DAAN Korean Restaurant

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I’ve been going to DAAN Korean Restaurant many time since it’s opened because it’s close to home and also delicious! Located in the Garden City mall on Blundell and Garden City, the restaurant offers some simple but delicious Korean dishes.

 

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I love their banchan here because I eat all of it! I always hate it when there’s some banchan I’m just not a fan of. I’ve been here quite a few times so have noticed that the sweet potatoes and kimchi are always a staple. They seem to swap between the marinated bean sprouts and marinated broccoli, both of which I enjoy. My favourite is their kimchi though as it’s just the right amount of spice and the radish is extremely juicy. If you order take out, you will only get the kimchi and sweet potato. However, if you eat in, you can also get 1 free refill of all these items.

 

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Korean Style Fried Chicken Wings

After visiting many times, S and I have noticed we always seem to order the same items. S’s must orders are the Korean Style Fried Chicken Wings in the orginal flavour. You can also choose sweet and spicy or soy garlic. The wings are a decent size with the batter very crispy and chicken being juicy. Even when we ordered it for take out, it was still pretty crispy.

 

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Soy Garlic Boneless Korean Fried Chicken Balls

S love Korean chicken so he also loves getting the Soy Garlic Boneless Korean Fried Chicken Balls. I haven’t really seen this at other Korean restaurants, but essentially it’s chicken meat wrapped with some batter and deep fried. They are sticky on the exterior but juicy inside. The garlic flavour is very strong so make sure you’ve got some mints after!

 

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Soft Tofu Soup

My must order is the Soft Tofu Soup which is served with a side of rice. You can choose between seafood, beef, or mushroom and customize your level of spiciness. I always go for the milk with beef. The bowl comes sizzling hot and the broth is extremely flavourful.

 

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Japchae

We also tried their Japchae which is stir-fried potato noodles with beef and mixed vegetables. There are plenty of vegetables in the dish with the veggies giving the dish a nice crunch.

 

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Bossam

We also tried their Bossam which is a popular Korean dish featuring slow cooked miso braised pork belly. We got the small size which costs around $18 but the portion was extremely large for two. The meat was tender with the fat melting in your mouth. They give you some soy bean paste, spicy pickled radishes, jalapeno peppers and raw garlic. You can wrap all of this with the cabbage. We found that their cabbage pieces were all too tiny to wrap the meat easily though. However, the dish still tasted great and I would order this again if we have more friends with us.

DAAN also offers a variety of sizzling plates but we found the portions to be too large for two so haven’t tried them yet. Overall, I enjoy this neighbourhood gem and have been revisiting many times since.

Pros:
– Solid Korean dishes
– Prices are reasonable

Cons:
– May need to wait a bit during peak hours

Price Range: $15-20 per person

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

Food: 4 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Free parking in the complex Overall: 4

 

 

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Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba

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Niku Mazesoba

Last year, a new ramen restaurant opened up and it definitely found itself having long lines as expected. Kokoro Toyko Mazesoba is located just next to the Downtown BCIT campus which makes it a popular spot for all the students. If you come during peak lunch and dinner hours, expect to wait, although it is quite spacious and food comes out fast, so the turnover is quite quick. Mazesoba is essentially a mixed noodle or soupless ramen. I first tried something similar to this when I was in Tokyo.

I decided to try the Niku Mazesoba which seemed to be their most popular mazesoba. It features slow braised pork chashu, spicy minced pork, raw egg yolk, green onion, seaweed flakes, chives, minced garlic, grinded saba fish, and multi-grain noodle made in house. Noodles sit below all the ingredients and you mix all the ingredients and noodles together while breaking the yolk. It reminds me of a dan dan noodle with each noodle strand being coated with some sauce. The noodles were toothsome with a nice al dente texture. They are right when they say not udon but also not ramen as it is really something in between.

 

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Shio Mazesoba

S didn’t really want that raw egg yolk so he got the Shio Mazesoba which featured slow braised pork chashu, bamboo shoot, green onion, spinach, seaweed flakes, minced garlic, grinded saba fish, and multi-grain noodle made in house. Instead, he added a soft boiled egg on the side. His mazesoba was definitely less saucy without the egg so he actually did not have much sauce leftover. If you find the noodles a bit too heavy, you can also try adding vinegar to break the grease and saltiness. They also have chilli flakes on the table if you want to add some kick to your noodles.

 

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Although S’s bowl didn’t have much sauce left, my Niku bowl had plenty of sauce and ingredients left. The waiter will come by and ask if you’d like a free small bowl of rice which you can then drop into your leftover sauce and mix. It surprisingly tasted really good! But I could really only eat half the portion of rice after a whole bowl of noodles. If you’re hungry, then definitely go for the free rice!

 

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Mentaiko Cream Mazesoba

On another occasion, I came back during lunch hours to try their Mentaiko Cream Mazesoba. This featured mentaiko, slow braised pork chashu, raw egg yolk, seaweed flakes, spinach, green onion, minced garlic, japanese cream sauce, grinded saba fish, and multi-grain noodle made in house. I actually preferred this over the Niku Mazesoba as I found that the Niku was a bit heavy and salty for my liking. I found the mentaiko cream helped cut the grease a bit even before I added vinegar.

 

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Overall, I quite enjoyed the mazesobas but like ramen, it’s not something I can eat often as they are more on the heavy side. Plus, the prices are quite steep with most bowls going for $15-16 each. Definitely not a spot I could come for work lunch all the time. They do offer classic ramens with soup and a variety of appetizers and desserts, but I have yet to try those.

Pros:
– Mazesoba noodles are nice and chewy
– Extensive menu so there is something for everyone

Cons:
– Prices are steep for ramen
– Some of the bar seating isn’t very comfortable with the low backs

Price Range: $15-20 per person

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

Food: 4 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 3.5 Parking: Paid street parking/ paid BCIT parking lot Overall: 3.5

 

 

Win Win Chick-N

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Win Win Chick-N opened up late last year in Steveston Village. The storefront doesn’t look anything too special and is tucked away on First Avenue, away from the main tourist area. It’s definitely more a take away stop as there is only counter seating against the window. Luckily, when we went, there was only one other couple eating in, so we were able to get a seat.

 

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The menu is simple with fried chicken by piece or as a combo. There are also a few side dishes available and I believe they have since added some ube cake desserts to their menu. Prices are around the same as Church’s Chicken but the portions are much smaller, so these do come at a premium cost.

 

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5 piece plus a side

We decided to go for the 5 piece combo as that’s what we would normally get at other fried chicken stores. However, we were surprised at how tiny the chicken were. Definitely left us a little hungry as I think this would be good for one hungry person. We noticed they actually gave us an extra piece though, so that was definitely a nice surprise! I also later learned that their chicken is raised locally so that’s always a plus. Despite the tiny size, the chicken was actually very juicy and the batter had a nice crunch. The seasoning had a bit of a more Asian flavour to it but was not overly salty.

 

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Small Filipino Style Macaroni

We got the combo with a side of fries which weren’t anything too special. However, as the chicken pieces were quite small, I decided to also get a small side of Filipino Style Macaroni. You don’t often see this at fried chicken shops and I heard this is quite tasty. The pasta is mixed with ground pork, sausage and some tasty banana ketchup which gives it that sweet tang. I actually really enjoyed this as it tasted very homey and comforting.

 

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Overall, if you’re in the Steveston area, I’d definitely suggest stopping by Win Win Chick-N to give it a try. I wouldn’t suggest taking these to go if you’re eating it much later though as I think these will get soggy after a while. The chicken is also generally made fresh but we did notice some were sitting in the warmer. I think I still prefer LA Chicken in Richmond, but this is a nice change as well.

Pros:
– Chicken is juicy and has a crispy batter
– Filipino Style Macaroni is sweet and tangy

Cons:
– Seating is minimal and not very comfy (more of a take out spot)
– Portions are a bit small

Price Range: $10-20 per person

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

Food: 3.5 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 2 Parking: Free parking in the area Overall: 3.5

 

[Taiwan Series] Day 7 in Taipei: Lao Wang Ji Beef Noodles 老王記牛肉麵 and Bingirl 冰果甜心

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We actually had Lao Wang Ji Beef Noodles 老王記牛肉麵 twice during our time in Taipei. The last time we visited, we had tried Taoyuan Beef Noodles, which is also a nearby shop to Lao Wang Ji, but because it was closed, we ended up checking this spot out. It’s not too far from our hotel in Ximending – around a 10 minute walk, so it was no surprise we visited twice.

I think this might be my favourite beef noodle soup restaurant in Taipei. S got the Clear Broth Beef Noodle Soup which comes with loads of beef. The beef is thick but extremely tender and it falls apart! The noodles are cooked just right with a nice bite and the broth is clear but flavourful.

 

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The other option is to get the Spicy Beef Noodle Soup which is what I got. The spicy soup isn’t actually too spicy but I thought it was really flavourful! Just a touch of spice and I loved how the beef was soaking the soup in. On the table, there is also a bucket of preserved vegetables which you can add as much as you like. I do find that it tastes really great with the noodles! Overall, a must try in Taipei!

 

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Thirsty from lunch and the heat, we decided to get a Pudding Milk Tea from Ching Shin Fu Chuan 清心福全 which was in the Ximending area. Apparently they feature some healthier drinks and teas, but I don’t think this one was healthy! It was nice and creamy though. Not bad!

 

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After lunch, we decided to take the train to Taipei Main Station and do some shopping around the area. Shin Kong Mitsukoshi is one of the largest shopping malls with 4 buildings in total in the area. There is low end to high end shopping here.

 

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A nearby mall called Breeze also is worth stopping by. Especially if you like Line Friends! They have super picture worthy spots including this large bear!

 

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We also wandered to a nearby mall called ATT 4 FUN and on the top floors, they have tons of food and dessert shops. They even had a floor that was Peter Rabbit themed.

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We ended up trying a dessert shop called Bingirl 冰果甜心. We ended up sharing two desserts with the first being an Oreo Peanut Butter Pancake. The portions were pretty big but I found this to be a bit too sweet. The pancakes were okay but nothing special.

 

 

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I think the Mango Ice Cube is what they are really famous for though. There are a few other flavours but we chose mango and it is topped with kiwis and lots of aiyu jelly on the bottom. It is literally a giant ice cube of mango juice. Think of shaved ice texture but it’s been solidified! it’s also topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. We definitely got a brain freeze from this and it’s a bit too much for two. I’d say two desserts would be good for sharing between 4 people.

 

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After dessert, we hung out with my friends for a bit at the arcade before looking for a quick dinner in the Ximending area. As we wanted something quick, we ended up getting some street food.

 

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Hot-Star has a large outlet in the Ximending area and always has crowds. They are famous for the large fried chicken and is one of S’s favourites. I cannot wait until they open the store in Vancouver!

 

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Other than the large fried chicken, they also have various deep fried snacks. We tried the cuttlefish balls and mushrooms before and they were both very good!

 

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A trip to Taipei also means checking out Ay Chung Rice Noodles 阿宗麵線. They are also located in Ximending but a bit away from the busier streets. There aren’t many chairs, so most people will just stand in front of the store to enjoy their food.

 

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The rice noodles are in a savoury broth mixed with intestines. We actually don’t eat the intestines just because we aren’t a huge fan, but the noodles and broth are absolutely delicious. To be honest, these intestines are also not bad as they don’t have any pungent taste to them. Just chewy, but the fact is I know what it is, so tend to stay away from them!

After our quick dinner, we headed back to our hotel to grab our luggage and headed to the airport. And that’s a wrap on our trip to Singapore and Taiwan! Until next time!

[Taiwan Series] Day 6 in Taipei: L’Atelier by Joel Robuchon and Elephant Moutnain 象山

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Since S’s birthday was shortly after our trip in Taipei, I decided to do an early birthday meal for him since there are so many nice restaurants in Asia. I ended up deciding on L’Atelier by Joel Robuchon which is located in the beautiful chic mall called Bellavia. I had made reservations in advance by sending an email online and I was able to get a response quite quickly. The restaurant actually was awarded a Michelin star last year shortly after we had visited! So even more of a reason to visit!

 

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I decided on the set lunch course menu and when you make the reservation, they will ask what type of seating arrangement you’d like. There is counter/bar seat, high table, or lower couch seat. We decided to go with the counter/bar seat because you got a view of the kitchen showing the action of the chefs. The interior of the restaurant is actually quite dark but with cool lighting and red and black tones.

 

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From our seat, we could see the chefs preparing our food. And all the ingredients in the kitchen. It was definitely quite exciting!

 

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We decided to go with Menu A which is offered only during weekday lunches. For $1,380 NTD, you get an amuse-bouche, your choice of 1 appetizer, 1 main course, dessert, and coffee or tea served with petite desserts. To start, we are given a LARGE basket of bread. I have never seen such a big basket for two people. But wow, the variety is amazing and the bread itself tasted absolutely delicious! I think there were at least 6 pieces of different bread so over 12+ pieces for the two of us. I wanted to save room for the rest of the food, but I couldn’t stop eating the bread! Oh, and another note is that even if you order still water, it will come in a bottle. So we ended up paying almost $10 for a bottle of Evian water.

 

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We started with an Amuse-Bouche which was sort of like a mushroom soup. Quite a nice palette cleanser!

 

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For appetizers, S got the Chicken Wings and Mushrooms Fricassee served with Chateau-Chalon wine sauce. This was nothing like we’ve had before but the flavours were delicious. It was almost like a deconstructed chicken wing with the chicken already de-boned. The foam was also a cool twist.

 

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For myself, I got the Duck, Foie Gras and Pistachio Pate with Young Bitter Salad. I loved how it was paired with a mustard sauce. The pate was also wrapped with a bit of puff pastry so it was quite different from the usual.

 

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For the main course, S got the Braised Pork Cheek with Red Wine Sauce and Seasoned Vegetable. The pork was very tender and the sauce was hearty. A great main course!

 

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For myself, I got the Lamb Shoulder Confit with Vegetables Couscous and Coriander for my main. This wasn’t what I was expecting because the lamb shoulder was shaped into a circle. The flavours were quite tasty and it didn’t have any gamey taste it.

 

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For dessert, S got the Bahibe Chocolate Ganache with Coffee Sorbet. What a beautiful dessert with so many different textures.

 

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For myself, I got the Banana and Milk Mousse with Coconut Ice Cream and Honey Caramel Chips. Again, this was a beautiful dish and even the plate was perfect! The flavours were refreshing and I especially enjoyed the honey caramel chips!

 

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As I mentioned in my reservation that we would be celebrating a birthday, they asked if I wanted to add a birthday cake for $150NTD. I decided to add it, but probably could have skipped it because we were already very full from the 3 course meal. However, it was nice that they added a candle and a message to make it extra special. This was a chocolate cake with different textures on each layer.

 

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To finish, we were provided with Petite Desserts and they included macarons and little puffs. As if we didn’t have enough desserts already!

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To end our meal, you can choose your choice of Coffee or Tea. I decided to go with a Earl Grey. Overall, it was a great meal given it’s only $60 a person for a famous restaurant and the dishes were very unique. However, since the restaurant has been awarded a Michelin star, the same menu now costs $1,580 NTD which is around $70. Still, I think it is well worth it!

 

 

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After lunch, we decided to walk over to Taipei 101 to get some quick shots. We had gone up to the observatory last time, so we skipped it this time around.

 

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I then suggested that we hike Elephant Moutnain 象山. We got to MRT Xiangshan Station, and took Exit 2 and walked alongside a park. Then, you will find some signs telling you to take a left to go to Xiangshan Hiking Trail. You’ll then find this sign which is the beginning of the hike!

 

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The hike itself only takes around 20 minutes but it was actually quite grueling because of the heat and the steep steps. I advise doing this late in the afternoon, because the heat will really get to you.

 

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Along the way, we found some cute statues with the Chinese words Elephant Mountain.

 

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The steps up top became not as steep so it was a bit easier. However, be warned that there’s tons of mosquitoes and it doesn’t help when you’re sweating too! Definitely put on some bug spray before you head here.

 

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As we approached the top, the sun was setting! The view from up top is truly quite beautiful. A different view from Taipei 101 because you actually get to see Taipei 101 from here!

 

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And if you wait until the sun fully sets, you’ll see Taipei 101 turn on its night lights. If you want to set up a tripod for your pictures, be sure to come early as there will be lots of people around sunset!

After we finished hiking, we headed back to our hotel to freshen up as we would be meeting up with my friends who were also in Taipei. Didn’t end up taking pictures as we just wanted to enjoy the moment but we had a nice dinner and drinks and headed to a rooftop bar called Frank’s and called it a night!

 

 

 

 

 

 

[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!

[Taiwan Series] Day 4 in Taichung: Sun Moon Lake 日月潭 and FengJia Night Market 逢甲夜市

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The next morning, I woke up not feeling well. This sort of ruined our plans as we spent the morning looking for medicine and trying to rest up. There are many attractions that are nearby Taichung but require you to drive or bus for a significant time to get to. One of these included Sun Moon Lake 日月潭 and this was actually the sight we decided to go to that day. As it takes around 2 hours by bus, we had planned to leave in the morning to make the most of our time. But since I wasn’t feeling well, we ended up leaving around noon.

If you have a group of 4, I suggest looking into hiring a private driver for the day. They can drive you to multiple attractions and honestly doesn’t cost too much. However, as were only a group of 2, the best option to get to Sun Moon Lake was to take a bus. If you get to Gancheng Bus Station, you can take the Nantou Bus to Sun Moon Lake. The first bus runs at 7:45am with the last bus at 7:45pm. Be warned that the last bus back to Taichung from Sun Moon Lake departs at 7:25pm so plan wisely. The bus costs $360 NTD roundtrip and takes just under 2 hours. Look for the above shop and purchase the ticket from the staff. They can be a bit pushy to sell you some VIP type of bus, but just be persistent. They also sell some packages which includes boat tours and bike rentals, but because we arrived so late, we weren’t even sure how much time we would have. We ended up just buying the bus tickets to be safe.

 

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The bus ended up being quite comfy. It’s essentially a charter tour bus so you can even bring luggage on if you decide to stay at the lake.

 

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Finally, we arrived at Sun Moon Lake! The bus will drop you off at the Shuishe Visitor Center so you will need to make your way towards Shuishe Pier. We ended up grabbing a quick lunch at MOS Burger which is located upstairs in the visitor center.

 

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The best way to explore Sun Moon Lake is probably to take one of these boats. If you purchased a package at the bus stop, you’ll likely have vouchers ready and can head straight to the boats. Since we were undecided earlier, we ended up just buying the boat tickets at the visitor center. The boat will take you to the three major piers – Shuishe, Xuanguang, and Ita Thao. A roundtrip costs around $300 NTD and I recommend taking the boat as you can hop on and hop off. I suggest getting the ferry timetable though as boats only come at select times despite a pier to pier ride only taking 10 minutes. If you miss getting on at a pier, you may wait up to 30 minutes before the next boat comes. I think another great way to explore the city is to rent a bike which is available at the visitor centre. I had originally wanted to do this, but due to the heat and also how late we arrived, we decided the boat option was more suitable. However, they have a very nice biking trail here, so perfect if you want a bit of exercise!

 

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Sun Moon Lake is Taiwan’s largest lake and is essentially in the centre of Taiwan. It is in the Nantou area where there’s lots of mountains. I believe the name comes from the shape of the lake. The east side of the lake is round like a sun while the west side of the lake is long like a crescent moon.

 

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To be honest though, S and I personally were a bit underwhelmed. I had saw pictures online of the lake but after seeing it in real life, I felt that the pictures were edited or filtered. The lake was not as blue as I imagined. Especially coming from Canada, we felt this was nothing close to the lakes we have back home. However, I think it is worth coming if you have some time as it’s a nice getaway from the busy city. I agree that it was still beautiful, but it just didn’t live up to our expectations we had in our mind from the pictures online.

 

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The first pier that you will arrive at is Xuanguang Pier. There isn’t much to do at this pier but the Xuanguang Temple but since we weren’t too interested at looking at temples, we decided to stay on the boat and skip this pier. Instead, we went to the last pier which is called Ita Thao Pier. There is a lot more to do at this pier as this was where the old village of the aboriginal Thao people of Taiwan used to be. Now, there are lots of street food and shopping along Ita Thao Shopping Street. If you want to take the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway, which is a cable car that goes across the lake, you will also need to embark here.

 

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As we wandered away from the tourist shops, we found ourselves at a beautiful spot by the water. Quite picturesque!

 

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As we took the ferry back to Shiushe Pier, we got to enjoy the sun beginning to set. Despite the water not being as blue as we imagined, it was still a memorable and fun spot. We only wished that it wasn’t so hot that day!

 

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Walking back to the visitor centre to catch the bus, you’ll pass some shops and homes. Nothing else much to do around here though.

 

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When we got back to Taichung, it was already dinner time. We decided to head back to FengJia Night Market 逢甲夜市 as there was so much to see and eat! We decided to try the stall that sold Big Sausage Wrapped with Small Sausage. I had heard this is a famous Taiwanese snack!

 

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It is essentially a glutinous rice wrapped around a sausage with some pickled vegetables. It was pretty good especially since it was piping hot!

 

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Of course I had to get stinky tofu, but this stand sold Red Tea Stinky Tofu. Apparently, they soak the tofu in red tea before they deep fry it. A box comes with some pickled veggies, stinky tofu sauce which is slightly spicy, and a side of kimchi. I thought the tea flavour wasn’t super strong but you could definitely taste some of it. I liked how you could dip the tofu in with as much sauce as you wish as it was served on the side. Also, I loved how kimchi was a side dish!

 

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Aniki Potato sold 30 cm long fries! You can choose to drizzle different sauces and toppings on your fries.

 

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We chose the Fries with Seaweed Powder. However, we didn’t end up enjoying these. I think if we chose one with some sauce on it, they would’ve tasted better since these were a bit dry and flavourless without sauce.

 

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And to quench our thirst, we went back to Bei Hui Papaya Milk to get their signature Papaya Milk again. It’s so good!

That concluded our last night in Taichung as we decided to head to Taipei for the last leg of our trip. There were still quite a few places I wanted to visit in Taichung, but honestly, the transportation isn’t very good to get around. To hire a private driver for a group of 2 is also a bit pricey. I suggest visiting Taichung with a larger group so you can rent a driver to take you around at a more affordable price. The FengJia Night Market was definitely one of my favourite night markets in Taiwan so far though!

 

 

[Taiwan Series] Day 3 in Taichung: Rainbow Village 彩虹眷村, Miyahara 宮原眼科, and FengJia Night Market 逢甲夜市

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Our time in Kaohsiung came to an end and we were off to the next city – Taichung 台中. Taichung is located right in the centre of Taiwan. Again, the most convenient way is to simply taking their Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) 台灣高鐵. We arrived back at Zuoying THSR station which is quite a large station actually.

 

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Finally got a picture of the bullet trains as well! They are quite similar to the ones in Japan.

 

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The seating on the trains are also very comfy and spacious. Lots of leg room and you can eat on the train. We arrived in Taichung in around 1.5 hours.

 

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There aren’t too many ways to get around in Taichung despite the city being 2nd largest city in Taiwan. They do not have a MRT other than the THSR, so getting around can be a bit difficult. You can take a bus but it’s not super tourist friendly so instead I suggest taking Uber or the taxi. Prices aren’t super cheap, but it’s still much cheaper than in North America. Especially if you have 4 people, then it’s definitely a better deal. So after we got to Taichung HSR Station, we caught a taxi to GOGO Hotel 富盛商旅. The hotel is pretty centarlly located, although you’ll probably still need to catch a taxi to get around, but it would be a short ride. Hotels in Taichung aren’t too expensive and we got ours for around $70 CAD a night. We booked through Booking.com and you can use my referral link if you wish to enjoy $25 CAD off on your booking!

 

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Upon entering our room, we already felt that it was much more spacious than the other hotels we have stayed at in Taiwan. Tons of space around our bed to open up our huge luggages.

 

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I also really liked how the bed was king size! I rarely see such big beds in Asia unless you request for them. However, I thought the interior was  a bit dated and they could use some renovations. Carpet could be cleaned up a lot more.

 

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The bathroom was actually pretty nice and modern though. Again, it was quite spacious.

 

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Shower is enclosed in a glass door. Overall, not a bad hotel for the price and location. I’d say it’s a typical business type hotel. Has all your basics and necessities but don’t expect anything fancy.

 

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One of the spots I really wanted to visit in Taichung was Rainbow Village 彩虹眷村. Unfortunately, getting here is a bit difficult as it’s not in the city centre but rather in the Nantun District. There isn’t much in this area so your only options are to take a bus (which requires transferring) or to take a taxi/Uber. We ended up going with Uber and it still took almost 20 minutes from our hotel. I imagine taking the bus would take much longer and the buses also do not come often so you might be waiting around in the heat for a while. When we arrived, we were greeted by the colourful paint everywhere from the walls to the floor!

 

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Rainbow Village is free to enter, although they appreciate it when you leave a donation or buy some of their souvenirs to keep things running. The area is open from 9am – 6pm everyday.

 

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The village actually used to be where veterans lived, but as the government began moving veterans to new homes, the plan was to demolish this area for new developments. However, there was one last veteran who stayed here, who is known as Rainbow Grandpa! He began to paint colourful pictures to stop demolition of the remaining houses. Local students ended up discovering this spot and decided to help save and preserve this village.

 

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Whether you enjoy art or not, I think this spot will bring a smile to your face with all the vibrant colours. And of course, this is the perfect spot to get your Instagram worthy pictures!

 

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They also opened up a small souvenir shop featuring Rainbow Grandpa’s artwork. You may also be able to meet the famous Rainbow Grandpa here if you’re lucky since he still lives here!

 

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S decided to get a souvenir coin by pressing some coins in a machine. Cute! We probably only spent around 30 minutes at the village because the area is honestly quite small. It just depends how long you spend taking pictures.

 

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As we were leaving, we noticed there weren’t done painting! There were men up on the roofs continuing to paint the tiles. I bet it will look different the next time I visit again! Be warned that when you look for a cab or Uber when you leave, it may cost more as there are rarely any cabs around this area. The ones that are here are mainly bringing tourists here, so they seem to charge a bit more to come to this area.

 

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Miyahara 宮原眼科 was next on our list so we ended up cabbing here from Rainbow Village. The shop is unique because it was actually an eye clinic built by a Japanese optometrist back when the Japanese occupied Taiwan. Today, it is a dessert shop famous for ice cream, pineapple cakes, and other pastries.

 

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The architecture of this building is modern with a historical ambiance. My immediate thought was it reminded me of some Harry Potter backdrop. High ceilings with wooden furniture and many bookshelves and cabinets.

 

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Looking up, you’ll find natural sunlight peeking in through the glass windows with something similar to stain art.

 

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If you wish, you can dine upstairs. Our goal was to try their ice cream, which is a shop just outside the building. However, when we arrived, the line up was extremely long. Instead, we decided to sit in the restaurant for convenience. I believe there is a minimum spend though, but it’s not too hard if you each order something.

 

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The interior upstairs is also very unique. It had velvet chairs and you felt like you were taken back in time.

 

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Even the napkin had the logo on it!

 

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I decided to get the Miyahara Milk Tea. I liked how the pearls and syrup come separately so you can add as much as you wish. In terms of the milk tea itself though, I thought it wasn’t as smooth as some of the other bubble tea shops. Especially given the higher price, I would probably skip it next time.

 

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S got the Chocolate Berry Slush which featured a dark chocolate and it came with a shot of what we believe is some sort of brandy syrup. We ended up not enjoying this drink too much because the alcohol made the drink quite bitter.

 

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Moving on, we ordered some of their famous ice cream. It should be noted that if you sit in the restaurant, you can’t try all their flavours which are A LOT in their ice cream shop. They have so many varieties of chocolate ice cream and many other flavours too. If you sit in the restaurant, there are only 10 flavours you can choose from. Anyways, when our ice cream arrived, they had a rotating platter of toppings. Never had ice cream with such an assortment of toppings! We ended up getting the pineapple cake, suncake, a cacao ball, almond cookie and the butterfly pastry.

 

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This is the Moon Pavillion Sundae we got and it comes with your choice of 4 ice creams and 5 toppings. The sundae isn’t cheap at $450 NTD so almost $20 CAD! We ended up getting the Irwin mango, Heiye lychee, Lugu green tea, and Vanuatu 44% milk chocolate. So many special flavours! The ice cream sits on top of a waffle cone and the toppings we chose sat on top. It was definitely a lot for two people. I think it’s more for 3 people but this was the only size they offered for ice cream if you sit in. I suggest going to the outdoor shop if the line up isn’t too long since there’s so many more flavours to choose from and I think it’s also slightly cheaper.

 

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After dessert, we walked around some nearby malls and even played some indoor basketball at one of the malls. Yes… random but it was fun! Anyways, getting hungry, we took an Uber to FengJia Night Market 逢甲夜市. I believe this is one of the largest night markets in Taiwan and I absolutely loved it! Definitely on the top of my list.

 

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It reminds me slightly of Dotonbori in Osaka with all the big in your face billboards for the restaurants. Love the atmosphere here. Ask your driver to drop you off at Fuxing Road 福星路 to be in the middle of the action.

 

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I know we’re not in Japan, but they had a large takoyaki stall and I was craving them.

 

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The Takoyakis weren’t bad but the ones in Japan are definitely better. I think these were a bit on the mushy side. Still, it satisfied my takoyaki craving!

 

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Of course, S had to get one of his favourite popcorn chicken from J&G Fried Chicken. We now have this in Vancouver but the ones in Taiwan still taste better. Perhaps it’s the chicken they use.

 

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We got a bag of the Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken and it was piping hot and crispy on the outside.

 

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Getting thirsty, we looked behind us and found Bei Hui Papaya Milk which I heard is a famous chain.

 

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As their name says, they are famous for Papaya Milk, so of course got a cup of that. Wow – it was refreshing, creamy and not too sweet. I really enjoyed this after all the greasy food!

 

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We then walked further into some side streets. Fu Xing Road is their main road with tons of shops for clothing and food, but there are even more stalls if you walk into the side streets. These are smaller sized with less fancy advertising. There is also a section with tons of entertainment.

 

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As it was really hot that day, we ended up getting another drink and got a Brown Sugar Fresh Milk Tea. This was actually my first time trying a brown sugar drink, and now this hype is all over Vancouver. This drink was simple but delicious and I enjoyed the tinier pearls.

Overall, we had a great fun packed day in Taichung and I highly recommend checking FengJia Night Market out when you’re in Taichung. There is endless amounts to see and eat at this night market so I can see why it’s so popular!