Nov 21, 2018

Philadelphia Roll...Almost (with Salmon, Cream Cheese, and Avocado)

The true Philadelphia roll might be calling for smoked salmon, cucumber, and cream cheese, but there can be some variations. Instead of smoked salmon, I used fresh sashimi grade salmon instead, also swapped out cucumber with ripe avocado. But I'm not worrying too much about the ingredients, it's the rolling action that can get quite tricky. Sometimes the fillings are falling out, or the sushi shape is not holding tightly. Well, it takes some practice, just make sure to have someone (or yourself) on site to help vanishing the not-so-perfect food. Nom nom nom.

Philadelphia roll -


  • 1/2 cup sushi rice (or short grain rice)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • Some sushi grade salmon
  • Some cream cheese
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • Some nori sheets
  • Some light soy sauce (to serve)


Mix the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Make sure the sugar and salt have been fully dissolved. 

Cook the rice like usual, but once ready, fluffy the grains with pre-mixed seasonings. Try to fan and fluff the grains at the same time, keep cool till temperature drops and ok to handle by hand. 

Pre-cut the cream cheese and salmon into strips. Remove the pit and scoop out the avocado. Try to cut into similar shape.

Wrap the bamboo mat with plastic wrap, it'll prevent rice from sticking all over and easy cleaning afterward. 

Lay one sheet of nori on top. Wet both hands with pre-boiled/drinkable water and spread some rice over nori.

Place the salmon, cream cheese, and avocado on one side.

Grab both the mat and the nori sheet, roll over the fillings, like surrounding the fillings, and squeeze to firm up the round shape of the sushi roll. Release and keep rolling till the end and squeeze again to firm up the shape. 

Transfer the roll to a cutting board and slice to serving pieces using a very sharp knife. Otherwise the fillings can get squeezed out without a clean cut. 

Serve with light soy sauce.

Sometimes I also make the rolls but only with cream cheese, regular rice, and nori sheet. Don't even bother to make the grains into full on sushi rice. It's like my simple afternoon treat before dinner.

By the way, making sushi rolls can be quite a hassle in the beginning. Check out some videos online and see how people roll up sushi if there's any doubt. Otherwise, trial and error always work, use less rice and fillings to begin with help too. Also make sure to have a little helper to make all the not too good looking ones disappear! 

Nov 15, 2018

Da-Wan Yakiniku Dining Restaurant Taiwan - French Kissing that Beef Tongue

When talking about Michelin-starred restaurant, it's easy to imagine a place with great ambience, clean, tidy, or more so elegant. Somewhere you kind of have to dress up for, or perhaps a fancy place to bring your lovely date. 

Not quite the case for Da-Wan Yakiniku Dining Restaurant Taipei, which was crowned one Michelin star earlier this year. It was crowded, like shoulder touching shoulder kind of tightness. It was also smoky, but inhaling wagyu grilling fume once a while, that I can endure.

So I locked my bag in the cabinet, the only place free from grease and smell. Then dived right into yakiniku heaven.

Another surprise is that Da-Wan put a dining time limit for regular dinner hours. Starting at 6 p.m., 1.5 hours for two rounds, these time slots can get very popular, especially during weekends, so reservation in advance is highly recommended.

After rush hour service, it gets more chill and easier to enjoy a few drinks at ease. Give-and-take, do you want to eat such heavy marbled beef during late hours? I get it, I know some of you will say anytime. "Anytime" is the perfect timing for eating wagyu beef.

Anyways, I was worried about that 1.5 hours limit. Remembered once I was having a spicy hot pot dinner with the same time restraint. It was such rush and not very enjoyable. Fortunately, such concern did not surface at Da-Wan.

I guess Da-Wan trained their crew well. Their SOP was impeccable. Some staffs in charge of plating or prepping ingredients, some focus on grilling and customer service, like chatting and socializing, and one other guy helped in slicing cooked meat, putting everything in order. Very efficient after all. 

Wanting to try more food, I even put in a few extra orders towards the end. They still managed to finish all my meal, from raw meat to perfectly cooked dishes. By the time I walked out Da-Wan, it wasn't even 1.5 hours yet. Didn't feel rushed at all, a lot has to do with their flawless service.

The best way to start a wagyu filled night, of course a few drinks. Da-Wan is conveniently located near MRT station, only few minutes walk. So either public transportation or take a cab, just don't drive there, drink responsibly.

Nearly all items come with an image that customers can refer to on the menu, otherwise, the staff is more than happy to show you what are the differences of these wagyu parts. It can get confusing sometimes.

Considering a high-end yakiniku joint, one must try at least few wagyu dishes here, making it worth the trip, worth the hassles of getting a weekend dinner seat.

Set menu is also available, you get to try some fancy parts at a fairy reasonable price. Good for first timers. Get a set course then order one or two a la carte items as extra.

Parts and flavors chart -

Other dishes - 

Drinks -

Plum wine on the rocks -

Always love that dense sweetness and sourish taste, a great start to a rather fat-heavy meal.

"Kyodo mizuna and cabbage salad, served with fried tofu and sesame dressing" -

Have to be honest here, the salad was here just to balance off the heavy meaty meal coming up. But surprisingly it was quite delicious. The amount of sauce used here almost overtaken the actual veggies, but the two elements bond nicely, adding each other's strength. And there're crunchy tofu cubes creating one extra layer of texture. Not light but very flavorful salad indeed. 

Beef tongue duo -

Being a fan of beef tongue, I have to order both beef tongue dishes on the menu. The strip-looking one is the end part of the tongue. Usually you'll find restaurants simply slice it into thick pieces. But at Da-Wan, they separate a whole section of the tongue "vertically," also not cutting the pieces all the way down. That's why these pieces are still connected and grilled as a whole.

Not just grilling and serving, after the first grill, the thick-cut beef tongue was put aside to rest for few minutes, then back to the grill again to get to that perfectly thin crust on the surface.

No extra seasoning, but if you'd like, a gentle dip in freshly squeezed lemon juice to brighten up the flavors.

Every bite was paradise to me. 

If you had thick-cut beef tongue before, you might be able to relate to that distinct bouncy but not chewy texture. This one with one extra bonus, thanks to wagyu quality, the fat throughout even though not as obvious as other parts, but for sure it further tenderized the meat. So the more you chew, it seemed like a very thin layer of fatty juice started to come out, bouncy and somewhat juicy at the same time. Highly recommended, do not miss this one if ever paying a visit at Da-Wan.

The other part is close to the front/tip section of the tongue, usually much chewier. As a result, most places prefer to thinly slice this section. Here, served with salt and green onion -

No need to double grill.

Instead of that bouncy tongue earlier, this one is leaning towards the chewy side, but still easy to eat.

Chuck flap tail and wagyu oyster blade in the back -

This is when picture speaks louder than words.

Meanwhile we had some king oyster mushrooms in between. While most places cook the veggies alongside the meat, Da-Wan actually change to a new grill for every different item. Think about it, going through such hassles and time-consuming process, I was still able to finish all the dishes within time limit.

Also grilled twice, this time the chuck flap tail was served with yellow mustard and shio kombu, pick one to eat with. I prefer the shio kombu. Savory and packed with umami, which further enhanced the sweetness and drew out even more juice from the meat. On the other hand, the yellow mustard provided a pungent kick to the heat, in a way toned down that fatty sensation. 

And the wagyu oyster blade just melted in my mouth, literally.

Kimchi, something sourish and spicy for a taste swap -

Also two more easy drinks, lychee with orange juice and lychee with soda water -

Chateaubriand, the center part of fillet -

One thing about wagyu fat, it's not clingy at all like pork fat. If not binge eating, but rather savoring a small bite, you can better understand that wagyu fat can be so delicate, like thickened jus lightly flavored with beefy aroma. Which was also the case for this fine piece of chateaubriand.

However, not sure why Da-Wan drizzled some truffle oil over. Most people might fall for such aroma, but I'd rather savor the oil from the beef itself. With such high-quality meat, simplicity is the best.

This one should be bottom sirloin or some part around there -

I was going to order the diaphragm, but it wasn't available so the staff recommended this part instead. 

Marinated first, which was fine, after trying out some wagyu pieces, it's time to venture to the heavy seasoning zone. Helped emptying my rice bowl too.

Japanese yamaimo -

Believe it or not, it was my second favorite item of the night (thick-cut beef tongue being my first pick). So simple but why so delicious? It's like a savory beer snack but much healthier version. 

Brushed with sesame oil then dusted with salt and bell pepper powder (I suspected paprika but the staff was telling me bell pepper in Chinese, slightly different but couldn't verify at the time). 

Not sticky at all, but more of a gentle crunch, kind of like biting into thickly sliced pear. Do not miss this one, you'll be amazed.

Chicken thigh with spicy miso -

Extra order so I can finish the last bits of my rice. Put the chicken aside, the spicy miso was such a rice killer. They blended some chili flakes which added a tiny touch of spiciness but greatly boosted up the aroma, also brought up the sweetness from the miso. 

Up till that point, I was already pretty full from all the meat, otherwise I would like to figure something else to go along with leftover spicy miso sauce.

As I rubbed my happy tummy, another round of customers already waiting outside. "Make sure you won't miss Da-Wan's thick-cut beef tongue and Japanese yamaimo," my mind yelled out.

Da-Wan Yakiniku Dining Restaurant (大腕燒肉專門店) currently holds one Michelin star status.

Da-Wan Yakiniku Dining Restaurant
1F., No.22., Alley 177., Section 1, Dun Hua South Road, Da An District.
Taipei, Taiwan
011 886 2 2711 0179
Facebook: Da-Wan Yakiniku Dining Restaurant

*Reservation highly recommended, can be made 30 days prior by phone or by Facebook message after 2 p.m. pacific time.

Opening hours: 
Monday through Thursday, Sunday 6:00 p.m. ~ 12:00 midnight
Friday, Saturday 6:00 p.m. ~ 2:00 a.m.

Other Michelin-starred restaurants in Taipei:

Nov 8, 2018

No Fuss Cooking Recipe - Baked Honey Mustard Chicken Tenders

There's a bottle of whole grain Dijon mustard sitting in my fridge for a while. I can't even remember the last time I used it, or what it was for. Determined to finish it off, here's a no fuss cooking recipe. My recipe yields a saltier result, but it's perfect to further incorporate the chicken with pasta, mashed potatoes, or salad. Simple prepping and easy cleaning, also helped me to empty that bottle, can't ask for more.

Baked honey mustard chicken tenders -


  • 8 to 10 chicken tenders
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 clove grated garlic
  • Some chopped parsley


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit/176 degrees Celsius. 

Remove the tendons from chicken tenders and transfer to a baking dish. 

Take a bowl and mix in the salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, grated garlic, Dijon mustard, honey, and lemon juice. Use less salt if a lighter taste is preferred. Pour the sauce to the baking dish and make sure all sides of the chicken are coated with it.

Into the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Check on it, flip and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and sprinkle some chopped parsley to brighten up the flavor.

On top of chopped parsley, lemon juice can also boost up that refreshing touch. You can also grate some lemon and sprinkle on top of baked chicken tenders if preferred.

I recommend to serve the chicken tenders with pasta or mashed potatoes, something starchy sounds wonderful. But well, if you choose a healthier route, salad works too.  

Other recipes using chicken tenders: