Sunday, March 12, 2017

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Have you tried the Taiwan-style Herbal Chicken Claypot soup, Chicken Rice and Braised Tofu and Egg all at once?

At 龍涎居雞膳食坊, you can have all of them together. Hidden in the labyrinth at Shihlin Night Market, the restaurant offers various kinds of Herbal Chicken and other local dishes.

I stumbled upon this place when I was recently in Taipei. The weather was chilly and a bowl of delicious hot soup usually warms the cockles of my heart. And it did, indeed.



Cooked with milk, the Herbal Chicken (牛奶埔雞) offered a different flavour to the usual herbal/medicinal taste. The chicken was tender but I wished it could be more tender. The soup was delectable. (Food rating: 2.5/5)


Prepared differently from the local Sesame Chicken (麻油雞), the Sesame Chicken in Taiwan-style tasted different. Instead of spicy and savoury, the Sesame Chicken has a strong wine taste. The Taiwan-style is more soupy whereas the local Asian style was a little dry. (Food rating: 3/5)


The golden mushrooms served in sesame oil (麻油金針菇) was interesting. Served together with ginger slices, the fungus dish could be more fragrant. The sesame oil somehow lacked fragrance. I was a little disappointed. (Food rating: 2/5)


The braised boiled eggs or 香Q蛋 was beautifully cut and the taste was mild, yet fragrant. Do order one when you are there. (Food rating: 2.5/5)


Using pressed or firm Tofu, the braised tofu 香Q豆干 was fragrant and the texture was great! (Food rating: 2.5/5)


The Taiwan-style Chicken Rice (雞肉飯) is very different from Singapore's famous Hainanese Chicken Rice. The Hainanese Chicken uses the chicken stock, garlic and ginger to cook the chicken and the rice. As for the Taiwan-style, it uses steamed white rice top with plain chicken shreds and then drizzled with a sweet braised sauce. Served in a small bowl, it complements both the soup and the side dishes. (Food rating: 2.5/5)



Address: Shilin Night Market, Lane 101, Wenlin Rd, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111
Price: $
Rating: 3.5/5
Stuffness Level (How full you are): 5/5 (A wholesome meal)
Recommended dishes: Braised Tofu, Sesame Oil Chicken

Friday, March 03, 2017

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Whilst travelling, I always feel important to try their local food. This goes the same for Taipei.

Like Yih Yih Restaurant, Shin Yeh Restaurant (欣葉) is also one of the oldest Taiwanese restaurant in Taipei City. It is a fine Taiwanese Cuisine in a contemporary setting and its brand name as brought a wholesome dining experience for more than 30 years.

The restaurant is equally popular among locals and is crowded during peak hours.

 
I always wonder how the chef is able to cook such a fluffy omelette. The Fried Eggs with dried Turnips was savoury and rich with the preserved dried turnips. The most important thing is that the omelette had a nice fragrance or "锅气". I can definitely finish this with just a bowl of porridge. (Food rating: 4.5/5)

 
Chicken and rice wine hot pot is a very strong hot pot. The alcohol percentage was very high and I felt a little groggy after taking a few sips. The chicken, on the other hand, was very tender. (Food rating: 3.5/5)

 
Surprisingly, this is one of my favourite items - Deep fried lean pork coated with fermented rice paste. The name itself did not attract me much but the taste was phenomenal. I love the texture and taste. It is not Char Siew or Honey Glazed BBQ Pork if you are thinking along that line. (Food rating: 4/5)


Similar to our local popiah, Shin Yeh offers fresh spring roll filled with cabbage, bean sprouts and peanuts. (Food rating: 3/5)


Spinach stir fried with garlic


The Steamed Shark Fin with pork, chicken and sea cucumber in casserole had a lot of herbs and the ingredients were very generous. I felt as if I was having Buddha Jumps Over the Wall. The portion was enough to feel four people. (Food rating: 4/5)


I love this too. The steamed buns were filled with lean pork and preserved cabbage. It reminded me of the Chinese Burger or 藍家割包. The buns were chewy and the ingredients were amazingly delicious. I love to have another one again.


The cuttlefish rings deep fried to golden brown colour with basil leaves were delicious. The basil leaves exuded a nice fragrance and peppery taste. However, the flour on the calamari was too thick. It somehow spoilt the dish. (Food rating: 2/5)



Soya boiled lean pork with bamboo shoots was amazing. The pork was very tender as if they were boiled for long hours. The sauce was fragrant and would go well with steamed rice. (Food rating: 4/5)


Address: 106, Taiwan, Taipei City, Da’an District, Section 4, Zhongxiao E Rd, No. 112
Price: $
Rating: 3.5/5
Stuffness Level (How full you are): 5/5
Recommended dishes: Chinese Burger, Deep fried lean pork coated with fermented rice paste, Fried Eggs with dried Turnips
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Yin Yih Restaurant [銀翼餐廳], opened in 1947, is one of the oldest restaurants in Taipei and offers many popular traditional Taiwanese dishes.

Due to its popularity, it is very crowded on weekends and you have to make table reservations. At lunch hours, I had to leave my number until a table is available. However, it did not take very long. 

The xiaolongbaos (小笼包) differs greatly from the ones from Din Tai Fung. The dumpling skin was thicker as if you are having steamed buns. But the skin was spongy and chewy. The meat was sweet and savoury. Although it is delicious, I prefer the thin skin meat dumplings. (Food rating: 3.5/5)

 
The Lion's Head meat ball was interesting. The meat ball was huge that it was enough for two persons. The meat was tender and juicy at the same time. It is worth to try. (Food rating: 3.5/5)

 
If you had glutinous rice before, you will find that the noodles have the same flavour. The dried shrimps were savoury and the noodles were a little chewy. After having a couple of mouthfuls, I stopped as it was too flavourful for me. (Food rating: 3.5/5)


 
A simple shredded pork noodles, this noodle dish was a delight, simple and wholesome. I enjoyed this bowl of noodles more than the other one. (Food rating: 4/5)

The waxed pork belly was supposed to be a highlight but it was not suitable for me. The waxed meat was salty and it was not something I like. Perhaps it is what the locals like, which I do not appreciate. (Food rating: 2.5/5)

The rice crackers with tomato sauce was interesting but not something that I will want to order again. The tomato sauce is too sour and salty and did not suit my palate. (Food rating: 2/5)  



Address: 2F, No. 18, Sec. 2, Jin-Shan S. Rd, Taipei, Taipei, Taiwan 108
Price: $
Rating: 3/5
Stuffness Level (How full you are): 4/5
Recommended dishes: Xiaolongbaos

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For travellers who are in Taipei for no more than 48 hours, you will definitely be thinking where and what shall I spend my time in the city?

I share some ideas how I spend my weekends in less than 48 hours in Taipei.

DAY 1
The usual hotel check-in time is at 3pm. If you are arriving early in the morning, you may consider the following tourist sights.



(1) National Palace Museum
Visit the Jadeite Cabbage with Insects, is a Chinese sculpture. It is a piece of jadeite carved into the shape of a Chinese cabbagehead. It also has a locust and a katydid hiding in the leaves. Advice: Visit the museum at the opening hours.


(2) Chiang Kia-Shek Memorial Hall

Watch the change of guards ceremony that happens hourly. It will be best to watch the first hour to avoid a huge influx of tourists.

After the visit, you may head to the city for lunch. Ximending is one of the good places to stay as there is a vibrant location and yet offers lots of food in the Wanhua district.

Zheng's Pork Knuckle (鄭記豬腳飯) (read more...)
Address: No. 22, Yánpíng South Rd, Zhongzheng District Taipei City, Taiwan 100
Price: $
Rating: 4/5
Stuffness Level (How full you are): 4.5/5
Recommended dishes: Braised Pork Belly, Braised Pork Knuckle, Braised Pork Intestines and Milkfish



I found out about Zheng Ji's Pork Knuckle when I searched in the website. Mainly patronised by locals, it is an simple shop offering only three dishes, pork knuckles, pork belly and milk fish. This shop closes on Sundays.

By the time you complete your lunch, how about exploring Ximending before checking into the hotel?

Chengdu Carambola (or Star fruit) Ice (成都楊桃冰) (read more...)
Address: No. 3 Chengdu Road, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108
Price: $
Rating: 3/5 
 
 

We had a large cup of Starfruit drink from one of the oldest stall in Ximending. Opened in 1966, the stall continues to sell the taste quenching star fruit drinks, made from no preservatives and chemicals. It is refreshing indeed.
 
Have a quick nap before you head for the Night Markets. Taipei is well known for its night markets that you will be spoil for choice.

Shihlin Night Market (read more...)
This is a very popular night market amongst tourists. There are a lot of food and things to eat and shop.


Raohe Night Market (read more...)




There are many good food at Raohe Night Market, which is also one of the furthest night market from Ximending. Do try the Black Pepper Meat Bun baked in the brick oven. Prepared similar to the oven-baked naan or flatbread, the black pepper meat buns (福州世祖胡椒饼) were fantastic.

There are other night markets such as Ningxia Night Market, Tonghua Night Market, etc. According to the taxi drivers, Raohe and Shilin Night Markets are very touristy places that charges more expensive than the smaller ones.
After a long night, head back to the hotel to rest.

DAY 2
Join the locals and tourists alike for breakfast.

Try Fu Hang Dou Jiang (read more...)
Address: Hua Shan Market, No. 108, Section 1, Zhongxiao East Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
Price: $
Rating: 2.5/5
Stuffness Level (How full you are): 5/5
Recommended dishes: Flatbread with egg, Soy drink (normal) and Soy drink (salty)

The queue in front of us
The queue behind us

Opens as early at 5.30am, Fu Hang Dou Jiang (阜杭豆漿) is a one and only dou jiang brand in Taipei, unlike its competitor, Yong He Dou Hua. A word of advice, you must be there before 7am. I arrived at 7.20am and got to order around 8.30am. The queue was long but the time to finish the meal was quick.
 
Finally, after a hearty meal, check out from the hotel.

Some lunch ideas...

Kingwueng Pork  金園排骨 (read more...)
Address: No. 70 Xining South Road, Wanhua District, Wan Nian Da Sha, Wanhua District, Taipei, Taiwan 108
Price: $
Rating: 4/5
Stuffness Level (How full you are): 4/5
Recommended dishes: Fried Chicken Thigh, Fried Pork Ribs and Deep Fried Tofu.



The pork ribs (排骨) were very tender and nicely marinated. Although the ribs were deep fried, the ribs were very well drained. Came together with the ribs was the pickled Japanese cucumbers. They were small but extremely refreshing. It removed the queasiness when you eat something fried. I highly recommend this place as it is mostly patronised by the locals.  

Fu Hong Beef Noodles (read more...)
Address: Luoyang St, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108
Price: $
Rating: 4.5/5
Stuffness Level (How full you are): 4.5/5

   

Highlighted in a popular Taiwanese Variety Show, I hunted down the restaurant and found it near Ximending area. Located about 10 minutes' away from Ximending, the restaurant was a humble stall with simple furniture. The beef noodles are extraordinary and the shop is always patronised by locals. 

Before going to Taoyuan International Airport, head to the Taipei Main Station.

There is a huge underground mall beneath Taipei Main Station that may kill some time before heading to the airport.

Near M2 Exit, you may try the Taiwanese dessert from Xiaonanmen (小南门传统豆花).


The dessert is one of the best ones I have ever eaten and I enjoyed this immensely. There are other outlets around like at Taipei 101, etc. It is easily accessible.


If your stomach can still hold more food, why not drop by the 7-Eleven in Taipei City. I loved their fish cakes in spicy broth. It is addictive.

Finally, take the Taipei Airport Line to Taoyuan International Airport. The taxis takes approximately 60mins and costs TWD1,200. The train/ subway ride took about 35 minutes' journey time. It has reduced the travelling time significantly. The express coach bus, Kuo Kuang, has ceased its operations recently to welcome the new subway line, which officially opens on 3 March 2017.

At Taoyuan International Airport, go to Homee for a meal before you board the plane. There was only one or two restaurants in the restricted area and the food is not bad.


Thursday, March 02, 2017

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Chef-Owner Chi Pin Han's new The French Table outlet in Punggol gives the main courses layers of complexity that go beyond the standard French cooking.

It took me three dinners at The French Table before I saw the restaurant that other people had been excited. 

The first two times were take-outs where the food was perfect as if it was served directly from the kitchen. The food quality was very high even though it arrived 40 minutes after the order.

The third time, I went to The French Table at Waterway Point, Punggol. A long queue was already formed at the evening peak hours. We had the same dishes we ordered for takeout again to see if there is any difference.

The French Table has a simple interior with a dessert fridge as the storefront. The wooden table and chairs were simple and makes people feel comfortable and relaxed while dining at the restaurant. The lighting was a little strong but it is an excellent tool for a food blogger like me. 

 
 

The classic French Onion Soup made of beef broth and sweet onions was absolutely marvelous. What wows me even more was the slice of warm baguette drizzled with truffle oil. The baguette was only toasted on demand, where the outside was slightly crispy and the inside was soft. You can see this often when you are dining at a high end restaurant. $7.50 (Food rating: 4/5)



For the first time, we ordered the cream of wild mushrooms. The soup was cream-riched and the mushrooms had rich aroma. The soup was divine. Compared to the classic French Onion Soup, the cream soup has its alluring flavour that you cannot stop asking for more. $7.50 (Food rating: 4/5)

 

A simple mashed potato can swooned you to the moon. The potato was well mashed that it was a very nice creamy puree. The butter and milk was generously added into the puree. Just a simple starter delighted me immensely. I felt that I was floating. A definite must-have when you are dining at The French Table. $4.80 (Food rating: 5/5)

 
 

For mains, I ordered a serving of Crabmeat Linguine Aglio Olio with Wild Mushrooms. The Japanese-style poached egg was placed atop the pasta. I broke the egg yolk and the yolk flowed out like a volcano lava. Mixed well with the pasta, and viola, the pasta was ready. The sauteed crab meat was fresh and there was a nice sweetness. The linguine was perfectly cooked in al dente style. The chewiness was delightful. The mushrooms were delicious and had a nice aroma that went superbly well with the overall pasta. $15.80 (Food rating: 4/5)


I ordered this main dish for the first time. The ribeye was pan seared and served with salad, steak fries and red wine sauce. The beef was tender even though it was cooked to medium. The charred corners of the steak were extremely delightful. Reminiscing the taste makes me salivate. The fries were cut from fresh potatoes that gave that nice flavour. This is definitely one of the better steaks I have ever eaten at an affordable restaurant. A must try when you are here. $21.80 (Food rating: 4/5)



Although Tiramisu is an Italian dessert, The French Table did a superb job in making this. The dessert was filled the mascarpone cheese and the flavour was magnificent. $8.80 (Food rating: 3.5/5)

 


Traditional Crème brûlée, originated from France, is a dessert consisting of a rich custard base infused with Tahiti vanilla topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. The dessert took some time to be served. The custard was a little sweet for me but it was a very nice dessert. $7.80 (Food rating: 3.5/5)



The French Table, to date, has settled its roots in Northpoint (Yishun), West Coast Plaza (Clementi) and Waterway Point (Punggol). Even so, the restaurant maintains its high quality and I must applaud to the chef who made these food out from his heart. The food has touched me deeply. I am looking forward to try more dishes from The French Table. 
Address: 83 Punggol Central, #01-31, Waterway Point, Singapore 828761
Price: $
Rating: 4.5/5
Stuffness Level (How full you are): 5/5
Recommended dishes: Mashed Potato, Classic French Onion Soup, Signature Crab Meat Pasta, Ribeye Steak and of course, Tiramisu. 

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