Torafuku – Dine Out Vancouver 2016

Our first Dine Out Vancouver for 2016 was at Torafuku. I’ve been wanting to try this new restaurant ever since having a good meal from their sister food truck, Le Tigre. The Dine Out menu was $30 per person.

The interior is minimalist with barely any renovations. There is one long communal table and some booths on the side. We had made reservations early in advance but unfortunately we were still given bar seats. S was quite disappointed since he had wanted a more intimate seating. Bar seating was fun to watch the kitchen, but it definitely wasn’t very comfortable.

Love the wooden plates. Definitely has that hipster ambiance.

Since we were seated at the bar, we got a good view of what was going on in the kitchen.

One Fish, Two Fish

Apparently, we were only allowed to choose one appetizer per two people for the Dine Out menu. We were slightly upset with that since we had already heard that portions would be small. (It did say in fine print at the bottom of the online menu, so my fault for missing that!) Anyways, we chose One Fish, Two Fish. This was a bowl of sashimi salad with salmon, tuna, and geoduck sashimi on top of salad greens and wakame mixed with a sesame dressing. I quite liked this as the mix of seaweed and greens gave a nice texture, but I wish there was more dressing as it was slightly bland. Loved the texture of the geoduck though and the sashimi was quite fresh.

Pickled Cucumber and Radish

While waiting for our entrees, the server brought us a complimentary side dish of Pickled Cucumbers and Radish to share. I enjoyed the pickled flavour and it definitely opened up my stomach for more food.

Call of Duty (CoD)

For my entree, I chose the Call of Duty (CoD). If you go through Torafuku’s menu, they have such witty names! This consisted of crispy ling cod, clams, root veggies, and handmade gnocchi in sake a kumbu broth. The fish was moist and my favourite was the handmade gnocchi. The broth was very flavourful as well and I could’ve had a whole bowl of this. Veggies were slightly undercooked for my preference. Overall, a good dish, but the portion was way too small! The fish was almost half the size of usual portions.

Kare Kare

S got the Kare Kare, which I preferred out of the two entrees. It came with seared beef blade steak, on top of a 3 grain risotto, with pickled veggies, oxtail, and peanut ragu. The flavours were delicious and the beef was cooked to a beautiful medium rare. Again, portions were way too small though. This was more like an appetizer.

J-E-L-L-O

For dessert, the menu online had said we could choose between two options and I had seen pictures of others from the week earlier order the second option. However, our server told us that there was only the J-E-L-L-O that night. Quite disappointed since I wanted to try different desserts. However, the J-E-L-L-O has got to be one of the best desserts I’ve had in a long time. It was an oolong infused yuzu jello, with condensed milk ice cream and topped with crispy salted caramel. The dessert was light and refreshing and the milky flavour paired well with the slightly citrus jello. I had nothing to complain about this and could eat this over and over again!

Overall, I was quite pleased with the dishes from the Dine Out menu. However, we both agreed that the portions were way too small! Especially the fact that we had to share an appetizer between the two of us and it still costed $30 per person. Service was also a bit cold. No one really checked up on us. We also ended up having to pay a visit to McDonald’s to fill up. I’m curious to see what it’s like during regular service though and will need to make a revisit to try their regular menu.

Pros:
– Great flavours on Asian-inspired dishes
– Jello dessert was the bomb!

Cons:
– Portions are small
– Seating isn’t very comfortable

Price Range: $30/person (DOVF menu)

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3.5 Service: 2.5 Ambiance: 2.5 Parking: 3 Overall: 3

Torafuku Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sanpoutei Ramen

Sanpoutei Ramen opened up a few weeks ago and has been the talk of the town. Located just between Parker Place and Aberdeen in the new Kam Do Square, they feature Niigata style ramen. They have been having crazy line ups for the past few weeks so I would suggest trying them once the hype has died down if you don’t want to wait. We went on a Friday night around 6pm and luckily only waited around 15 minutes.

In the waiting area, you will find their ramen noodle maker. They make their noodles in house whereas many other ramen shops purchase their noodles.

I think the biggest differentiation of Sanpoutei is how nice and spacious the interior is. Decor is beautiful and you don’t need to be cramped with bar seating in front of a steamy kitchen like many other ramen shops.

Tori x Miso Spicy Ramen

I got the Tori x Miso Spicy Ramen which comes with 2 slices of aburi chashu, half a flavoured soft-boiled egg, stir-fried vegetables and minced chicken for $13. Unfortunately, I think my bowl missed the egg. Their spicy broth is much thicker than the others. The noodles really soaked up the broth so I was left with very little at the end. However, I liked the broth as it had just the right amount of spice level without covering the miso flavour. The noodles are a flat wide wavy type and very different from the usual. If you like chewy noodles, this is perfect for you. I quite liked this change from the usual.

Niigata Shoyu Ramen with Special Full Topping

S went all out and got the Niigata Shoyu Ramen with Special Full Topping for $14.50. This comes with 4 slices of aburi chashu, a full flavoured soft-boiled egg, dried seaweed, bamboo shoots and spinach. I tried the broth and it is definitely very different from your typical pork bone broth. It had a strong fish stock and they mention in their menu that this is from the dried sardines they use. We both agreed that we loved the aburi chashu very much though. It has a very nice char and the ratio of meat to fat is perfect with the fat melting in your mouth. Soft-boiled eggs were pretty good but Marumata’s is still the best.

Deep Fried Spring Chicken with Oroshi Ponzu Sauce

We also got one of their appetizers which were the Deep Fried Spring Chicken with Oroshi Ponzu Sauce. No gyozas here but three choices of fried chicken. The fried chicken itself was very crispy and well made, but the ponzu flavour wasn’t very apparent. For $6, this only came with 4 pieces, so it was pretty pricey.

Tsukemen

On another occasion, K visited Sanpoutei and tried the Tsukemen which she raved, so I might as well include it here. For $12.50, this comes with a flavourful broth of dried sardines and bonito and a side of cold noodles which you dip into the hot broth. It also comes with a full flavoured soft-boiled egg and bamboo shoots. With this menu item, you get 30% more noodles, so perfect for bigger eaters. You also get a jug of wari soup, which is a plain soup stock. Your pour this into the dried sardine soup to finish your noodles.

Overall, I was quite pleased that there is a new addition to ramen choices in Richmond. The style of ramen is quite different so a nice change. However, ramen is on the pricier side starting at around $12 a bowl. Friendly service and nice ambiance.

Pros:
– Quality chashu and noodles
– Beautiful decor and ambiance

Cons:
– On the pricey side for quantity
– Long waits

Price Range: $15/person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 4 Ambiance: 4 Parking: 3.5 Overall: 4

Sanpoutei Ramen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Buckstop

I had won a dinner for two at Buckstop from the 12 Days of Giveaway of Nomss so we headed to the cozy restaurant on Denman on a Friday night. The winning was a Social Shopper voucher for the American BBQ Feast for 2 valued at $59 for the price of $28.

The restaurant is very narrow with a bar at the front. Seating is a bit tight but I loved the ambiance with the dim lighting. Service was alright even though we were using a Social Shopper.

Phillips Blue Buck Ale

On Friday nights, they have select pints for $5. We chose the Phillips Blue Buck Ale since we like lighter beers. I noticed that they ended up charging us $6 (their regular price) but I didn’t want to fuss about the $1 difference since we were already using a Social Shopper voucher.

Fried Dill Pickles

The American Feast for 2 comes with all of the following items I’ll mention. First were the Fried Dill Pickles which was served with a cajun aioli. These were lightly battered and had a nice crunch. I did find them a little too sour but they were good when eaten between the meats.

Hush Puppies & Corn Bread

Next up were the Hush Puppies and Corn Bread which were served with a honey butter. These were still warm and I quite enjoyed the hush puppies as they were not too dense.

American Feast for 2 Platter

The main platter of the American Feast for 2 is more than enough food for two. This included two Smoked Chicken Legs and Thighs which had a nice barbecue flavour to it, but the meat was a little dry. In the middle was the Pulled Pork Sandwich featuring a Portuguese bun filled with a ton of pulled pork and sauce. It was odd that only one burger came and that it wasn’t cut in half for sharing. S and I really enjoyed the burger though as it was very flavourful and the meat was moist. However, the sauce was very wet so the bun became soggy. On the far right were St. Louis Pork Ribs. The meat was extremely tender and fell right off the bone. Flavourwise, it was rather bland. It needed the help of the homemade BBQ sauce to make it right. For sides, my favourite were the  Kennebec Fries. They were not the crispiest, but when dipped in their homemade ketchup, they were amazing! The ketchup had a bit of an onion flavour to it. The Navy Beans reminded me of chili as they were smokey and not your boring canned ketchup beans. Not bad, but again, they were rather dry. The Dijon Aioli Slaw was underwhelming and we didn’t end up finishing it.

Overall, we were quite happy with Buckstop. There are some hits and misses but overall we didn’t have too many complaints. Plus I really enjoyed their homemade sauces and most of their meats were tender. Nice spot on Denman to grab drinks and Southern food. Will revisit to try other items.

Pros:
– Most meats were tender
– Awesome homemade sauces!

Cons:
– Pork ribs fell short in flavour
– Seating is narrow and a bit tight

Price Range: $20-30/person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3 Parking: 2.5 Overall: 3.5

Buckstop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chatime (Surrey) – ChineseBites Media Event

NOTE: As part of the ChineseBites media event, all beverages were free, but all opinions are based on my own personal experience.

Chatime is expanding again! For all you Surrey peeps out there, no longer do you have to make the trip to the other locations for your fix of Chatime! The newest addition is in Whalley, right next to Surrey Central in a strip mall. I was invited by ChineseBites to their soft opening and was able to try any drinks I liked.

My favourite thing about Chatime is the ability to customize. You can choose the sugar and ice level. I find that most of their drinks are on the sweeter side, so 50% or less is the best. There are also many toppings to choose from and each topping is $0.50.

I brought K along to the event since we are both fans of Chatime. Our go-to item is always the Roasted Milk Tea with Grass Jelly, but since we were able to get our drinks comped, we decided to be adventurous and try drinks we’ve never tried. The first was the Tieguanyin Tea Latte. The drink is divided into layers when you first receive it and after shaking it, you get sort of a milk tea. It’s much thicker than their normal milk tea though. The tieguanyin tea flavour really came through and is perfect for those who enjoy the tea itself. One of our new favourites.

We were curious about what the Oriental Beauty was all about, so we gave it a try and added aloe vera. It turned out to be a tea based drink and was rather sweet due to the aloe vera. We couldn’t figure out what kind of tea it was, but it’s definitely one of those Chinese teas. Quite refreshing actually.

K really enjoyed the Oolong Tea. We added rainbow jelly in it so it was a bit odd due to the sweetness. Also, the jelly is too big to go through the straw. The tea itself is very strong though so more on the bitter side. K loves bitterness of oolong tea so it was perfect for her.

The Matcha Mousse is topped with a thick layer of cream and tastes sort of like a frappucino but without all that crushed ice. Instead, there are just ice cubes at the bottom. I thought this was average as it was quite gritty. Strong matcha flavour though.

Our last cold drink we tried was the Jasmine Green Milk Tea with Grass Jelly. This is pretty good and I would order this again to change things up. The milk tea was smooth and had a nice jasmine tea fragrance to it. It was also my first time trying their hot drinks and we got the Roasted Milk Tea with Pearls. We asked for it to be warm instead of hot so that we could drink it right away. Plus, you don’t need to worry about sucking up the pearls and burning your tongue. This was great and lived up to their cold version! I would highly recommend getting this during the winter.

Overall, Chatime at the Surrey location did not disappoint. Pearls are still on point with a nice chew and not overly sweet. Drinks come in two sizes and most start at around $4.30. This location also has a decent amount of seats for you to enjoy your drinks.

Check out my prior reviews from my visits at the Broadway location: Visit #1 and Visit #2

Chatime Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Singapore & Taiwan Trip (Day 15)

On the very last day of our trip, we took it pretty chill. Actually we were taking it pretty chill the last few days since we had seen most of our “must-sees”. Our flight would be around 11pm that night so we actually had pretty much a whole day. I’m a sucker for interesting snacks from different countries, so I dragged S to the closest grocery store with me. Ximending is pretty touristy, so the closest one was actually a Carrefour 家樂福桂林店. It was a bit of a walk, but I wish we had found this earlier since the snacks and drinks here are much cheaper!

We picked up this Lychee Beer at Carrefour and enjoyed it while walking back to Ximending.

S got hungry and he couldn’t leave Taipei without his fair share of fried chicken. If you have been following my posts on this trip, you probably know that we have been eating fried chicken every day…literally… Anyways, he went to Ji Guang Fried Chicken 繼光香香雞-西門店 again. Always a line up here!

This time, we also picked up the Deep Fried Oyster Mushrooms. Pretty good! And of course the Fried Chicken was tasty!

And when I said we were taking today chill, I was serious about this because we headed to Tom’s World to shoot hoops again… S will never get sick of this place. I guess we were just trying to act like locals.

If you head down to the very end of Ximending, you will find that there are many theaters here. I think there are around 3 right next to each other. So trying to act like locals, we decided to catch a movie.

We chose the IMAX 3D theater called Vieshow Cinemas 信義威秀影城 and watched the Tightrope. Movie tickets here are around NT$430 so pretty expensive! You can however bring outside food and beverages from in.

The theater is pretty big and American movies are played in English with Chinese subtitles. The only downside is that any parts with a foreign language are subtitled with Chinese.

After the movie, we walked around and grabbed some snacks in Ximending for an early dinner. We then went back to our hotel to grab our luggage and got onto a taxi to Taipei Main Station. From there, we took the airport bus #1819. We arrived with enough time to spare and we headed back to Hi-Life convenience store to drop off our portable wi-fi. We then checked in and had our last meal at Mos Burger at the food court. Our terminal didn’t have much food for some reason…

IMG_5872

And that was our 2 week trip to Singapore and Taiwan! I am already reminiscing the good food and times we had on our trip. Can’t wait for our next trip! Until then, back to Vancouver eats!

Details:

Carrefour: No. 1, Guilin Rd, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108

Ji Guang Fried Chicken: No. 121 #1, Hanzhong St, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108

Tom’s World: 5th floor of Wannian Plaza: 70 Xining South Road, Ximending, Taipei

Vieshow Cinemas: No. 20, Songshou Rd, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110

Singapore & Taiwan Trip (Day 14)

The next morning, we decided to head out Ximending to look for food for brunch. This place is always bustling with people!

Luckily, many of the street vendors had already opened up. First up was this Green Onion Pancake stall. You can add different flavours or even add cheese or pork fluff to name a few.

We decided to get the original and it cost only NT$25. I wasn’t expecting much from this, but this was probably the best Green Onion Pancake I’ve had! It had such a nice char and they brush on this sweet soy sauce. Delicious!

Continuing on, we tried this Grilled Tempura. Lightly brushed with a sweet savoury sauce, this is fun to snack on. The pieces are quite big though, so i got a bit sick of it after one. Good for sharing. NT$30 for a skewer.

I also decided to get some Hong Kong Style Curry Fishballs. What was I thinking getting fishballs in Taiwan? Yea…these were not good. The curry was not apparent. Perhaps I should’ve gotten the flaming spicy flavour. NT$30 for 4 fishballs.

Getting thirsty, we headed to a 7-11 to look for some drinks. I got the Apple Milk while S got the Papaya Milk. I love how convenient these 7-11s are and how cheap the prices are. The papaya milk was really good while the apple milk was alright. I found it to be slightly tart so it tasted odd.

What to do in Ximending after you’ve visited almost every shop? Go to Tom’s World again and shoot some hoops. S loved this arcade so we ended up doing some exercise and shooting hoops again…

I finally convinced S that we should leave Tom’s World and go do some exploring since we traveled all the way here. Well, we ended up checking some items off my to-do list and that included buying souvenirs. ChiaTe Bakery 佳德糕餅 is known to make some of the best pineapple cakes (鳳梨酥) and it’s a must buy when visiting Taipei! I believe they only have one bakery in Taipei and you can get here by taking the MRT to Nanjing Sammin station and walking straight ahead after you take Exit 2.

When we entered, it was quite a mayhem inside with all the tourists grabbing the pineapple cakes off the shelves. The pineapple cakes are not cheap as they around CAD$2 for one. They have different fillings as well, but after trying many, I still think the original pineapple filling is the best. The filling is not overly sweet and doesn’t stick to your teeth. The outside cake is buttery and flaky. Highly recommend! They also sell other products like wife cakes (老婆鉼).

After doing some pineapple cake shopping, I suggested we visit the  Wu Fen Pu Garment Wholesale Area (五分埔). You can get here by taking the MRT to Songshan Station. It is an area known for the largest wholesale garment market in Taipei.

The area is a huge maze with many shops selling mostly women’s clothing and accessories. I did find that the styles were not as trendy as the ones in Shida and Ximending though. Still, not bad and I picked up some cheap scarves. Because S was super bored shopping with me, he suggested we go play bowling at E7 Play (AGAIN). Well, unfortunately, since it was a weekend, the place was super busy and we wouldn’t get a spot until late.

So instead, I suggested we do more touristy things! We took the MRT to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall station and visited the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. This is a memorial to the Republic of China’s National Father, Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

Dr. Sun is known for his Three Principles of People: nationalism, democracy, and the people’s livelihood.

Inside the main entrance, you will find a statue of Sun Yat-sen. There is a changing of the guards every hour but we had missed the last one. The building also displays Sun’s life and the revolution he held.

There are also gardens around the memorial hall and you will find many young dancers practicing here. It’s also a perfect spot to see the full Taipei 101.

After, I suggested we visit Ice Monster since it would be a short walk from the the memorial hall. They are famous for their shaved ice.

You can either order take-out or sit in. It was rather chilly that day so we chose to sit-in. The cafe is brightly lit with wooden decor. You order and pay at the entrance and they will bring you your dessert to your table.

We chose the Fresh Mango Shaved Ice because that’s pretty much their signature item. The ice is super light and comes with a scoop of mango ice cream and tofu pudding on the side. At first, we thought there was very little mango but it was actually all on the bottom of the bowl. There were tons! It’s around NT$250 and great for sharing between friends.

After dessert, we took the MRT back to Ximending 西門町and wandered the streets again. You can never get sick of this place! Love the lively crowds and at night you will see many street performers.

S couldn’t resist and had to try the Hot Star Large Fried Chicken 豪大大雞排 at the Ximending location. This location is extremely busy as well.

At this location, they also have a variety of other snacks and also drinks. The wait here was much longer because they have so many other menu items. There is really only one guy who makes the fried chicken so the wait was super long.

At last, we got the Large Fried Chicken again. S and I both agreed that the one from the Shilin location tastes better for some reason…

We also got the Fried Scallop and Squid Balls. These were seasoned with basil leaves so quite tasty. I didn’t really taste any scallop in it though.

I was also on the hunt of Stewed Pork Rice 魯肉飯 so we got take-out at Tian Tian Li 天天利美食坊. They also have sit-in.

It looked pretty underwhelming but it actually tasted okay. Just hard to eat while standing. I didn’t think it was very special but it’s quite the comfort food for locals. Plus it’s only NT$25!

Thirsty, we found a corner shop further away from the busy shops called Mei Tea 梅子兔. Look for the bunny rabbit and the long line ups.

We got a classic pearl milk tea to finish our night off. It was a long wait but this was very smooth and satisfying! Headed back to the hotel and did some packing as we would be leaving tomorrow night.

Details:

Tom’s World: 5th floor of Wannian Plaza: 70 Xining South Road, Ximending, Taipei

ChiaTe Bakery: No. 88, Section 5, Nanjing E Rd, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105

Wu Fen Pu: Yongji Street, Xinyi District, Taipei, Taiwan

Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall: 505, Section 4, Ren’ai Rd, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110

Ice Monster: No. 297, Section 4, Zhongxiao E Rd, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106

Hot Star Fried Chicken (Ximending location): No. 36, Hànzhōng St, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108

Tian Tian Li: No.1, Lane 32, Han Zhong St., Wan-Hua District, Taipei City

Mei-Tea: No. 7, Lane 50, Xining S Rd, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108

Singapore & Taiwan Trip (Day 13)

On our last full day in Taipei, I suggested that we check out Yehliu Geological Park 野柳地質公園. However, Taipei finally decided to rain on our last two days. It started off as light rain in the morning so I convinced J and S that we should still go. Yehliu is a cape in the town of Wanli, New Taipei. It is around 1.5 hours by public transportation. We took the MRT from Ximen STation to Taipower Building Station. From there, look for the 1068 bus towards Nanshi. You will get off at the Yehliu Geopark stop. It is then a 5 minute walk to the entrance but it took us much longer because it began to pour. It is also extremely windy here as it is on the coast. There were people selling rain ponchos as an umbrella really did no help with the wind and heavy rain. Admission is around NT$80 for an adult.

Yehliu Geopark is famous because of the amazing rock landscapes created by nature. Because of the waves and rock weathering, there have been many interesting rock formations. One of the most famous is the Queen’s Head (女王頭). We found this later on but it was raining too hard to get a good picture. We instead got a picture of the duplicate of the Queen’s Head which is really a replica. The real one looks pretty much the same.

We also found this leopard chilling in the park. This is also a replica because the real one had collapsed back in 2010 during a typhoon.

Of course, the park is not filled with these replicas. The park is pretty big and there are signs pointing you to formations that you may want to see. It was raining quite hard and the real formations were quite far out so we didn’t end up seeing too many.

One of my favourites were the Mushroom Rocks. So cute!

They also have Ginger Rocks and Camel Rocks but we didn’t end up seeing them.

If you look carefully, the real queen’s head is the tiny rock with a circle of rocks surrounding it. You can walk down to the bottom level to get a better view. As it was raining and freezing cold, we really weren’t in the mood to look any further. A bit of a waste, but I’d love to come back to visit next time when it’s sunny. Really interesting if you’re into geology!

We were hungry and cold so we decided to eat at the closest restaurant. There are many seafood restaurants further away from the park near the town, but we were too exhausted. We quickly headed into Shark Bites Toast 鯊魚咬土司野柳店 which is next to the Yehliu Ocean World.

The restaurant is a milkshake and western food cafe. We started off with a Papaya Smoothie even though we were freezing cold. Pretty good.

J got the Pesto Risotto which he said was pretty good.

S and I shared a few snacks. First was the Deep Fried Chicken Nuggets topped with fries. Pretty good but not as good as the ones from the street or night market. Plus it’s pricier.

We also got the Deep Fried Chicken Wings which were also topped with fries. Again, they were average. Nothing too special. After lunch, we decided to just go back to Taipei city center. My original plan was to go to Keeleung for it’s famous night market. This would be around an hour of public transport but would be worth it since we were already quite far from the city. We were all tired and cold from the rain so unfortunately we skipped this. I would highly suggest checking out other cities nearby since you are already so far out from the city. Many people choose to go to Jiufen or Yangmingshan National Park on the same day.

After drying up back at our hotel, J took us to Rahdesign Cafe. You can get here by taking the MRT to Dazhi Station. The cafe is perfect for coffee lovers as they are famous for their coffee. Apparently three national champions from the World Barista Championship opened this cafe.

The inside is pretty hipster and has ore of a European feel. You’ll find many locals here with their laptops doing homework and such.

I got the Matcha Latte and it was beautifully presented with latte art filled to the rim. Very good!

I think J got an Americano or some sort of coffee…

S got the Ice Cream Coffee. This was my favourite! So good!

J also suggested we get the Mochi Waffles. These are so good! Drizzled with honey and topped with a very light whipped cream, the waffles are filled with chewy mochi inside. Prices are around NT$100-170 for beverages, but still a must try! Such a cute cafe to visit!

J then suggested we visit the Miramar Entertainment Park. You can take the MRT to Jiannan Road station to get here. This is a shopping mall which is famous for their IMAX theater with one of its movie screens being the largest in Asia.

Another famous attraction at the mall is the Ferris wheel on the roof of the mall. It is the second tallest in Taiwan.

We weren’t really in the mood for shopping, but the guys were in the mood of bowling… E7 Play was pretty far and we felt like it would be busy, so J did some searching and found Yuan Shan Bowling Alley 圓山保齡球館. It is near Jiantan MRT station and also right across Shilin Night Market.

When we walked in, the first thing I noticed was how old it looked…and also a weird smell inside. Anyways, if you are looking for a retro bowling alley, this is for you. Apparently it’s been open since the 1960s… Look how old the point machine is…

The alley is quite terrible. The lanes are rugged so your ball does not bowl straight since there are dents on the lane. The balls also have dents everywhere so nothing rolls smooth. The balls were also really oily and everything felt dirty inside. Price was also not as cheap as E7 Play. Our pinsetter would also screw up multiple times. It was just a disaster.

Since we were right across Shilin Night Market, we decided to go there again for dinner. I’ve been seeing stalls selling these Flame Grilled Beef Cubes 火焰骰子牛. They place these beef cubes on a grill and then torch them with a flame. NT$100 for a portion.

These were so disappointing though! They were way overcooked and super chewy. The beef had so much fat attached that you could not chew. Really sad because I’ve heard great things about them.

While the guys were lining up for the beef cubes, I couldn’t help but look over at the next stall selling mini sausages. A small bag for NT$50!

Mmm these are really good and fun to eat!

We decided to head down to the basement floor and sat down at this restaurant. They offered a variety of classic Taiwanese dishes.

J was really hungry so he got a bowl of Beef Noodles. He said this was just average.

We decided to give these Bite-sized Crab a try. I was slightly creeped out by all the crab legs and the fact I was just eating mini crabs with the whole shell, but these are deep fried so they are very crispy. They are only seasoned with pepper and salt. Not bad and would be good for sharing with a large group.

We also got this Grilled Squid but I didn’t like it at all. Again it was only seasoned with pepper and salt, and I found it to be rather unflavourful. It still had that slimy texture as well. I was expecting the ones at Japanese restaurants, so it was quite a disappointment.

As J would head back to Kaohsiung that night, we decided to have some Taiwan Beer to end the night. A very light beer so it was easy to drink!

We also headed to 711 to check out some local snacks. We found the Honey Beer this time and throughout the trip, I’ve been trying out almost all their flavoured beers. I quite liked this one as it has a sweetness to it. They sell these in the BC Liquor stores now, but at almost CAN$4 a can!

J also told us that these snacks are really good. They are actually instant noodles with seasoning packs where you shake it up and eat the noodles dry. Not good for you, but great as a midnight snack!

Details:

Yehliu Geopark: Take MRT to Taipower Building Station and take #1068 bus towards Nanshi and get off at Yehliu Park stop: No.167-1, Kangton Rd.,Yeh Liu Village, Wanli Dist., Xinbei, Taiwan

Shark Bites Toast: No.167-3, Kantung Rd., Yehliu Village, Wanli District,, Xinbei, Taiwan

Rahdesign Cafe: 1/F, No.1, Lane 9, Dazhi Street, Zhongshan District, Taipei

Miramar Entertainment Park:

Yuanshan Bowling Alley: 6, Zhongshan N Rd Sec 5, Taipei City

Shilin Night Market: Take MRT To Jiantan MRT Station and follow the rest of the crowds!: Betweet Dadong Road, Danan Road, Wenlin Road and Jihua RoadTaipei, Taiwan

Singapore & Taiwan Trip (Day 12)

After a late night out, we started our day off rather late and met up with J and SC again. Since they are pretty much locals, they took us around Ximending for brunch to show us the top eats. The first stop was Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle. When we arrived, there were tons of tourists crowded around the area either in line or eating.

They really only sell one thing and that is the Flour-Rice Noodle. A large bowl goes for around NT$65 while a small is NT$50. S and I decided to share a bowl so we got the large, but it was quite big! Essentially, this is a hot bowl of really soft rice noodles along with pork intestines in a very thick flavourful broth. The pork intestines threw us off a bit but the chewiness gives it a pretty good texture. You can add vinegar and chili sauce to make it even better. The broth is really good and makes a great breakfast. There is always a line but it moves really quick.

Walking around, we found that there were many food carts around and we saw the peanut taro ice cream wrap again! We first had this in Jiufen, and were excited to have it again because it’s that good!

This is so addicting and perfect on a hot day. Love the crunch and sweetness of the peanut brittle shavings along with the ice cold taro ice cream.

After grabbing some snacks on the street, we wandered the streets of Ximending and J suggested that we go to Tom’s World Arcade on the fifth floor of Wannian Plaza.

The arcade is pretty big and there are a variety of games. Our favourite was this air hockey which is great for four people and the number of pucks it spits out is ridiculous at points of the game. Not your typical air hockey table for sure.

The boys loved playing the basketball game.

S and I took our dancing skills to the test with this awesome Dance Dance Revolution which senses your motion.

After some fun at the arcade, we headed back to the streets of Ximending and looked for more snacks. J said that the Ji Guang Fried Chicken 繼光香香雞-西門店 is really good. It is super easy to spot as it is the corner shop with the 1973 sign in red just across the Ximen MRT station.

The guy is super friendly and they make sure the batch of chicken is fresh and that you’re not getting pieces of just fried batter.

We got a freshly made batch and it was steaming hot. I like how these like popcorn chicken so easy to eat on the go.

After some snacking, we took the MRT to Nanjing Station as we wanted to visit Chun Shui Tang 春水堂. They are famous for their milk tea and claim they are the founders of pearl milk tea. You’ll find that many of the famous milk tea restaurants will claim so…

We started off with a dessert which was the Brown Sugar Cake. I quite liked this as it was sort of chewy and not overly sweet.

Of course we couldn’t come here without trying the milk tea. We got a classic Pearl Milk Tea and a Tieguanyin Pearl Milk Tea both in the large size. They feature the tiny pearls which I quite liked and the top was foamy from the shaking of the milk tea. My favourite was the Pearl Milk Tea as I found the Tieguanyin to be a little too strong in the tea flavour so it was a bit bitter. If you love to drink tea though, this might be a good choice for you. Their bubble teas run a bit on the higher end at around NT$150-170 for a large size. Very big though so you can easily share with a friend.

 

After snacking (once again), we decided to check out the bowling alley since J and S love bowling… J suggested we go to E7 Play 三重店 which we had take the MRT to Taipei Bridge Station and then take a short walk in a pretty random area. Such a witty name because E7 Play in mandarin means “let’s play together”.

Bowling here is super cheap. I think it was around CAD$12 a person for three hours unlimited play and free shoe rental. What a deal! I found it funny that they also have nail clippers here, perfect for us girls who break their nails easily. And they even have tape to cover your nails.

The lanes are pretty new and we had no complaints. Be sure to bring someone who can speak mandarin here though as their English is limited.

After bowling, we took the MRT to Jiantan Station to visit the famous Shilin Night Market. Despite there being a Shilin MRT station, the closest to the night market is actually Jiantan Station. Shilin Night Market is one of the largest and most popular night markets in Taipei. It is also the one that most tourists will visit.

The first stall you will see when you are coming from the MRT station is this yellow fried chicken stall. We saw a huge line up so we quickly got in line.

Look at all that oil…so unhealthy but so good! Fried chicken is around NT$70. I found most items in Shilin to be more expensive because it’s where the tourists go.

We ended up being quite disappointed with the Fried Chicken from this stall. It was actually more of a grilled type of chicken even though it is deep fried. It didn’t have the salt and peppery taste we were expecting but rather a teriyaki like sauce. I would skip this next time.

While the boys were lining up for the fried chicken, I headed over to the next stall which was Fried Milk.

The Fried Milk here is very good! The lady warned me to not eat it right away because it is piping hot. The outer layer is crispy and the inside is sort of like a mochi texture with the milk flavour being strong. Remember to take small bites when you eat this!

J said his all time favourite is to eat at Zhong Cheng Hao Oysters 忠誠號. This is a sit in restaurant although I think you can order to go. Sit in turnover is pretty quick though and you can even order one item to share and they won’t question you. Look for the red signage.

They are famous for their Oyster Omelettes so of course we had to get this. Man, this was the best I’ve had. The egg is fried so the edges are crispy and the amount of gooiness was just right. I also loved the sauce they used. A must try!

We also got the Deep Fried Stinky Tofu. These came with a side of picked cabbage as they usually do. These were pungent but perfectly crispy on the outside with the sauce being soaked in in the centre.

The famous Hot Star Large Fried Chicken is what people come to Shilin for. They actually have one in Ximending as well which we try on a later day, but we think that this is the best location to get it. Of course, there is a line up, but it moves pretty quick as usual. For just around CAD$2, you get a HUGE piece of fried chicken.

The size of the fried chicken is literally the size of your face. It is so crispy and flavourful and is great to share because you will get too full eating this on your own. You can also choose between regular or spicy, in which the latter gets chilli powder sprinkled on. I hear they have a chain store open in Toronto now, but at a price of around CAD$8 a piece…

Shilin Night Market also had an underground food centre that seems to be less popular for tourists. Here, you can sit down to eat your food so great if you want to skip the pushing and crowding outside. You will find more seafood type items that require more care in refrigeration.

That night, it began to rain, so it got pretty messy. Rain and night markets don’t mix well. We decided to just grab one last drink and head back to our hotel. This stall featured the Frog Eggs Drink.

This is of course not actually frog eggs! Rather they are clear tapioca-like balls that look like frog eggs. We got this served with aiyu jelly and it was cold and refreshing. There is not much flavour to it but only the lime flavour.

Details:

Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle: No.8-1 Emei StreetTaipei, Taiwan

Tom’s World: 5th floor of Wannian Plaza: 70 Xining South Road, Ximending, Taipei

Chun Shui Tang (Nanjing branch): 105 Taipei Nanjing East Road Section 4 No. 182 1FTaipei, Taiwan

E7 Play: 241, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Sanchong District, Zhongyang S Rd, 63號B1

Shilin Night Market: Take MRT To Jiantan MRT Station and follow the rest of the crowds!: Betweet Dadong Road, Danan Road, Wenlin Road and Jihua RoadTaipei, Taiwan