Monday, December 17, 2012

Cool Taiwan

(This is going to be quite a long post as I have been remiss of my duties lately. )

We went to Taipei, Taiwan on the first day of November. After initially reading up on Taiwan, I stopped doing research when I realized that it was futile because we were going with a group, and I only had to follow. So after knowing that Din Tai Fung originally came from Taiwan, I let it go at that and packed our bags with a free mind (well, empty was more like it. ) I only knew that we had to eat at Din Tai Fung, and that was it. 

When we arrived, it was cool. We loved the temperate climate. The airport was hazy and had a few pine trees. Dreamy climate. 

Taipei is a very modern city. I thought it would be old fashioned. Like a huge Chinatown from Manila. But  M and I agreed that it did feel like Tokyo. We were giddy. When we reached downtown, I saw many sidewalks with motorbikes parked on it. Motorbikes are the popular transportation of choice by the yuppies and some. It was Motorbike City. 

Next to Din Tai Fung, M wanted to see Taipei 101. Only there did I know about it.  Were were lucky because we were billeted in a hotel just near it. Around 2 blocks. It was so close, we had a view of it from our balcony. Lucky lucky us.

We arrived at around noon time, and we were left to fend for lunch on our own. M and I decided that we would explore the neighborhood. Just right behind Pacific Business Hotel, was this food strip of street food.
M was drawn to this stand. There were so many people lining up, and service was quick. It was just noodle soup. We waited to see how we would order. We waited for quite sometime until finally, the vendor looked at us...amused that we looked like lost kids. Or lost people. 

There's that big vat on the left side of the cart, and on the right side, hidden by the vendor ,
are  the bowls of add-ins.
We ordered the NT60 bowl - the bigger bowl. We shared the bowl just to try. 
After Googling this delicacy,
we found out that this is the very popular
Oyster Vermicelli Soup. 

The vendor tapped one of the customers to teach us how to eat the soup.
We had a choice of condiments on the table like garlic, chili and green onions.
Not bad. But I can't say I would order it again. M loved this soup. 

I was just thankful it brought back the heat to my extremities.
Next to the Vermicelli stand was this dumpling stand. The steamed dumplings would be seared for a while before serving. Again, there were so many people lining up, I waited to see how to buy from him. Alas, he couldn't understand a thing. Luckily, a young lady in an office attire understood me and spoke English. She told me that one dumpling cost NT5 or 5 Taiwan dollars. 

Shall I assume that this is Jian Bao? I LOVED IT. 
The dough was chewy and the meat inside soft and tasty.
I wanted more!

Right  across the stall where we  bought these goodies was a fast food where so many people lined up too! It was lunch break, and office people were everywhere.

I said we would have this to go, just so I can have this cute box.

And I loaded our box with A LOT of viands. Let me see. Steamed Brocolli from the top right, Spicy Oyster with Tofu in the box, lower right, Rice, Beef with Spinach. It was a smorgasbord of sorts. Our favorite was the Beef with Spinach.
It was so good. 

This was the Oysters with Tofu. Just in case you wanted to have a closer look :D

After we got our rooms in the afternoon, and after doing some more sightseeing (or walking around the block), we were invited to have dinner at---- TADA!!!!

Welcome to 
Din Tai Fung!

Xiao Long Bao!
The star of the show, and I hope you can see why. Look at those swirls, so perfect. 

Fried Pork Belly Rice.
 I know so many like this.
The chops were moist, flavorful and soft. So soft, it feels like a patty.
I wasn't too excited about it, but M liked it very much.

Fried Rice

After dinner, we walked back to our hotel and made a side trip to a the Linjiang St. Night Market. 

Fried on sticks smorgasbord

Add caption

They like their fruits.

Caramelized sweet yam or sweet potato.
If they stuck these onto sticks, it would be just like our  camote cue!

Day 2
National Palace Museum lobbyWe weren't allowed to take pictures of the pieces inside.
The next day, we went out for a day trip around town. We toured  The National Palace Museum  before lunch time. For lunch, we went to a restaurant nearby named Frogs. No, we didn't have frogs, thank God :)

             Wintermelon Soup, or so I think. It's so hard to ask question in Taiwan. 

Please correct me if I'm wrong. This soup tastes and looks like Tinola, but has wintermelon

cuts in it. The soup is so comforting. 
Steamed Lapu-lapu

Beef Tendons. Sinfully yummy :)

The Martyr's Shrine

The Chiang Kai Shek Memorial
This Cadillac was a gift to Gen. Chiang Kai Shek from 
the Filipino-Chinese community in the Philippines. 
Ain't that cool?
Under this glass topped table is a model replica of Gen. Chiang Kai Shek's usual breakfast. 
He likes his breakfast simple and healthy. 

In the evening, we went up the view deck of Taipei 101. This was a portion of the lovely Taiwan lightscape. 
Amazing place.

Red Adzuki ice cream, from the nearest convenience store.
A cool way to end a hectic day.
Day 3
On the third day, we took up the courage to take the train. It wasn't so hard. And they had a good "All Day Pass" ticket for tourists like us. We used up the card good :)

This is the underground mall at the Longshan. There are a lot of handicrafts here. 

This is the facade of the Red House. It used to be a theater which they then 
converted in to an art gallery of sorts. I love the artworks inside. All modern and whimsical and fun. 
There's also a cute cafe and a mini pasta bar. I can live there!

Check out those whimsical paintings on the wall. I love it here!

We had lunch at the McDonald's of Ximending. Shown here is a McDonald's Cheeseburger Meal. 
The burger here is not that different from ours. But ours is beef-ier, I think. 


Look at the spoon handle of the McFlurry there. 
There's a rectangular pipe in the end,  with a hook. 
No, I don't know why the spoon looks like that.

I saw this Mister Donut Shop at the mall near the train stop. The Mister Donut here has lots of cruller type donuts. And they look so pretty too, don't you think? Maybe we can have these kinds too, Mister Donut Philippines?:)
Rental bikes. How cool is that. 

Day 4

Breakfast : I'm glad I was able to try this on our last breakfast at the hotel. M was raving about these dimsum- it's like meatballs wrapped in rice. I don't know what they're called. They weren't bad. But I didn't like them as much as the--
Barbecued Pork Buns

These are actually tiny. A little bigger than a regular siomai, these barbecued pork buns
 are similar to asado siopao, but less of the anise-y taste.
Just sweet barbecue sauce smothering the pork morsels inside. Yumyum.
Breakfast buffet is not the same for me anymore.

After breakfast, M and I decided to go out for a walk one more time and bought more Pineapple Squares for pasalubong at the Jason's Supermarket, just right behind Din Tai Fung. We then decided to have lunch at Din Tai Fung one last time. 

 This time, it was just the two of us. We had some more Xiao Long Bao ( for three days in a row!), and we finally tried this Spicy Beef and Tendon Noodle Soup which Taiwan is famous for. I liked all the beefy goodness, and the beef tendon fat. But the soup was a bit too anise-y for me. Hmmm. 

I made M promise for us to drop by Cama Cafe at least once on this trip. 
I found all the cute stuff on the wall endearing. No, it wasn't for the coffee. :D 
Although, I did like the Roasted Milk Tea we had. 
They have so many cute art prints on the wall, and vintage accessories like lamps and coffee makers. 
The wood on white is just the kind of interiors I swoon for. 
Love love Cama Cafe.

My Roasted Milk Tea. 

Xie xie, Taipei. For the history and the food. We like you. We really like you. Xie, xie!


gwacie said...

LOL! The fried rice looks like an upscale version of what I order at Chow King. :p

That vintage car is so neat! Weren't you allowed to pose with it?

McDonald's and tea. That's so you. :)

Shalum said...

Hihi! Thanks Grace! Happy New Year!