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Everything posted by Nishla

  1. Just an update here...we've been going to E/S a lot recently. While their drinks are really good, as usual, I've been particularly impressed by the food. The last few times we got the "Today's Offal", we've had: Braised/confit cockscombs with foraged mushrooms, brioche and poached egg (insanely good). Duck liver bolognese, in a surprisingly large appetizer portion. Grilled beef heart with foie gras terrine, truffles, and salad (wow). Also, all these dishes were $9!!!! This may be one of the best values in town. Some of the other winners that we've sampled from the rest of the menu are: Rigatoni with lamb sausage (with such tasty browned bits of pasta, sausage and cheese on top) Beef shortrib Glazed salmon Pork shortrib (I think they gave me half a pig, with lots of belly attached) Crispy skatewing (with the lightest gnocchi I've ever tasted)
  2. Whole bunch of stuff from the last week or so... The Brock's Buck, introduced by Jackson, bar manager at Eastern Standard. We first had it at the bar, and also tried it at home (the recipe was published recently in a local magazine). 1 1/2 oz Old Monk Rum (has an interesting, almost butterscotch flavor) 3/4 oz bauchant Napoleon (we made it at home with Mandarine Napoleon) 1/2 oz Heering 1/2 oz lime This is a really good drink, well balanced and flavorful. Creole Variation, from cocktaildb.com: Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain 1 oz rye (Rittenhouse) 1 oz sweet vermouth (Cinzano) 1/4 oz Benedictine 1/4 oz Amer Picon Also very nice, the bitterness from the Picon and the sweetness from the vermouth and benedictine went great together Hoskins cocktail, from drinkboy.com: 2 ounces gin (Plymouth) 3/4 ounce Torani Amer (I used Amer Picon) 1/2 ounce maraschino (Luxardo) 1/4 ounce Cointreau (I ran out, so I used Mandarine Napoleon) 1 dash orange bitters Yet another winner. Nicely bitter. We also discovered the Cassis de Bordeaux black currant liquor (made by Marie Brizard) at Eastern Standard. This stuff is ridiculously good. They made us a drink using the Cassis, plus some Campari and lime. It sounded like it might be way too sweet, but it was SO tasty. Finally, a Little Italy (previously documented here)
  3. Which one is better? Big tapioca balls or small ones? I had the impression the bigger the better but it seems that the smaller the balls, the more tea you would have. The big ones really fill me up quickly. ← I generally don't like the bubble tea because the tapioca are too big. Sometimes they're kind of hard in the center, and so filling. Keith got pearl tea almost every day, and I'm pretty sure we got at least one with the smaller tapioca, which I really liked. I also liked the green tea version of pearl milk tea.
  4. I just wanted to add one final photo: Some very nice oolong tea we brought back. It's supposed to be quite rare, and is much more subtle in flavor than other oolong tea I've tasted. The tea pot is one my grandmother brought over from Taiwan almost 30 years ago!
  5. Thanks for the explanations XiaoLing. I'm pretty sure my "bean leaf" is the same thing as pea shoots that are available in the States. I never realized they were from snow peas, though!
  6. Do any of you know if late Friday nights (after midnight) are terribly crowded? If so, when is the best weekend time to go? I (and Keith) will be in NY in two weekends, and because of all you people I want to go here really, really, REALLY badly. Also, if anyone is interested in joining us so we can order more food and try more things, feel free to PM me.
  7. Nishla

    Dinner! 2007

    I don't cook for 2 days, and again there are multiple pages of delicious food! Wendy, who needs an oven when you can have mussels like that?!? Tonight I made an interesting and tasty (if not so photogenic) pasta dish. Started by browning some sausages, then adding cubed butternut squash. Seasoned with salt, red pepper flakes and thyme. After adding some chicken broth and a splash of red wine, I covered the pan and let the squash and sausages steam until cooked. Then, I removed the sausages, added half a can of tomatoes and some cream to the squash, and mashed it all together. Finally, I added back the sliced sausage. It was a nice change from my standard butternut squash/sausage preparation.
  8. Day 8 (cont.) We wandered around the mall for a while, but it's mostly fancy designer stores. All the walking was making us hungry again, so we got a taxi back to YongKangJie (the snack street). A couple days earlier, we had seen this woman making zhuabing (sort of like a cross between scallion pancake and roti, maybe?), and she had a huge line. We vowed to try her food before we left All the balls of dough for the pancakes. The metal box sitting on the edge of the cart is a press used to flatten the dough. The raw dough starts out on the left hand griddle. Once they're nice and brown, they get transferred to the right hand side, where the woman sort of crumples them with tongs and a spatula. This gives the bread a more layered texture. You can order the zhuabing with or without egg and spicy sauce. We got one with both egg and spicy sauce. You get it in a little paper bag Yummy goodness inside. After we finished this, we went back and got another I think each one was about US$0.75 Since we had been snacking all day, we didn't have much room for dinner. After some leftovers at home, we had one more stop. Across the street from the hotpot restaurant, we had spied a cart with a line of people down the block. We had to give it a try. These are like pancake dough filled with either red bean or custard, formed into these hat-shaped cakes. They have to be eaten immediately on the street, though. We brought some extra home, and they were rubbery by the time we got back Anyway, it was a great last day in Taipei, and we got to try just about everything on our list of things to eat, plus a whole lot more! We discovered so many new things, and I can't wait to go back to see more of Asia. Thanks for reading along
  9. Day 8 (cont.) Inside the Taipei 101 mall, the bottom floor has a food court. Anyone recognize this place? A bakery selling giant mochi. I also like the strawberries turned into faces. There's a fairly upscale supermarket down with the food court: Wagyu beef. The prices are per 100g in NT currency (the steaks are probably ~US$50/lb). There's a lobster filling that entire top center tank. I think it's over US$200 This one's for the liquor fans. The largest selection of Marie Brizard products I've seen in one place. It's all blurry because I got yelled at for taking photos just as I was taking this shot. I was tempted to get some of the more interesting ones (mango, black currant) but I didn't want to carry them around all day. Now I feel dumb. After checking out the supermarket and food court, we got a couple of pastries for a snack. In the back is a slightly sweet bread filled with chestnut cream (good, but a bit heavy). In front is what was labeled "cheesecake". Hmmm. I think it was a steamed sponge/egg type cake with cream cheese. Very delicious and moist.
  10. Day 8 (cont.) We decided to walk off breakfast by heading down to Taipei 101 (about a 2 mile walk). It was a beautiful day out, sunny and close to 70F. We passed by a few 7-11's. These are absolutely everywhere. The funny part is they all have the traditional hot dog machine, but next to that is a huge bucket of tea eggs, as well as a tub of fish cakes on sticks No slurpees though. Also, just to show you what I mean about food being sold everywhere, this guy's cart is literally parked in the middle of the street! A random park we passed by. Even in the center of the city there are some nice green areas to walk around. We also got distracted by a weekend/holiday market. They were selling a lot of jade and other items. Knick-knacks "Health" food. Some different types of grains, I think. In the markets there are vendors selling herbal remedies and Chinese medicine everywhere. Everything is touted as being good for you. Taipei 101 from a few blocks away.
  11. Day 8 We've gotten to the last day! Our plan for the day was to try to hit up places we had noticed during the week but hadn't yet tried. First on the list, DinTaiFung...I was determined to try these dumplings! We arrived around 10am (they opened early at 9am since it was New Year's Day). There was no wait That's me outside, in front of all the steamer baskets. Menu Xiaolongbao. The skins on these are impossibly thin. I can't imagine how they make them without breaking. It's like magic! Vegetable jiaozi. These were very good, with lots of vegetables. Pork soup dumplings with crab. These were bigger than the regular xiaolongbao. They were good, but harder to pick up without breaking. Mashed taro dumplings. These were very tasty, but a bit sticky. I wish we could have gotten a half-order of these. We were stuffed after breakfast, since there were only two of us and we wanted to try so many things. It was worth it!
  12. They sell the wontons as frozen in Costco? Or freshly wrapped? ← The wontons were refrigerated, so probably better than frozen. The skins were very thin. I can see the price (e.g. 8, 10, 12) label. Are the per kg, per ??? Would it be that they have bars only in certain areas of Taipei? I remember back in Hong Kong, you can't find a bar unless you are in the areas crowded by westerners (e.g. TsimShaTsui, WanChai, Central and Stanley). This is more a Western culture than Chinese. ← I wasn't sure that the price on the candy/snacks were. I don't think it can possibly be per kg, since that would be way too cheap. I should probably clarify my statement about bars in Taiwan. There were a few around the Taipei101 area, and I'm sure they exist elsewhere too. I was just very surprised by how few we saw. In other cities I've visited in North America and Europe, if you walk around for 20 minutes you'll run across a bar/pub/restaurant with a bar/cafe where you can pop in, grab a drink and hang out for a while. It just doesn't seem like part of the Taipei culture.
  13. Day 7 (New Year's Eve) This day wasn't too exciting, and I wasn't feeling that great most of the day. We were supposed to meet another of my dad's colleagues for lunch at DinTaiFung, but since it was a holiday the wait was over 2 hours. Grrrrr...foiled again! We ended up back at KaoQui for more soup dumplings, and also tried a number of other items. There was a cold taro side dish (very flavorful), fried tofu cubes (almost like custard), soup with mushrooms and ham, and stir fried asparagus. After lunch, we walked back to the apartment, and passed Wisteria House on the way. We didn't go in this time, but they have a nice little patio area. Seems like it would be a nice place for tea or lunch. My mom wanted to get shaved ice again, so we stopped at a small place along the way. This was not nearly as good as Ice Monster the day before...way too much sweetened condensed milk. We also stopped in a department store to pick up a few things. I got some photos of their snack counter: Lots of dried and preserved fruits, olives, meat, tofu and candy For dinner, we went back to DaSiXi and got some takeout. A few pan fried pork buns, porridge, and steamed dumplings with pork and pickled cabbage (below). We also cooked a bit that night since there were two fish in the fridge that needed to be used. We removed the fillets, marinated with some soy sauce, sugar and rice vinegar, then cooked them with ginger and scallions. The gas burners there are so much hotter than I'm used to at home! Sauteed bean leaf: I fell asleep right after dinner, but woke up in time to see the midnight fireworks on the Taipei101 building. Unfortunately, my camera isn't designed for this type of photo, so it just looks like the building is exploding One thing I've forgotten to mention is that there are basically no bars in Taipei. You can buy beer and liquor at just about any convenience store, but I think people mostly drink at home or at banquets. Most alcohol commercials are for whiskey or brandy. We hadn't had a drink the whole week, but since it was new year's eve, we grabbed a giant can of Sapporo from the corner store
  14. Day 6 We started Saturday morning with a roll stuffed with dried shredded pork that we got at the bakery the night before. The plan for the morning was to do a bit of a walking tour, since my mom wanted to show us her old high school and elementary school. We also stopped by the Chiang Kai-Shek memorial since it was on the way: We were originally going to go to a restaurant near one of the schools, but we were running late and didn't get there until 2pm. Many restaurants close for a while in the afternoon, mostly from 2-5pm Instead, we decided to head over to YongKangJie, which is a street full of eateries. We figured SOMTHING would be open there! The famous soup dumpling place, DinTaiFung, is in that area, but there was a 30+ minute wait. I was too hungry, so we went to another restaurant around the corner called KaoQui. They also make xiaolongbao, which were quite tasty. The skin was quite thin, and the filling had a great soup/meat ratio. We got the regular pork xiaolongbao, and one variety that had pork and sigua (luffa squash). The other items on the table are raw shanyao (a type of potato) with sweet plum sauce (too sweet) and wild fern. We also had pastries stuffed with shredded turnip (very tasty) and scallion (too doughy). We didn't want to eat too much at lunch, since there was a famous shaved ice place down the street. I had read about Ice Monster on eGullet, and several people told my mom to go for the mango ice. Keith in front of the store Mixed fruit ice with condensed milk and mango sorbet. Unfortunately, mango is out of season in the winter, but the strawberries and kiwi were delicious. That night, we had a very simple dinner of wonton soup with bean leaf: Both the wontons and veggies were from Costco. The vegetables were extremely tender and fresh, and the wontons were very good.
  15. Nakji, I thought the prices for food were quite low compared to the US, but I think generally salaries are lower in Taiwan too. Many of the street items are around US$1 or less, and you can easily get a full meal for under US$5. In the more touristy areas (especially around Taipei 101), the restaurants have prices closer to those in the US. The price for a particular item can vary greatly, depending on the atmosphere of the restaurant/shop. For example, fruit at a street market can be 1/4 the price of the same quality fruit at a supermarket. Ah Leung, now I have another excuse to visit CA!
  16. I love your version of hot pot, especially the fried rice at the end. Do you use a special pot for it or will any kind do? I really think I might have to get Vietnamese food for lunch tomorrow
  17. Day 5 (cont.) On our way home from lunch, we stopped by the bakery to pick up some stuff for breakfast the next morning. I managed to get some photos this time: There's a mix of sweet and savory items. Some of the breads are stuffed with meat or scallion, some have custard or cream.
  18. Day 5 (cont.) After costco, we went for a late lunch. One of the items on our to-do list was huoguo (hot pot). The night before, we passed by one place with a huge crowd waiting outside, so we figured it must be good. In fact, there are multiple hotpot restaurants on this street, and this was the one with the biggest line. The restaurant is the second sign in white and red, and is called FeiTianMaLa. Underneath the sign, it says "chi dao bao" (all you can eat). You can choose from a number of different broths for your hotpot. We got ma-la (spicy, flavored with pig blood and hot oil) and a clear broth with onions. The other options were curry, pickled cabbage, or shacha broths. The ma-la was quite spicy. I'm glad we also got the clear broth for some relief You can choose from six kinds of meat, which they slice to order. We asked for all six. Shown here are two kinds of pork (belly and another cut), two kinds of beef (fatty and lean) and lamb. We also got chicken. My favorite were the lamb and fatty beef. Yummy. There was a huge case of veggies, seafood, tripe, mushrooms, fish balls, fish cake, wontons, and more: The fish was very good, as were most of the veggies. We ate a TON. Also, on the side they had fried dough, ramen noodles, and a variety of sauces, garlic, cilantro, leeks, etc. for making your own dipping sauce. You could drink as much soda as you wanted, and finally there were two cases of fresh fruit and ice cream for dessert. The most ridiculous part is that all this was NT$330 (~US$10) per person
  19. Domestic Goddess, I would love to go to Hong Kong or Shanghai. I wish it weren't so tough to find enough vacation time to make the Asia trip! Nakji, that's an awesome story. By the way, I forgot to mention that there at least two Costcos in Taipei, which have a lot of western goods. See below. ------------------ Day 5 Does this place look familiar to anyone? A lot of items are the same as in the US, but there are quite a lot of asian things too. Various dried mushrooms Tea Watermelon seeds Squid, sea cucumber, and tiny white fish Sliced pork jowl, and skin on pork belly! Frozen prepared foods. They were giving samples of the beef stew on the right, and it was SPICY! They also have lots of chinese vegetables, asian fruits, really great fresh fish, etc.
  20. Day 4 (cont.) For dinner, one of my dad's colleagues took us to dinner near GongGuan station. It was a small store tucked away on one of the side streets. I didn't get a photo of the front of the restaurant, but here's one of their takeout menus: I didn't take too many pictures since we were being invited out, and I didn't want to be rude. The restaurant specializes in dimsum type items, but they have some larger plates too. Here is most of what we ate: Clockwise from top: Roast pork filled pastries--so good and flaky Rice noodle stuffed with crab and garlic--usually my favorite dim sum item, in the US you get these with shrimp or beef. This crab version was amazing. Lettuce, plus shimp with water chestnuts, garlic and crumbled fried dough (to be wrapped in the lettuce leaves)--this was also incredibly good. Drunken chicken--very thinly sliced, great flavor Some kind of vegetable in the fern family, stir fried with tiny dried fish and some peppers. Dry fried beef chow foon. Close-up of the shrimp and pork pastry: Crispy roll stuffed with shrimp, pineapple and mayo, topped with sliced almonds: We also had traditional dim sum shrimp dumplings, turnip cake and shumai, and finished with almond tofu for dessert. It was probably the best almond tofu I've ever had. I think this won favorite meal of the trip for Keith and me. Every single item was perfectly cooked, and extremely finely made. I used to think dim sum in the US was pretty good, but now I know what I've been missing!
  21. Day 4 We were all still insanely full the next morning. Keith and I walked to Taipei 101 to meet up with Sheri and her boyfriend. One thing to note is that many shops and restaurants (including Taipei101) don't open until 11am. I think bakeries ane breakfast places open pretty early. We got some coffee and a slice of cake while waiting, then we took the MRT over to the main Taipei station. First, we stopped at Mister Donut for a snack: At first, I couldn't figure out what was going on. Every single Mister Donut in Taipei has a line out the door at all times. Believing that Chinese people generally don't like super sweet desserts, I couldn't understand why all these people were clamoring for donuts. It turns out that Mister Donut makes a type of donut (which they call "pon de ring"), that are made with glutinous rice flour, and much less sweet than a normal american donut. These donuts have this particular shape, and are slightly sticky and chewy. Really really good, if you're not expecting a "normal" donut. We got honey glazed and chocolate glazed pon de rings. For lunch, we got beef noodle soup again. Once again, the version with tendon was especially tasty. After lunch, we shopped for a while, and stopped at BeardPapa for a snack (in one of the underground malls at the Taipei main station): We got one cream puff with regular custard, and one with green tea custard.
  22. Cooking sea cucumbers are quite easy. Usually the markets have them re-constituted and cleaned. I probably have 2 pictorial recipies featuring sea cucumbers. How interesting! Taiwanese serve siu mai as part of the dinner banquet? ← I'll definitely have to try your sea cucumber recipes sometime soon! Also, I think our banquet was considered to be more Cantonese style than Taiwanese style, if that makes any difference...
  23. Day 3 (cont.) After that ridiculous seafood lunch, we drove down the coast a bit to a place called Yie-Liu, which has some interesting rock formations. They call the rocks with the brown tops "mushroom rocks" (see, it's all food related!). There are also some rock formations that look just like a knob of ginger. We walked around Yie-Liu for a while, then took another drive to DanShui, another pier/wharf area. There's a nice bridge and walkway where we watched the sun set. Then, back to Taipei for dinner, which was a Chinese banquet at Hung Kan restaurant in the NYNY department store (next to Taipei101). There were a lot more people at the banquet than on the tour. Unfortunately, I was still kind of full from lunch by the time dinner started, but I did my best. Appetizer plate. Clockwise from top: sausages, duck, jellyfish salad, chicken, and asparagus/ham salad in the center. Lobster and crab stick salad. There were huge chunks of lobster meat under there. Our first reaction was, "are those sprinkles?!?!" Shark fin soup. There were actually fairly large slices of shark fin covering the mound in the center. I've never really understood the big deal about shark fin, since it doesn't taste like anything. I ate a lot of the veggies and mushrooms underneath though. Lamb chops and fried rolls of japanese potato. The green stuff in the center was coconut-scented. The lamb was really good, and I ate two of the potato rolls. HUGE mistake...I think they somehow expanded in my stomach, and I was so full after this course. Abalone, sea cucumber and vegetables. I LOVE sea cucumber, but I'm too frightened to make it at home. Fish. I don't think I even tried any of this. I was getting painfully full, and I figured there was no way it could be as good as the steamed fish we had at lunch Scallops, mushrooms and vegetables. Black chicken soup, with a whole chicken in the bowl. I think this was by far my favorite dish of the night. The soup was amazing. I was so stuffed I had to take a walk around the restaurant, but I managed to sit down for a second bowl. Shumai. I couldn't make room for one of these Coconut and red bean cake/jello. I tried a taste, which was pretty good. We ended with tapioca pearl soup. I managed about half a bowl, but I was completely and utterly defeated after this meal. I still can't believe the amount of food we consumed that day.
  24. Who did the ordering in your group? ← My friend's parents picked out all the seafood and coordinated with the restaurant. The rest of us were busy examining the rest of the fish market I think I did see something about water apples too. They were sold everywhere, and mostly a darker red color. We also saw some that were a pale yellow/green, but didn't try any of those.
  25. May I ask what work they're doing there? As for driving on the sidewalk - well, heck, that's just another lane around here. It looks a lot like Korea in many ways - modern, with great facilities, and the idea of my husband being able to study Chinese, the ability to have a scooter again, and all that lovely food makes it an attractive destination. Now the deal breaker - what's the availability of Western food like? Limited to fast food, or can you buy staples like bread and cheese in the supermarket? ← I'm not exactly sure about my friend's parents, but I think their work is something related to insurance or accounting--definitely more of a large company job. My dad's teaching a couple of university-level classes, so I think he's there on a semester-by-semester basis. If you're looking to be a teacher, I'm sure there are TONS of opportunities for you. People are studying all the time, since at every level you have to take exams to get into the best schools. Near the main train station, there's an entire street of places dedicated to helping students study after school. As for Western food, there are definitely a lot of McDonalds, KFCs and Starbucks everywhere. At most bakeries you can get a selection of white, wheat, multigrain bread, but usually not baguettes. I did see a few bakeries selling more European style bread. The one supermarket we went to in the Taipei101 mall did have a decently large cheese counter, but you probably won't find cheese at the outdoor produce/meat markets. Also, they use cheese in a number of bakery items, and Italian food (mostly in the form of pizza and noodles) seems to be pretty popular. Maybe someone more familiar with Taipei can weigh in on this topic.
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