朋友到了台灣 我在以經在台灣了 朋友回到美國 我還在台灣
在台北住這麼久 英文退步了 中文沒什麼進步 我都快忘了美國長這麼樣
雖然我是很想家 想念家裡的大床 想念墨西哥菜 雖然我這次來台灣來了那麼久 我還是覺得有一點捨不得離開。 天天看台北101的夜景還是看不膩。 天天吃路邊攤的小吃也吃不膩。 天天在市政府逛還是覺得好漂亮覺得能夠住在這裡每天在台北101走來走去是我們的福利。 我回到美國會想念 ”seven“ 的關東煮🍢， 捷運的方便，50嵐 COMEBUY 還有許多其他的茶飲料專賣店的奶茶。
我知道再來可能沒辦法常常回台灣。 但我也知道我跑不遠，想念好吃的牛肉麵太久會受不了，一定會找機會再來這個寶島，回來看我的家鄉 看我的家人。 因為不管這麼樣 台灣守護著我從小到大最珍貴的回憶。 現在很多都變了， 台灣變了 我也長大了， 以後一定會有跟多變化， 可是台灣永遠是我的家。 台灣會永遠歡迎我回來。 我會永遠愛台灣。
It's the second to last week and here I am trapped indoors thanks to Typhoon Trami, eating even more 7-eleven meals. I've come to the conclusion that 7-eleven is the foundation of Taiwanese society. If 7-elevens somehow disappeared suddenly, Taiwanese society would instantly fall apart. I mean, where else would you pay your bills, pick up groceries and check your blood pressure without going past the block? (more on my endless love for 7-elevens in another post).
For now, I left off at week 4...the hell has just begun.
Located conveniently right outside of exit 2 of Taipei City Hall MRT station in the Hankyu foot court, Tsukemen Mita Seimenjo was packed even in the morning. By the time we finished eating, there was a long line outside. Ever since, I've never passed by it without a line (and I pass by the area on a daily basis). The menu is relatively simple. They are famous for their cold dipping ramen. It comes in two basic flavors, one normal, one spicy, and 3 sizes (small, medium, large) all for the same price. The photo above shows the medium size...which was pretty substantial in my opinion. The noodles are cold and the dipping broth is hot and thick. They can thin down the broth for drinking too. This was the first time I've ever tried Tsukemen and it's definitely worth a try but I do think the long lines are excessive, maybe because I prefer soup ramen. It's pricey for Taiwan standards (as are most food court restaurants) but as far as I can tell most people think it's worth the price!
This is located on I believe the 7th floor of Hankyu. As you can see, I don't travel far. Reservations would probably be a good idea, because there are so many people lined up. We got the set meal for three people which had 5 dishes I think. Pretty standard Taiwanese Thai food (confusing I know), moon shrimp cake, vegetable with the shrimp sauce, papaya salad, minced meat, and coconut curry. It came out to around $50 for 3 people including the 10% service fee. Pricey for Taiwan (especially because you can get just as good food for cheaper elsewhere), but decent for US prices. Good, but worth it? I'd stick to that one Thai place my aunt and uncle take me to in Neihu.
This place has an obnoxious yellow sign and is on Zhong Xiao East Road, by exit 4 of Taipei City Hall MRT station. Good ole traditional food with a short and sweet menu and orders made by the host person via shouting through an intercom to the kitchen. Nothing too special, but it's one of those safe places that have flavors faithful to childhood memories. Taiwanese comfort food. However, it should be noted that if you just go to a regular lubiantan place or somewhere with biandangs they should be cheaper.
This chain store bakery has several locations but my favorite one is conveniently located right past the pork chop place above, across from exit 3, at the corner of another "food street". Theres a bakery on one side that pretty standard Japanese style bakery. This was my first love (after Yamazaki), but my new favorite is Saison du Soleil (straight from MRT Taipei City Hall to exit 2 in Hankyu). Of course still nothing tops Flavorfield ( up the escalators and to the right of exit 2 SOGO Fuxing, MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing). And then there's Gakuden (favorite location aka place with the most samples, B1 in Taipei Main...) which has locations everywhere... okay I'm done with this tangent, back to Crown. Basically it's a bakery on one side with a decent selection of all the weird but wonderful flavors and then they have an awesome selection of cakes to pair with their hot and cold drink menu for afternoon tea as well as larger cakes for special events. They also often have special promotions that involve Chinese directions and lots of stickers. When shopping for a birthday cake, I stopped by almost every single bakery I knew on the way between TMU and the apartment (and believe me I know almost all of them), but ended up getting more bang for my buck with this 499 NT cake at Crown. Pretty, delicious, and affordable.
If you walk toward Exit 1 of MRT Taipei City Hall, right down the street from Crown Bakery is a big white storefront with one side looking like a tea shop and then a handful of tables on the other side with small groups and tiered afternoon tea sets. Reservations MUST be made to ensure a spot. We tried two separate times on a weekday afternoon and a weekend morning both with no luck until we called ahead. Their porcelain tea sets and tea leaves are famous and delicious. When you dine in, they present you with a tray of their entire selection of tea to sample before choosing one. They have the tiered tea set with small sandwiches, scones, cookies and cakes. We went with a cake that comes with a drink for a certain extra charge and a sandwich with a scone add on set. They also let you choose between the different jams and clotted cream. I think I would come back just for the buttery scone. I also really like their caramel tea (forgot the actual name). Always a good choice for a classic afternoon tea...though I'm not sure why the place is packed during like..dinner time.
But of course all the fancy schmancy XinYi restaurants aside, sometimes the best food is in the hole-in-wall local places. Everyone has their own favorite local place, but one of my favorites is conveniently located right around the corner from the most popular part of the busiest street in Taipei. Right off Zhongxiao east road around Dunhua area (by Mingyao) is 216 "xiang" (alley). It's food galore there, just follow the people. Right before you hit the famed "Dongqu Fen Yuan" that's always packed with people, there's this place that sells "mifen tang" and other local foods, good ole "lu rou fan" and soup and dry noodles, and of course all the "xiao cai" such as tofu, meat, and vegetables boiled and served with soy sauce. There's probably tons of places just like this scattered around Taiwan but I like this location, since it's also close to everything else (including my hair salon). Simple check off menu in true Taiwanese style.
Anddd we're back on Jilong (Keelung) Rd, near its intersection with Zhongxiao East Rd, across from Hankyu Department store. This small restaurant is right near our apartment and there is always a bunch of people there so we decided to give it a try. It's like a Thai kitchen place but with "healthy" selections, so it's on the pricier end. They have these set meals (I got Jiao Ma Chicken and my mom got cod) with 3 side dishes, rice and soup (with free refills) and it comes with a drink (coffee or tea, hot or iced). Decent food, in a small but cozy restaurant and they use good ingredients. Not my first choice but not a disappointment either!
It's the weekend and we are off to Neihu for househunting...but of course we also stopped for Japanese food and a fancy looking lounge..wait no restaurant. Let's just say that it can pass for both. They have pricey set meals but man are they delicious. I got the pork chops which was delicious. Melt in your mouth like "is this actually steak?" kind of yummy. My mom and cousin got this seared salmon and seared scallop set. Comes with soup, rice and poached egg. Worth the splurge.
Yup, no idea what it's called, but we wandered in for lunch since it was right across the street from the hospital (near Ba Fang Yun Ji). It's probably my favorite part about living in Taiwan. The "food court" is a street of food that's only across the street. Westwood is far compared to this. In fact, with the distance from North Campus to Westwood, I could enjoy the actual food court of Taipei 101 and the surrounding department stores. Every lunch break during work, we have a large selection without walking more than half a mile. We sat down at this popular lunch joint and the adorable old server man gave us rice and the side dishes and took our orders. He recommended the chicken so we went for it. A good choice for an affordable lunch. I think this was 100 NT. $3. I love Taiwan.
Mini lesson on Taiwanese fruit. My dad proclaims this to be his "love triangle of Taiwanese fruit"...I guess that's one way to put it. If you've never been to Taiwan/a tropical island these might be completely foreign to you. So the green fruit on the left is "Bala" (which is actually Taiwanese...), or guava. But not in a way you're used to. Not red inside, but white, crisp, a butt-ton of seeds inside that are usually scooped out. A light refreshing flavor that isn't too sweet. Extremely popular here. The top right is dragon fruit! Beautiful and colorful on the outside, but on the inside, just white meat with little black seeds (kinda like kiwi seed looking). As for the taste...a little sweet. Pretty bland in my opinion. I think it's good for digestion? Or something. I'm not a huge fan but it's just something that is bound to happen here. Plus 7-eleven packages it with MANGO in it's cut fruit section. Which is kinda sad because I just want mango (and believe me if you have never had mango outside of the US, you have not had mango. if you think you don't like mango...trust me, you do. you've just never had good mango/endrant). Finally the fruit on the bottom is small and pear shaped. Called "Lienwu" I honestly have no idea what it is called in English. It's such a weird fruit. Sweet, crisp and extremely juicy. You kind of just break it in half and eat it. And it's awesome. It has a weird texture that is pretty distinct..I can't think of any other fruit I would compare it to. Harder to find this season but yummmyyy.
And now you know a little more about Taiwanese fruit. Back to food.
So apparently SYS Memorial Hall area has amazing food. Why did I find out half way through my trip, I don't know. It is wonderful with hidden gems in every alley. And this is one of many in a chain that are around the area. TJB stands for The Jeans Bar, don't know why. This ones specializes in Hong Kong style food, including a dim sum selection and various rice and noodle sets and of course "siwa" (or silk stocking) milk tea. A classy setting, decent prices given the classy setting, and flavors worth the price. If I had time, I would hit up all the TJBs. Plus #protip wander the alleys around Zhongxiao East Road. Seriously. Starting from SYS through Fuxing if there is a crowd/line, go for it. You won't be disappointed.
Speaking of lines, this place periodically sees a long line set up as the cheesecakes are taken out of the oven. We were at Breeze (the department store) and saw a line and got in line. Turns out the line was for fresh Japanese style cheesecake. While I am a diehard lover for New York style decadent dense, heart attack thick cheesecake, this was worth the wait. We ended up getting the last one of the day! They bake batches and set up a waiting line every time they are ready to take the cakes out of the oven. Then, they are freshly packaged and sold. It was good (considering it's Japanese style and lighter). I still enjoy seeing the lines every time I walk by in Taipei Main Station (next to the front side of the grand hall).
YES. IT HAPPENED. WE WENT TO DAZZLING. I HAD HONEY TOAST. We were at the location in A11 2nd floor (Sunshine, they have different themes for the different restaurants by color, this one was obviously yellow). We got there around 5:30 (right after work), beat the rush and were seated immediately despite not having a reservation. Each guest must order one drink as a minimum order (and they are pricey drinks, all over 100 NT). We got fruity teas that were delicious, but also not unlike any other fruity tea you get in Taiwan. They have a pretty big sandwich and pasta menu but we decided to focus on the famed HONEY TOAST. (And had truffle fries on the side). We ordered the "party in your mouth" honey toast which had everything from ice cream to berries, custard, berry sauce...and of course honey on the side. The waitress served it up for us, carefully spreading the custard/butter and then adding some ice cream and a berry to top it off. Basically, this is an entire store filled with gasping and giggling girls with their phones snapping away. The waiters are so used to it that they bring you the honey toast and leave you to take pictures before coming back to take a picture of you WITH the honey toast and serving it. It was as yummy as it was beautiful, surprisingly addictive and not dry at all. Well worth it. I'm going to crave this so hard back in the US.
The best in the world. Yes, I can confidently say that and know that a ton of other people will agree with me. Tucked away in an alley near the new Dongmen MRT station but nevertheless well known and well advertised, is Taiwan's not-so-secret gem. While the streets are quiet and many other stores are empty (though select others are pretty famous too...including the ice places that are not in fact ICE MONSTER, which now has a conspicuous location on Zhongxiao East Road near SYS), this place is packed to the brim. The beef noodles come in hongshao or qingdun styles, the first being the dark broth and the second being the clear lighter broth. The shuancai (picked vegetables) are "all you can eat" aka self serve on each table and addicting homemade spicy sauce. They also have a plethora of xiaocai that you can order from the front (such as green beans and dougan shown in the photos) and then there's the famous "fenzheng" intestine or pork chops. We also got hongyou caoshou (wontons in chili oil) which was delicious too. Basically you can't go wrong with anything here: come with an appetite and you'll leave satisfied. Promise.
We're back in the Taipei City Hall area! This particular location was at Taipei 101, but I also remember locations in Eslite, Hankyu and Qsquare, off the top of my head. Their beautiful cakes and chocolates always tempt me when I walk by and there's always customers lounging around, though when it is raining/during afternoon tea time it gets SUPER packed. I got their pineapple iced tea which is extremely addicting and worth the "venti" price (though definitely not venti sized!). I also ordered the mille fille that was rather unmemorable. However, this was the location of a cute traveling anecdote. We met this adorable Australian couple (the wife was actually Greek and her husband was Danish, but they live in Australia) who conversed with us for a while about traveling and about life in general and gave me a tiny little koala that I will keep forever as a token of kind strangers you meet while traveling.
I present to you: Japanese style chicken nugget pizza complete with pineapple, "bacon", cucumber, cheese, seaweed flakes and Japanese mayo. With "tornado crust". Need I say more. We are no longer in America, friends. This also came with (very) different style wings from what I'm used to. Yay for localization of flavors! KFC still wins though, with their egg tarts. Let's just say this meal was all about the experience. After all, it's not every day I can order a Japanese style chicken nugget pizza with pineapple, bacon, cucumber..you get the idea!
I love ramen. So does the rest of the Taiwanese population apparently, since there are sooo many ramen places that are always packed. I can honestly say that I craved ramen for a good half of my time in Taiwan. Hell, I even looked up ramen places while I was still in school. Honestly, we went to this place because they had a promotion buy 1 get 1 free so we thought why not save the walk and just eat here? But there was nothing special: decent ramen, but I'd probably choose other places over here. I actually prefer the fried chicken from Ajisen Ramen (located in Eslite's food court. And in San Gabriel near the Hilton haha).
It seems like I'm getting a little lazy with restaurant titles...but honestly, I barely pay attention to their store front signs, just the menu, pictures, and amount of people in it, especially places on the street that only have Chinese names. This place sold food from...some specific part of China that I don't remember. Point is, the flavors are spicy and sour, kind of like Thai food, but less sweet. Simple dishes, often served cool. I've never had this cuisine before so it was an interesting experience. Not bad, I'm interested in trying more since I like the spicy!
Whether it's the morning rush through the window of my little Bus 7, or deciding to walk home rather than bus, the sun seems to light up the streets in the most flattering way.
What a beautiful city to live in.