Saturday, 27 June 2009

Tapei Day 5 and 6

DAY 5 (SUN) Jun 21, 2009

Weather Forecast in the morning: The Typhoon Lotus will sweep past the western coast of Taiwan, thus sparing Taipei.

Tammy and I took things easy today. We woke up very late. Had a leisurely breakfast at McDonald’s.  (Tammy was craving for McDonald's bagels - don't even ask!)

The Taiwanese are very serious about their beef noodles. Every year, an International Beef Noodle Festival (台北国际牛肉面节)is held in Taipei.  Liang Pin (良品红烧牛肉面)was runner-up for the Best Roasted Beef category in the 2007.  The restaurant was very close to our hotel so of course we had no excuse not to try it. Tammy ordered their Signature Beef Noodles; I the Pork Chop Noodles. I must say they were equally good.

On the way to the MRT Taipei Station, we stopped for the well-known Fuzhou Traditional Pepper Bun in the vicinity. Every time we walk passed we found a long queue in front of the tiny stall.  Strangely enough, there wasn't a queue today. The bun turned out to be a very large “pau” with a very crisply outer skin, filled with meat and veggies.  I like it a lot.

Moving along.  The lovely Rose House has lovely Rose Tea Preserves. 

良品牛肉面 | Liang Pin Beef Noodles
中正区 开封街一段10号
No. 10 Kaifung Street Sec. 1, Zhongzheng District

福州世祖胡椒餅 | Fuzhou Traditional Pepper Bun
重庆南路一段13号 | 13 Chongqing Road Sec. 1

古典玫瑰园 | Rose House
重庆南路一段11 号 | 11 Chongqing Road Sec. 1


Before I set foot on Taiwan, I already knew that it was a Japanese colony for 50 years (1895 – 1945) so I expected the Japanese influence to live on. What surprised me was that the Japanese culture is so deeply embedded into the daily lives of the Taiwanese people.  Japanese restaurant, sushi bar and confectionery shops lined the streets. The supermarkets inside the department store are well-stocked with rows and rows of Japanese groceries, snacks and confectioneries, all gift packed in Japanese style. Japanese flavour is distinct in Taipei’s fashion trends and lifestyle, especially through Ximending.

Just one stop away from MRT Taipei Station is Ximending. According to Wikipedia, the name of Ximending was derived from its position outside the west gate of Taipei City. In the beginning during Japanese rule, Ximending was an area of wilderness, through which there was a road connecting the west gate of Taipei to the town of Bangka. Later, the Japanese decided to follow the example of Asakusa in Tokyo to set up an entertainment and business area. Today’s Ximending is Taipei’s version of Shibuya mixed with Harajuku.

Tammy suggested that I try the famous 阿宗面线, soft white noodles served in broth. When we arrived at its doorstep, I noticed there was a long queue of waiting customers. People were standing outside the shop, heads bent, intently slurping the noodles out of plastic bowls. Looked downright pathetic to me. 

Tammy bought a pair of shoes in Ximending. The store owner informs us that they were imported from Japan. Back in the hotel, however, Tammy discovered the words Made in Hong Kong engraved on the soles of the shoes. More about the darn pair of shoes later.

In the evening, we went to track down a sumiyaki called Kanpai (干杯) near Zhongxiao Fuxing Station. Following explicit directions given in Tammy’s guidebook, we were led to Exit No. 15 and up VERY LONG flight of stairs.  No escalator, why? why? why?  (Thanks a lot, Tammy!)

We circled for a bit but couldn’t locate the restaurant so asked a passer-by for directions. “Ah,” he nodded knowingly, “Walk straight ahead and turn right at the second set of traffic lights. You won’t miss the restaurant. It’ll be the one with the longest queue at the entrance.”

Somehow, the words “the longest queue” didn’t quite appeal to us. The weather was very warm and we were both feeling hot, sticky, and bothered. So we headed in the opposite direction and found Jiafu Sushi House (家福寿司屋).  It proved to be a smart move.  Quality Japanese food in a cosy mom 'n pop setting. A big bowl of chirashi don (海鮮丼) for just NT$290. I love the raw squids – fresh with an almost transparent outer layer. Tammy and I pounced on the food like hungry ghosts the moment it appeared on our table and quite forgot about taking photos but do check them out on this blogger’s site.

大安区 復兴南路一段122巷6号
No. 6, Lane 122, Fuxing South Road Sec. 1, Da-an District
大安区 安东街4号之1
1130–2130(Closed on Mondays)
捷运忠孝復兴站1号出口| MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing Station Exit 1


DAY 6 (MON) Jun 22, 2009

We were back at McDonald's this morning, where Tammy satisfied her bagel craving.  I bought a couple of  生煎包. 
Tammy needed to buy gourmet coffee for a friend and we found ourselves once again in Shing Khong Mitsukoshi (Tower 4A).  Do you recall the pair of shoes that Tammy bought in Ximending? Well, on our way up from the basement supermarket, we chanced upon that same pair of shoes!  It is NT$500 cheaper in Mitsukoshi Xinyi Place!

We couldn’t locate the restaurant which Tammy wanted us to have lunch in. This is the second time her stupid guidebook led us on a wild goose chase.  I hope she threw it away.  :)  And so we went to the only restaurant I knew: Dosan Kanroku Sanuki Udon.

In the afternoon, 飞狗 airport express came to pick Tammy up from the Hotel Flowers main entrance. After I saw her off, I went to join my co-worker, Jee Sien, at the United Hotel. (Yes, she was foolish enough to me in.) Her room was large with lots of natural lighting. The bathroom has a vintage bathtub with clawed feet.

This evening, I paid a visit to our Taipei office. Alice took Jee Sien and I out to Du Xiao Yue Danzi Noodles (度小月担仔面) for Taiwanese cuisine. Found myself in the Yong Kang Street vicinity once more. Du Xiao Yue was established in Tainan in 1895, which means it has over a century worth of history.  An interesting image is the noodle stand by the entrance, with the noodle master sitting on a low stool preparing noodles.  Alice ordered:

猪油拌饭 (rice mixed with lard and soy sauce)
担仔面 (Danzi noodles)
清蒸蝦仁肉圓 (Meat dumplings)
卤大腸 (braised pig intestines)
炸芙蓉豆腐 (very much like Agedashi dōfu but even crispier)
冬瓜蛤蜊湯 (clear soup with winter melon and clams)

After that we proceeded to Ice Monster for a refreshing iced treat.  Fresh mango with shaved ice was just we needed to end the warm summer evening. Alice informed us that the shop is even more popular during the winter months!

There is no MRT to Yong Kang Street. The best way is to take a cab. Tell the driver to take you to the 永康公园 (Yong Kang Park)  UPDATE Jan 2014: You can now take the MRT and alight at Dongmen Station to access Yong Kang.

永康公园 (Yong Kang Park) is the core of Yong Kang Street community. Everyone is familiar with the beef noodle stall and the Ice Monster which lie on the park’s edge. Shaved ice combined with fresh fruits – mangoes in the summer, strawberries in the winter – topped with a scoop of mango ice-cream, the Ice Monster enjoys a ceaseless flow of customers all year round.

Yong Kang Street is just the main street. The street is flanked by lanes and alleys.  To me this means only one thing: lots of exciting food just waiting to be discovered!  If only I had more time in Taipei.

Actually, the area behind the United Hotel is rather nice as well.

国联大饭店 | United Hotel
大安区 光復南路200号
No. 200 Kwang Fu South Road +886 2 27731515   
捷运站国父紀念馆站 | MRT Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall Station

永康街9-1号+886 2 33931325
1130 - 2300
东门站 5号出口 | MRT Dongmen Station Exit 5

冰馆 [已搬迁]


DAY 7 (TUE) Jun 23, 2009


What a fantastic trip it has been! There is still much left unexplored.  I haven't taken quite enough photos!   I must see you again, Taipei!

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