: very small space, about 10 seats on booths.
Visit reviewed: 10/23/2008 and 11/13/2008
I had been wanting to try California Grill for awhile- with my first attempt at the Yong Kong Jie branch before they were ready for business.
So lucky for me, a friend introducing a friend from out of town chose this newly opened Dun Hua branch for lunch- a tiny nook right behind the Dun Hua S Road Sogo. I didn't know they had opened a new branch, though I probably would have spotted it sooner or later as I'm in that area a lot.
California Grill makes classic burgers without too much frills- they do have a few house variations, such as the Mofo Burger (topped with two slices of bacon, garlic mayo, american cheese and bbq sauce), teriyaki chicken, salmon burger, or even a tofu burger. You can add fries or salad and ice tea or soda for extra NT$50.
If you can't decide, you can order the Sliders (NT$250), which are mini-burgers where you can sample four different types of burgers.
Like their menu states, it's a classic burger- hot, beefy, juicy grilled patty, two hearty slices of tomato, and each part of the burger is proportional to its parts, unlike other places where the lettuce is bigger than the patty.
I love that California Grill gives you TWO slices of tomato and it's probably how I would make a burger if I was having a bbq. They serve it open faced and you can see the grill marks, and then you assemble it together and try to make it fit in your mouth!
I got the Western Bacon Burger (NT$205) which comes topped with not only bacon, but also onion rings, bbq sauce and cheese.
The first time I went a few weeks ago, they didn't offer a set lunch combo. But now they have a pretty good weekday lunch special- 1/3 pound beef or teriyaki chicken or tofu burger with fries or a salad and ice tea for NT$155 (which is like getting the side and tea for free). I got it today with the side Valley Girl salad (mixed greens with diced tomato, cucumber onions and sprouts with oil vinaigrette) and ice tea and extra side of onion rings.
I'd choose their onion rings(NT$40) over their fries- as the rings are fried just right, crispy with a thin layer of batter and served with a side of bbq sauce (which you could also put on your burger).
For those that don't eat beef, there is also a grilled or panko fried chicken burger (NT$155) as well as a grilled or fried tofu burger (NT$135). This is not a ground up pretend garden burger- it's a grilled slice of tofu with sesame and ginger glaze for the vegetarians out there. Have you ever wondered why vegetarian fare offers things that look like the "real thing"- doesn't that sort of defeat the purpose of being a vegetarian? I dunno.
There's also a few salads to choose from, as well as milkshakes, beers and sodas (Dad's Root Beer) to guzzle down.
For those of you missing your hometown (LA) burger joint while in Taipei, you should definitely check out California Grill. Though the space is small, it's a cool classic diner-like atmosphere with shiny red seats and white tables. If you're in a rush, you might to call in your order as sometimes (like today) they are handling large to-go orders.
53-1 Yongkang St, Taipei
(02) 2343 5111
View Larger Map