Jun 30, 2009

冠宸食館 - Kuan Chen Restaurant

Yangmingshan Jhuzihu area here I come!
(“Shan” means mountain and “Hu” means lake in Chinese)
After working for the whole week, I just can’t wait to get away from the city and enjoy some local dishes with my parents!
So they brought me to 冠宸 Kuan Chen, a 11 years old restaurants locating across the street from a calla lily farm-

The calla lily farm-

Too bad the season for calla lily has passed already, otherwise I’ll get to indulge my lunch with even more beautiful view.

Back to the restaurant,
It’s unbelievable how crowded this place was.
I didn’t even see a single empty table that was empty during my two hours stay at the dining area.
Luckily we only waited for 5 minutes for our seats.

By the way,
It’s getting more and more popular for people from the city going up to suburban area during weekends,
After all, Taipei is a small basin surrounded by mountains,
That’s why there are also more and more new modern and trendy restaurants opening around the area.
But we don’t want these modernized places,
We only desire for an old school style joint to dine at,
That means no designer sofas, no AC, no Mozart in the background,
Instead, we get big round tables covered in plastics with fans blowing in the back-

Almost forgot, we also get this view outside-

Small pound with geese, ducks, and chicken.

Close up view-

Let’s move on to the main topic, our food!

First is the menu-

This is considered as our appetizer,
Flowers from betel trees, mainly dressed in vinegar, olive oil, and chili paste (涼拌檳榔花)-

Usually people are more familiar with betel nuts instead of betel flowers,
Betel nut is the hard, green colored thing, about the size of a small grape, very chewy and also tastes very scary.
After chewing it, the nuts will generate some red juices that need to be spitted out, and trust me, it surely looks like blood.
Not a very healthy thing to eat.

Good thing we are having betel “flowers” here, not the nuts!
The flowers itself has little flavor, basically we eat it for the texture, crunchy and refreshing.

Boiled chicken (白切雞)-

This dish is not that hard to prepare,
Like making soup stocks, you put some spices in the water and boil the whole chicken in it, Afterwards, you take out the chicken and cut it after the meat cools down.
Since there is no heavy flavoring, the quality of the chicken itself becomes the key factor of this dish.
The tenderer the meat is, the better.

Chicken soup with pickled white gourd and bamboo (冬瓜竹筍雞湯)-

Pickled white gourd will release its salty flavor during the cooking process,
So only little salts are needed for this dish.
I personally loved the texture of pickled white gourd, you can just smash it with your tongue,
Super soft!

Deep fried shitake mushrooms served with flavored salt-

Have to eat it when it’s hot, otherwise the mushrooms will get soggy.

Stir fry dragon beard vegetable (炒龍鬚菜)-

What an interesting name huh?
I'm guessing that people named it dragon beard because of its curly leaves.

Kuan Chen is a pretty good place to dine at (as long as the temperature is bearable),
Besides the ones we ordered, they also serve other interesting dishes that are hard to find in the city,
To name a few: stir fry lily bulbs, steamed taro rice, fried burdock, grilled mountain pig’s meat.
Yum yum!

Overall Rating: 7

冠宸食館 Kuan Chen Restaurant
Number 67, Jhuzihu Road, Yangmingshan, Taipei, Taiwan
(02) 2861-9736
(02) 2862-6408

Jun 21, 2009

勝博殿日式炸豬排 - Saboten Donkatsu

I've been craving for donkatsu for a long long time,
For sure there are many Japanese back in California,
As a result, you can find numerous delicious sushi joints, yakitori places, etc everywhere,
However, I just can't find a single yummy donkatsu place,

I wonder why, maybe it's too expensive to import good quality pork and sell it at wallet-friendly price?
But all that are not my concerns anymore, I'm back in Taiwan, and I'm lining up for my favorite donkatsu dish!
Here it is, Saboten Donkatsu Shin Yi store-

They placed some chairs along the wall for people like us, who are willing to wait for food,
Actually only me, my parents know that I've been craving for this place, so they "have to" wait with me.
We waited for 30 minutes that day,
Remember, we got there before lunch rush hour, so the wait was actually "ok."
Usually I have to wait for more than an hour if I go to the other Saboten in Tien Mu area.

So right after we sat down, they brought us two little dishes as appetizers-

Those are pickled radish and sweetened black beans, all very refreshing.
Besides that, they'll also give you those "tools"-

A set of pestle and mortar.
Yes, you'll have to grind those sesames yourself,
Freshly grind sesame has more aroma than already made ones.
After you grinded it into desired size (powder or big grains), they have a special made sauce and mustard on the side to pour on top of the sesame.
The sauce tastes a little bit sweet, mostly from the vegetables and apples they used.

You can also see fresh cabbage slices in the back,
Just eat it with ponzu soy sauce.
Absolutely love it!
By the way, those little dishes are "all you can eat!" (rice too!)

Miso soup-

Contains various ingredients including konjac, radish, carrot, onion, and more.

Main dish, my dad ordered the special set that comes with curry salt and matcha sauce-

Usually they use two different types of pork,
One is called 腰內肉, which has less fat,
The other one is called 里脊肉, which has more fat but kind of chewy.
Of course they also have pork slices or hamburger meat.

One more thing,
They only use pigs that were fed by whole wheat, and only used pigs that are 120 days old (if I remember the numbers right, yum!).

And this is the one I've been waiting for, diced scallion and grated radish donkatsu-

Served with ponzu sauce.
So refreshing, so good!
I also squeezed the citrus on the side to get more aroma for my donkatsu.

Our happy ending, dessert, which you can choose between matcha ice cream or mango pudding-

Mine costs $300 NT, around $9 U.S. Dollars,
Totally worth it right?

Cindy's Rating: 8

勝博殿日式炸豬排 Saboten Donkatsu (Shin Yi store)
6 Floor, Number 9, Songshou Road, Shin Yi Area, Taipei, Taiwan
(02) 2725-5829

Taiwan website:
Japan website:

Jun 15, 2009

伍角船板 - Taiwan, Taichung

This is probably one of my favorite tea places in Taiwan,
You'll understand why after looking at some of the pictures.


I tried my best to take this picture in the rain,
You can probably tell that this dining/tea place is gonna be huge by looking at the entrace!

I think being spacious and unique are two of the main characters for Taichung's tea places,
And this is especially the case for 伍角船板,

2 floors plus 1 underground area-

The underground area also including a big pound-

They also display some sculptures around the entrance-

Space-wise, this place is awesome, but how about food?
I think it's pretty good for a tea place,
Well, at least I considered 伍角 as a tea joint instead of as a restaurant.
They have a set menu which you can pick among various main dishes for $8 or $12 U.S. Dollars,
You also get a drink, small dessert, stewed chicken soup, and a vegetable dish with the set you picked,
Quite a bargain yeah?


I picked German pork knuckle as my main dish-

My friend picked Shaoxing drunk chicken (boneless, what a plus!), which was prepared with several Chinese herbs and Shaoxing wine-

Stewed chicken soup-

I love it, they used lots of garlic cloves while making the soup,
The aroma was unbelievable, and the chicken meat was very tender.

Vegetable dishes-

Flavorful yet not too heavy,
The bottom one contains wood ear, glass noodles, celery, and other ingredients,
They used sha cha sauce (Chinese barbecue cause) with vinegar I think, I really enjoy it.

The other vegetable dish...I don't have much memory about it...cz my friend ate it all...

Dessert, friend mochi coated with peanut powder-

I'm not a big fan of chewy dessert so no comment about it.

伍角 really is an awesome place, highly recommended if you ever come visit Taichung,
This city has so many stylish tea places,
You get to see amazing structural design and enjoy your meals at the same time,
Just by how much? Less than $10!! Definitely worth it!

Overall Rating: 7

伍角船板 - 台中
#6, Fu-Hue E Street, Shi Tun Area, Taichung

Jun 5, 2009

L'idiot Restaurant - 里帝歐

My first official lunch (excluding homemade food) in Taiwan,
L'idiot restaurant!
Wait a second, I'm suppose to eat something like stinky tofu, spicy hot pot instead of western food right?
Well, I was in the mood of trying out new places instead of searching for local dishes,
But don't be surprised, Taiwan does have lots of decent western restaurants, and L'idiot was one of them.

Some decor inside the restaurant-

I didn't get a chance to walk around and take nice pictures,
First I was kinda..shy...ok call me chicken,
And it was around lunch hour, too many customers there for me to scoop around.

The main decor is this mosaic thing, or mosaic whale,
This picture only shows a small portion of the whale, it actually circles all the way to the back-

Let's talk about food,
Start out with bread and garlic flavored butter-

Complimentary appetizer, homemade cheese on a crouton, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and honey-

Garden salad-

Pumpkin soup-

I'm trying my best here to describe the dishes since I forgot to take a picture of the menu.
The soup was very creamy, and the crunchy bacon bits on the top adds more texture to it.

Curry chicken satay with cous cous and salad-

Seared chicken breast stuffed with...., some kind of creamy ground meat, very good.
Comes with tomato and bell pepper cubes on the bottom.
The crunchy and salty skin was the highlight of this dish-

Peach parfait with toasted sesame cookie sheet-

Complimentary lollipop-

I put them in my purse and hours after...lollipop turned sugar crumbs..
I like this place,
The price was reasonable,
Well, the lunch sets are ranging from $12 to $22 U.S. Dollars,
But remember the place is in Taiwan, so $12 for a meal is not THAT cheap, and not THAT expensive of course.

L'idiot was spacious, and the service was great,
I heard they also serve brunches during weekends,
Should be a good choice for brunch in Taipei.

Cindy's Rating: 7

L'idiot Restaurant 里帝歐
1st floor, number. 156, Section. 3, Min-Shen East Road, Taipei, Taiwan
(02) 2545-6966