[Taiwan Series] Day 5 in Taipei: Polar Cafe and Raohe Night Market 饒河夜市

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The next morning, we took the THSR to Taipei 台北. We hadn’t pre-booked our tickets this time, but it was easy to purchase the tickets on the spot at the machine. The ride just takes under 2 hours from Taichung and cost under $30. We ended up purchasing some snacks to enjoy on the train ride and I picked up Chun Cui He 純萃。喝 from 7-Eleven. I was attracted by the pretty bottle, but turns out this has been the hype in many Asian countries. I got the Green Milk Tea but they have various other flavours and it was very creamy and smooth. I wouldn’t say the tea flavour was very strong though. I liked how it was capped, so you didn’t have to finish it all at once.

 

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We arrived at Taipei Main Station which is quite a large station. We ended up booking an Uber to take us to our hotel but taxis in Taipei are also quite reasonably priced.

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We arrived at Westgate Hotel which we stayed at the first time we visited Taipei. Back then, the price was actually pretty reasonable but now it costs $160 a night for their smallest room which is called Cozy Room. It has no windows but still features a Queen sized bed.

 

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I was hesitant to stay here because of the price, but the location is extremely convenient being a minute walk away from Ximending Station and the bustling young atmosphere. The hotel itself is also very clean and modern with great service and free breakfast.

 

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When you walk in, the sink and mirror will actually be right in the middle, exposed. It’s a bit weird but works out great to save time when one person is using the bathroom. Even the shower and toilet is separate so it’s a pretty practical design.

 

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The queen sized bed was very comfy and spacious. As you can see on the left, there is a fake window with lights on the inside to make it feel like there’s natural light coming in. Still, we didn’t find the windowless room to be a problem.

 

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The toilet and shower are side by side with their own doors so very time saving when you’re traveling with another guest. No need to wait for the bathroom!

 

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The shower also featured a very nice faucet with strong water pressure. The size of the shower was just right without it being too tiny.

 

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When you walk out of the hotel, you are just steps away from Ximending which is one of our favourite areas to chill. It reminds us of the Shibuya of Japan, with lots of young people, shopping, and street food. As we had visited Taipei recently, we did not do too many touristy things this time around. Instead, we visited spots that we enjoyed last time and some new spots we found.

 

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The last time I visited, I was obsessed with the pineapple cakes from ChiaTe Bakery 佳德糕餅. The bakery is a bit out of the way with not much to do in the area though. It is near Songshan Station so I suggested we take a trip there so I could purchase all my souvenirs. However, as we approached the shop, it had the longest line up ever. Not sure if it was because people were also purchasing some limited edition items for Mid Autumn Festival since the day was approaching. We decided to skip this unfortunately. You can read more about this bakery from my previous visit.

 

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Since we were in the Songshan area, I suggested we check out Polar Cafe which I first found on Instagram. If you know me well, you will know I’m obsessed with polar bears. Well, for all you polar bear lovers out there, you’ve got to check out Polar Cafe when you’re in Taipei. It’s all polar bear themed inside!

 

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I mean, look at this little light on the oustide!

 

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Polar Cafe is a cozy cafe with mostly coffees and some other beverages. The interior is simple but check out their little kitchen area. There are polar bear things everywhere up top! Even their soap dispenser is a polar bear…

 

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I ended up getting a Black Sugar Latte which was $180NTD and paid an extra $80NTD to add the polar bear marshmallow. The drinks here are definitely not cheap at almost $8 CAD for a latte. The marshmallow itself also cost another $3CAD. But if you’re crazy for polar bears like me, then it’s all worth it. Even the sleeve and napkin are so cute!

 

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S got the Mango Slush which was $150NTD, so around $6.50CAD. It was pretty good, but nothing special. But it also came in a super cute cup!

 

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I think the cutest thing is there are polar bear plushies lying around the tables and chairs. And you can enjoy your coffee with one of them! This themed cafe definitely has higher prices, but it’s justified by the amount of thought they put into making the ambiance filled with polar bears! A cute cozy spot to relax for the afternoon for all you polar bear lovers like me.

 

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As we were getting hungry, we decided to head to Raohe Night Market 饒河夜市 for dinner. This is one of the oldest night markets in Taipei and also closer in the city than Shilin Night Market which is another favourite of ours. Just for convenience sake, it made more sense to go to Raohe this time.

 

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It’s no surprise that S’s first snack would be Fried Chicken Cutlet. We found a stall tucked away in the side called Monga 艋舺ㄟ雞排. Turns out it is co-owned by a celebrity host and therefore has many autographs of other celebrities who have visited the stall. They offer a variety of deep fried goods like chicken, mushrooms, and nuggets.

 

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Of course, S got the big Fried Chicken Cutlet that was the size of a face. The chicken was piping hot, so unfortunately we didn’t get a good picture of it. However, you can choose different seasoning flavours as well, but we stuck with the classic salt and pepper. Crispy and juicy!

 

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Feeling the heat, we decided to go for some cold dessert which had sit in space. This dessert shop featured mainly shaved ice with pretty much any topping you could think of.

 

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Of course, we had to go with the signature Mango Shaved Ice. So much mango with condensed milk and syrup on top of a pile of fluffy ice. A great way to quench your thirst!

 

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Before we headed out, I noticed a bun stall at the entrance of the night market with a long line up. Of course I had to see what was going on! Turns out it was Fu Zhou Shi Zu Pepper Buns 福州世祖胡椒饼. They are translated as Black Pepper Buns. The vendor prepares the buns on the spot, by filling the dough with minced meat, scallions, sugar, soy sauce, and black pepper. Then they are baked in front of you in these well looking ovens. It’s pretty cool because they just stick the bun on the side of the well and it cooks! The line moved quite quickly as once a batch was ready, a bunch were ready to be served. We ended up taking this back to the hotel to enjoy as I was already quite full and these were still piping hot and absolutely delicious! It’s a bit spicy because of how much black pepper they put but the bottom is very crispy because of how they cook it. A must try at Raohe Night Market!

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[Taiwan Series] Day 2 in Kaohsiung: Cijin Island 旗津島, Dragon and Tiger Pagodas 龍虎塔, and Liuhe Night Market 六合观光夜市

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Since we had already hit up many of the tourist spots in Kaohsiung on the first day, I suggested we go to Cijin Island 旗津島 which is just a short 10 minute ferry ride from the Gushan Ferry Pier in Kaohsiung. To get to the ferry termianl, you can take the MRT to Sizihwan MRT Station. Take exit 1 and you will walk around 5 – 8 minutes to arrive at the Gushan Ferry Pier. Line up at the entrance and you just need to pay $15 NTD or tap your EasyCard to get on the ferry. The price is less than a $1 CAD so a great deal! You can also bring your motorbike on the ferry.

 

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This is the ferry we got on. You can sit indoors or stand outside to enjoy the views. The ride is so short that you’ll be there in no time!

 

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Once you get off the ferry, you’ll find an abundance of shops where you can rent motorbikes or bicycles. They also had these 2 or 4 people pedal cars. If you want to really explore Cijin Island, I suggest renting some type of bike. The island itself is quite small, but walking could be quite tiring. The best way to explore is to rent a bike! We ended up getting a 2 pedal car but it is actually an electric bike, so even better!

 

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If you bike straight along Miaoqian Road, there will be shop after shop of food and souvenirs. This is the main street with the most people here. If you are walking, I suggest to check out this area. I liked how we could bike and just stop in front of a stall. However, it makes it difficult for two people to look at the shops since you’ll need to park the bike somewhere and not every place has a pole to lock the bike to.

 

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At the end of the road, there was an open area with lines of stalls selling snacks. It sort of reminded me of a mini night market.

 

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I ended up getting off the bike to purchase some snacks such as grilled squid, cuttlefish balls, and aiyu jelly tea to quench our thirst!

 

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We bought the snacks and decided to bike over to the beach side to enjoy the view. And yes, we somehow ended up with this lovers pedal bike. Pretty funny but was quite comfy with some shade on top. This electric bike was great since we didn’t even need to pedal. You just need to steer and brake!

 

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The Cijin Beach is quite enjoyable. A nice getaway from the busy city.

 

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After enjoying our snacks, we continued on Cijin 3rd Road’s inner bike path and biked along the water. It’s also known as the Oceanview Bike Path.

 

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We finally arrived at the Cijin Rainbow Church 彩虹教堂 and Rainbow Arch! This was actually on the top of my list as I had saw pictures on Instagram of this spot. Turns out, everyone else also knew about this spot, so there was a huge line up in front of us. We probably waited around 30 minutes before it was our turn. Some people ahead of us were doing serious photoshoots!

 

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The Rainbow Church is definitely photo worthy. It faces the water so it gives the perfect effect!

 

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Unfortunately we came at a time where the sun was out at an angle where it would cast a shadow so it was a bit difficult to take our pictures. However, still a pretty awesome view!

 

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To the right is the Rainbow Arch. This is pretty cool too! I noticed that some people come here for their wedding photos as well.

 

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After getting our pictures, we biked a bit further and found this area with two shells. It also made a picture worthy spot. There is also a shell gallery in this area, but we skipped it.

 

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I loved biking along this path as you got a nice breeze from the water even though it was burning hot that day!

 

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Continuing along the path, we found The Big Pearl Shell.

 

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And finally, we reached the Cijin Windmill Park 旗津風車公園. This is a pretty chill area where we found many people flying kites and enjoying the seaside.

 

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There were a few food stalls as well and I decided to get a strawberry ice cream sandwich. With that, our bike rental time was coming close as we are charged by the hour. We didn’t want to pay for an extra hour, so we ended up biking as fast as we could to get back to the store in time! We ended up taking the same route back in case we got lost if we went another way. Our intense biking paid off as we made it back to the stall just in time so we didn’t have to pay for that extra hour! We then took the ferry back to Kaohsiung.

 

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After arriving back in Kaohsiung, I suggested we visit the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas at the Lotus Pond. Google maps suggested we take the bus so we did as it told. Unfortunately, it seemed like we missed the stop and we ended up going really far. After wandering around for a while trying to figure out the right directions, we gave up and decided to take a taxi instead.

 

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By then, it was already dusk, so the pictures were abit difficult to take. Here is the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas 龍虎塔 at the Lotus Pond though! You are supposed to enter through the dragon’s mouth and exit from the tiger’s mouth. Apparently, this will get rid of your bad luck and give you good luck. Inside the mouths, you’ll find paintings of Buddhist and Taoist stories. To be honest, I found it a bit eerie in there, perhaps because it was getting dark. I think you can normally also climb up the pagoda, but it was closed when we went, probably because it was getting late. I suggest coming here during the daytime to get the best pictures. It’s  just not very well lit at night so it can get a bit scary.

 

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There are actually various other attractions around the pond such as the Spring and Autumn Pavilions (春秋閣) and the Confucius Temple (孔廟). However, as it was getting dark, we decided not to visit the other spots.

 

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Instead, we decided to grab an early dinner by checking out the Liuhe Night Market 六合观光夜市. The night market opens daily at around 6pm and is located in central Kaohsiung. Just take the MRT to Formosa Boulevard Station and take exit 11 and you’ll find your way to the market.

 

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We found thsi night market to be a lot less busy than Ruifeng Night Market. In fact, there was tons of space to walk around and it wasn’t crowded at all. Even by the time we left, which was prime dinner time, it wasn’t very busy.

 

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We noticed many fruit stalls selling fruit drinks. There are papayas, bananas, oranges, watermelons, and bitter melon.

 

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I decided to get a Papaya Milk since this is a common drink in Taiwan. Deliciously creamy and refreshing in the heat! I liked how it wasn’t very sweet. Just the sugar from the fruit itself.

 

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We had wandered around the night market for a while to look for food, but to be honest, nothing really spoke to us. Perhaps, the food was very local and was not anything we were familiar with. We ended up with some beef skewers, which were good but didn’t blow our minds. I also got some stinky tofu but again, it was just average.

 

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Overall, we were pretty disappointed with Liuhe Night Market. None of the stalls really had line ups, so it was hard for tourists like us to decide which one was worth trying. And the food in general wasn’t really appealing. I’d suggest going to Ruifeng if you only have time to go to one night market in Kaohsiung.

 

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As we wandered around away from the night market to see if we could find any other snacks, a shop owner attracted me to go inside her shop. It turned out to be called 青草捌 and I can’t figure out what the English name is. The shop had a beautiful flower wall which was part of my attraction. I ended up with a Pineapple Tea which comes in this beautiful cup! The price of the tea was not cheap, but I can see why with all these details in the shop. We didn’t end up getting more food, so called it a night to get some rest!

 

 

Ya Kun Kaya Toast, National Museum of Singapore, and Singapore River Cruise

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The next morning, we decided to go to 313@Somerset, which is a shopping mall along Orchard Road. Our goal was to have our favourite kaya toast at Ya Kun Kaya Toast. There are outlets all across Singapore so be sure to try it whenever you see one. However, since we were planing to walk around the Orchard area after, this was a great spot for us. If you are deciding between Toast Box or Ya Kun, I highly suggest Ya Kun as the toast tastes much better! I started with a Hot Tea which comes with my set.

 

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Since it wasn’t our first time here, S decided to try the Kaya Peanut Toast. It is essentially the kaya toast but with peanut butter as well. If you haven’t had kaya before, it is sort of like a coconut spread. It is typically made of sugar, coconut milk and eggs, pandan, and sometimes margarine or butter. It is a common breakfast dish for Singaporeans or Malaysians. S also got a Chocolate Frosty to quench his thirst.

 

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For myself, I got the traditional Kaya Toast with Butter. Kaya toast is not exactly healthy as the kaya often comes with slabs of butter, but it tastes amazing! Guilty pleasures! The value sets also come with soft boiled eggs which you whisk together with some soy sauce and pepper. You can dip your toast into the egg mixture for a different experience!

 

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After brunch, we walked around Orchard Road and checked out some fancy department stores. We decided to check out the Singapore Visitor Centre which I suggest stopping by if you’re in the area. You can get all the maps you need and purchase any tourist tickets you’re looking for. They also have a small souvenir shop with some cute Singaporean items. On the second floor, they have an exhibition which changes and they have free tours  at 10:30 am, 11:30 am, and 4pm based on first come first serve. For example, when we went, it was close to mid-autumn festival, so they were actually teaching visitors how to make mooncakes! Unfortunately we just missed the start time!

 

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Right next to the Singapore Visitor Centre on Orchard Road is Emerald Hill, a neighbourhood which was a former home to many members of the city-state’s wealthy Peranakan community. The architecture here brings you back to the past and I especially loved the colourful buildings. Some of them are now bars so you can grab a quick drink here as well. Otherwise, it’s a nice detour from the modernized Orchard Road which doesn’t take too long.

 

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Our next stop was the National Museum of Singapore. For whatever reason, we decided we could walk 20 minutes from along Orchard Road to the museum. But it got confusing and after being lost for a while, we finally found the beautiful white building! The museum is just off the Fort Canning Park, so you can also quickly check that out. During our stay in Singapore this time, we used KLOOK to buy almost all our admission tickets. You download the app and it’s so quick and easy to use. For example, for the museum tickets, they normally go for $15SGD but we were able to get a $1SGD discount on KLOOK. It doesn’t seem much but it adds up and some of the other attractions are more heavily discounted. Plus, all you do is show them the QR code and oftentimes you can bypass the lineup.

 

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Anyways, we had a really good time at the National Museum of Singapore. Given I did not know much of the history, I found the museum to be extremely informative and well laid out. The exhibits were entertaining and dates back from 1887 to present day. You can definitely spend a couple of hours here and I have to add the exterior and interior is visually appealing! Great for those who want to get some Instagram pictures! They also had a Glass Rotunda which featured a cool interactive forest display.

 

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We also wandered over to Istana Park where we found the Festival Arch. Opposite to this is The Istana which is the official residence and office of the President of Singapore. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to visit the Istana Grounds although it is actually open to the public five days a year on special holidays.

 

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After lots of walking, we headed back towards Orchard Road to ION, a shopping mall. We were getting tired and hungry, so we decided to look around for food. We decided to settle on Hong Kong Wonton Noodle 香港雲吞面. I got the Prawn Wonton Noodle and it was actually pretty good. Noodles were chewy and broth was flavourful.

 

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We then decided to take the bus to the Clarke Quay area. After getting off the bus, we were greeted by the colourful MICA Building, also known as the Old Hill Street Police Station. There are 927 windows with colourful shutters!

 

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As we walked toward the water, you’ll find the famous Clarke Quay signage. This riverside district has some shopping, but it is more famous for the night clubs and night life along the water. Some of these restaurants/pubs are floating on water!

 

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We came to Clarke Quay mainly because I wanted to go on the Singapore River Cruise. Again, we purchased this through KLOOK because it is slightly discounted but mainly because you can cut the line to purchase tickets and it also seemed like we were able to get into a fast track line. We simply showed them our QR code and we were on the boat in no time. I suggest going on this cruise in the evening because the night lights in Singapore are very enjoyable.

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The boat is quite nice with seating outside as well as covered seating.

 

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Seating is really just benches but it is very clean. I suggest sitting outside to take advantage of the 360 view.

 

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The boat ride is roughly 40 minutes and departs every 30 minutes. The last boat departs at 10:30pm. The boat will stop by different spots such as Fullerton, Merlion Park, and the Esplanade. You can choose to disembark at the spots, but you won’t be able to get back on. I suggest just staying on to enjoy the full ride. I also liked how they had English audio playing with some basic commentary of what you were seeing. This made it informative if you weren’t sure what the buildings were.

 

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This is a great activity if you’re only in Singapore for a few days as you can see all the signature spots in just under an hour. I highly recommend this! On KLOOK, an adult ticket costs USD$17.

 

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After we enjoyed the cruise, we headed back to the Clarke Quay area to walk around the pubs. There are many Western style pubs in this area, but keep in mind that alcohol in Singapore is quite pricey!

 

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We decided not to indulge in the pricey alcohol, but instead on some dessert. Ended our night with some hazelnut cake and rested our feet before heading home!

Sweet Memory

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Sweet Memory is the sister restaurant of Memory Corner and I’ve heard great things about this spot. The interior transports you to olden days in Taiwan as it is dimly lit, even on a sunny afternoon. They mainly offer Taiwanese desserts, but they also have a few savoury dishes. The decor is really interesting, with the wooden tables and benches, but to be honest, the seating is not the most comfortable.

 

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They even have a little food stall where there is actual food kept in there. Super cute! They give you free wintermelon tea in a silver pot, and the tea is extremely good! Free refills too.

 

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Homemade Brown Sugar Cake

To start, we ordered the Homemade Brown Sugar Cake which is sort of like a jelly but dusted with brown sugar. Not for everyone as the boys at our table did not enjoy it. However, I love these jelly type of desserts, so I found it quite tast. It also comes with these two cherry tomatoes which are filled with this plum type of filling. Quite interesting, but not my favourite.

 

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Jasmine Jelly with Three Coloured Taro and Yam Balls

My favourite was the Jasmine Jelly which is topped with condensed milk. You can choose a variety of toppings such as pearls and beans. We decided to go with the Three Coloured Taro and Yam Balls which are hidden under the jelly. The jelly was really refreshing and lightly flavoured with jasmine tea. They also have Coffee Jelly or Grass Jelly.

 

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Tofu Pudding with Pearl Barley

We also tried the Cold Tofu Pudding of which you can also customize with different toppings. This time, we got the Pearl Barley. The tofu pudding is not very sweet so I quite enjoyed it.

Overall, I quite enjoyed the desserts, but the guys actually didn’t enjoy them. They thought the desserts were too bland. If you enjoy desserts that aren’t too sweet, then you’ll enjoy these. We did have an issue with one of their drinks though. The guy both ordered a Mango Slushy and it was the worst mango slush I’ve had before. It was extremely diluted and tasted like mango water. However, we let the server know and they quickly said they could remove it from our bill. So in terms of service, they were pretty nice about fixing things for us.

Pros:
– Desserts are not too sweet
– Great variety of traditional Taiwansese desserts

Cons:
– Mango slush was not well executed

Price Range: $10-20 per person

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

Food: 3.5 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Free parking Overall: 3.5

 

Sweet Memory Dessert Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Boba Boy (Kerrisdale)

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Disclosure: All food and beverages were complimentary as part of a media event, but all opinions are my own.

Boba Boy opened up their Kerrisdale location earlier this year and also recently opened one in Burnaby. The boba shop started back in Ontario and has expanded to Vancouver. They are known for their freshly made tapioca balls.

 

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The Kerrisdale location has a few two seaters up front with more seating in the back for larger groups. The space is modern and clean and lit with natural light.

 

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Who can resist the cute logo of the Boba Boy! Guess where the funny hair style comes from? Of course, it is inspired by the tapioca balls!

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The shop has a variety of drinks from smoothies, teas, milk teas, and fruit teas. As for their freshly made tapioca balls, you can choose from original, taro, matcha or sesame. The original balls are clear instead of black.

 

 

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Taro Smoothie with Matcha Pearls

The first drink I tried was the Taro Smoothie with Matcha Pearls. The smoothie was creamy but I’m pretty sure the taro was powder as the colour was too purple. As for the tapioca pearls, they are quite different from the ones from other chains because they are handmade. The pearls are more chewy and can get a bit tough if they sit in the cold drink for too long. They also stick together more but I actually don’t mind them knowing that they are hand made. They probably don’t have as many additives or preservatives so it’s much healthier. The matcha flavour is also quite strong and has a bit of a bitter taste but I like that strong tea taste.

 

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Strawberry Milk with Pearls

T got the Strawberry Milk with original pearls. How pretty is this! I didn’t get a chance to try this one though.

 

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They also offer two containers – one is a plastic one-time use cup and the second is a reusable bottle. You are required to pay an extra $2 for the bottle, but if you bring it back, you get a discount on your bubble tea. Not sure how often you’ll remember to bring the bottle though as I usually get bubble tea spontaneously, so not sure if the bottle is that worth it. But this is great if you need to carry your bubble tea around.

Overall, the drinks itself are nothing too special compared to other bubble tea chains. However, their tapioca balls which are hand made is what sets them apart. I think the chewiness is a personal preference since some people may find them on the harder side. But, overall, still a very unique feature and great that they are healthier than the usual pre-packaged tapioca.

Pros:
– Handmade flavoured tapioca balls are a unique feature

Cons:
– Some people may find the tapioca balls to be chewier than usual

Price Range: $5-10 per person

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

Food: 3.5 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 3.5 Parking: Paid street parking Overall: 3.5

 

Boba Boy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Faubourg Paris

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Disclosure: All food and beverages were complimentary as part of a media tasting, but all opinions are my own.

For a limited time, you will be able to get a taste of the lavvender field of Provence France at Faubourg.

 

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Faubourg has launched their summer lavender menu which features products including lavender earl grey macarons, lavender and strawberry pastries, lavender mixed berry smoothies, lavender lattes, lavender tea lattes, blueberry and lavender chaussons, and more. The menu is already available now and will be available until early to mid September.

 

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These desserts were sample sizes of the actual for the media tasting, so the actual dessert is much larger. My favourite had to be the Lavender and Strawberry Pastry (the circular one). This dessert features a lavender honey and sage mousse paired with a sweet strawberry gelee and a lavender vanilla sponge cake. I especially loved the sugar crystals on the rims! Not overly sweet but very strong in lavender flavour.

 

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All items at Faubourg are handcrafted and prepared fresh daily using traditional French recipes and high quality ingredients with no preservatives added. To demonstrate their commitment for quality, the pastries are prepared every morning and the viennoiseries are baked throughout the day ensuring the freshest products for the customers.

 

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Products are available starting June 4th, in the following locations:

Downtown: 769 Hornby Street Vancouver, BC V6Z 1S2
Kerrisdale: 2156 W 41st Ave Vancouver, BC V6M 1Z1
Park Royal: 792 Main Street, Park Royal S West Vancouver, BC V7T 1A2
Le Café: 175-628 East Kent South avenue Vancouver, BC V5X 0B2

 

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

Choco Coo Cafe (Richmond)

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I’ve been wanting to try Choco Coo Cafe for some time now, but because their first store was all the way in Coquitlam, it was quite out of the way for me. But now that they opened their second store in Richmond, I was super excited to check it out!

 

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The menu has a variety of coffee and teas available. And of course, a selection of cakes. When we opened during their soft opening, there was an extra 25% off but the number of cakes were quite limited. I think they do have more cakes now that they have settled in.

 

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They put one of each of their cakes on display and you order and pay up front. They will bring you your order to your seat once ready. You can also order to go. The interior is actually quite asthetically pleasing with brown and white wooden decor and white marble cups and saucers. There are a large number of seats so a great spot to chat or get some work done.

 

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London Fog Cake

The first cake I tried was the London Fog Cake which was my favourite. The cake was a light sponge cake with layers of london fog cream and toasted almonds on top. The cream was strong in tea flavour and not overly sweet.

 

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Matcha Mousse

The Matcha Mousse had a chocolate crust on the bottom and layers of mousse. It was more of a Japanese style mousse with a bit of tart flavour to it. I personally didn’t enjoy this as much as others had raved about. The portion was also quite small compared to the rest of the cakes, even though it was priced the same.

 

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Green Tea Latte

What really drew me to Choco Coo Cafe was the latte art! I mean, how cute is this bear? If the cafe is not too busy, you can request to have latte art done and I think they are able to do quite a lot of art. The Green Tea Latte itself was rich in tea flavour and smooth drink. I don’t drink coffee often, but I personally enjoyed this.

 

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Overall, I’m glad to have this new addition to Richmond as we don’t have too many hipster cake and coffee spots in town. The cakes range from $4- $6 so in line with some other Western cake shops like Diplomat. There is also plenty of free parking below the condo for guests which is always a plus.

On a second visit, we arrived at the cafe at 9pm when the cafe was supposed to close at 10pm. We were told that we could only order take out because last call was at 9:30pm. We found this extremely odd because we arrived at 9pm. Why could we not order and sit in then? We weren’t going to stay past 10pm anyways and their cakes were already pre-made… Quite odd and a bit annoying when their hours are supposed to be until 10pm.

Pros:
– Latte art is beautiful and cakes are decent
– Decor is aesthetically pleasing

Cons:
– Odd service/ hours during closing

Price Range: $5 – $15 per person

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

Food: 3.5 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3.5 Parking: Plenty of free parking below Overall: 3.5

 

Choco Coo Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

T-Go Tea

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Note: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

Last month, I visited T-Go Tea which opened up in Central at Garden City a while ago. It’s located under the Walmart and a great addition to this complex.

 

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Right now, the shop mainly has beverages only, but they are working on a small food menu, including teaming up with a pastry chef.

 

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There is a large list of drinks and they are known for their Teapresso beverages, which uses a special equipment to extract the flavours of tea. They also have the sea salt foam drinks which are super popular now.

 

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They focus on quality of ingredients here. For instance, their teas are purchased from Taiwan and are premium and made in smaller batches. They do not add syrups in their beverages, but rather the teas are infused with natural fruits or flavours when they are manufactured. The pearls also have a shorter life span compared to the ones other bubble tea shops use, to decrease the amount of preservatives.

 

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We got to smell some of their teas and they were absolutely fragrant!

 

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Rose Oolong Latte

The first drink we tried was the Rose Oolong Latte. This is made with fresh milk and has a hint of floral. Pearls had a nice chew and weren’t too sweet.

 

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Honey Aloe Green Tea

If you’re looking for some non-dairy beverages, then one of my favourites is the Honey Aloe Green Tea with coconut jelly. This was naturally sweetened with the honey and very refreshing.

 

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Diamond Purple Rice Black Tea

The next drink, the Diamond Purple Rice Black Tea, was very interesting with a cube of milk which is supposed to represent the diamond. As the cube melts, the milk disperses out into the drink. Really cool concept!

 

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Sweet Peaches Smoothie

Other than tea based drinks, they also feature smoothies, perfect for the kids, or if you’re craving something a little thicker. The Sweet Peaches Smoothie was one of my favourite as it was sort of like a peach icy. It was refreshing and great with the pearls. I’m not sure if the drinks are usually presented with all the fruits on top though. They even have an avocado smoothie drink and a kale smoothie! Perfect for those coming out from the yoga class in this complex.

 

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Oreo Cookie Blizzard Smoothie

Last but not least, we tried the Oreo Cookie Blizzard Smoothie which surprisingly wasn’t too sweet. This would be perfect for the kids but definitely probably not the most healthy option available.

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the beverage options available and how they have differentiated themselves by focusing on healthier alternatives and premium teas. Good to see another addition in Richmond!