Your Guide to the Panda Market (2016)

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

Thanks to ChineseBites, we were invited along with other food bloggers to sample over 20 items at the Panda Market. Thanks to the rebranding, you can now clearly figure out which night market is which. The Panda Market is the one near Ikea (also known as the older one). We were invited in 2015 as well, and you can read about it here.

The Panda Market has really shrunk this year in terms of food stalls (down to only one lane!). Admission is free although parking does cost money, but round up your friends and carpool and it’ll come to a dollar per person.

I also liked how there were less people here so you can actually stand around and eat or even find tables in the back alley to sit down and enjoy your food. We checked out the Richmond Night Market by River Rock and there was no chance of that! You could barely move there and the line ups were crazy long…

Xin Jiang A Fan Ti Halal BBQ

I was paired up with Areta from Foodgressing to indulge in our night market adventure. We started off at Xin Jiang A Fan Ti Halal BBQ.

Chicken Skewers, Lamb Skewers

We were able to sample the Chicken Skewers and Lamb Skewers which may be one of my favourite items of the night. The chicken was my favourite because it still remained moist inside. The lamb was good but the one I had had a lot of fat stuck on so those parts were inedible. I loved the spices they used though and you can ask for spicy to get more kick.

BBQ Squid

There are two stands that sell squid at this night market. The one we sampled from was called BBQ Squid.

Fried and Grilled Mix Squid

We tried the Fried and Grilled Mix which as the name says, comes with a variety of grilled and fried squid rings and tentacles. The grilled squid comes with a sweet chili sauce but I found it to be more chewy, although not gummy. My favourite was the fried one as the texture had more bounce to it. This plate is priced at around $8.

Shake Shake

Getting thirsty, we headed to Shake Shake which has the trendiest drinks, including lightbulb drinks, watermelon and pineapple juice in the actual fruit, and liquid nitrogen drinks.

Watermelon Juice

We tried the Watermelon Juice which had liquid nitrogen fuming out on the side making it very picture worthy. The smoke actually lasted for quite a few minutes too. We added some popping balls in the drink, but I found that tasted a little odd. The watermelon juice itself was okay but the watermelon itself clearly wasn’t very sweet. They also have a pineapple version.

Cheese Tarts: Lavender and Original

Next to Shake Shake is Cheese Tarts which sells out fast so may be a stall that you want to check out first. They sell the popular cheese tarts that are the hype in Japan and Asia. Here, you can choose between Lavender and Original and they heat them up for you. I found the center to not be as runny as the ones in Japan but I did enjoy the lavender flavour. Great for those who enjoy floral flavours.

Top Dough

Top Dough brings Czech pastries to Richmond and features Trdelník also known as chimney cakes.

Chimney Cake

They feature three versions: the original, one filled with nutella, and one filled with nutella, whipped cream and topped with a slice of strawberry. We got the last and this one is cone shaped in order to hold all the cream. I liked how the outside was crunchy, but the inside was gooey and I felt like it was undercooked. This is not as good as the ones I had in Prague for sure, but I guess it’s decent for what we have in Richmond.

Mini Doughnuts: Oreo

At Mini Doughnuts, you can get your favourite carnival snacks and mini doughnuts! You can have them plain with just cinnamon and sugar or have them dressed up with some interesting flavours. Each order normally comes with 12 doughnuts, but they were able to give us 6 of each flavour instead. The first was the Oreo which was dressed with icing sugar and topped with crushed Oreo cookies.

Birthday Cake

The second was the Birthday Cake which comes with icing sugar and topped with rainbow sprinkles. They also have a S’mores version. The doughnut itself was great but I find that the ones with icing sugar get quite sweet after a couple. I would order these with just cinnamon sugar instead.

Shanghai Special: Pork Schnitzel

At Shanghai Special, they serve Shanghai food but also Pork Schnitzel! Sort of random, but it turned out to be quite good with the pork being only a tad dry but the batter very crispy.

It’s Toasty: French Toast

It’s Toasty served French Toast which we thought was deep fried tofu at first. It was served with a side of condensed milk and this was again surprisingly very good. The outside was crispy and the center pillowy soft and fluffy!

Pie Pie Okonomiyaki: Squid Okonomiyaki

At Pie Pie Okonomiyaki, they serve variations of Okonomiyaki filled with different ingredients such as pork and beef. We chose the Squid Okonomiyaki which was topped with Japanese mayo and bonito flakes. I found the inside to be rather gooey and doughy and would’ve liked it crispier.

Be Fabulous: Corn Pancake

Be Fabulous served us Corn Pancake along with a side of sweet chili sauce. It was well seasoned but something about it was quite underwhelming.

Orr Street: Green Apple Slush with Pearls

Areta got the Green Apple Slush with Pearls from Orr Street and we found the Mr. Panda to feature our drink. Yes, you’ll find a couple of these pandas walking around!

Twist Potato

There are two stands that sell the famous hurricane potatoes. The first stand was Twist Potato.

Bavarian Cream Korean Waffle

Twist Potato is also the only stand that sells the Korean Taiyaki fish waffles. We filled ours with Bavarian Cream. I found this to be underwhelming and the cream was like a custard which I found too sweet. I’d much rather get the ones at Snowy Village!

J&J Hurricane Potato Fries: Barbecue; Twist Potato: Garlic Mayo

The other stand is J&J Hurricane Potato Fries. Let’s compare it to Twist Potato! By the looks of it, Twist Potato (on the left) is much taller and so you get way more potato, but at the same time it’s more thinly sliced. After trying both, I actualy enjoyed the one from J&J more because of the thick cut texture. However, based on the flavours we tried, we enjoyed the Garlic Mayo from Twist Potato more than the Barbecue at J&J. But then again, you can choose from a variety of flavours so at the end of the day, I would probably go with J&J. J&J also allows you to choose two flavours.

Mr. Pretzels: Neapolitan  Pretzel

Next we tried the Neapolitan Pretzel from Mr. Pretzels. This was topped with Parmesan and some Italian herbs and must be eaten when warm! It was very soft and great for sharing.

Totoro: Mango Bubble Tea; Happy Lemon: Passionfruit Lemonade

Onto more drinks because night market food can make you very thirsty! Areta got the Mango Bubble Tea from Totoro, while I got the Passionfruit Lemonade from Happy Lemon. I love how you can flavour your classic lemonade and this was just the right sweet and tart.

TW Traditional Snacks: Taiwanese Sausage

Yup, this looks funny… but TW Traditional Snacks ran out of popcorn chicken and I had already tried their stinky tofu last year, so I tried their Taiwanese Sausage this time around. Quite typical and is sweet in flavour. Nothing too special. I would stick to their Stinky Tofu or Popcorn Chicken!

Sea Monster

A new addition is the Sea Monster which seemed to be a big hit.

Sweet Onion

They literally deep fry a whole squid on a stick and you can choose a seasoning to go with it of which we chose the sweet onion. This is difficult to eat and can get very messy, but I actually quite enjoyed this. The squid itself was very tender and I loved the crunchy batter and seasoning.

Takoyaki: Squid Takoyaki

Takoyoki is another popular item and here you can choose to add other ingreidents again such as pork. We stuck with the traditional and got Squid. Crispy on the outside and gooey inside. Not bad.

Cocoro: Deep Fried Oreos

Onto some desserts at Cocoro, we tried the Deep Fried Oreos which I had first tried at the PNE. I always found these to be good, so it was no surprise here either. They’re on the sweeter side, so definitely share them.

Mangoholic: Mango Shaved Iced

Mangoholic served us their Mango Shaved Ice, which is perfect for a sunny day. The mangoes were ripe and sweet and came with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream. Not bad!

Ying Kee: Bubble Waffle

Last but not least, Ying Kee served us Bubble Waffles and I went for the classic original although they have other flavours. The outside was crispy but I wished the inside was more chewy.

And there you have it! We tried almost every single food stall at the Panda Night Market! I have to say, I did appreciate how the line ups and wait times were way shorter than the one at the Richmond Night Market.

Of course, you won’t find as many innovative items here as they tend to open at the Richmond Night Market, but if you are looking for your classics, then I think the Panda Night Market does a pretty good job.

There are also fun and games for the kids and live entertainment. But I mean, I think I most of us go the night market for the food, right?

Panda Market Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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2016 VCBW Festival

NOTE: I was invited as media with complimentary tickets to the event. All opinions are based on my personal experience.

One week after the Opening Night, we attended the 2016 VCBW Festival presented by Donnelly Group. This was a three day event at the PNE Centre Grounds filled with beer, food, and music.

It was the perfect weekend as the sun came out and it was even a little too scorching for us. Good thing they had mists on set to cool you down!

Other than beer and food, some interesting set ups included Barber & Co where you could get your hair cut amidst drinking your beer.

There were over 100 breweries and cideries at the event. Again, most vendors had at least two types of beers to try, if not more. Food trucks were present as well if you wished to purchase some munchies.

Tickets ranged from $35 – $95 depending if you wanted express entry or a full weekend pass. The ticket gets you into the festival and includes your 4oz taster mug. All beer and cider samples are additional. All samples are 4oz and cost 1 token, with tokens being priced at $1.50 each.

Since we had our fair share of beer at the previous event, we decided to tackle some of the cideries since I’m a huge fan of ciders. One cidery we really enjoyed was the Howling Moon.

We were drawn into this Basque cider called Shacksbury because of the beautiful set up. This cider is unfiltered and was very tart and different from typical ciders on the market.

Storm Brewing had a massive line up so we had to see what it was all about. They were serving up really funky and unique brews, including the Cucumber Jalapeno Pilsner, and Basil IPA. Sounds weird, right? We tried the Pineapple Paradise Pilsner and Raspberry Vanilla Ale and really enjoyed the slight fruity flavour without being too sweet.

My favourite of them all had to be the Fruli Strawberry Beer. I guess by now, you can tell I enjoy fruit beers! This was delicious and didn’t even taste like a beer! Plus, it’s vegan and there are no added sugars or sweeteners. The sweetness is all from the strawberries themselves! The same vendor also had a Cherry Beer from Kriek Lambic. Also delicious but not as sweet.

Overall, we had an amazing time at the VCBW Festival and already can’t wait for next year’s! A wide selection of beers and ciders to sample from and a great event to have some fun with friends.

For more information: http://vancouvercraftbeerweek.com/

Chachi’s

Note: All food and beverages were complimentary. Opinions are based on personal experience.

Thanks to Sherman, a group of food bloggers and I were invited to a menu tasting at the new Chachi’s located in the food court of Metropolis at Metrotown.

Chachi’s goal is to “make mall food better” and this is their first location in BC with plans to expand to other locations in BC. The focus is on sandwiches, but they also have a variety of salads and sides. All ingredients, including cheese, meats and breads are locally sourced. The bread is fresh from a bakery in Langley daily.

You can choose from the set sandwiches on their menu, or build your own.

They also have three of their own lemonades and iced teas.

Freshly made cookies are available as well. The ones we tried were quite healthy with oatmeal and raisins.

Other than their homemade drinks, they also have a select few bottled drinks. Surprisingly, my favourite was the Cherry Iced Tea. It had a light cherry/raspberry flavour to it. Their homemade drinks are overall slightly on the sweeter side, but not bad.

Asiago Caesar

We also tried two of their salads, including the Asiago Caesar which features crisp romaine, bacon garlic crostini, Asiago, Caesar dressing and topped with turkey.

Arugula

My favourite was the Arugula, which had arugula, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, red onions, goat cheese, and a balsamic sauce with turkey. You can choose your type of meat or have it without. I loved the sweetness of the artichokes along with the acidity of the balsamic. The salad was slightly overdressed though, so a little less dressing would have been perfect.

Cali

Onto what we really came here for – the sandwiches! We tried almost all the sandwiches on the menu, inclduing this Cali, which was filled with chicken breast, double smoked bacon, house made guacamole, cheddar, tomato, romaine, and spicy mayo. I really liked how the bread wasn’t too tough.

Bahn Mi

The Bahn Mi was Chachi’s take on the Vietnamese sandwich. It was filled with beef brisket, asian marinade, pickled carrots, cilantro, jalapeno, and garlic aioli. The beef brisket was very soft and tender, but the sandwich was slightly too saucy.

Hot Philly

The Hot Philly is not for the weak as this is one of the spicier options. Filled with rib steak, bell peppers, onion, jalapeno, provolone, garlic aioli and spicy mayo, this is a delicious spicy sandwich.

Smoked Bacon Breaky Sandwich

They also have some Breaky Sandwiches, including this Smoked Bacon Breaky. I didn’t try this but it looks quite similiar to a McMuffin.

Pork with Mac

My favourite sandwich was the Pork with Mac. This is filled with tender pulled pork, sweet chili, BBQ sauce, and topped with loads of mac ‘n cheese. The pulled pork was so tender and sweet, and the mac ‘n cheese was savoury with a slight spice. Amazing creation!

Dill Chips

They also have homemade chips with a variety of flavours. We tried the Dill Chips, which had a nice pickled flavoured. The chips are kettle cooked and reminded me of Ms. Vickie’s. Addictive!

Spicy Mac ‘N Cheese with Capicollo, Mac ‘N Cheese

The Pork ‘N Mac Sandwich was good, but I would actually just skip the sandwich and order their side of Mac ‘N Cheese. These come in two versions: the original or the spicy with capicollo. These were so smooth and creamy and some of the best mac I’ve had! If you enjoy a bit of spicy, I would highly recommend the Spicy Mac ‘N Cheese with Capicollo.

Overall, Chachi’s is a great addition to the food court by offering a more gourmet sandwich option with quality ingredients. The sandwiches are priced slightly higher at $8-$12, but I can understand since the ingredients are all locally sourced.

Chachi's Metrotown Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

7th Annual Vancouver Craft Beer Week

Source: Vancouver Craft Beer Week

“The seventh annual Vancouver Craft Beer Week is set to kick off with opening night festivities on Friday, May 27th and will run until Sunday, June 5th. This year’s 10-day line up of events includes the VCBW Festival, Canada’s largest craft-only beer festival, presented by the Donnelly Group.

The VCBW Festival weekend will take place from Friday, June 3rd to Sunday, June 5th at the PNE Centre Grounds (2901 E Hastings, Vancouver, BC) and will feature local food trucks, over 350 craft beers and ciders and live music provided by The World Famous CFOX.

Vancouver Craft Beer Week tickets are now available – including VCBW Festival Weekend passes ($95), Single Day Gate Crasher tickets ($40) and Single Day General Admission tickets ($35).

From May 27th – June 5th 2016, Vancouver Craft Beer Week will also host a number of craft beer events leading up to the festival weekend.

This year’s VCBW Festival is set to showcase over 100 breweries and cideries pouring over 350 craft beers and ciders from around the world. Local favourites include Parallel 49 Brewing Company, Postmark Brewing and Four Winds Brewing Company. The festival also includes a U.S Brewers Association section, offering craft beers never before seen in Canada.”

For more information on Vancouver Craft Beer Week or to purchase tickets, visit vancouvercraftbeerweek.com.

Facebook: Vancouver Craft Beer Week
Twitter: @vcbw
Instagram : @vcbw

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